2014's Greatest Films Countdown

By: Scott Emigh, Sandite Pride Editor

*Note, this article has been edited as of 6/29/15 to reflect updated grosses, and the addition of 10 films I didn't manage to see till after the article went up.

*Note, this article was initially published on 3/20/2015 at http://scottemigh.weebly.com/movies/2014s-greatest-films-countdown

This is going up quite a bit later than normal but things have been hectic. I always like to post my own opinions of who the best movies are in each year. As you can tell, I didn't get around to seeing a whole lot of movies last year, but below I've listed the 34 movies I did see in order of worst to best, and given them all a 1-5 star rating. Let me know your opinions in the comment section and let me know what your favorite movies were in 2014!

44. A Haunted House 2. 1/2 star.

  • Released 4/18
  • Rotten Tomatoes Rating 8%
  • Budget: $4 million, Gross, $24 million
  • Terrible. Just. Terrible.

43. Endless Love. 1/2 star.

  • Released 2/14
  • Rotten Tomatoes Rating 15%
  • Budget: $20 million, Gross: $34,077,920
  • I don't have a whole lot to say about this movie, because this movie didn't have a whole lot to say about itself. Maybe I'm just missing the days when romcoms still had to be original to be a success, but in this case they decided to take a mediocre movie and make a somehow even worse remake. I wouldn't recommend ever watching this.

42. The Boxtrolls. 1/2 star.

  • Released 9/26
  • Rotten Tomatoes Rating 75%
  • Budget: $60 million, Gross: $108.3 million
  • I expected better than this. I'm not sure what I expected after seeing the trailer, but I definitely didn't get it. This whole movie just left me feeling empty and wishing I had rented literally ANYTHING else.

41. If I Stay. 1 star.

  • Released 8/22
  • Rotten Tomatoes Rating 36%
  • Budget: $11 million, Gross: $78.3 million
  • This was upsetting mainly because of the potential it had. The concept was fantastic, but the execution was abysmal. Then again, I probably can't blame the movie for this because it ultimately relied on its source material which was probably equally bad. 

40. Godzilla. 3 stars.

  • Released 5/16
  • Rotten Tomatoes Rating 74%
  • Budget: $160 million, Gross: $528.7 million
  • I feel bad leaving this movie so close to the bottom of the list. It wasn't a bad movie by any means, I really enjoyed it. It returned to the good old days of monster movies and was one that I will probably revisit with my kids one day. But ultimately I look for magic in a movie and there just wasn't any there. As movies go, this one was better than several that I'm about to list above it on my list, but it's just not one that I expect to watch again anytime soon. I need characters that I can love and the kind of cinematography that I can feel nostalgic about. 

39. The Monuments Men. 2 1/2 stars.

  • Released 2/7
  • Rotten Tomatoes Rating 31%
  • Budget: $70 million, Gross: $155 million
  • This ties in perfectly with what I was saying about Godzilla. I consider Godzilla to be a better movie than Monuments Men, but Monuments Men had better relatable characters. When I revisit a movie, it's not usually for the story, it's for the characters. I already know the story. I want to visit the people I formed a bond with.

38. Sex Tape. 1 1/2 stars.

  • Released 7/18
  • Rotten Tomatoes Rating 17%
  • Budget: $40 million, Gross: $126.1 million
  • This movie was far from the upper echelon of enjoyable comedies. However, I have to put it ahead of MM and Godzilla solely because it IS a comedy. It's a matter of personal preference, but if I'm going to revisit a mediocre movie, I'd rather revisit a mediocre comedy than a mediocre drama. It falls on cliched drug and sex jokes and ultimately offers nothing new to the genre. Cameron Diaz should be doing better than this. 

37. Gone Girl. 2 1/2 stars.

  • Released 10/3
  • Rotten Tomatoes Rating 88%
  • Budget: $61 million, Gross: $368.1 million
  • I wish I could get behind all the hype on this. I believe that Ben Affleck's acting was commendable. And the cinematography and musical score were excellent. But the story just kills me. Once again, (I'm assuming because I haven't actually read it) it probably falls on the shoulders of the source material rather than the actual movie. But this just wan't anything special to me. It was entirely predictable. Nearly everything that happened I could have told you was going to happen ahead of time. And too much of it is littered with holes that would never fly in reality. It was long and dull and left me feeling bored and wishing I had just watched Walker, Texas Ranger reruns instead.

