Again, this year, I've kept a list of all the movies I've watched (37! In my defense, I love movies and, I am awake in the middle of the night often) and these are the ones I think were the very best.
I must preface this list, as always, by saying that 1. these were taken from only movies I actually saw and 2. if you are looking for some in-depth, critical analysis, turn back now before it's too late. I have one simple test for whether or not I think a movie is good, and that is how long I think about it after it is over. If it immediately leaves my mind with little to no second thought, then it fails. If it lingers for hours, days, or even all year? 100% on the tomato meter and a guarantee that I will be purchasing it and watching it an obscene amount of times in my own home.
I hope you give all of these a watch, I loved them very much.
Filmed over 12 years with the same cast, Boyhood is a groundbreaking coming of age story as seen through the eyes of a boy named Mason (a breakthrough performance by Ellar Coltrane), who literally grows up on screen.
Ernest and Celestine
This animated film takes places in a world where bears live above ground in their cities and rodents live below in in their underground ones, both in mutual fear and hate. However, Celestine, a young apprentice mouse dentist, finds common cause with Ernest (Forest Whitaker), a poor street bear musician, that gets them rejected from both their respective worlds. In spite of this misfortune, they find a friendship growing between them.
Gretta (Keira Knightley) and her long-time boyfriend Dave (Adam Levine) are college sweethearts and songwriting partners who head for New York when he lands a deal with a major label. But the trappings of his new-found fame soon tempt Dave to stray, and a reeling, lovelorn Gretta is left on her own. Her world takes a turn for the better when Dan (Mark Ruffalo), a disgraced record-label exec, stumbles upon her performing on an East Village stage and is immediately captivated by her raw talent. From this chance encounter emerges an enchanting portrait of a mutually transformative collaboration, set to the soundtrack of a summer in New York City. Ruffalo is great, Knightley is great, and the music is really quite good.
The Theory Of Everything
A look at the amazing and heartfelt true story of Stephen Hawking (Eddie Redmayne) and his wife Jane Hawking (Felicity Jones). If Redmayne doesn't win an Academy Award for this film, I don't even know what awards are for.
Vincent (Bill Murray) is an old Vietnam vet whose stubbornly hedonistic ways have left him without money or a future. Things change when his new next-door neighbor's (Melissa McCarthy) son, Oliver (Jaeden Lieberher), needs a babysitter and Vince is willing for a fee. From that self-serving act, an unexpected friendship forms as Vincent and Oliver find so much of each other's needs through one another.
The true chronicle of Cheryl Strayed's (Reese Witherspoon) 1,100-mile solo hike, undertaken as a way to recover from a recent catastrophe that sent her life in a downward spiral. "If your nerve deny you, go above your nerve."
14-year-old Laura Dekker sets out on a two-year voyage in pursuit of her dream to become the youngest person ever to sail around the world alone.
An intimate portrait of Rocky Braat, a young man who longed to find a family. He didn't know it, but this desire would lead him to an AIDS hostel in India, a place of unspeakable hardship, where he would find almost more love and need than he could bear. OH the tears and the hope.
Wish I Was Here
The story of Aidan Bloom (Zach Braff), a struggling actor, father and husband, who at 35 is still trying to find his identity; a purpose for his life. He winds up trying to home school his two children when his father can no longer afford to pay for private education and the only available public school is on it's last legs. Through teaching them about life his way, Aidan gradually discovers some of the parts of himself he couldn't find. (AND, my favorite Kate Hudson performance since Almost Famous.)
The Skeleton Twins
After ten years of estrangement, twins Maggie (Kristen Wiig) and Milo (Bill Hader) coincidentally cheat death on the same day, prompting them to reunite and confront how their lives went so wrong. As the twins' reunion reinvigorates them both, they realize that the key to fixing their lives just may lie in fixing their relationship with each other. Good comedic actors playing straight roles really well is one of my favorite things, and here I got a two for one.
For comedian Donna Stern, everyday life as a female twenty-something provides ample material for her hysterical and relatable brand of humor. On stage, Donna is unapologetically herself, joking about topics as intimate as her sex life and as crude as her day-old underwear. But when Donna winds up unexpectedly pregnant after a one-night stand, she is forced to face the uncomfortable realities of independent womanhood for the first time. Donna's drunken hookup - and epic lapse in prophylactic judgment - turns out to be the beginning of a hilarious and totally unplanned journey of self-discovery and empowerment.
Jenny Slate does such a sensitive, wonderful job of being flawed and aware of it. Of having five emotions at the same time. Of wanting to assert yourself onto your own life in a way that’s meaningful, even though you feel crippled so much of the goddamn time. The whole thing was just well-felt and human and sincere from start to finish. And funny, of course. My most favorite of the year. Literally, I've watched it at least 7 times. Now you!
You have quite large movie shoes to fill 2015.