6 Most Unexpectedly Good, Bad, and Strange Movies of 2014

2014 was a remarkable year in cinema. A slew of independent and foreign films got a major spotlight for the first time in years as well as the mainstream blockbusters having some great installments as well, more than making up for its fair share of duds — the mere quantity of quality films surpasses recent memory.

Here is a look at the one’s we didn’t see coming. Good or bad, these are the 6 films which left audiences more or less surprised.

The Good

Edge of Tomorrow

Splendidly surprising, Edge of Tomorrow, while not perfect, delivered a powerful and unique punch that was certainly a highlight in the early summer season. Rather than blatantly ripping off every great sci-fi film in memory in an almost offensive way, (we’re looking at you Oblivion) Doug Liman pulled off Tarantino’s technique of big aspects from countless films intentionally copied, meshed together and quoted to create a unique experience.

Movies such as Groundhog Day and Saving Private Ryan are tastefully paid homage to. Quite a delightful treat indeed.

The Guest

Diabolically entertaining, this film keeps you guessing at every turn. Adam Wingard’s previous film You’re Next was fun, but very flawed, and because of it, no one was expecting The Guest to be more than a snappy horror flick reminiscent of 80’s cult classics. However, what was delivered was one of the best American action films this side of Die Hard.

Not only is the choreography spot on, the characters are incredibly interesting, the plot makes sense in its own, bizarre logic, and it is able to poke fun at itself in a natural way. In short, this film is everything we expected from John Wick yet so, so much more.

The Dance of Reality

One film was more shocking, in every way, than any two films on this list together. Alejandro Jodorowski’s return to form and first film in over two decades, The Dance of Reality is exceptionally crafted. Taking the spot for best foreign film of the year, it is a euphoric journey through the childhood of its creator.

Following a young Jodorowski through his oppressive childhood with a Jewish communist father, an unforgiving hometown and a mother who wants more than anything to sing opera. Visually mesmerizing, uncomfortable, shocking in content as well as subject matter, spiritual and more than anything human. Making it as a form of personal therapy to be able to forgive his father, Jodorowski proves that cinema has the ability to heal.

The Bad

John Wick

Starring the stone-faced Keanu Reeves and directed by stunt men Chad Stahelski and David Leitch, no one expected this film to explode publicly or critically as it did — raising the bar of excitement greatly among action lovers. However, for those who have a hard time enjoying a film with no logic, character motivation or story development, the “gun-fu” clad catastrophe was a major disappointment.

Whether your weren’t expecting anything from it and loved it, or heard the hype and was sorely disappointed, this film was surprising to say the least.

X-Men: Days of Future Past

As an X-Men / comic book fan and filmmaker, the excitement around this movie was hard to match. Completely exploding with hype it seemed to be unanimously loved. Unfortunately (cue the hate comments), after seeing and discussing it with filmmaking peers, the movie turned out to be the biggest disappointment since last year’s The Counselor.

With a plot that transcends confusion, the film makes no logical sense when even the lightest analysis is applied. The big shock for most people was the way it redeemed and erased the third installment of the franchise. However the way in which it achieved this was a fragmented story with spectacular visuals and decent acting, but very little of interest in the actual plot or characters. Wherever you happen to fall on the line, chances are you weren’t expecting it.

The Strange

Why Don’t You Play in Hell

Despite understanding how outrageous Japanese features typically are, Why Don’t You Play in Hell is downright bonkers. Further still, it’s a difficult one to describe: imagine John Woo and Martin Scorsese having a child raised by Wong Kar Wai on a steady diet of David Lynch films who grows up to direct a film about the dangers of violence in cinema and, somehow, about fatherly love.

Simultaneously following a top family in the Yakuza clan and a young group of wanna be filmmakers in Japan, this balls-to-the-wall adventure-comedy, one of the best foreign films this year, will likely receive no recognition outside of a few reviewer nods.


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Categories: Lists and Editorials, Movie

Author:Oliver Gelleni

Check out more thoughts on movies new and old here: I am an Austin based filmmaker with a passion and an eye for quality cinema.

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