January 2, 2015, - 3:05 pm

DebbieSchlussel.com Best Movies of 2014

By Debbie Schlussel

Took some time off to catch up on rest, other work, and just needed a break. But I didn’t want to let any more time go by before I brought you my list of top movies of 2014. This was a bad year for movies, so I liked very few. All things are relative, and many of these would not make my list in previous years. That said, it was hard to narrow it down to just ten movies. So I picked my top choices and everything that I liked, which numbered 18 movies. You can read my full review of each movie by clicking on the name of the movie.

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landhowalkingwiththeenemy

You will note that some of the movies I chose for this list didn’t get FOUR or even THREE REAGANS when I reviewed them. But in comparing the movies to the whole lot from this year, they’ve moved up in quality in my opinion (or I initially underrated them–“Land Ho!” is one of those). Others have declined in my view. I had a hard time putting the list in order (and kept switching the list around) because I liked most of these equally, so any of them will do. Also, some smaller movies debuted in other markets in 2013, but I reviewed them in 2014, when they came out here in the Detroit area. Below my Top 15 are also a few bests in particular categories. These also could have made my top movies list and are equally as good.

Here’s the list:







TIE- 1) “Land Ho!“: Nope, the title doesn’t describe Kim Kardashian when she’s not in the air or water. This small-budget movie was shown mostly in art house theaters. But it was fun, very funny, and exactly the kind of escapist movie I like to see. Two American former brothers-in-law go on a trip to Iceland and have a ball. One of them is a very blunt, politically incorrect, retired doctor from the South (fabulous first-time actor Earl Lynn Nelson). The other is a transplanted Aussie who lives in New Orleans.

TIE – 1) “Walking with the Enemy“: The touching, heroic true story of Pinchas Rosenbaum, the Aryan-looking Hungarian Jew, who impersonated a Nazi, and saved thousands of Hungarian Jewish lives during the Holocaust. The ending brought tears to my eyes. This movie got off to a slow start” but is otherwise great.

3) “The Grand Budapest Hotel“: Based on a Stefan Zweig novel, this quirky flick about a fictional hotel in 1932 Europe is very funny and entertaining and moves quickly. Director Wes Anderson at his best.

4) “Whiplash“: A young jazz drummer prodigy is driven by his own ambition and his teacher/guru’s merciless demands. See the caveat in my review about American society demanding too little from most, rather than too much, as in this movie.

5) “Words and Pictures“: Smart movie about feuding teachers at a fancy New England prep school. He used to be a budding literary star, and she was a famous artist and painter. Today, they are afflicted by other demons and have sparked a debate between themselves and their students about which speaks better: literature or art.

6) “Chef“: A chef father and his young son grow close on a summer food truck trip across the country.

7) “Night Crawler“: Obsessed nut becomes a top cameraman and turns his agenda into manufactured local news stories, with tragic consequences.

8) “The Imitation Game“: Unconventional genius Brit Alan Turing creates the first computer and helps break the Nazi Enigma code during World War II, saving many lives and ending the war early.

9) “The Guest“: Very campy movie is a take-off on ’80s-style thrillers, complete with music and other accoutrements. Great newcomer Dan Stevens plays the Iraq War veteran who comes to visit the bereaved family of one of his fallen comrades and ingratiates himself into their lives.

10) “Interstellar“: Very cool sci-fi thriller that includes space travel beyond all imaginable dimensions, including time. Many movies in one with moral and other issues explored.

11) “Birdman“: Interesting movie explores an aging actor’s attempt, at the twilight of his career, to make a comeback in the theater, after playing a superhero for years. Quirky and different, Michael Keaton and his superhero alter ego have conversations throughout the movie, but is it real? A little too raunchy in one part for my taste, but otherwise, this has everything–funniness, despair, and even an expose on the power-hungry “writers” at the New York Times.

12) “And So It Goes“: A light, funny, charming dramedy about an aging real estate man, his songstress neighbor, and how they change each other’s lives. Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton still have a lot left in them.

13) “The Monuments Men“: A group of American soldiers come to Nazi Europe to save and recover stolen art and property, both public and that owned by Jews. Has some very touching moments and is light and entertaining while also impressing upon us another important job well done by the Americans in Europe, whose contributions continue to go unappreciated especially to date. Yes, unfortunately, it stars George Clooney and Matt Damon. But it’s also got Bill Murray in the best scene in the movie. Read my review to find out what that is.

14) “Beyond the Lights“: A Kardashian-esque pop star falls in love with her working-class bodyguard and throws away her sexy, sleazy image (and her sleazy mom/manager who pushed it on her) in favor of a more modest, natural, down-to-earth lifestyle.

15) “The Best Offer“: Cool, psychological thriller about a misanthrope art dealer/appraiser who falls for a phantom recluse who wants him to value her late parents’ estate.

16) “Begin Again“: Keira Knightley plays the more talented half of a musical couple. He (Adam Levine) is a conceited rock star (so he didn’t have to act much) who cheats on her and uses the songs and music she wrote. She “begins again” after being discovered by a recovering alcoholic music executive who is also beginning again in his career after losing everything. Together they make music and try to make hits.

17) “Edge of Tomorrow“: Futuristic movie in which Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt fight aliens to save the world, but must keep repeating previous events to learn more. Funny, cool, filled with action.

18) “Guardians of the Galaxy“: A superhero movie starring Chris Pratt and an ensemble of animated and alien misfits, together they fight evil to save the galaxy.

