It’s debate day here on Trope & Dagger! This week we’re looking back on 2014 and picking our favorite film of the year! To read about Andy’s pick for best film of the year, go here: Incorrect things. Now let me tell you why I’m right and his opinion is wrong!
So here we are, 2015. Looking forward, onward, to a bright tomorrow full of hoverboards, a new Jaws movie, and chest-mounted sounding boards.
With that on the horizon, I thought I would take a moment to look back on the treasures that we had on the big screen during 2014. Sifting through them, it’s hard to pick a favorite. We had exciting films like Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Godzilla, and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. Then there were hilarious comedies, like Neighbors, Let’s Be Cops, and The Interview. And let’s not forget the more dramatic fair, such as This is Where I Leave You, Birdman, and Unbroken. However, I think that out of all the films released in 2014, there is one clear winner, and I think you’ll all agree with me:
The superb acting, the incredible fight scenes, and the heartbreaking story of Adam Frankenstein made I, Frankenstein the clear best picture of 2014.
Just kidding. That movie is a turdblossom. The best film of 2014 is Guardians of the Galaxy.
The story of Peter Quill and his ragtag team of Guardians was a huge gamble for Disney and Marvel Studios, and it payed off in a tremendous way. Now, I know that it could be said that almost every new property that Marvel studios has churned out has been a risk on the studio’s part, but I’d say that GotG was somehow more so than even Thor and Captain America. After all, who really thought that a movie featuring a walking, talking tree and his crass raccoon friend would really appeal to mass amounts of movie-goers?
My co-conspirator Andy would have you believe that The Grand Budapest Hotel is the best picture of the year. And it is a fine film, to be sure. If you enjoy pretentious characters and Tilda Swindon in horrible old lady make-up. Some call it Wes Anderson’s best film, and while that may be so, it’s so painfully Wes Anderson that it became a cliché. The set-pieces, the colors, the way characters interacted, it was all so painfully Wes Anderson that I half expected to catch a scene of him jerking off in the corner.
When you watch Guardians of the Galaxy, you’re watching James Gunn created an entire universe, filled with vibrant, unique characters, unlike anything that he’s ever created in the past. You can’t even compare this film to the likes of Super or Slither, it’s so radically different, and that’s truly the mark of a great director. He’s telling a story unlike any of his other amazing stories, and getting us to care about strange characters who we really have very little in common with. Wes Anderson? “Hey look at these weirdos with strange banter, subtitled and framed in perfect symmetry!”
Let’s look further at Guardians of the Galaxy. Chris Pratt as Peter Quill was fantastic. I’ve been a fan of his since season 2 of Parks and Recreation, and I’m thrilled that he finally got a star-making turn in this film. He knocked it out of the park as the reluctant leader of the Guardians, uniting a team that had no reason to trust one another and saving an entire planet and beyond. He was funny, charming, and kicked ass in all his action scenes. He is what Harrison Ford could have been, had he not decided to become a crotchety old man.
Then we have Zoe Saldana as Gamora. She was a heroine that didn’t take any bullshit, was more than a mere romantic interest (where’s that in Wes Anderson films?), and could hold her own against the toughest opponents. I need more Zoe Saldana in my life.
Then there’s Dave Bautista as Drax the Destroyer. It’s an interesting character, and he knocks it out of the park. I remember reading an anecdote about a young child with autism really connecting with how the character could only take things literally and didn’t understand metaphors. It’s true, the director turned a man with autism into an action star, and he was a stand out part of the movie.
Then we get to the real heart of the movie: Groot and Rocket Raccoon. We actually don’t learn much about their characters, and that makes it all the more amazing that we connect with them almost more than anyone else through the course of the film. When Rocket has a small break down because he is made fun of, saying how he didn’t ask to be made the way he is, you get a real sense of the characters tragic past and ongoing suffering due to what has happened to him, even though we don’t know what it is for sure. Then, when he’s pleading with Groot not to sacrifice himself at the end of the film and Groot responds “We are Groot,” it is more emotionally impactful than anything I’ve seen on screen in the past year. You’ve got to give it up to the animators, Bradley Cooper, and Vin Diesel. They made those characters real and they broke our hearts.
Then we have the action. The action in this movie was superb. Whether it was the prison break, the massive starship battle, or the small scuffle between four of the guardians at the beginning of the film, the action choreography was fantastic. Even in the effects heavy scenes, you could always tell what was going on, and it was thrilling and energetic. Though I could have used a little more Gamora on Nebula action, but no film is perfect.
Additionally, this movie was funnier than any other film that came out this year, even those specifically designed for the laughs. No film made me laugh more than this one. I mean, what other film would climax with the main lead challenging the villain to a dance-off, then actually following through and have him dancing like a fool while the bad guy stares in disbelief. I was in stitches at that. Or when Rocket has Peter obtain a man’s prosthetic leg just because he though it would be funny? There were so many classic moments that I could devote an entire post to them, so I’m going to move on.
Finally, the soundtrack was stellar. Filled with classics from years past, it was a character unto itself in this film, and did a fantastic job of helping us feel at home in this strange universe full of craziness and danger. I bought the soundtrack almost immediately after seeing the movie, and I listen to it quite often still. I would absolutely commend the filmmakers on their decisions regarding the music in this film.
It’s for these reasons and more that Guardians of the Galaxy was my clear winner for best picture of 2014. There’s no film that I would go back and watch more, and I believe that this will stand the test of time as a classic film. The Grand Budapest Hotel was a fine film, but I consider it just another Wes Anderson movie that will simply blend in with the rest. Guardians of the Galaxy is truly unique and is the film I will remember best and most fondly from 2014. We are Groot.