2014 Herald Movie Yearbook

Here’s one last, irreverent look at the year in film:

Best biblical epic: Noah, in which Darren Aronofsky took the Old Testament and infused it with his own sensibilities.

Worst biblical epic: Exodus: Gods and Kings, in which Ridley Scott took the opportunity to try out the latest and best in special effects technology and forgot about characters.

Funniest comedy that went soft and gooey in the end: Chris Rock’s often uproarious Top Five. Then the tears come.

Best sequel: How to Train Your Dragon 2.

Funniest scene: Ice Cube finds out who Jonah Hill has been sleeping with in 22 Jump Street.

Worst sequel: Dumb and Dumber To. Stop beating that poor dead horse.

Wildest premise for a movie that made for a great film: Joon-ho Bong’s thrilling adaptation of the French graphic novel Snowpiercer, about a bullet train carrying the remaining survivors of mankind after an ice age kills all life on the planet.

Wildest premise for a movie that made for a bad film: Kevin Smith’s Tusk, about a psycho (Michael Parks) who kidnaps a young man (Justin Long) and turns him into a walrus.

Riskiest experiment that resulted in a fantastic movie: Richard Linklater’s Boyhood, shot over a span of 12 years, depicting a boy’s evolution into a young man (Ellar Coltrane).

Best comic-book superhero movie: The exuberant, freewheeling Guardians of the Galaxy, featuring a group of characters many people had never heard of before.


Saddest comic-book superhero movie: A tragic snap! in The Amazing Spider-Man 2.

Best entrance: In Godzilla, the giant fire-breathing monster is so enormous, the camera can’t capture him in full, not even on an IMAX screen.

Best example of Russian doll-style storytelling: Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel, a tale within a tale within a tale.

Most out-of-character directorial touch: After being accused of always being mean to dogs in his movies, Wes Anderson switched gears in The Grand Budapest Hotel and took out a cat, Wile E. Coyote style. Splat!

Best use of a hidden camera in a feature film: In Under the Skin, Scarlett Johansson drives around the streets of Scotland trying to pick up random men, unaware they are being filmed with a secret camera hidden in the passenger seat.

Most entertaining spectacle we didn’t fully understand: Christopher Nolan’s ambitious sci-fi epic Interstellar. What is a tesseract again? Also, what the hell was Michael Caine saying in that crucial scene?

Best one-two punch: Directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller made one for the kiddies (The LEGO Movie) and one for the grown-ups (22 Jump Street). Both were smash hits.

Best fight: A prison riot in thick, brown mud, kicks and punches flying, in The Raid 2.

Most likely to make you wish you had bought stock in Kleenex: The Fault in Our Stars.

Best remake: The Gambler.

Worst remake: The toothless, CW-ready Endless Love.

Most forgettable remake: Robocop.

Best remake of Groundhog Day: Tom Cruise’s Edge of Tomorrow.

Best horror movie: Writer-director Jennifer Kent’s debut The Babadook — a single mother’s fears made literal. Also: The scariest pop-up children’s book ever.

Worst horror movie: The incomprehensible As Above/So Below.

Best closing line of dialogue: “It’s constant, the moment — it’s like it’s always right now.” — Ellar Coltrane in Boyhood.

Best closing shot: In Boyhood, a young couple out on a hike sit on a rock and gaze silently on the sunset, each of them smiling nervously and sneaking glances at each other, falling in love in front of your eyes.

Scariest closing shot: A gigantic spider in the bedroom in Enemy. Forget the metaphor: That thing was terrifying.

Best bit of physical acting: Miles Teller’s monumental drum solo in Whiplash. Blood and sweat on the cymbals.

Best example of a young-adult franchise that keeps getting better: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1.

Most convincing proof Melissa McCarthy is starting to coast on her fat-girl shtick: The unfunny Tammy, which she also wrote and produced.

Most convincing evidence mirrors just aren’t scary, even ones that harbor demons: Oculus.

Best date movie: The Theory of Everything.

Worst date movie: Gone Girl.

Proof it is possible to make a volcano eruption, a tidal wave and an earthquake boring even though they are all happening at the same time: Pompeii.

Sequel nobody wanted: Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, which grossed an anemic $39 million worldwide.

Most eloquent love letter disguised as a documentary: Steve James’ stirring, moving Life Itself, about the life and work of the late Roger Ebert.

Scariest documentary: Citizenfour. Big Brother really is watching.

Best movie that taught us a slew of new, vulgar insults: Whiplash.

Most likely to make you put Bell Biv Devoe’s Poison on all your playlists: Think Like a Man Too.

