For the next few weeks, you’re going to be hearing a lot about how great a year for movies 2014 was. That’s true, but this is not that list — this isn’t our “best of 2014.” As it is Thanksgiving week here in the United States, we’ve come up with a list of movies from 2014 we should be thankful for. These are all good films, but each of them has something unique about them. Something that makes us thankful they exist.
So what does that mean? Well some of these films should probably not exist. Others should probably not have been good. And a few contained surprises, stories or topics that are simply miraculous for one reason or another. We’ll explain each below as we unveil the 15 films to be thankful for this year.
The Lego Movie
Several years ago, when the news first broke that Warner Bros. was trying to make a Lego movie, everyone was skeptical. That the filmmakers of Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs were going to make it was interesting, but really, how could you make a good movie about a toy brand? Phil Lord and Chris Miller pulled off the impossible by doing just that. It used what makes the toy great and told an original, fun story, with an insane amount of smarts, laughs and heart. There’s no way we should have gotten a legitimately great movie about Lego in 2014, but we did. And for that we’re thankful.
The Wind Rises
Late in 2013, legendary filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki announced he was going to retire from directing. His latest film, The Wind Rises, would be his last. That in itself made this film – released for Oscar consideration in 2013 but opened wide in 2014 – special. What made it better is how it’s basically the story of Miyazaki himself. The lead character is considered one of the best airplane engineers in the world but as he grows old, realizes no matter how great other people think his work is, it’s never quite made him happy. The fact we got one last Hayao Miyazaki film in 2014 is amazing, and for that we’re thankful.
In 2007, the cut TV show Veronica Mars went off the air. It had a decent run, three seasons, but fans craved more. Well, it took several years but eventually, they got a movie. It was no easy feat, however. The film started as a Kickstarter, got a major studio release and though it didn’t really do too well at the box office, fans got their wish. They got one more case with Veronica and her pals. There’s pretty much no way a Veronica Mars movie should ever have been made but it did and for that, we’re thankful.
For every movie that gets made and released, there are dozens that didn’t. One of the most famous, and definitely the most influential, was Dune by Alejandro Jodorowsky. The eccentric filmmaker spent years putting together an incredible wealth of talent to make a movie unlike anything anyone had ever seen, but then it went away. The result? Films like Alien, The Terminator, Blade Runner and many, many others that got made by the team Jodorowsky created or were influenced for his work. Jodorowsky’s Dune tells a fascinating behind the scenes Hollywood story. The kind of story fans never get to hear, let alone see play out in dramatic fashion on the big screen. And for that access and historical document, we’re thankful.
The Raid 2
The first Raid was a pretty decent size hit, so it getting a sequel was expected. What wasn’t expected was just how far director Gareth Evans would take it. The Raid 2 is miraculous. An operatic two plus hours of fists, fury, blood and bullets. It’s not only an unbelievable sequel, it’s an all-time great action film period. There is a short list of sequels that improve on the original, and The Raid 2 is now on it. The Raid 2 reminds us that not all sequels suck, and for that we’re thankful.