According to my record, I had written 157 movie reviews this year, just 6 more than last year. Only 25 of these are Filipino films, the rest are foreign films.
My movie reviews are still being picked up and posted on ABS-CBNNews.com. As of this writing, a total of 180 of my reviews have made it on the pages of the most popular news website and FB site both locally and internationally.
For this list, I had not included the 12 articles written about films which had been released in 2013 or earlier, but I had only seen in 2014. These were mostly the Oscar-winning films released in December 2013, but only hit local theaters in 2014.
Potential Oscar-winning films of this year which will only be shown next year locally are also not included here, like "Birdman," "Into the Woods," The Theory of Everything," "Selma," "Foxcatcher", "The Imitation Game", etc...
25. Magkakabaung (MY REVIEW)
24. The Judge (MY REVIEW)
23. That Thing Called Tadhana (MY REVIEW)
22. The Book of Life (MY REVIEW)
21. Lucy (MY REVIEW)
20. Mariquina (MY REVIEW)
19. Big Hero 6 (MY REVIEW)
18. Snowpiercer (MY REVIEW)
17. The LEGO Movie (MY REVIEW)
16. Nightcrawler (MY REVIEW)
15. Boyhood (MY REVIEW)
14. Edge of Tomorrow (MY REVIEW)
13. Winter Sleep (MY REVIEW)
12. Barber's Tale (MY REVIEW)
11. Begin Again (MY REVIEW)
Counting down the 10 best films I have seen this year:
10. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (MY REVIEW)
Simian flu we saw developed and spread in the first film has now all but decimated most of the human population. In the forests, the mutant apes have established their own system, led by the alpha male ape Caesar (Andy Serkis in motion capture). When a group of human survivors enter the forest in order to reactivate an old dam for their energy needs, they meet the apes' wrath. There arose a battle of loyalty, trust and betrayal in both the human and the ape organizations, escalating into a deadly battle royale in the post-apocalyptic streets of San Francisco.
This film is not fun, entertaining, nor uplifting. Instead this is dark, thought-provoking and disturbing. There is no denying though that this film is a technological triumph in the area of visual effects, sound effects, film editing, musical scoring, cinematography and its effective direction under Matt Reeves. 9/10.
9. How to Train a Dragon 2 (MY REVIEW)
Part 2 happens five years after the events of the first installment. Hiccup is now a young man of 20. He discovers a plot of a scarred renegade named Drago to form a dragon army to control the world. While his father prepares for war, Hiccup decides to seek Drago out in order to settle the matter peacefully. In his quest though, Hiccup chances upon the secret icy lair of the legendary Dragon Rider, who turns out to be Hiccup's long-lost mother Valka.
Writer and director Dean DeBlois successfully tells us a story that is mature with a generally dark mood, with very serious themes of family, loyalty, selflessness and heroism. There will be tears, so get ready for that. For the very young kids, count on Dreamworks to spice things up with some comic moments with foolish kiddie pranks and cute dragon babies though. Overall this is one big emotional roller-coaster ride -- so fun and entertaining, yet complete with important lessons in life for all ages. 9/10.
8. Whiplash (MY REVIEW)
Andrew Nieman (Miles Teller) is an introverted 19-year old drums major in the Schaefer Conservatory of Music in New York City. He catches the attention of a notoriously hard-driving teacher Terence Fletcher (JK Simmons), who recruits Andrew to join his studio jazz band. There, Fletcher pushes Andrew to play his drums to perfection using a hard abrasive instruction style, inflicting physical and emotional expected only from military drill sergeants.
This is certainly not just another "Mr. Holland's Opus" or "Music of the Heart". While this also has student-teacher drama and beautiful music, writer and director Damien Chazelle presents his story in a most unexpectedly disturbing, suspenseful, violent and even horrific way. This extraordinary film is brutally raw and frank, no punches were pulled. You will never hear the words "Good Job" the same way again. Such was its brutal yet exquisite sting. 9/10.
7. X-Men: Days of Future Past (MY REVIEW)
Powerful Sentinels from Trask Industries were decimating all the mutants, leaving only a handful of the hardiest ones alive. Logan is sent back twenty years into the past during the inception of the Sentinel program, to stop this project before it destroys the mutant race any more. Young Charles Xavier was up and about but without his powers. Young Eric was incarcerated in a subterranean cell within the Pentagon. Young Raven/Mystique was intent to kill Trask himself before he kills more mutants. Logan must make them all see how their actions now will impact on the very existence of mutants on Earth in the future.
This film had so many characters (even former US President Nixon plays a key part) and so many events shuttling from present to past and back. Despite all the potential plot holes a time-travel storyline can present, Director Bryan Singer still manages to tell his story in one cohesive whole. This is yet another excellent proof that the X-Men film franchise is indeed the best among the Marvel collection. 9/10.
