Of monsters and ego: The best films of 2014

A “weak” year? It's subjective, really. And even then, it can mean a number of things. A weak year for Oscar films? OK, sure. That's just 6,000 people with a certain broad prestige taste, though. A weak year for the nuts and bolts of the trade? I've already argued not. A weak year for box office? I think we've long-proved that's a volatile game of up and down, so who cares? It's just what you like, man. And I liked some stuff.

I liked that the year really set sail when an immaculately crafted Wes Anderson yarn (“The Grand Budapest Hotel”) bowed at the Berlinale and went on to a hugely successful theatrical release. I liked that Jonathan Glazer (“Under the Skin”) got back in the saddle and was as uncompromising as ever while Brendan Gleeson and John Michael McDonagh (“Calvary”) were enriching their on-going partnership.

I liked that the summer, while reportedly a fiscal disappointment, brought multitudes, with Anton Corbijn (“A Most Wanted Man”) providing a beautiful canvas for Philip Seymour Hoffman to paint one more striking performance. I liked that Andy Serkis, Toby Kebbell and an array of actors and animators (“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”) were breaking new ground for the industry while Emily Blunt (“Edge of Tomorrow”) was delivering a kickass female action lead to rival Tom Cruise. And I liked that Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne (“Neighbors”) were providing one context to explore marriage while Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike (“Gone Girl”) would go on to provide an entirely different one to transition the calendar into the fall.

I liked that Nick Broomfield (“Tales of the Grim Sleeper”) raked the muck like never before, and that Jake Gyllenhaal (“Enemy” and “Nightcrawler”) deepened his craft, finding new personal depths. I liked that Damián Szifrón (“Wild Tales”) so deftly explored darkly comedic reaches, and that Christopher Nolan (“Interstellar”) tried to show us something we'd never seen on a screen before. I liked that Graham Moore (“The Imitation Game”) got to see his life-long dream project make it to the screen in the form of a popular, tightly assembled film that will educate audiences, and that Jennifer Kent (“The Babadook”) told an intimate horror story that creeped out William Friedkin. And I liked that Chris Rock (“Top Five”) made me laugh my ass off at the end of the year.

I liked some stuff. So what follows is what I liked the most. It's my relationship with the film year, if you're interested in reading about it. I'd be curious to know yours.

Click through the gallery story below for my personal assessment of the best films of 2014.