2014 Summer Movie Wrap-Up

Photo Credit:http://insidemovies.ew.com/2014/04/19/godzilla-trailer/

All things considered, this was actually a really great couple of months for movies. The blockbusters popped our corn while the indies provided thought-provoking, ambitious cinema. Of course there were a few duds, but there was a ton to love about this summer at the movies. Below, we have 20 categories to cover the highlights (and lowlights) of the season, culminating in out pick for Best Summer Movie. Check it out and let us know your favorite summer movie moments in the comments below!

 

Best Cast: X-Men: Days of Future PastNo, not every A-lister was used to their full-potential, but this collection of actors is one of the best ever to be put on screen. The old cast slips right back in while the newbies of 2011’s X-Men: First Class only improved. Hugh Jackman seems like he’ll never grow out of Wolverine while Ian McKellan aged Magneto perfectly. Jennifer Lawrence fully embraced Mystique, with Michael Fassbender lighting up the villainy as a young Magneto. James McAvoy was the best of the bunch though, as young Charles Xavier, but the scene putting him toe to toe with Patrick Stewart, the older Xavier, was as well acted as any scene in any film this summer.

Photo Credit:http://nukethefridge.com/2014/05/06/new-banner-for-x-men-days-of-future-past-and-the-amazing-spider-man-2-post-credits-scene/

Best Performance: Ethan Hawke in Boyhood. I had trouble picking this one. What about Tilda Swinton’s transformative turn in Snowpiercer? Or Brendan Gleeson’s striking character work in Calvary? Even the young Jack O’Connell proved to be a force to be reckoned with in Starred Up. But Ethan Hawke conveyed an incredible range of emotion in Boyhood that it cannot be ignored. His performance deserves attention it will hopefully get come awards season. 

Photo Credit:https://www.facebook.com/EthanHawke

Best Comedic Performance: Jenny Slate in Obvious ChildThis summer, comedy was dominated by two women. Jenny Slate, being the bigger lead of the two, was one of the most talked about breakout stars of the season. But something has to be said for Rose Byrne’s powerful, hilarious turn in Neighbors. Both performances continued to push where women have gone in mainstream and indie movies, but at the end of the day, Jenny Slate really owned the great Obvious Child

Photo Credit:http://www.cinesnob.net/jenny-slate-obvious-child/

Best Action Hero: Andy Serkis in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. So what if you didn’t actually see him? Andy Serkis did all the movements for Caesar in the Apes sequel, and many of them required more than him crawling around on his fists. Serkis also gets bonus points for acting as consultant on Godzilla, which featured one of the best set pieces of the season. 

Photo Credit:http://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-28324122

Best Villain: Jennifer Lawrence in X-Men: Days of Future PastMystique stood by the sidelines for most of the original X-Men films. But Days of Future Past brought her front and center as the driving force behind the events of the film. She’s a part of every major conflict. It helps that Jennifer Lawrence completely nailed the character down to her sultry movements and acrobatic fighting skills. Mystique is practically a one woman army. 

Photo Credit:http://moviepilot.com/posts/2013/11/14/jennifer-lawrence-drops-mystique-spoiler-for-x-men-days-of-future-past-1175665?lt_source=external,manual#bNtleG

Most Cartoonish Villain: Jamie Foxx in The Amazing Spider-man 2The makeup. The origin story. The acting. There was no saving Electro in the second outing of the Spider-man reboot franchise. His powers rarely manifested in a worthy manner. Even the much-advertised Times Square battle seemed to end way too quickly. His thin backstory and simplistic motives drove this adaptation of the character into the ground. Hopefully lighting won’t strike twice in the already planned Sinister Six movie.

Photo Credit:https://www.yahoo.com/movies/jamie-foxxs-daughter-goes-mini-electro-at-the-amazing-83785624297.html

Breakout Character(s): Rocket and Groot in Guardians of the Galaxy. No one has been talked about more this summer than Marvel’s own Han and Chewie, which for them is a foul-mouthed raccoon and his silent tree humanoid protector. These two owned the movie, delivering much of the pathos and humor to the story. There have been a number of classic characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but none of them are as offbeat and memorable as Rocket and Groot. 

Photo Credit:http://www.framestore.com/news/rocket-making-space-raccoon

Best Cameo: Christopher Lloyd in A Million Ways to Die in the WestTerrible movie. Great cameo. In a totally random moment, Seth MacFarlane’s character walks over to a seemingly glowing building in his Old West town. As a nod to Back to the Future Part III, Doc Brown is caught covering the DeLorean. It’s a pointless joke to the movie overall, but hey, it was a terrible movie! Anything to spice it up. 

Photo Credit:http://www.thefancarpet.com/newspage.aspx?n_id=9559

Biggest Surprise: GodzillaI mean, how could it get any bigger? Godzilla proved once again who was the King of the Monsters in an epic, Spielbergian reboot of the half-a-century old Japanese franchise. After the US’ first stab at the material in 1998, many were expecting another kaiju-sized turkey. What we got was a film that didn’t shortchange the humans or the monsters. It wasn’t Shakespeare but it didn’t have Matthew Broderick smirking at the camera saying “That’s a lot of fish!”. Bring on the sequel!

