The Best Films of 2014
10. Felony: Though it sadly flew completely under the radar, Felony is nevertheless a superb police drama that boasts strong performances by Joel Edgerton, Tom Wilkinson, and Jai Courtney (!!!).
9. Lucy: After cranking out one disappointment after another, Luc Besson bounces back with a vengeance with this inventive and thoroughly engrossing action thriller.
8. Whiplash: Anchored by J.K. Simmons' jaw-dropping, riveting performance, Whiplash establishes itself as an intense drama that certainly bodes well for Damien Chazelle's future endeavors.
7. The Equalizer: Though it is, perhaps predictably, too long, The Equalizer eventually morphs into a seriously entertaining and impressively brutal vigilante flick.
6. Heartbeat: This charming Canadian indie features a breakout performance by Tanya Davis and a narrative that grows more and more compelling as it unfolds.
5. I Origins: Overlooking its sketchy, poorly-paced first act, I Origins is a thought provoking and thoroughly engrossing sci-fi drama that boasts one hell of a climactic stretch.
4. Wish I Was Here: Although Zach Braff's Garden State followup isn't quite up to the level of that stellar effort, Wish I Was Here benefits from strong performances and an ongoing presence of relatable, emotionally-resonant moments.
3. Life Itself: Roger Ebert is the subject of this incredibly moving documentary that holds plenty of appeal for fans and non-fans alike.
2. Obvious Child: Jenny Slate's revelatory performance is merely the tip of the iceberg in terms of Obvious Child's pleasures, with the film often as heartwrenching as it is hilarious.
1. Boyhood: Shot over 12 years, Boyhood is precisely the sort of eye-opening, singular experience that fuels my ongoing passion for movies. Films like this compensate for the garbage that otherwise flood multiplexes on a weekly basis.
The Worst Films of 2014
10. Inherent Vice: Paul Thomas Anderson stumbles considerably with this rambling and often incoherent drama. Here's hoping this marks a brief detour rather than an entirely new direction for the Punch-Drunk Love filmmaker.
9. Heaven is for Real: Believers and non-believers alike will find little to embrace within this dull, poorly-paced drama.
8. When the Game Stands Tall: The only thing more boring and interminable than this mess of a football movie is an actual football game.
7. Transformers: Age of Extinction: Michael Bay somehow manages to top himself by crafting what might just be the worst movie in a uniformly terrible series.
6. All Cheerleaders Die: This loud and pointless horror flick marks yet another disappointment from once promising genre filmmaker Lucky McKee.
5. A Most Wanted Man: This impenetrable adaptation of a John le Carré novel manages to waste the considerable talents of an all-star cast, including Robin Wright, Rachel McAdams, and the late, great Philip Seymour Hoffman.
4. Need for Speed: It's difficult to imagine the level of incompetence required to transform a movie consisting primarily of car chases into such an interminable piece of work.
3. The Invisible Woman: This slow and thoroughly plodding effort is precisely the sort of trainwreck that gives historical dramas a bad name.
2. Maps to the Stars: David Cronenberg's spiral into irrelevance continues with this shockingly misguided and hopelessly tedious "satire" that's entirely devoid of positive attributes.
1. Borgman: An infuriating art-house exercise in pointlessness, Borgman is one of those films that one can't even imagine its own creators enjoying. A truly reprehensible piece of work.