36. Into the Woods. 3 Stars.

  • Released 12/25.
  • Rotten Tomatoes Rating 71%
  • Budget: $50 million, Gross: $212.9 million

35. Lucy. 3 Stars.

  • Released 7/25.
  • Rotten Tomatoes Rating 66%
  • Budget: $40 million, Gross: $458.9 million

34. Noah. 4 stars.

  • Released 3/28
  • Rotten Tomatoes Rating 77%
  • Budget: $125 million, Gross: $362,637,473
  • Once again, the ranking comes down to a matter of personal preference. The actors' performances were convincing, the directing and cinematography were awesome, and (a rarity) we actually had a biblical movie that didn't rehash the same old song and dance as all the adaptations before it. The director brought something new to the table and treated the source material like source material should be treated. When you're making a movie based on a piece of literature, ultimately you're still making your own piece of art. You owe some respect to the original material, but the movie is yours. Do with it what you want. Take it in a new direction. Sure you'll piss off some fans of the original, but at least you're doing something that's your own and is unique. That being said, I am a Christian, I do believe the Bible, and while the artist in me commends the movie, the scholar in me condemns it. I see both sides of the coin, and while I have to recommend it based on artistry, I personally will not be revisiting it because I'm one of the pissed off fans of the original. 

33. Heaven Is For Real. 3 stars.

  • Released 4/16
  • Rotten Tomatoes Rating 46%
  • Budget: $12 million, Gross: $101.3 million
  • This movie lacked any real conflict. There was no antagonist. It was heart warming, well directed, well acted, very enjoyable, but ultimately lacked any real plot. 

32. Son of God. 2 1/2 stars. 

  • Released 2/21
  • Rotten Tomatoes Rating 21%
  • Budget: $22 million, Gross $67,800,064
  • A well intentioned movie for sure. The greatest story ever told. But not told as well as it should have been. It was good, just unnecessary. It's just a PG version of the Passion and it still failed to connect you to any of the characters on a personal level. I doubt I'll be revisiting it any time soon.

31. 22 Jump Street. 3 stars. 

  • Released 6/13
  • Rotten Tomatoes Rating 85%
  • Budget: $65 million, Gross: $331.3 million
  • As comedy sequels go, few are this good. It's not the most original contribution to the genre, but it sure was fun! I enjoyed it every bit as much as the first, possibly even more.

30. A Million Ways to Die in the West 3 stars

  • Released 5/30
  • Rotten Tomatoes Rating 33%
  • Budget: $40 million, Gross: $86.4 million
  • I feel a little hypocritical for ranking this so far ahead of Sex Tape. They're both equally reliant on exhausted drug and sex based humor. However this story was at least semi-original, at least by comparison, and it was expected. When I see Cameron Diaz, Rob Lowe, and Jason Segel, I expect more than I expect from Seth McFarlane. And no one can out-Seth-McFarlane Seth McFarlane. When it comes to stupid middle school humor, he's the best.

29. Left Behind. 3 1/2 stars.

  • Released 10/3.
  • Rotten Tomatoes Rating 2%
  • Budget: $16 million, Gross $19.7 million
  • I never read the book so I don't have that to compare it to. And I haven't seen the first adaptation since I was a child, so I don't really remember it either. In a way, this was kind of my first introduction to a story I had only heard about. It wasn't the 2012 of Christian movies, but it was good. This movie had a $16 million budget. One of the lowest on this list, and yet, it's an apocalyptic disaster movie. They didn't exactly have a lot to work with. But the actors all did wonderful jobs. The story was gripping and convincing. It may not be Oscar worthy but it's still a solid movie all around, and one I intend to add to my DVD collection one day.

28. Deliver Us From Evil. 4 stars. 

  • Released 7/2.
  • Rotten Tomatoes Rating 28%
  • Budget: $30 million, Gross: $87.9 million
  • This was a refreshing large budget horror movie that finds high ground in a genre overly saturated with microbudget jumpscare movies that I can't even tell apart in hindsight. Solid acting, solid premise, excellent execution. It may not be the exorcist, but nothing is these days.

27. The Longest Week. 3.5 Stars.

  • Released 9/5.
  • Rotten Tomatoes Rating 11%
  • Budget: $2.5 million

26. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. 4 stars.

  • Released 10/10.
  • Rotten Tomatoes Rating 62%
  • Budget: $28 million, Gross: $100.7 million
  • This was the perfect family movie, in every way shape and form. It was a total riot. It was completely innocent, light hearted, fun, and accomplished all of that without feeling unintelligent. 

25. Divergent. 3 1/2 stars.

  • Released 3/21
  • Rotten Tomatoes Rating 41%
  • Budget: $85 million, Gross: $288.7 million
  • The YA novel adaptation is a far cry from the Harry Potter movies that started the genre and the Hunger Games movies that are currently ruling it, but it beats the heck out of the Twilight Saga. The concept is interesting, if unoriginal, and the story is well told. It was by no means a great piece of art, but I will probably revisit it several times in my life.

24. Non-Stop. 4 stars.

  • Released 2/28
  • Rotten Tomatoes Rating 60%
  • Budget: $50 million, Gross: $222.8 million
  • Liam Neeson has established himself as the premier action actor of our generation. From Phantom Menace to The Grey and everything in between, whatever he puts his hand to prospers. The story wasn't anything exceptional. I will likely forget all about it up until I stumble upon it on Spike TV years down the line, but something about our old Jedi Master still registers with his fans.

23. As Above, So Below. 4 stars.

  • Released 8/29
  • Rotten Tomatoes Rating 27%
  • Budget: $5 million, Gross $40.2 million
  • Ignore the fact that I was just complaining about microbudget horror films for a minute. Because this one is actually good. It's really good, in fact. It's terrifying, it's original, it's mind-altering. It's one of the top five horror movies I've seen in the last ten years.

22. Birdman. 4.5 Stars.

  • Released 8/27. 
  • Rotten Tomatoes Rating 92%
  • Budget: $18 million, Gross: $103.2 million

21. The Rewrite. 4 Stars.

  • Released 10/8.
  • Rotten Tomatoes Rating 64%

20. The Maze Runner. 3 1/2 stars.

  • Released 9/19.
  • Rotten Tomatoes Rating 63%
  • Budget: $34 million, Gross: $344.3 million
  • Basically, I could just copy and paste my review of Divergent, although I thought it was slightly better than the former.

19. Let's Be Cops. 5 Stars.

  • Released 8/13.
  • Rotten Tomatoes Rating 18%
  • Budget: $17 million, Gross: $137.6 million

18. Guardians of the Galaxy. 4 stars.

  • Released 8/1.
  • Rotten Tomatoes Rating 91%
  • Budget: $195.9 million, Gross: $774.2 million
  • Marvel took a big risk with this movie. And just like all the Marvel risks before it, it paid off. Guardians has received a LOT of hype. Many are even calling it the best Marvel movie to date. It was good. It was really good. But it wasn't THAT good. Chris Pratt was phenomenal, as always. Everyone in it was phenomenal. They were some of the best characters introduced to Hollywood in years. They just weren't MY characters. I loved them, but I associate better with humans, personally. It may not be my favorite franchise in the MCU, but I still look forward to the sequels very eagerly. 

17. Transformers: Age of Extinction. 4 stars.

  • Released 6/27.
  • Rotten Tomatoes Rating 18%
  • Budget: $210 million, Gross: $1.104 billion.
  • Okay, now pretend I didn't just say I relate to humans more. Because I love Transformers. So much. They're my childhood. This movie was better than Revenge of the Fallen, not quite as good as Dark of the Moon or the original. But it was still fantastic. I just hope they let us connect with the Tranformers more than the original series did and doesn't just keep killing them all off and flooding us with new ones. That got old real quick. I loved the addition of MarkyMark and I can't wait for the next installment.

16. X-Men: Days of Future Past. 4 stars.

  • Released 5/23.
  • Rotten Tomatoes Rating 91%
  • Budget: $200 million, Gross: $748.1 million.
  • I've never been a huge X-Men fan. They're incredible films, for sure. And I enjoy them, I've seen them many times, and I own most of them. But they're so dark and serious. They're not as fun as the MCU, and not as good as the Dark Knight Trilogy, so they hang awkwardly in the balance. So I love them, but I'm not in love with them, you know? It's not you, it's me. I just need to work on myself for a while. Oh wait, I forgot what I was doing here. Whew, it's just a movie review. As movies go, this was one of the best X-Men movies yet. The return of Brian Singer was a necessity for the survival of the franchise, and he came back with a bang, and did something that no one else has ever managed to do before. Reboot an established superhero franchise without pissing everyone off and returning to the same old source material. This is everything that the story needed and then some. I'm ecstatic for the future of our mutant friends.

15. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay: Part One. 3 1/2 stars.

  • Released 11/21.
  • Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 65%
  • Budget: $125 million, Gross: $752.1 million.
  • Some movies need to be split up. Harry Potter 7 was one of them. Breaking Dawn was not. This falls somewhere in the middle. It was good, but was it necessary? I'm still not sure. This movie won't win the series any fans. But no one starts a series with the third installment. All I know is, the next one will be fantastic.

14. Transcendence. 4 stars.

  • Released 4/18.
  • Rotten Tomatoes Rating 19%
  • Budget: $100 million, Gross: $103 million.
  • I'm not sure what happened here. I thought it was everything that a good sci-fi movie strives to be; but I guess that's not enough for some people. Forget the critics, go watch this. I'm serious. It might not be your favorite movie ever, but you won't regret it. 

13. This Is Where I Leave You. 3 1/2 stars. 

  • Released 9/19.
  • Rotten Tomatoes Rating 41%
  • Budget: $19.8 million, Gross: $41 million
  • It fits an old mold that's not quite exhausted but is definitely getting there. The dysfunctional family reunion has been done a million times, but it's still a good one. This is a long shot better than that depressing, suicidal-tendency-inducing, nightmare August: Osage County that the critics seemed to love so much. It doesn't quite measure up to Jayne Mansfield's Car, but it's worth watching once or twice.

12. Boyhood. 3 1/2 stars.

  •  Released 7/11.
  • Rotten Tomatoes Rating 98%
  • Budget: $4 million, Gross: $44.5 million
  • It's not the best coming-of-age film to come out. Not even this decade. It was really the only one that even came out in 2014 so I guess it sealed in that genre. The concept was incredibly original. Shooting the same actors over a decade rather than simply getting new ones or donning tons of makeup was a genius experiment. The only problem is, I don't want to see 10 years of a characters life. Then there's no true story. There was no climax, no rising or falling action, no antagonistic character or force. It was just a series of moments that impressed upon the protagonist's growth. A truly great coming-of-age film doesn't need a ton of these moments, it only needs one. Just one day. One event. Look at 16 Candles, The Breakfast Club, Napolean Dynamite. You get my point. Go watch it, it's good. Just don't expect to fall in love.

11. The Theory of Everything. 4.5 Stars.

  • Released 9/27.
  • Rotten Tomatoes Rating 79%
  • Budget: $15 million, Gross: $121.2 million

10. American Sniper. 4 stars. 

  • Released 12/25
  • Rotten Tomatoes Rating 72%
  • Budget: $58.8 million, Gross: $547.1 million
  • Forget the politics. Forget your opinion of the man this story is about. Forget what you think about the war itself. Consider this movie to be a total work of fiction if that's what it takes. Focus on just the story. Just the acting. Just the character. This story was beautiful. The directing was excellent. Bradley Cooper was utterly convincing in every way. The character is lovable. The only thing that detracts from this movie is the end-game. The resolution that they're shooting for. Lone Survivors was about trying to get extracted. Green Zone was about exposing the truth. Hurt Locker was counting down the days left till he could return. This was just a man who repeatedly returned when he didn't have to. He could have gone home. His reasons for staying were commendable for sure. But they weren't do or die. Without that driving force, the movie fell just a tad bit short. But it was still a masterpiece. One I intend to purchase soon and watch many more times.

9. Horrible Bosses 2. 4 Stars.

  • Released 11/26
  • Rotten Tomatoes Rating 35%
  • Budget: $42 million, Gross: $106.6 million

8. The Amazing Spider-Man. 4 stars.

  • Released 5/2.
  • Rotten Tomatoes Rating 53%
  • Budget: $255 million, Gross: $709 million
  • I'm a big Spiderman fan. I always have been. That alone means this is going to rank among my favorite movies of the year. I prefer the original trilogy to the remakes, but I prefer this one to both Spiderman 1 and Amazing Spider-Man 1. Mainly because of Gwen. I like Raimi storyline more than the Webb storyline. I like Toby McGuire more than I like Andrew Garfield. But I love Gwen far more than I like MJ. This movie had some cheesy moments, and it felt overcrowded with villains, but it was still really good. I won't give any spoilers, but it's a sobfest for sure.

7. Big Hero 6. 5 Stars.

  • Released 10/23
  • Rotten Tomatoes Rating 89%
  • Budget: $165 million, Gross: $652.1 million.

