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The Lucky 13: Best Movies of the Summer – 2014

August 22, 2014

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Well, summer has pretty much come to an official close. Which means Oscar season is just nearly right around the corner! Exciting times no doubt, anyone else pumped to see P.T. Anderson’s latest, “Inherent Vice”? Any who, lets take this time to look back at this summers biggest, boldest, and yet modest films to grace the silver screen for the summer of 2014.

13.) “The Rover” – “The Rover” was probably director, David Michôd, first mix-bag film, however the movie really leaves an everlasting impression on the viewers. This Australian outback neo-western features an incredibly unsettling tone, garnered by the deranged musical composition (by Antony Partos), sharpened sound design (which will leave many hearts in the theater pounding), and a career best performance by Robert Pattinson.

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12.) “Neighbors” – Who’da thunk it, a college frat film would actually show a realistic outlook of adulthood from the point of views of the adults as well as the college frat boys themselves, vying for their youth, who are not ready to enter a world of being boring…adults. This off-kilt juxtaposing between the pairs work on so many levels, it’s refreshing for a comedy to flip flop it’s themes and still come out on top with the same theme it was always intending to tell; fear of adulthood.

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11.) How to Train Your Dragon 2 – Strong character development, a sequel storyline branching further than it normally should, the “Dragon” films are off to a good start and with a strong conclusion, it just may very well be the strongest animated franchise DreamWorks was hoping for, ever since they botched it up with “Shrek”.

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10.) “Godzilla” – We see a “Godzilla” film for two things; people screaming/running in sheer terror & Godzilla duking it out with big, bad ass, ugly monsters. WE GOT THAT, and then some in this film. The “Jaws” approach was very smart, and refreshing, the slow burn reveal of all the chaos that’s eventually being thrown at us was effective, and the pay off was extremely rewarding.

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9.) “Calvary” – “Calvary” does what “God’s Not Dead” could never do, it doesn’t spoon feed us such dribble religious nonsense by saying, ‘We’re right, you’re, wrong accept Jesus forever!’ NO! A movie dealing with religion or has religious overtones, shouldn’t leave us with definitive answers, but more or less interesting questions. It’s the questions that should keep us going, not knowing the official answer that many may very well not agree with. And that’s what I took away from John Michael McDonough’s second feature.

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8.) “A Most Wanted Man” – A slow burn, nerving pace comes naturally in a John le Carre spy-thriller. Philip Seymour Hoffman gives a brilliant performances as a German spy with everything he does hang loosely in the balance. This was a movie I was proud to see at Sundance, with Hoffman present. It was my one and only time I’ll ever be in the same room with that man. RIP PSH.

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7.) “X-Men: Days of Future Past” – Bryan Singer manages to find a comeback in his own self, directing the occasional flop for the past few years hasn’t faired too well for him, but the fact that he’s returned to his roots, so to speak, find a new way to visually tell a familiar story, using brilliant color pallets, noteworthy score, clever edits, and assembling such a dynamic cast, it’s times like these I feel an over sense of pride in a director who rightfully deserves a comeback hit.

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6.) Snowpiercer – Forget that it’s a dystopian futuristic sci-fi film, forget that the action is highly kinetic, and even forget that the movie was bastardized for a lackluster release, “Snowpiercer” is seriously one of the best films of the year! The defining moment in this film, that solidified it as a true cinematic achievement in it’s genre, is near the end when out anti-hero Curtis tells his most personal, life defining story. WOW! See it just for that, I beg of you!

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5.) “Obvious Child” – This film by no means an easy sell, when you say the film is an abortion rom-com, and I don’t mean abortion in the sense that the movie sucks, no-no, I’m actually talking about ABORTION, controversial ABORTION, if you catch my drift. Yet the movie manages to handle the subject manner with grace and solid realistic humor from genuine comic actors/actress’. I’m happy to see Jenny Slate really branch out into her own; she kills it in this film.

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4.) Edge of Tomorrow – How could a science-fiction action movie, with Tom Cruise headlining, featuring one of the WORST movie titles in the history of the genre be so damn good? “Edge” has the perfect balance of humor and sincere drama, with dynamite performances all around; Bill Paxton, Brendan Gleeson, Emily Blunt, and naturally Tom Cruise, who reassures moviegoers everywhere he can still hold his own in a big budget tent-pole movie.

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3.) “Boyhood” – I’ve seen this movie FIVE times now (since I saw it this pass March at SXSW), FIVE TIMES! Insane, I know, but bare with me, how could I continue to revisit Richard Linklater’s nearly three-hour dramedy about a boy growing up from age 6-18? Let’s forget the fact that the movie was shot over a 12-year period, the story is so damn honest! It’s one of the most honest portraits of growing, especially for anyone who’s a mid-90s-early 2000’s kid growing up. When I saw this movie at SXSW, I saw myself in Mason, I saw my brothers, I saw my friends, I saw my family, I saw events that I too experienced during that same period. If a movie can touch you like that, you know you have a masterful filmmaker at the helm.

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2.) “Chef” – Jon Favreau decides to return to his roots and make a change in himself, and it shows. “Chef” is undeniably smart, funny, sweet, and features an orgasmic array of food items that will make any movie goer drool over. Favreau wanted to shoot in real places, and keep the authenticity of a road movie alive. By going on a real road trip with the filmmakers (Miami-New Orleans-Austin-LA), the emotional attachment is far more gratifying than Tony Stark’s issues in “Iron Man 2″.

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1.) “Guardians of the Galaxy” – OOGA CHALKA OOGA CHALKA OOGA OOGA OOGA CHALKA! C’mon people, you knew I’d place this as my #1. Yes it trails behind “Boyhood” by ONE screening, but damnit I fucking LOVED this movie the most. It’s a summer movie that truly defines what a summer movie needs to be; FUN! Fun, colorful, action packed, comedic, (a dash of) dramatic, I could go on. James Gunn has brought back the wonderment of what makes a summer blockbuster exciting to see for the first, second, third, and fourth time. Chris Pratt’s career changing performances is identifiable, Dave Bautista is a perfect straight man, Zoe Saldana is dangerous, and Vin Diesel & Bradley Cooper are the heart of the film. Too much awesome to be packed into a two hour movie, I wish it were three!

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