Stephanie Zacharek's Top 10 Movies of 2014

Adult World
Adult World

"If everything were great, nothing would be great."

That line, from Scott Coffey's smart and sweetly entertaining Adult World, is one of my favorite bits of movie dialogue this year, not least because it's applicable to every movie genre -- actually, every genre of everything. But in the movie world especially, this is the time of year when those of us who care about this thriving, ever-changing art form need to take stock, make ruthless choices, and come up with some sort of a ranking that reflects the greatest movies of the year. Now: How to define "greatest"? Personally, I prefer a freewheeling and joyous approach. What movies haunted me for days, weeks, or longer? Which ones brought me that ever-elusive figurative cask of jewels known as delight? Which movies made me laugh, even on the grimmest of days? If everything were great, nothing would be great. But however I define "greatness," in 2014, these movies came up at the top of the heap. Click on the movie's title to read the full review.

Stephanie Zacharek's Top 10 Movies of 2014

10. Top Five -- As Blanche DuBois said, "Sometimes there's God so quickly." And sometimes the right movie shows up at the right time. Chris Rock's hilarious, piercing, and gloriously New York-centric Top Five, about a comedian and actor who's lost the will to be funny, offers a shard of cautious hope not just for a fractured city, but for a country that seems close to breaking apart. Let's not give up on either just yet.

Stephanie Zacharek's Top 10 Movies of 2014

9. John Wick -- The puppy death nearly killed me, but the debut picture from veteran stuntmen Chad Stahelski and David Leitch -- starring the cosmically serene Keanu Reeves -- has so much life in it that I couldn't turn away. Even in its most savage moments, John Wick is an action film that revels in the glory of human movement.

Stephanie Zacharek's Top 10 Movies of 2014

8. The Missing Picture -- Cambodian-born director Rithy Panh uses clay dolls to make a documentary-memoir hybrid of life under the Khmer Rouge. This picture is unlike anything I've ever seen, a strange and beautiful work that comes off as both haunted and charmed.

Stephanie Zacharek's Top 10 Movies of 2014

7. Love Is Strange -- Ira Sachs has made a generous and deeply touching picture that's partly about gay marriage, but mostly about love, New York, and real estate, all of which can conspire to break you. John Lithgow and Alfred Molina, in career-topping performances, play a couple who survive it all, giving hope to the rest of us.

Pulp: A Film About Life, Death & Supermarkets
Pulp: A Film About Life, Death & Supermarkets

6. Revenge of the Mekons, Pulp: A Film About Life, Death & Supermarkets, and 20,000 Days on Earth -- Three documentaries about the need to keep making, and listening to, rock 'n' roll against all odds. Nothing else -- not even $150-an-ounce Crème de la Mer -- will keep you so young.

The top 5 and a healthy list of honorable mentions are on the next page.



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