You read that right: top 15. I’m departing from my established pattern of doing an annual top 10. Part of me sees this as a failure of will, a refusal to make the hard choices. Maybe so. However, the prevailing thought in my mind is that although I am attempting to name my absolute favorite films of the year, the goal is less about canonization of well-respected movies than it is about the hope that the list might encourage someone to take a chance on a film they otherwise might not.

It was a good year for movies by my account. Godzilla returned to US multiplexes. Keanu Reeves got back into the action game with John Wick. We saw new films from auteurs such as David Fincher, Paul Thomas Anderson, Wes Anderson, and Woody Allen. We saw exciting work from new and up-and-coming directors like Jennifer Kent, Damien Chazelle, Justin Simien, Dan Gilroy, Jeremy Saulnier, and Ana Lily Amirpour. We got two movies from Phil Lord and Chris Miller, both of which were anarchic fun. Reese Witherspoon was also in two movies and wasn’t awful in either of them. Even some of the usual superhero/blockbuster mish-mash was of an unusually high caliber (X-Men: Days of Future Past, Guardians of the Galaxy). Oh, and I think there was a movie by some guy named Christopher Nolan…

So in a year this crowded I feel a top 15 is the way to go. Let’s get at it, then, and may the hottest flicks rise to the top. Here are my picks for the best movies of 2014:

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Moonrise Kingdom (2012)
Director: Wes Anderson
Starring: Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray
Running Time: 1 hr, 34 min
Rated: PG-13


Review by Brother Reed

To this point, I have been mostly lukewarm towards the films of Wes Anderson. Maybe this is because they are so distinctly his that one takes time to become acclimated to his style. Anderson is such an aggressively quirky director that his movies are almost parodies of themselves. They seem to stand up and scream “Look how quirky I am!” and that can immediately turn people off or drown them in style rather than drawing them in. At the least they are an acquired taste. His films all look like storybooks, or miniature plays constructed out of dollhouses and populated with cardboard figurines onto whom have been projected feelings, ideas and actions foreign to them. When I watch The Royal Tenenbaums, I can almost see Anderson’s directorial hand moving his actor playing pieces around the set, telling his story through avatars that mingle personal experience with myth. His goal is not to convince us we are watching real life but the retelling of it, run through a filter. Maybe The Fantastic Mr. Fox was the quintessential Anderson film in that the puppetry was so obvious. READ FULL REVIEW