BEST DOCUMENTARY: “I’ll Be Me“: A touching, sad film about great musical talent Glenn Campbell and his struggle with Alzheimer’s Disease as he embarks on his farewell tour. I will post a more in-depth review of this soon.

BEST FOREIGN FILM: “Like Father, Like Son [Soshite Chichi Ni Naru]“: A wealthy, upper-class Japanese family discovers that their six-year-old son is really someone else’s, as he has been switched at birth. They also find out that their biological son is being raised by a working-class, less cultured, but far more happy family. Do they want to switch their sons back? Is it about biology or the son that you’ve already raised for so long?

BEST ANIMATION: “Big Hero 6“: Terrific movie for people of all ages. A young boy genius uses robots to find out who killed his brother and what happened with his invention. Funny, charming, and cute (thought slightly politically correct).

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16 Responses

Gotta disagree, Debbie. As one who saw both Big Hero 6 AND Penguins from Madagascar, you missed the better film.

“Penguins” slams food totalitarians, the French Tax Code, Europeans, and is generally “Woo-Woo” American. Big Hero 6 is good—The Penguins rule, and Liberals drool. (The Chief Villian is self-described as a frequent contributor to NPR.)

Run, do not walk to your local movie theater and lay down the moolah for the PENGUINS!

Occam's Tool on January 2, 2015 at 5:07 pm

Gotta disagree with you, Debbie, on best animated feature. Of course, you didn’t review this one.

“Penguins of Madagascar” slams NPR, the French Tax Code, Overbearing Europeans, and the Nanny State. It also shows love for Flatt and Scruggs.

I saw “Big Hero 6” and this one, and while “Big Hero” was cute and fun, “Penguins” is subversively Conservative and “Woo-Woo” American. As things should be.

OT: Sounds like I missed a good one. Unfortunately, “PoM” was only screened for critics on the Jewish Sabbath. Thanks for letting us know about it. DS

Occam's Tool on January 2, 2015 at 5:43 pm

Thanks for the list.
I will certainly go trough this list based upon your reviews.
Take care and may God bless you.
Jeff Schrembs

Jeff Schrembs on January 2, 2015 at 7:59 pm

Thanks for this Debbie; you always do a great job!

MomInMinnesota on January 2, 2015 at 8:04 pm

The Grand Hotel Budapest …. Is my fave film OF ALL TIME!!

It was hysterical!

Darrellhicks450 on January 2, 2015 at 8:10 pm

You’re right that 2014 wasn’t a great year for movies. It is funny that my list is similar to yours. My favorite was Interstellar because it had great special effects and really made you think.
I also enjoyed the final Hobbit movie but I love Tolkien and if you do not then you may not enjoy it as much.

I hate to admit that the movie in 2015 that I most look forward to is the one that will finally bring what we have been waiting 30 years for–Han, Chewbacca, Luke, and Leia make to the big screen in the new Star Wars movie.

JimmyPx on January 2, 2015 at 11:46 pm

We stopped supporting the Hollywood leftists by not going to see movies anymore. It’s better to just read Debbie’s movie reviews than to actually see them.

samantha on January 3, 2015 at 11:38 am

Occam, I too watched PoM last week w/ my kid, and really liked it!

Infidel on January 4, 2015 at 2:20 pm

    Spoiler Alert!!!!!!!!

    I know, Infidel—part of the shock of watching this was watching them break into Fort Knox using Flatt and Scruggs as the musical code, and why? Not for gold, but because the only vending machine the “Nanny State’s” crusade against junk food has not shut down and that is still dispensing cheezy poofs is located in Fort Knox—and the anti Libtard jokes go crazier from there!

    Totally unexpected!!!!!!!!

    Occam's Tool on January 4, 2015 at 11:52 pm

Interesting that ‘Occam’s Tool’ used a Flatt & Scruggs analogy, given that Donna Douglas, a.k.a. “Elly May” of The Beverly Hillbillies (for which the bluegrass duo performed the theme music and made frequent appearances on the show), died a few days ago at age 82.

But I do have to concur with those who would rather read Debbie’s movie reviews than see most of the treyf Hollywood puts out.

ConcernedPatriot on January 5, 2015 at 11:55 am

That’s kind of the point—they did a lot of “Woo-Woo” stuff.

I was expecting a typical Disney animated movie. I was NOT expecting a slam of NPR and the French Tax Code.

Occam's Tool on January 5, 2015 at 12:28 pm

Guardians of the Galaxy was the funnest, most thought-out(for enjoyment sake) movie of our future. Glad you included it, as most critics are dead inside.

Lars on January 7, 2015 at 11:59 am

Thanks for mentioning the Glen Campbell doc. i was a huge fane back around 68-72, and watched him every Sunday. I loved the in-the-round sessions he had with Jerry Reed, John Hartford and Larry McNeely. They played their asses off on those parts of the show.

Not Ovenready on January 9, 2015 at 1:56 am

Debbie you must be loosing it.The Monuments Men was one of the worst movies i ever watched.total waste of time.Debbie you “jumped the shark” by rating this a great movie.

beenhaddin on January 12, 2015 at 5:40 pm

Walking with the Enemy is an awesome movie. I love watching movies a lot. Media Box HD app is an excellent app to watch movies and shows.

media Box hd apk on December 12, 2018 at 6:16 am

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