Hooked On A Feeling: Matt Donato’s Top 20 Films Of 2014


They say the way into a man’s heart is through his stomach, and while there’s nothing more soothing than a home-cooked meal and a crisp, hoppy IPA, I think that there’s another way into a man’s heart – nay, soul – and that’s through his eyes. Food unlocks pleasures attained by few other experiences, but movies can pack an even weightier punch when dealing with raw emotions, self-reflection, and fantastical worlds beyond our wildest imagination. Movies are but keys unlocking cerebral dimensions that speak louder than words, which is exemplified by the best of the best once each cinematic year comes to a close.

With Christmas behind me and New Year’s Eve rapidly approaching, another year is in the books full of marvelous on-screen achievements that will surely stand the test of time. Beyond the list I’m about to write are a slew of other noteworthy films, with performances like Jake Gyllenhaal’s horrific turn in Nightcrawler, but my Top 20 Films Of 2014 are officially locked, with each movie selected for reasons I couldn’t ignore. These are the heavyweights, the mighty warriors looking down upon their inferior peers, screaming from atop Valhalla in dominant cries of jubilation while BATHING IN THE BLOOD OF THEIR ENEMIES – or something like that.

We were transported many places this year (other universes, dystopian tundras, LEGO settings, Selma) and watched many actors rediscover themselves (Reese Witherspoon, David Oyelowo, Michael Keaton), but each of these journeys shook me in their own unique way. Whether it was the biggest budget of the year or a tiny indie effort, 2014 proved to me that no matter how big, flashy, and visually alluring your film may be, without a rock-solid story, all you’ve got is another hollow puff-piece without an ounce of passion or heart – something I learned as numerous movies on this list almost* brought me to tears (be it tragedy or comedy).

*I’m not a proud man. I cried, dammit.

Enough talk, though, let’s examine the great cinematic year that was 2014: