2014 has been a thrilling year in film that's included not only heartbreaking love stories and pulse-pounding adventures, but also outrageous comedy and unforgettable drama. After carefully shifting through everything cinemas had to offer, we've come up with the movies that were absolute musts this year for our list of the 10 Best Movies of 2014.
Angelina Jolie and her to-die-for cheekbones steps into the sky-high horns and devastating fashions of 'Sleeping Beauty's' iconic villainess, and dares to show Maleficent's softer side. So much more than a powerful sorceress with a killer smile, Jolie brings her own thoughts on womanhood, motherhood and even her own kid (Vivienne Jolie-Pitt in cameo mode) to the film that's been her biggest hit to date. Peppered with flustered fairies, beautiful beasts and a picture perfect princess, 'Maleficent' gave modern audiences a fairy tale that was fresh yet timeless in 2014.
Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill re-team for a sequel that takes the undercover crew to college, where tables are turned and hilarity ensues. Directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller parody the sequel genre with plenty of meta winks and nods in '22 Jump Street, one of the best movies of 2014 -- including an after credits montage that's among the film's funniest moments. But despite how magical the pairing of Hill and Tatum is, what's got us most pumped about this pic is the breakout performance of comedienne Jillian Bell as a sneering dorm roommate. She's going to be the next Melissa McCarthy. Trust us.
Bold, bubbly and blisteringly funny, this indie comedy stars the incomparable Jenny Slate as a 20-something stand-up comic whose path to happiness includes an embarrassing breakup, a drunken one-night-stand, a couple of onstage meltdowns and an abortion. Director Gillian Robespierre embraces Slate's wacky -- and sometimes gross -- brand of humor, allowing for a striking emotional honesty about what it's like to be a young woman today. Slate challenges our expectations for a rom-com heroine, then gives us something fresh and fantastic.
Its concept sounded like a desperate toy commercial, but directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller make their second appearance on our list by reminding us all of the creative wonder and joy that is playing with LEGOs with their inventive and hilarious action-comedy. Chris Pratt leads a pitch-perfect voice cast as everyman (or every-minifig) Emmett, who literally stumbles into a thrilling adventure and a chance to save the world. From Unikitty's business meeting to Batman's "dark" theme song, and Liam Neeson's split-personality Bad Cop, everything is awesome in this animated epic from 2014.
Academy Award-winner Reese Witherspoon returns with loads of Oscar buzz with this drama, based on the best-selling memoir of the aptly named Cheryl Strayed. After years of bad decisions, Strayed was at a low-point when she made a desperate bid to turn her life around, hiking 1,000 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail, alone. Witherspoon is riveting in this intimate look at a broken soul reborn. After earning wild praise on the festival circuit, this vibrant drama hits theaters in December 2014, just in time to dazzle for awards season.
In what is easily the best casting choice ever made, Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton star as long-loving vampires Adam and Eve. When he's afflicted with eternal ennui, she swings into his rundown Detroit home with books, love and inspiration. But their blissful reunion is spoiled with the arrival of Eve's reckless little sister (Mia Wasikowska). Its performances are graceful, impossibly cool and surprisingly hilarious. Between its rich production design, clever script and intoxicating score, director Jim Jarmusch offers an unconventional horror movie that's feast for the senses.
Based on the beloved novel by the great John Green, this teen-driven romantic drama proved to be a perfect tearjerker -- and one of the best movies of 2014. Shailene Woodley stars as cancer-afflicted teen Hazel Grace, who finds a new lease on life and a shot at love when she crosses paths with sweet and dreamy Gus (Ansel Elgort) in her support group. When your romantic leads both have cancer, you can't expect a happy ending. And yet the tender tale unfolded by two charismatic performers, bolstered by an addictive soundtrack and topped off with a sure-to-make-you-lose-it finale, gave us something even sweeter.
As the follow-up to his chilling adaptation of 'The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo,' director David Fincher sunk his teeth into the deeply twisted novel about Amazing Amy and her bizarre disappearance. And it's everything fans of the Gillian Flynn thriller wished for. Ben Affleck lends his oafish affability to the role of Nick Dunne, a husband under suspicion. Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry and Kim Dickens offer stellar supporting turns, but this movie is owned by Rosamund Pike. Her complicated portrayal as the titular girl had tongues wagging and could well have Oscar calling.
A limited-release out of England, this beautifully shot biopic reveals the incredible true story of Dido Elizabeth Bell, the mixed race daughter of an aristocrat in 18th century England. Her family name gave her status, but her skin color made her an outsider in a world of privilege. Yet Dido refused to cower to anyone. Moreover, she urged social change and found true love. It's an inspiring story that plays like the wortks of Jane Austen. But best of all is captivating leading lady Gugu Mbatha-Raw, who we're ready to see lots more from.
'The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1'
Having twice escaped the titular games, Katniss Everdeen must tackle new terrain as a revolutionary leader, pitted against the vicious President Snow. Jennifer Lawrence delivers a performance that's as moving and haunting as that song she sings that we can't get out of our heads. Couple this with breathtaking action sequences and dizzying drama (not to mention a generous dose of Effie side-eye), and 'Mockingjay' isn't just the best' 'Hunger Games' movie yet, but also the best movie of 2014.