6. Norte: Hangganan ng Kasaysayan (MY REVIEW)
"Norte" is set in the northern province of Ilocos Norte. Fabian Viduya (Sid Lucero) was a topnotch law student who quit law school because of his highfalutin philosophical ideas of a society beyond existentialism and anarchy. Joaquin (Archie Alemania) and Eliza (Angeli Bayani) were a poor couple whose dreams of building their own eatery business are dashed when Joaquin suffers a leg injury and they fell deep into debt. After a heinous crime was committed in their small town of La Paz, these lives of these three people intersected and were thrown into a major maelstrom.
This four-hour long film is not for everyone. Not everyone will have the patience for it. Not everyone will have the time for it. However, for those who do invest their time with this, you will experience the artistic vision upon which Lav Diaz has built his name. The innovative camera angles make mundane household items and rustic scenes look and feel different. 9/10
5. The Grand Budapest Hotel (MY REVIEW)
The hotel was in its heyday as the hangout of the rich and famous, under the efficient management of its charming concierge, M. Gustave H (Ralph Fiennes). When one of his favorite guests, Madame D., was suddenly murdered, Gustave becomes implicated when the Madame bequeaths a precious painting to him, to the dismay of her family. What follows is a merry and witty romp as Gustave sought to prove his innocence with the help of his loyal protégé, the young lobby boy named Zero.
This fanciful story was told as a story written by an old author in the 1980s, describing a night in his youth when he spent with the elderly Zero Moustafa, the owner of the hotel when it was way past its prime in the late 1960s. It was then that Zero related how the Grand Budapest came to be in his possession. I thought director Wes Anderson's layered storytelling style of a tale within a tale within a tale, with his trademark wry humor and out-of-the-box imagery, is totally delightful and inspired. 9/10.
Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) is a space outlaw, self-dubbed "Starlord". After he steals a precious silver orb, he was arrested and put in prison with others who also want the orb for their own selfish reasons. This orb, which contains a powerful Infinity Stone, draws the attention of vicious psycho villain Ronan (Lee Pace), who desires the Stone's powers for his own evil plans. Peter gathers a group of fellow "loser" inmates, namely Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax (Dave Bautista), a raccoon named Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper), and a humanoid tree named Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel). They gallantly fight together to save the orb from falling into Ronan's possession.
This is really an excellent space-age action adventure film that the whole family will enjoy. The humor has several levels for every member of the audience, as jokes went from shallow to sassy to cute to subtle to naughty. That summery soundtrack of 1970s pop hits adds so much to the cheery appeal of this film. Writer James Gunn has certainly stepped up from writing "Scooby-Doo" films to this more complex project, certainly exceeding expectations in this, his first major directorial job. 9/10.
3. Captain America Winter Soldier (MY REVIEW)
The directors Anthony and Joe Russo hit all the right notes in their execution of a complex film. We do not feel the two-hour plus running time pass us by in this excellent action-packed superhero film. Aside from those big fist fights, gun fights, car chases, it also has piracy on the high seas and gigantic aircraft of mass destruction to add to the mayhem. All of these action scenes were executed perfectly - the stunts, the CG effects, the editing, the set-ups -- no loose ends.
The screenplay by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely was able to smoothly tell us about the Cap and the people he loved, along with the history of S.H.I.E.L.D., the history of HYDRA, the history of Black Widow, the history of the Falcon, all on top of a solid politically-charged thriller of a main story about a deadly S.H.I.E.L.D. project called Operation Insight. Again, all these multi-layered details were all tucked in neatly, with no significant plot holes to ponder about. 10/10.
2. Interstellar (MY REVIEW)
Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) is a retired NASA engineer who had been chosen to pilot the spacecraft to further investigate alternative planets for human habitation. Despite the stiff objections of his spirited 10-year old daughter Murphy (Mackenzie Foy), he accepts the mission and lifts off together with his crew of three scientists, Amelia (Anne Hathaway), Doyle (Wes Bentley) and Romilly (David Gyasi).
From there, we are brought on an unparalleled adventure of space, time and humanity by a master who is probably the most challenging writer and director in the film industry today, Christopher Nolan. Front and center in this visually spectacular sci-fi film is the timeless bond between a father and his daughter. The poetic story he has written is multi-layered and emotional, despite its scientific jargon and bleak settings. 10/10.
1. Gone Girl (MY REVIEW)
Five years ago, laidback Missourian Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) married beautiful smart New Yorker Amy (Rosamund Pike). On their fifth wedding anniversary, Nick comes home to find their living room a big mess and his wife missing. The media hounds and persecutes him as police detectives turn up evidence indicating that Nick killed Amy. Nick denies these allegations, but there seems to be no more way out for him. Or is there?
The storytelling skills of David Fincher were flawless in this film. It kept on surprising the audience up to the very end. His slick and fluid style makes us look beyond certain plot details which may seem questionable or even absurd. He raises serious issues about the intricacies of a married relationship and sensationalization of crime by the media. It will not feel like 149 minutes as the unfolding story mesmerizes you. 10/10.