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2014 MIDYEAR REPORT

Lists by-Jarrett Leahy & Jason Chandler!

With the calendar turning to the month of July, it’s time to take a look back on the first half of 2014 movie year and highlight those films that shined brighter than the rest while also looking forward to what is still to come. While the odds say a good number of these movies won’t wind up on my end of year list, these are the films that were the most impressive so far at this midway point of 2014 and have earned their place for future consideration.

JARRETT LEAHY’S MIDYEAR LIST (UNRANKED):

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CAPTAIN AMERICA: THER WINTER SOLDIER: Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson impress in this dark, well-crafted, conspiracy storyline that keeps you hooked all the way to the end. My Review

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EDGE OF TOMORROW: Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt team up to create a tense, humorous, electrifying sci-fi thriller that expands on the alien invasion sub-genre to create a truly original movie experience. My Review

Enemy-2013-Movie-Poster

ENEMY: Jake Gyllenhaal gives not one but two absorbing performances in this eerie thriller I found to be one of the most hauntingly fascinating and intoxicatingly thought-provoking films of the first half of 2014. My Review

grand_budapest_hotel_ver2_xlgTHE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL: Gifted dramatic actor Ralph Fiennes shows off a surprisingly sharp comedic side in this outlandishly scrumptious fable filled with artfully lavish set pieces and a gifted cast that second to none. My Review

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HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2: DreamWorks Animation created a truly exhilarating piece of cinema that ascends to the upper echelon of the all-time animated feature films. My Review

life_itself_ver2_xlgLIFE ITSELF: A documentary about the late film critic Roger Ebert, Life Itself a beautiful film that gracefully celebrates the grand life of a man who brought joy to so many of us over the years through his prolific writing and shared love of cinema. Life Itself is officially hitting theaters this weekend in limited release, if you can, please find this movie. My Review

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X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST: A tense, skillfully crafted script and a cast of gifted A-list actors helped create a superb, first-rate action film that surpassed all my expectations. My Review

With so many more movies to enjoy this second half including Boyhood, The Drop, Gone Girl, I Origins, Inherent Vice, Interstellar, Lucy, Magic In The Moonlight, and Snowpiercer, I’m hoping 2014 will end on a strong note. Happy viewing!-JL

JASON CHANDLER’S MIDYEAR LIST:

Although I would hesitate to put any of the movies I have watched so far this year into a “Best Of” anything list, I’ll go ahead and throw out some movies that I at least found entertaining or intriguing.  Chances are they won’t be anywhere in sight as an end of year list, but they are at least worth a watch or two.

non-stop-poster5. Non-Stop:  Refreshingly free of nausea-inducing shaky cam shots and senses-dulling CGI overload, Liam Neeson continues his aging tough guy gig with this airplane thriller. Reminiscent of the glory days of action movies from the late 80’s and early 90’s, this one is a worthy addition for action fans.

Jack-Ryan-Shadow-Recruit-Movie-Poster4. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit: Chris Pine is the latest hot shot to take over the role of CIA analyst Jack Ryan, bringing some new energy to the Tom Clancy inspired franchise.  Kevin Costner continues his career comeback as Ryan’s handler, lending a steady hand to the proceedings. Ryan and friends once again face off against a familiar foe: those big bad Russians.

mccanick-poster23. McCanick: Judging by it’s IMDB scores, me and one other person are the only ones on the face of the Earth to NOT dislike this movie. Sure, the last act went off the rails a bit, but David Morse’s portrayal of dirty cop Mack McCanick was one that sticks in your craw for quite a while. As cop movies go, this one is dark and gritty, but worthwhile, even if only for the conversation it will bring about.

enemy_ver2_xlg2. Enemy: Watching Enemy only reinforced what I felt after watching the excellent Prisoners last year: Denis Villeneuve is one of the most skilled and exciting new directors working today.  Equal parts Kubrick, Nolan, and Lynch, this one will suck you into its twisted web (no pun intended…maybe).  Enemy will leave you shaking your head, or maybe your fist, but it sure is worth the ride.

edge_of_tomorrow_ver5_xlg1. Edge Of Tomorrow:  Probably the only flick on my list that has a chance at making an end of year best-of list, Tom Cruise’s latest sci-fi actioner is easily the coolest movie I’ve seen this year.  Cruise and Emily Blunt wage all out warfare against some pretty hardcore robot/alien thingies, all while living in a “Groundhog Day”-ish loop of repeating days.  Throw in some obvious World War II themes, lots of humor, and some great supporting performances by Bill Paxton and Brendan Gleeson and you have the summer’s most surprisingly enjoyable blockbuster.

*Honorable Mentions:

Neighbors
Bad Country
Joe
Grand Piano
Better Living Through Chemistry

Which films from the first half of 2014 stood out for you? Feel free to post some of your favorites in the comment section…

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