6. Exodus: Gods and Kings. 5 stars.

  • Released 12/12
  • Rotten Tomatoes Rating 28%
  • Budget: $140 million, Gross: $268 million
  • This is one of those movies where I just have to ask, "What were the critics smoking?" This movie was nearly perfect in every way. It was the biblical movie I've been dying for. It was so unbelievably convincing in every way. I can't even find words to do this story justice. Everything Christian Bale does is going to be great. Ridley Scott has proven himself time and time again. Go ahead and buy this movie. Don't rent it, don't borrow it, buy it. 

5. The Judge. 5 stars.

  • Released 10/10.
  • Rotten Tomatoes Rating 47%
  • Budget: $50 million, Gross: $83.7 million.
  • This movie was as perfect as possible in every way shape and form. Duvall and Downey gave riveting performances and each deserved to be nominated for Best Actor in my opinion. The fact that the whole movie only received one Oscar nomination is a slap in the face. It was expertly directed, well written, evenly paced, and had an exceptional cast. The fact that this is a story that's already been told a thousand times and yet still manages to feel refreshing, interesting, and fails to feel even the tiniest bit cliched says a lot about the people who invested so much hard work and dedication to this film. I look forward to adding this to my collection and revisiting it many times over the years. 

5. The Judge. 5 stars.

  • Released 10/10.
  • Rotten Tomatoes Rating 47%
  • Budget: $50 million, Gross: $83.7 million.
  • This movie was as perfect as possible in every way shape and form. Duvall and Downey gave riveting performances and each deserved to be nominated for Best Actor in my opinion. The fact that the whole movie only received one Oscar nomination is a slap in the face. It was expertly directed, well written, evenly paced, and had an exceptional cast. The fact that this is a story that's already been told a thousand times and yet still manages to feel refreshing, interesting, and fails to feel even the tiniest bit cliched says a lot about the people who invested so much hard work and dedication to this film. I look forward to adding this to my collection and revisiting it many times over the years. 

3. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. 5 stars.

  • Released 7/11.
  • Rotten Tomatoes Rating 90%
  • Budget $170 million, Gross: $708.8 million
  • Yes. Yes. So much Yes. This is what movie making is all about. This is a return to the Hollywood Sci-Fi classics of old. This movie can stand shoulder to shoulder with Empire Strikes Back, Dune, and even the original Planet of the Apes. I have been in love with the POTA saga for as long as I can remember, and this is everything I dreamed it would be. Gary Oldman is a legend. Jason Clarke is perfect. Andy Serkis is magic. Matt Reeves spins his web with expert skill and brings together a story that will last through the ages. And Michael Giacchino's contribution should not be overlooked either. This deserves a spot in your library if anything does. If you haven't seen it yet, run, don't walk, to Redbox and speed home immediately. 

2. Interstellar. 5 stars. 

  • Released 11/4.
  • Rotten Tomatoes Rating 72%
  • Budget: $165 million, Gross: $672.7 million
  • Much of what I just said about Dawn applies here as well. While the characters aren't the kind to last through the ages, the visuals will without a doubt. It may lack the magical cast of Star Wars and Avatar, but it is just as groundbreaking in its visual scope. Christopher Nolan is my favorite director ever. Period. He is legendary. Matthew McConaughey, Jessica Chastain, Anne Hathaway, and Michael Caine fill out this all-star cast and perfectly compliment one of the most gripping and haunting storylines ever told. This is 2001. This is Clockwork Orange. This is Inception. This is a story that will forever be listed with the greats.

1. Captain America: The Winter Soldier. 5 stars.

  • Released 4/4
  • Rotten Tomatoes Rating 89%
  • Budget: $170 million, Gross: $714.8 million
  • Captain America is my favorite hero of all time. Chris Evans is the greatest fit for a character since Hugh Jackman was cast as Wolverine. The Winter Soldier is the greatest second installment to a series since Empire Strikes Back. Big words, and I stand by them. I can't even come up with words to describe the level of perfection that this film achieves. I can say that it is the greatest Marvel film to date, and the only thing that I see coming close to it in the foreseeable future is the next Captain America installment, Civil War, which will also be directed by the Russo brothers. I can also say that this movie was the greatest comic-book adaptation of all time.

So there you have it! Let me know what you think in the comments down below and let me know some other 2014 movies you think I need to see!

*Note, this article has been edited as of 6/29/15 to reflect updated grosses, and the addition of 10 films I didn't manage to see till after the article went up.

*Note, this article was initially published on www.scottemigh.weebly.com