Posted on Tuesday, August 12th, 2014 by Peter Sciretta
With Summer 2014 approaching its conclusion, its time to look back and inventory the blockbuster season. For the last few years, the Summer movie season has been filled with a lot of disappointment. This year, however, a lot of great films hit theaters. My top twelve best movies of Summer 2014 list is comprised of a mix of big Hollywood blockbusters and some smaller independent films which played Sundance and other film festivals earlier in the year. Some of these may have flown under your radar. Which films made my top ten movies of Summer 2014? Hit the jump and find out.
Disclaimer: Why isn’t ______ movie on this list? Either the following twelve movies on this list entertained me more, I didn’t care for that movie, or I might not have seen it. Thats right, I have not seen every film released this summer. While I write about movies, I’m not a film critic who sees everything in theaters. (I’ll eventually see anything I’ve heard is half good at home later.) There are even a couple big films like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and The Expendables 3 which I have yet to see, although I don’t expect either film would’ve made this list. So take this list however you want to. Also, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is not on the list because it was released in April. For me, the summer movie season begins in May. Enjoy.
12. X-Men: Days of Future Past
No, it wasn’t quite as good as X-Men: First Class, but it was cool seeing the older X-Men actors sharing the screen with the new class. This is a comic book story I read when I was younger, and it always seemed like such a crazy concept. I never would have expected them to be able to make it into a big screen movie. The futuristic opening with Blink zapping portals and the X-Men team in full action comes close to my hopes and expectations of what an X-Men movie action sequence can be. As much as I didn’t like Quicksilver’s design, I loved seeing the character in action on the big screen.
11. The Signal
The Signal is the kind of science fiction movie that I love — intense, mysterious, original and extremely ambitious. What is The Signal? It’s a puzzle that keeps you guessing and working to figure it out. Director William Eubank (a former cinematographer, something which shows in the visual composition of every frame) crafted a high concept film with big production value and an intimate character story, completed on relatively low budget — under $4 million.
The film tells the story of three friends on a road trip who somehow awaken in a mysterious room. Their attempt to escape begins to reveal more questions than it answers. The Signal premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival and its very likely you might not have thought about seeing it. And you should, but let me warn you that this movie is not for everyone. If you liked the mysteries of Lost or still watch episodes of the old Twilight Zone television series, this was made for you.
10. 22 Jump Street
As an adaptation of a 1980’s high school set crime drama, 21 Jump Street really had no right to actually be a great comedy. But directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller are the masters of “under-promise / over-deliver.” Your expectations? Throw them out the window. 22 Jump Street is genius because not only is it the same thing all over again (only set in college), it’s a send-up of the sequel concept. The film is self-aware and very clever, hilarious, and densely packed with laughs.
As much as I love the fact that Jon Favreau has become a director of big blockbuster films such as Iron Man, I really miss his smaller films like Made, Elf and Swingers. (The last of which he wrote but didn’t direct.) Favreau has returned to his roots a bit with this film, which may have gone under the radar of most of America.
Favreau plays a chef who loses his restaurant job. He starts up a food truck in an effort to return to his more creative work, all the while trying to build a relationship with his estranged son. In a way its a story about Favreau himself, who got stuck working within the system on big films with studio execs demanding he serve all the classic dishes, offering little room for creativity or humanity.
Which is interesting because I feel like this isn’t a groundbreaking film for Favreau, its a return to him making the classics and doing what he does best. The story is a feel-good indie, charming and hard to dislike. Chef will leave you with an appetite. The food cooking sequences earn my highest award for cinematic “food porn”. Designed by LA chef and film consultant Roy Choi, the cooking sequences are some of the best and most realistic I’ve ever seen in a theatrical movie.