What a fantastic year it has been. This year we have seen a number of films that initially had everything and everyone against them. From The Lego Movie, to Godzilla, and to Guardians of the Galaxy, the year has had its fair share of underdogs that resulted in some excellent movies. We also saw some really great movies that were little gems hidden amongst the explosions of the summer blockbusters. Begin Again, What If, and the incredible Boyhood, all were great films released this summer that not a lot of people probably heard of at the time. The beginning of the year had its moments, from Grand Budapest Hotel, The Lego Movie, and Noah, but it was only a taste for what was to come this fall with excellent films like The Imitation Game, Birdman, Foxcatcher, and The Theory of Everything. So, now that it is nearing the final days of the year, I have to do the arduous task of ranking my favorite films of the year, in order, which is a task I am finding exceptionally hard to do. The list that follows is what I narrowed it down to, though I could have easily replaced a lot of these films with ones that I had to regrettably not include:

10. Godzilla

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The hype behind this movie was essentially as big as Godzilla himself. After the godawful mess of a film back in 2000, people were presumably not in high hopes. Luckily, the trailer was haunting and enticing, which started to raise hopes. But then the movie came out, and for me it answered all my prayers and squashed all of my fears with Godzilla’s mighty foot. In my review, I said that it was an, “astounding piece of filmmaking that is surely one of the best summer blockbusters in a long time,” and that still holds up today even though there were other excellent films that were released this summer. With some great acting and even better moments with Godzilla, it is just a fun and awesome film that will make you crave the next one even more.

9. Grand Budapest Hotel

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Wes Anderson continued his ever-consistent streak here with a zany and hilarious film that features one of his largest casts. It is one his most ambitious film, and in my original review I said that he, “raises the bar,” which I am certain he will be able to top in his next film. Ralph Fiennes joins the growing troupe of Anderson’s actors, and he adds a sense of bitter realism with cunning humor. It is incredible to see a director who has worked for over a decade that can continue to impress, surprise, and outdo himself at every turn. Here’s to seeing what comes next from the wild and delightful mind of one of the most consistent directors of our time.

8. The Lego Movie

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Everything was truly awesome with this film. Initially presumed that it would end up like every other film based on a toy or board game, The Lego Movie burst out with creatively funny, adventurous, and original ideas that made it, in my opinion, the best animated film in years. In my review I said that “Pixar has a target on their back now, because this is almost a new generation of Toy Story,” and this is growing truer each day because the movie opened up an infinite number of possibilities to go with it, new Lego’s to be introduced, and new tales that we can laugh and get lost in. It also features an extremely diverse voice cast including Chris Pratt, Will Arnett, Channing Tatum, Morgan Freeman, Elizabeth Banks, and many more.

7. Foxcatcher

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Steve Carrell knocked a home run right out of the park with his role in the dark and psychologically thrilling Foxcatcher. Supported by Channing Tatum, in one of his best performances, and Mark Ruffalo, Carrell blows skeptics out of the water with a performance that, in my review I said, “even most dramatic actors cannot muster.” It is a haunting and visceral film, one that you can get lost in, anxiously anticipating for someone to finally snap. It pulls you along with its unbelievable performances and real-life characters that are brought so vividly to the screen, and also its feeling of a slow-burn thriller where a horrible incident could occur at any moment. Foxcatcher is deservedly one of the best films of the year, and it will go down as Carrell’s best performance ever.

6. Guardians of the Galaxy

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A film that exceeded every expectation—or doubt—that all of the Marvel fanboys had, Guardians of the Galaxy ranks up there with the best of the Marvel films to date. It is funny, exciting, has some great acting and space fights, and it is different from any Marvel movie seen yet. Chris Pratt brings Star-Lord to life with humor, heart, and sass. He is wickedly funny, poignantly human, and delivers some of the best lines of the year. It goes to show that a book cannot be judged by its cover, and that something that is Marvel but does not have super heroes can still beat out the rest and become the best Marvel movie in years.

Check back tomorrow from the Top 5, and my crowning of the top film of 2014.

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