2014 was an entertaining year for film. Marvel experienced huge successes with Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Big Hero 6. We also saw a large influx of action/comedy films, with 22 Jump Street being the prime example of how well action and comedy can mix together.
Animated movies also had a good year. The critically acclaimed How to Train Your Dragon 2 and The Lego Movie hit screens along with the stop motion Laika film, The Boxtrolls. This year, animated films proved once again that good films are not exclusive to live-action cinema.
2014’s best films were difficult to narrow down, so I decided to break up the most notable into a couple of categories. Without further ado, here are the Best Action/Comedy Films and the Best Animated Films of the year!
Best Action/Comedy Films of 2014
5. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (Peter Jackson)
Peter Jackson’s final film is highly entertaining, even if it’s a bit sloppy in its post-production in terms of continuity; there were times when Sting should have been glowing but wasn’t, or blood was missing from wounds and weapons. However, the incredibly talented cast and Jackson’s touch were enough to create an overall entertaining experience.
While many thought the name change from There and Back Again to The Battle of the Five Armies did not bode while for the last installment, it perfectly wraps up both Bilbo Baggins’ and the fans’ journeys. The film is a fitting end to Jackson’s journey through Middle-earth.
4. 22 Jump Street (Michael Bacall)
It’s rare that sequels are as good as its predecessor, but Michael Bacall managed just that with 22 Jump Street. The film has strong direction with side-splitting performances from Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill. But cast and direction aside, 22 Jump Street‘s real strength comes from its self-aware script.
Characters blatantly discuss sequel tropes in front of the audience, including overblown sequel budgets and over reliance on the story from the first film. 22 Jump Street takes these ideas, acknowledges them and then subverts them, creating both an impressive sequel and standalone film.
Also: who didn’t love that extended credits sequence?
3. Captain America: The Winter Solider (Anthony and Joe Russo)
Yet another film that demonstrates not all sequels have to be terrible. This Captain America film changed the entire landscape of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, all while satisfying as an impressive and action-packed political thriller. The Winter Solider allows Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) and Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) to develop and, more importantly, shine along side their superhero protagonist. The outstanding Anthony Mackie also makes his introduction as Falcon, a character I hope to see reappear in future MCU films.
2. Edge of Tomorrow (Doug Liman)
There were few people who thought this Tom Cruise action film would be worth anyone’s time. But when Doug Liman, who directed Mr. and Mrs. Smith and The Bourne Identity, took the helm on Edge of Tomorrow, it was instantly clear that his action background was just the right fit. Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt) and William Cage (Tom Cruise) have impressive chemistry together, which adds to the movie’s already touching tone.
The best part of this film is that Cage is a bit different from the roles Crusie normally takes. Instead of the rugged, war-torn action hero (à la The Last Samurai), in this film he plays a coward who has never seen a battlefield. Not only does this represent a small shift for Cruise, but it also makes his character arc rather refreshing.
1. Guardians of the Galaxy (James Gunn)
My all-time favorite film this year goes to Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy. The film features a strong soundtrack and fantastic writing. The mixture of 80s nostalgia and space travel make for a compelling cocktail.
Writers James Gunn and Nicole Perlman skillfully balance the film’s five characters, giving them all a chance to take the spotlight. There’s no member of the team that seemed to lack screen time or character development. This worked to create a fantastic but relatable world, helped in no small part by the masterfully integrated CGI.