Photo Credit:http://sciencefiction.com/2014/08/22/watch-climactic-final-battle-godzilla-three-weeks-early/

Biggest Disappointment: The Amazing Spider-man 2Two years ago, Sony made a bold move with rebooting the Spider-man series a mere five years after Sam Raimi drove it into the ground with a ton of black goo. The reboot, to many people’s surprise, worked. The sequel looked even better. A fight with Electro in Times Square. The Green Goblin looming like a shadow over Gwen Stacy. Paul Giamatti as the Rhino. Well it sucked, becoming perhaps the most laughable tentpole superhero movie since Batman & Robin.

Photo Credit:http://www.galacticnewsone.com/2014/02/new-banner-for-amazing-spider-man-2.html

Best Special Effects: Dawn of the Planet of the ApesNever deny the power of motion-capture. The apes looked even more real here than in the 2011 reboot. Yes, plenty of other films had the “wow” factor this summer, but these effects managed to create real characters within the breathtaking action.

Photo Credit:http://redcarpetcrash.com/dawn-planet-apes-clip-kobas-weapon/

Most Ambitious Film (That Succeeded): Boyhood. Twelve years is a long time to make a movie. Richard Linklater’s masterpiece could have fallen completely on its face. But it doesn’t. Following a young actor from elementary school to college, we fully experience some of the most important years of human development. It’s stunning to watch Ellar Coltrane grow before our eyes. You never really want it to end but understand when it does. You’ll be left wondering why no one had this idea sooner.

Photo Credit:http://moviepilot.com/posts/2014/07/30/boyhood-movie-review--4-2150106?lt_source=external,manual#bNtZ0P

Most Ambitious Film (That Failed): The Congress. There are some great ideas within The Congress, but this sci-fi hybrid of live-action and animation just ended up feeling like an acid trip than conjuring up anything thought-provoking. While it’s pretty to look at, the story becomes incomprehensible. It doesn’t help that the characters are flat and the dialogue is putrid. Better luck next time.

Photo Credit:http://www.showfilmfirst.com/congress-2/

Begging for an Oscar: The ImmigrantThis period piece stars a bunch of Oscar nominees and deals with complex issues of immigration and equality. That said, it lacks the passion that really makes a film stick with you. What we’re left with is a paint-by-numbers movie that fits the criteria of “how to get an award”. It’s a dull experience with great but not challenging performances and an all-too-typical historical drama narrative. Yawn.

Photo Credit:http://moviepilot.com/movies/356599-the-immigrant?page=2&lt_source=external,manual

Please Kill This Franchise: TransformersThe fourth film in this toy commercial series is almost three hours long. At least most other toy commercial movies clock in under the two-hour mark. After Michael Bay seemingly accidentally made a pretty decent blockbuster with the first Transformers, we’ve now gotten three sequels with varying degrees of badness. This summer’s Age of Extinction proved that it’s really time for the robots to remain in disguise until someone comes up with something truly fresh.

Photo Credit:http://screenrant.com/tag/transformers-4/

Worst Summer Movie: The Fault in Our StarsThat make-out scene in Anne Frank’s attic where everyone applauds. Sorry guys, I really hated this movie a lot. Turns out, when cheesy dialogue delivered half-heartedly is about cancer, it really angers me. This is a movie that set out to make you cry and probably succeeded because cancer and death are really sad things. But that doesn’t excuse the all-too-perfect romance that betrayed the very realism the film was trying to accomplish.

Photo Credit:http://thefaultinourstars.wikia.com/wiki/File:The_Fault_In_Our_Star_(Film)_Banner.png

Best Indie: Snowpiercer. This film is just about perfect. Featuring great performances, gorgeous sets, and gut-wrenching action, Snowpiercer is just one hell of a ride. Chris Evans has never been better than he is as the leader of this revolution. Director Bong Joon-Ho perfectly balances complex ideas and raw emotion to make this one of the most interesting and effective sci-fi films in years.

Photo Credit:http://www.cinemacitybeirut.com/Browsing/Movies/Details/h-HO00000438

Best Comedy: Obvious ChildHere’s a movie that knew exactly what it wanted to be and how to execute that efficiently. Obvious Child never feels long, never asks the big question about abortion, and is always funny. This confident film also proved to be a breakout for Jenny Slate, who can obviously hold her own as a leading lady.

Photo Credit:http://www.finalreel.co.uk/obvious-child-clip-pee-farter/

Best Blockbuster: X-Men: Days of Future PastA lot was riding on the seventh X-Men film, but by bringing just about every character into the fold in a coherent manner, this entry ranked among the best in the series. Days of Future Past was every bit as fun as The Avengers but had the added value of nostalgia from the earlier, better films in the series. With Bryan Singer back in the director’s chair, the X-Men solidified their comeback this summer.

Photo Credit:http://www.finalreel.co.uk/obvious-child-clip-pee-farter/

Best Summer Movie Overall: Snowpiercer. See the description under “Best Indie”. This film is just stunningly well-rounded. The character arcs work. The setting is fascinating. It sticks the landing. What more can you ask for?

Photo Credit:http://www.cinemacitybeirut.com/Browsing/Movies/Details/h-HO00000438

What did you think of this summer’s movies? Let us know in the comments below!

By Matt Dougherty

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