Best history lesson turned into an absorbing movie: The Imitation Game.

Best reminder that sometimes, sex can be dull: Sex Tape.

Best proof there’s life after Mad Men: Jon Hamm in Million Dollar Arm.

Movie most likely to send you out in search of a medianoche: Chef.

Most convincing character created entirely with CGI: Rocket Raccoon in Guardians of the Galaxy.

Best reminder of why they’re called the Greatest Generation: Unbroken.

Most likely to make you stop hating Adam Levine: Begin Again.

Most vivid reminder that sometimes we need to get off the couch and move: Wild.

Winner of the “Well, At Least It Wasn’t As Bad as ‘Grown Ups 2’” award: Blended.

Best British movie that made us wish it had subtitles: Dom Hemingway.

Best Hitchcock-inspired thriller with out
-of-control nudity:
Stranger by the Lake, about a serial killer preying on gay men in a nude beach.

Least effective use of confined space: Tom Hardy driving around in a car for 90 minutes in Locke.

Best movie that was treated like an unwanted child and dumped into theaters with next to zero support: The Weinstein Company’s The Immigrant.

Best nonsexual scene in a movie devoted to graphic kinky sex: Uma Thurman unloads on her husband for his cheating ways in Lars Von Trier’s Nymphomaniac. Good thing she didn’t have her sword from Kill Bill with her.

Most ambitious sci-fi picture made on a shoestring budget: The Signal.

Best example of how murder and revenge is a never-ending cycle: Blue Ruin.

Best use of a pop song in the soundtrack in which the characters hear it too: During a one-night stand, a drunken Jenny Slate and Jake Lacy bounce around in an apartment listening to Paul Simon’s Obvious Child in the movie with the same name.

Best use of pop songs in the score: Guardians of the Galaxy.

Best 2014 movie that won’t be released here until 2015: Selma (opens Jan. 8).

Best 2014 movie still lacking a firm release date: David Cronenberg’s hilarious, ruthless Hollywood satire Maps to the Stars, in which the director names names and Julianne Moore farts.

Most underrated couple: Michael Pitt and Nina Arianda as small-time gangsters in the crime thriller Rob the Mob.

Most misleading title: A Most Violent Year (opens Jan. 30).

Coolest couple: Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton as centuries-old vampire lovers in Jim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive.

Most controversial movie: The Interview. Who would have imagined a silly comedy would create a global ruckus?

Most squandered talent in a star-studded film: George Clooney’s yawn-inducing The Monuments Men.

Best movie spun off from a toy: The LEGO Movie.

Worst movie spun off from a toy: Ouija. Unless you believe that kind of thing and don’t think of it as a toy.

Best use of black-and-white cinematography: Pawel Pawlikowski’s gorgeous Ida.

Worst movie of the year: Transcendence.

Worst comedy of the year: A Million Ways to Die in the West.

Most sudden on-screen suicide: In Ida, a guilt-ridden woman decides to stop passing the open windows and jumps out of one.

Best proof Robert Pattinson may turn out to be a good actor after all: The Australian outback thriller The Rover.

Best exploration of contemporary race relations: Dear White People.

Ghastliest murder: In David Fincher’s Gone Girl, a box cutter, a swift slash and blood gushes in arterial spouts.

Worst franchise that somehow continues to pack theaters even though no one seems to like the movies: Transformers: Age of Extinction.

Best comeback: Michael Keaton in Birdman.

Worst comeback: The entire cast of The Expendables 3. Give it up, guys.

Best sleight-of-hand camerawork: Birdman, which appeared to have been shot entirely in one take thanks to clever, invisible edits.

Most adorable character: Big Hero 6’s rotund nurse-robot Baymax. We want one.

Best finish to a so-so trilogy: Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies rewarded audiences who had slogged through the first two movies.

Best B-movie disguised as a major studio release: The Purge: Anarchy.

Best performance trapped in a bad movie: A gaunt, frantic Jake Gyllenhaal in the preposterous Nightcrawler.

Best opening credits: The eerie laser-light show in Under the Skin, the first indication some weird stuff is about to go down.

Best closing credits: 22 Jump Street. Sequels to infinity and beyond!

Creepiest transformation: An unrecognizable Steve Carell as wrestling aficionado/birdwatcher/madman John E. du Pont in Foxcatcher.

2015 movie Rene Rodriguez is anticipating the most: Star Wars Episode VII — The Force Awakens. Because how could you not?

2015 movie Connie Ogle is anticipating the most: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 2.