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Five 2014 Films That Restored Our Faith in The Cinematic Experience … and Five That Didn’t

Let’s face it. A lot of films released into theaters don’t lose a lot when viewed on a TV. Some, however, are so epic, so large, that a viewing on a massive screen isn’t recommend. It’s mandatory. Think Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, or to a lesser extent James Cameron’s Titanic. Yes, the movie comes with a massively overrated reputation these days, but seeing it in a theater for the first time with one hundred other people upon its release was jaw dropping. Everyone walked out of the theater floored by the experience. It was so amazing, people saw Titanic five, six, seven times without batting an eye. Other films, like Pulp Fiction, are so original, so energetic, they suck the viewers in, grabbing them by the throat, demanding to be seen.

Pulp Fiction

On the other hand, there are the clunkers. The turds. The movies so bad that watching them on a cell phone is too big of a screen for them. This year had a decent amount of both, but which ones still made going to the movies a worthwhile endeavor, and which ones made Netflix that much more enticing?

Five Films That Restored Our Faith in The Cinematic Experience

1. Interstellar

Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar isn’t a great film. It’s deeply flawed, with plot holes and logic issues out the ying-yang. About the only thing going for it is a fantastic Matthew McConaughey performance and the massive size of the film. Nolan has been at the forefront of utilizing IMAX cameras for his films, going back to The Dark Knight. IMAX creates a larger, deeper, richer picture, perfect for Interstellar’s alien worlds. With Hans Zimmer’s fantastic score blaring (albeit sometimes a bit too loudly), Interstellar provided a true cinematic experience that needs to be seen not only on a movie screen, but an IMAX screen.


2. Guardians of the Galaxy

The beauty of James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy was the unknown. Nobody really knew what to make of a Marvel film that featured Bradley Cooper voicing a raccoon, Vin Diesel as a tree that only said “I am Groot” and the doofus from Parks & Recreation in the lead role. Cut to today and everyone loves Rocket Raccoon, the entire world wants their own dancing Groot, and Chris Pratt is the hottest new movie star out there. Guardians of the Galaxy is probably the closest people today will get to that buzzed, “Did you see that?” feeling audiences had in 1977, when a little film called Star Wars was released. Probably the year’s most pleasant surprise.

Guardians of the Galaxy

3. Boyhood

Few experiences match seeing Richard Linklater’s 12 years in the making masterpiece in the theater. Not only does the film actually capture actors aging on film, but the commitment it took to make a film over the course of 12 years required such sheer discipline that seeing the movie upon release felt a little like seeing an experiment come to fruition. The shooting schedule created such an authentic feel, it was as if the audience wasn’t seeing a film, but real life unfold in front of them. Amazing.


4. The Grand Budapest Hotel

There isn’t a Wes Anderson film out there that isn’t required viewing on the big screen. The man is so skilled at framing each and every shot that a good portion of the minor set details/jokes get lost in translation to the small screen. How many people remember the framed napkin with underwear drawn on it hanging in Owen Wilson’s home in The Royal Tenenbaums? Anderson’s unique visual style is so unique and specific that all of his films need to be seen in a theater. Even The Darjeeling Limited.

Grand Budapest Hotel

5. Ghostbusters – 30th Anniversary Re-release

Um … it’s Ghostbusters. On the big screen. The first special effects-heavy comedy blockbuster. A true classic. Seriously, do I really need to keep droning on about why Ghostbusters back in theaters was a huge event? It was so awesome, Krispy Kreme made Ghostbusters themed doughnuts for a month. Okay, fine. One more. Because it makes over 90 percent of the other films out there look terrible.


Five Films that Made People Wish They’d Just Stayed Home

Not necessarily the five worst movies of the year, just five that people really had no business shelling out hard-earned money for.

1. Transformers: Age of Extinction

Do people need to keep shelling out $10-15 to see a bunch of robot porn on a giant screen? Can they not get enough of this at home with the first three? This movie was a sickening cash grab in every sense of the word. At this point, I don’t even trust Michael Bay to make a halfway decent Bad Boys 3.

2. The Amazing Spider-Man 2

See No. 1, but swap out robot porn with Spider-Man redundancy. It’s time to put the Spider-Man franchise in bed for at least 10 years. Where else can Paul Giamatti earn a sweet six-figure paycheck for spending a few days screaming “I crush you! I kill you!” in front of a camera? Even Spider-Man 3 was better than this misfire.


3. Blended

Blended even surprised me by not being wholly terrible, but that’s not saying a great deal. Even Sandler’s home studio, Sony, doesn’t like putting out his dreck, according to the leaked e-mails that were hacked. Side note: That is a terrible situation. Sandler recently inked a deal with Netflix to star in four – four! – comedies for the streaming service. If there’s a just and fair God, he’ll never leave.

4. Draft Day

This sports movie, set in the front office of the Cleveland Browns on the NFL’s draft day, was lazily directed by Ivan Reitman. Draft Day had a chance, if it were rated R and directed by someone with experience in these alpha-dominated office settings, ie anyone who’s directed an episode of Veep. It also would’ve been better off anywhere but in the theaters.

5. Anything available on iTunes, Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc.

Because it’s easier, and usually cheaper, to stream movies than see them in the theater, not to mention the time saved on driving or gas consumption. Yes, it’s crippling the movie theater industry, but on the whole, that experience has cheapened over the last 10-15 years. People constantly check their cell phones, talk on their cell phones or to each other, generally having a lack of respect for others … with the money it costs to go see a movie, let alone concessions, of course more and more people are opting to stay home and watch something on their TV/home theater system.


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The Author

Ryan Hill

Ryan Hill

Ryan Hill used to spend his time writing screenplays into a notebook instead of doing homework. That love of film and all things storytelling led him to spend most of his time writing. He's been a film critic in North Carolina for over five years, and his debut novel, THE BOOK OF BART, is out now. Please buy it. Ryan also feels odd about referring to himself in the third person.