15 Movies To Be Thankful For This Year

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.

Veronica Mars

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.

Jodorowsky's Dune

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.

Draft Day

Out of every movie on this list, here's the one you probably aren't going to agree with. But I don't care. You see, I watch a lot of football and am a sucker for a good sports movie. One of the major things that hold back movies about professional football is the fact the National Football League doesn't participate and the fake teams always make the movie feel fake. Enter Draft Day, an uplifting, exciting story about the NFL with the full participation of the NFL. Personally, I love the movie, but even if you don't, the fact the NFL allowed their teams to be part of a movie is a huge deal. And for a realistic NFL movie, we're thankful.

Edge of Tomorrow

Tom Cruise in a sci-fi action movie about time travel? Wake me up when it's over, right? Wrong. While Edge of Tomorrow didn't have a lot of hype or expectations going in, director Doug Liman made one of the most energetic and fun sci-fi action films in a long time. Edge of Tomorrow isn't only fun to watch because of the action and time travel, though. It also opens up lots of debate. Edge of Tomorrow reminds us that big budget sci-fi action can still have some teeth and for that we're thankful.


When we first heard about Bong Joon-ho's Snowpiercer, it wasn't good news. We heard that The Weinstein Company didn't want to release the director's original version of the movie. They wanted a good chunk cut out, some more exposition added, it sounded like a disaster. However, buzz about the original cut of the film won over and we were given one of the best films of the year: an original, sci-fi film with big thrills and bigger ideas. It's not everyday a filmmakers final vision is questioned and still makes it to the big screen, but it happened with Snowpiercer, and for that we're thankful.

Life Itself

Even for a talented filmmaker like Steve James, a movie about a movie critic seems like a daunting task. Thankfully, with the Roger Ebert documentary Life Itself, James not only made a movie about a film critic, he made one about humanity, love, laughter and so much more. He made the kind of movie that not only serves as great ode to Roger Ebert, but one Ebert himself would surely have given two thumbs up. James didn't have to make perfect monument to Roger Ebert, but he did, and for that we're thankful.


We've all had ideas we think are good. But are they good two days from now, two weeks from now, two years from now? How about 12 years from now? Richard Linklater's Boyhood started with a seemingly simple idea. Tell the story of one child shot over twelve years. Small idea, but a huge execution as the script was molded over a decade plus, everyone had to come back and more. On paper, it seems like a near impossible thing to see through to completion but Linklater did and he made one of, if not the, best films of the year. Richard Linklater stuck with his idea for 12 years and made an unforgettable movie and for that we're thankful.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Even the best Hollywood sequels don't break many rules. They may be different from the previous film, but they don't do things that could potentially alleinate an audience. Things like make almost all the stars of your movie performance captured apes, or use subtitles and sign language for the majority of the film. But that's what Matt Reeves did and the results speak for themselves. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is not only a great sequel, it's arguably one of the best Apes movies in a history that spans decades. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes never takes the easy route out, always kept story and character first, and to do that in a big Hollywood blockbuster, we're grateful.

Guardians of the Galaxy

Though most people didn't know the Guardians of the Galaxy before James Gunn's film hit theaters, it came with incredibly high expectations. This was the first Marvel Studios cosmic film, billed as a sci-fi opera, and the early trailers made it look like the film could be this generation's Star Wars. Well, Guardians might not be Star Wars, but the action, humor and emotion blew away any high expectations that were set before the movie came out. It made a lot of money, created lots of new fans, and Guardians of the Galaxy proved that big movies can still, sometimes, exceed the hype. For that we're thankful.

The One I Love

Spoilers are everywhere. Even the smallest surprise in a movie these days is damn near impossible to avoid if you use the Internet. If The Empire Strikes Back came out in 2014, we'd have known Darth Vader was Luke's father months before release. But The One I Love showed that some spoilers could be avoided. The film premiered at Sundance 2014, which means it was out in the wild in January, but I bet for those us us who saw it months later, we were still shocked by the film's twists and turns, of which there are many. The One I Love proved spoilers can be avoided and movies can still surprise, and for that we're thankful.

John Wick

I can almost guarantee, the first time you heard about John Wick, you didn't care. Keanu Reeves gets revenge on some bad guys because they kill his dog? And what does that title mean? There was no way this movie was going to be good. As the saying goes, don't judge a movie by its poster. Not only was John Wick good, it was great. Reeves' best film since The Matrix, creating a rich, detailed, fascinating world of assassins with plenty of mind blowing action along the way. John Wick proved even that movies that look absolutely terrible can be fantastic and for that we're thankful.

The Babadook

Every year we're force fed disposable horror films. The same formula, over and over again, traced back to a bunch of classic films released decades before. However, every once in a while, a tried and true horror niche can be made not only scary, but poignant. The Babadook is that, a film about a family haunted by a demon housed in a children's book. Not only is the film terrifying, it's also a dark look at the psychology of a single parent, giving the film just enough to make it really special. The Babadook proves that horror movies can still mean something and for that we're thankful.