Paul & AJ’s Top 10 Films of 2014

The new year is less than two days old, so once again, it’s time to look back to our favorites of last year. As always, lists are imperfect, incomplete, and totally subject to change upon reflection and the passage of time.

We’ll start with Paul; he remains skeptical of this whole top 10 business, so this year, his contributions to our lists (including comics, albums, and TV shows) will be presented without comment.

(Mine, of course, will probably say too much.)

~ AJ

PAUL’S FAVORITE (NOT BEST) FILMS OF 2014
10. Boyhood (dir. Richard Linklater)
9. Interstellar (dir. Christopher Nolan)
8. Maleficent (dir. Robert Stromberg)
7. Only Lovers Left Alive (dir. Jim Jarmusch)
6. The LEGO Movie (dirs. Phil Lord & Christopher Miller)
5. Guardians of the Galaxy (dir. James Gunn)
4. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (dirs. Joe & Anthony Russo)
3. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (dir. Matt Reeves)
2. Big Hero 6 (dirs. Don Hall & Chris Williams)
1. How to Train Your Dragon 2 (dir. Dean DeBlois)

HONORABLE MENTIONS
Snowpiercer (dir. Bong Joon-ho)
Edge of Tomorrow (dir. Doug Liman)
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 (dir. Francis Lawrence)
X-Men: Days of Future Past (dir. Bryan Singer)
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (dir. Marc Webb)

DIDN’T SEE
Birdman (dir. Alejandro González Iñárritu)
Force Majeure (dir. Ruben Ostlund)
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (dir. Peter Jackson)

AJ’S TOP 10 FILMS OF 2014

10. BIRDMAN (dir. Alejandro González Iñárritu)

Film Review Birdman

“A thing is a thing, not what is said of that thing,” reads the quote (sometimes attributed to Susan Sontag) stuck to Riggan Thomson’s mirror. One imagines the former superhero actor, played by a back-and-swinging-for-the-fences Michael Keaton, clings to that mantra as he negotiates a shot at artistic integrity with his paranoid need to be loved. It also serves as a warning to anyone trying to dissect the film or Iñárritu’s intentions. After making a career out of overwhelmingly somber dramas, Iñárritu has made a frenzied comedy propelled by a furious drum score from Antonio Sanchez. He also peppers the film with flights of insanity, in which Riggan has telekinetic powers or takes to the skies just like his old alter ego. How much of this is real? What does the film’s beautiful final shot mean? There’s a lot to be said, but you can also take Birdman for the absurd, chaotic, hilarious thing it is.

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Listen to Episode 183, “Spider-Man and His Amazing Roaming Woody Harrelsons (feat. Kenn Edwards)”

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Gobbledygeek episode 183, “Spider-Man and His Amazing Roaming Woody Harrelsons (feat. Kenn Edwards),” is available for listening or download right here, and on iTunes here.

Your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man is swinging back into theaters with The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and we’re on hand to dissect it. There is just so much going on in this movie that Paul and AJ have recruited another villain for their burgeoning franchise: Kenn Edwards of So Let’s Get to the Point and Project Batman. The gang is sharply divided on just how good Marc Webb’s sequel is and just how much plot is too much plot, but the common ground is surprising. Namely, the film’s faithful portrayal of Spidey himself; the adorability of Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy; and the power of one particularly iconic moment. Plus, Paul shares some shocking casting news, and AJ and Kenn dig on Louie.

Next: K. Dale Koontz and Ensley F. Guffey join us to discuss their book Wanna Cook? The Complete, Unofficial Companion to Breaking Bad. Meth and/or egomania not required.

(Show notes for “Spider-Man and His Amazing Roaming Woody Harrelsons.”)

Listen to Episode 103, “Does Whatever a Reboot Can”

Gobbledygeek episode 103, “Does Whatever a Reboot Can,” is available for listening or download right here.

The year’s second big superhero movie, following The Avengers–which you may remember we discussed and AJ even wrote a review of–is The Amazing Spider-Man, rebooting the franchise that sputtered to an end but five years ago. Paul and AJ, both opinionated Spider-Man fans, are at odds over Marc Webb’s new film; Paul considers it the best big screen Spidey yet, AJ not so much. Is Andrew Garfield’s Peter Parker a faithful representation of the one in the comics? Do Spider-Man’s jokes work? Is the Lizard a good starter villain for this new wall-crawler? Is Emma Stone completely adorable? (Spoiler: they agree on that last one, at least.) Plus, the boys geek out over the announcement of more Sandman and share their experiences of seeing Singin’ in the Rain on the big screen.

Next: We’re back, back in the Gotham groove. Paul and AJ rise up to discuss Christopher Nolan’s Bat swan song, The Dark Knight Rises.

(Show notes for “Does Whatever a Reboot Can.”)

Andrew Garfield Is the New Spider-Man

After months of intense casting rumors, Sony and director Marc Webb have chosen their new Spider-Man, and he is 26-year-old actor Andrew Garfield. Save for a role in the forgettable Tom Cruise/Meryl Streep/Robert Redford liberal message movie Lions for Lambs, I am entirely unfamiliar with Garfield’s work, so I don’t have much of a place opining on the subject. I will, however, say that he doesn’t look 15 as he should for this reboot, nor does he look like a nerd. I also know, though, that make-up and wardrobe can do wonders. And I don’t think anyone has the right to mock any superhero movie casting after everyone scoffed at Heath Ledger. I was one of the few who had faith in him, and the doubters all came around as soon as they saw footage. So I’ll hold my tongue and hope for a good film, considering Marc Webb made one of my favorite movies of last year, (500) Days of Summer. In any case, I think we’ll all get a better look at Garfield when David Fincher’s The Social Network premieres this fall. I’m really looking forward to that.

Does anybody know if this guy’s funny, though? I loved Tobey Maguire’s portrayal of the wall-crawler, but he was light on Spidey’s trademark quips.