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Movies 2014

I saw only 10 movies in the theater this year and only 9 of those were official 2014 releases. I didn't see The Grand Budapest Hotel or Boyhood. I didn't see Birdman or Gone Girl. I wanted to but I either didn't get around to them or they didn't come close to me. I will see them. Anyway, here are my five favorites of what I did see, plus a bonus...

1. Guardians of the Galaxy - I'll admit I was skeptical when Marvel put this on their slate. It seemed like an odd choice. When the first trailer came out, I got excited. Really excited. Then the movie finally came out and it was awesome. It is full of heart and humor. Chris Pratt is great as Peter Quill. Rocket Raccoon and Groot worked perfectly onscreen. The soundtrack is the glue that holds the whole thing together. The movie had such a perfect Star Wars feel to it and I left the theater with a grin on my face. So. Much. Fun.

2. The Lego Movie - Speaking of Chris Pratt and fun, I loved this movie as well. I went to see it by myself in a theater full of parents and their kids and felt no ounce of shame. Not only is it funny but the end puts such a cool spin on the whole movie. Oh, and Will Arnett's Batman is great. Phil Lord and Christopher Miller are creators I will always check out (I finally saw 21 Jump Street this year and loved it; I also rented 22 Jump Street the other week and really liked it until the end credits sequence, which was amazing). I was never a huge Lego kid (building things is not my forte) but that didn't matter...plus, I've always liked jokes.

3. Captain America: The Winter Soldier - This is another different format for a Marvel movie. It plays like a 70s spy thriller in a lot of ways, with super-hero action (including some sweet work with Cap's shield) on top. Chris Evans continues to provide depth for Steve Rogers. Scarlett Johansson is fantastic as Black Widow, so much so that I was upset she's not getting her own movie. Anthony Mackie is a revelation as Falcon. If Marvel continues to make movies like this and GotG as they good forward, I will be very very happy.

4. Edge of Tomorrow - I missed this when it was in the theater, as did a lot of people, according to box office reports. That was a mistake on my part. This is smart SF with a Groundhog Day concept applied to an alien invasion. It plays off of Tom Cruise's movie star charisma and shows Emily Blunt has charisma to spare. If you haven't seen it, you really should (it's been semi-rebranded as Live Die Repeat, FYI). It's well worth your time.

5. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies - I was nervous about this one. It's not that I haven't liked the two movies in this trilogy because I have. They just don't match the original LoTR trilogy. I don't think it's that the basic story has bloated or the fact there are many liberties taken with it; I can deal with that and the first trilogy wasn't exactly word-for-word either. This series is just something different. That said, I really liked this movie. The ending made me tear up and I think it's because the book was so important to me. C.S. Lewis started me down a pop culture path that J.R.R. Tolkien and Star Wars turned into the core of my pop culture life. So, is it the best movie? No. The original trilogy is still better than this one. Did seeing it mean a lot to me? Absolutely.

Bonus: Her - If I could have seen this movie in 2013, I would have but these types of movies don't always make it to my area. I loved it. The story of a man who falls in love with the AI in his phone is unusual but the movie is full of humanity. Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson are great, as are the entire supporting cast. The future Spike Jonze creates is a believable one and I love the color palette the film uses. I recognize that this movie won't strike everyone the same way but it is definitely my kind of movie.

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