Thursday, March 5, 2015

Reel Talk: Top 10 Movies of 2014

No red carpets! No gaudy envelopes or musical montages! No stumbling Terrence Howard or Neil Patrick Harris prancing in his underwear! Not here folks! Just the moment you've all been waiting for... brought to you by the use of too many exclamation points!!! After watching fifty some odd films, I have narrowed down the top ten stand out movies of 2014! (Cue Echo)

Honorable Mention

Synopsis: A drama centered on a go-go dancer with multiple personality disorder who struggles to remain her true self and begins working with a psychotherapist to uncover the mystery of the inner ghosts that haunt her.

Commentary:  Though this movie received nationwide distribution in 2014, it had been on the shelf since 2010, the year I originally viewed it and when it had its'  short theatrical run in Los Angeles. Therefore, it can not be included in the top ten list. Nevertheless, it is an outstanding film with Halle Berry juggling some major characters and themes It will be released on Netflix this month!


Synopsis: Jon, a young wanna-be musician, discovers he's bitten off more than he can chew when he joins an eccentric pop band led by the mysterious and enigmatic Frank.*

Review: The poster does not begin to describe the eccentricities and quirk you'll experience and for that very reason, Frank and his motley crew, are worth getting acquainted with. (A-)


Synopsis: A washed-up actor, who once played an iconic superhero, battles his ego and attempts to recover his family, his career and himself in the days leading up to the opening of his Broadway play.

Review:  A sharp script, deft camera work, career defining performances from its' supporting cast (Emma Stone and Edward Norton), and the resurrection of Micheal Keaton are some of the favorable components that make up the surreal yet sublime journey  known as Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (B+)


Synopsis: A group of intergalactic criminals are forced to work together to stop a fanatical warrior from taking control of the universe. 

Review: A collective groan was let out with the announcement that Guardians of The Galaxy would be adapted into a movie. A talking raccoon...really? Well despite the initial skepticism, James Gunn manages to transform one of Marvel's  most obscure properties into a fun filled, entertaining vehicle that can be enjoyed by all comers alike. Make mine Marvel (B+)


Synopsis: With his wife's disappearance having become the focus of an intense media circus, a man sees the spotlight turned on him when it's suspected that he may not be innocent.

Review: Backed by Trent Reznor's haunting scores, Gone Girl is a lengthy yet engrossing trip down a nihilistic rabbit hole which journeys through media constructed martyrdom and the perception of convinced power within relationships. (A-)


Synopsis: The X-Men send Wolverine to the past in a desperate effort to change history and prevent an event that results in doom for both humans and mutants.

Review: Bryan Singer returns to the franchise that made him a household name with X-Men Days of Futures Past. The iconic story arc gets it just due with Bryan at the helm. You can feel Singer painstakingly revising the missteps taken by previous entries in the series ,resulting in one of the most emotionally layered comic book adaptations to date.(A-)


Synopsis: As Steve Rogers struggles to embrace his role in the modern world, he teams up with another super soldier, the black widow, to battle a new threat from old history: an assassin known as the Winter Soldier.

Review:  Captain American Winter Soldier not only acts as great companion piece to 2012's Avengers, as it relates to being able to satisfy both comic book purist and the casual viewer alike, it also is able to weave quite the espionage tale filled with double turns, startling revelations, and wry dialogue.Welcome to new the age of comic book film! (A-) 


Synopsis: During World War II, mathematician Alan Turing tries to crack the enigma code with help from fellow mathematicians.

Review: At first glance, one may mistake The Imitation Game to be cold and calculating as the enigma code itself. What the viewer witnesses instead is a very nuanced and multilayered tale  of Mr. Alan Turning, brilliantly played by Bendict Cumberpatch, and the  heartbreaking trials and  inspiring triumphant of one ostracized by society.(A)


Synopsis: A chronicle of MLK's campaign to secure equal voting rights via an epic march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in 1965.  

Review: Selma succeeds as a beautiful portrait of  progress  and triumph as well as a stark reminder of the sacrifices that were made to obtain basic human rights. Ava DuVernay  skillfully captures a rare, intimate and vulnerable glimpse into the  life of the towering figure known Martin Luther King, rousingly portrayed by David Oyelowo. Bravo! (A)


Synopsis:  Witness the lives of four Ivy league college students intertwine.

Review: Satirical, without over indulging in self deprecation, take note Aaron McGruder ,Key & Peele, etc.Dear White People is pugilistic yet dexterous in its' deconstruction of racial tropes and caricatures that have been the bedrock of black entertainment. Though the title may be polarizing, those with an open mind will benefit in learning that our culture is not simply a monochromatic, thumbnail sketch, but rather a menagerie of beliefs, backgrounds, and experiences. Go See! (A+)


Synopsis: A promising young drummer enrolls at a cut-throat music conservatory where his dreams of greatness are mentored by an instructor who will stop at nothing to realize a student's potential.

Review: Calculating with compulsion and jolting with meticulously built tension,Whiplash is appropriately named and is in contention for best film of the year.If J.K. Simmons doesn't leave you squirming in your skin, then perhaps you move to the beat of a stoic drummer! (A+) 

To check out the full list of movies viewed by The CogNegro in the year 2014, click here !


  1. YAY! YAY! Whiplash made your #1 spot! (I had no idea how invested I'd become in your lists until I saw it and let out a little yelp.)

  2. I have to see The Imitation Game...Benedict is a great actor