1. Selma - Such a powerful movie about the leadership of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during the voting rights marches in 1965. Most movies don't grab me emotionally, but this one definitely did. I was deeply saddened and angered by the hatred and violence displayed by many. I was moved by the endurance, conviction, and reliance upon truth in the face of such strong opposition and injustice that was exhibited by Dr. King and those leading the charge with him. With all the "Christian" movies that came out this year, some say it could be the most Christian movie of the year. I think I agree. You can read more thorough reviews here and here.
2. Boyhood - From director Richard Linklater, this was filmed over a period of 12 years with the same cast. That in and of itself is a pretty incredible feat. However, it's not just a gimmick. It creates a very relatable movie as it shows the ups and downs of life for a boy and his family that has become broken through divorce and multiple re-marriages. It is so incredibly seamless as it shows bits and pieces of life through the different stages of his life. I also liked that it wasn't overly dramatic. There were times you thought something bad was going to happen (because Hollywood has trained us this way), but they ended up being very normal scenes, which kept the drama centered on the dialogue and the typical experiences of growing up. You can read other reviews here and here.
3. Calvary - Brendan Gleeson is a great fit to play a priest in a beautiful coastal town in Ireland. Near the beginning of the movie, a mysterious parishioner tells Gleeson that he has one week to live, and that he will be killed simply because he is a good man. The rest of movie shows a priest as he tries to love his deeply flawed community while also trying to discern who this mysterious killer is. I really like this movie because it portrays a man who is trying to do good, but who is mocked and disrespected by the recipients of his grace. Other reviews can be found here and here.
4. Interstellar - I had high expectations for this Christopher Nolan directed blockbuster and expectations were mostly met. Dialogue was a little cheesy at times, but I enjoyed the concept and beauty of the deep space quest. Other reviews here and here.
5. The Grand Budapest Hotel - I really enjoy Wes Anderson movies, and this is another great one. If you pushed me, I think I would rank them best to worst: Royal Tenenbaums, Bottle Rocket, GBH, Life Aquatic, Moonrise Kingdom, Rushmore, Darjeeling Limited, Fantastic Mr. Fox. Grand Budapest is as creative and quirky and funny as the rest. Ralph Fiennes makes a nice addition to the crew of Wes Anderson regulars, as he plays a hotel concierge at a fictional hotel in the 1920s and 1930s. Other reviews can be found here and here.
6. Noah - I was excited when I heard critically acclaimed director Darren Aronofsky would be bringing us his vision of this biblical epic. While many were upset about the rock monsters (though who really knows what the nephilim were), an environmentalist agenda (which I heartily disagree with), and other ways the story seemed to stray from the original, I actually felt like much of the heart of the story was intact. It was clear that Noah was a sinful man, who didn't always trust God, but who ultimately knew that God provided for and was gracious to his family despite those things. Other reviews here and here.
7. The Lego Movie - This was just a very enjoyable and funny movie. The voices and humor of Chris Pratt and Will Arnett were among the highlights for me. Other reviews can be found here and here.
8. Edge of Tomorrow - I was pleasantly surprised by this one. Tom Cruise lives a Groundhog day, continuing to die and re-spawn until he figures out how to save the world. Very entertaining and great performances by Cruise and Emily Blunt. Another review here.
9. Locke - Tom Hardy in a car, talking to different people on his phone. That's the entirety of this movie. Yet, it's very compelling to watch as this man seek to do right as it causes his life to fall apart. Great performance by Mr. Hardy. Other reviews here and here.
10. Guardians of the Galaxy - Chris Pratt was a great choice for the lead role, as this movie seemed to fit his humor and likable personality. Enjoyable movie. Another review here.
Saw, but didn't make the cut: Night Moves, 22 Jump Street, Godzilla, Non-stop
Didn't see, but hope to see soon: Birdman, Fury, Joe, Top Five, Manakamana, Child's Pose, Ida, Snowpiercer, Emeny, Foxcatcher