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Movie Night – Top 10 movie picks of 2014 (Jan. 7, 2015 issue)

Gone Girl – In a tight race with “X-Men: Days of Future Past” the victor for the best movie of the year is “Gone Girl.” Like the novel that the movie is based on, “Gone Girl” features a sinister antagonist against a less-than-perfect protagonist. The mystery is deepened and the tension is ratcheted up to the highest degree. Rosamund Pike will leave you spellbound opposite a pretty darn good performance by Ben Affleck.
X-Men: Days of Future Past – Many other superhero movies were released this year, but none can stand up to the creative plot, superb acting, and action scenes that make you exclaim “Wow!” aloud in the theater as that of “X-Men: Days of Future Past.” The main character is everyone’s favorite mutant, Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), though many other mutants are also featured in a movie that takes place both in the future and the past.
Interstellar – The idea of making the story of “Interstellar” into a movie is extremely, maybe overly, ambitious. Only Christopher Nolan could pull it off in such spectacular fashion. The plot involves space travel through wormholes looking for a new planet for humans to inhabit due to a dying Earth. While all of the acting is top-notch, Matthew McConaughey in particular delivers a “stellar” performance. With all of its impressive visuals, it’s a movie best seen on the big screen.
Guardians of the Galaxy – What can I say about “Guardians of the Galaxy” that hasn’t already been said? It’s an irreverent take about a band of anti-superheroes who reluctantly try to save the galaxy. It’s a wild ride with lots of action, lots of humor, and a talking raccoon who is actually the best character in the movie. It also has a killer soundtrack.
Lone Survivor – The best war movie of the year, “Lone Survivor” tells the true story of four Navy Seals who are on a mountainside in Afghanistan with no way to contact reinforcements when they are confronted with an army of a hundred or more enemies. There are moral decisions, many gunfights, loss, loyalty, and bravery. It’s an emotionally powerful movie and one of Mark Wahlberg’s very best performances.
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies – The final installment of the Hobbit franchise is aptly named, for the majority of the movie is taken up by the enormous battle for Erebor and the treasure within. The special effects are dazzling and the individual fight scenes are amazing.
Nightcrawler – Jake Gyllenhaal’s Lou Bloom is one of the creepiest characters of this, or any other, year. Bloom makes his living as a nightcrawler, a cameraman who roams the streets of Los Angeles at night hoping to film a newsworthy event and sell the footage to a local TV station. “If it bleeds, it leads” is the motto of the nightcrawlers. Glyllenhaal’s performance is so spot on, so perverse, that you believe he really is Lou Bloom. He deserves an Oscar nomination for his performance.
Edge of Tomorrow – Picture “Groundhog Day” in the future during a war with aliens for control of Earth and you will understand the plot of “Edge of Tomorrow.” But the movie is much better than it sounds by that description. The different ways that Tom Cruise’s character tries to stay alive and win the war are clever and imaginative. Throw in a very good performance by Emily Blunt and you have a ripping good yarn.
A Walk Among the Tombstones – Dark, troubled, and sinister. That sums up the plot and the general mood of “A Walk Among the Tombstones.” Liam Neeson is hired by a drug dealer to find the men who kidnapped his wife. His investigation takes him deep into the seedy criminal underground in search of, if not justice, at least vengeance.
This is Where I Leave You – Imagine the worst, most awkward, moments that have occurred in your family. Now imagine them all combined into one week with your entire family trapped under the same roof. That is “This is Where I Leave You.” The patriarch of the family died, his dying wish for his children and their families to spend an entire week after the funeral with their mother in one house. A great ensemble cast makes this movie both hilarious and emotional.