Joel has written 16 reviews for films rated ★★★★★ during 2014.

  • Foxcatcher



    A gripping film that will stay with you long after you leave the theater. The performances are nail biting from Mark Ruffalo, Channing Tatum and most especially Steve Carrell who gives such a different performance in this film than we've ever seen from him.
    The story, especially if you avoid looking into the true events before you go to the theater, is exciting with many twists and turns and an ending that will leave you breathless.
    That being said, the…

  • The Imitation Game

    The Imitation Game


    A great performance by Benedict Cumberbatch in a film that captures the feel and the look of WW2 very well. Cumberbatch adds some real emotion to the role and it was great to bring out some real issues with this film(homosexuality issue) along with the problem of trying to break the Nazi's hidden code.
    The only real downfall is that flashbacks sometimes blur with the present timeline so a few times it wasn't clear what time era the film was…

  • X-Men: Days of Future Past

    X-Men: Days of Future Past


    A movie that remedies the follies of its poor predecessors (X-Men: The Last Stand, X-Men Origins: Wolverine) and balanced perfectly the original cast with the new cast and two continuums with such precision while telling a strong story with great action scenes and a strong return to form for the series.
    The downfall of the film is the underutilization of many of the characters (Evan Peter's Quicksilver only gets one memorable scene-one of the best of 2014) and many of…

  • Guardians of the Galaxy

    Guardians of the Galaxy


    An epic space adventure that was visually exciting, action filled, laugh out loud funny and just a whole lot of fun. Was it a perfect film? No, the villain was not that strong, the story was loosely held together by a thin thread (Infinity Stone) that is just a tease to a future film (Infinity War).
    Add in the fact that this is an origin story which is becoming annoying for some fans and these downfalls make the film not…

  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier

    Captain America: The Winter Soldier


    A political thriller disguised as a Marvel movie, Winter Soldier is a needed change for the MCU and one of their best films to date. With a great villain in the Winter Soldier and a great twist that I don't want to give away if you haven't found out yet.
    Captain America is so much more nuanced this time around Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Redford, Scarlett Johansson and Frank Grillo among other regulars help make this an intense action packed…

  • The Avengers

    The Avengers


    A film that was a culmination of all the films Marvel had put out in their MCU cannon starting with 2008's Iron Man that needed to pay off in a big way for the franchise to be successful and it did in a big way.
    That being said, the first act starts off very slowly and was more about how the team of the Avengers was formed-essentially making this an Avengers origin story.
    However, the film does pick up with…

  • A Charlie Brown Christmas

    A Charlie Brown Christmas


    A short that has endeared itself to audiences since it first aired and a staple at the holiday times. The animation and music still hold up well and the characters are still just as likable. Plus, everyone has at least 20 minutes for a Christmas story.
    My Take: Fun classic Christmas cartoon.

  • Raiders of the Lost Ark

    Raiders of the Lost Ark


    A great introduction to the Indiana Jones character and a movie that balances a great story (Indy's search for the Ark Of The Covenant) with visually engaging set pieces (opening with Indy escaping boulder among others) and action that keeps the film entertaining throughout.
    The film rests mainly on Ford's performance and he delivers.
    My Take: Great movie with a great introduction to a memorable character.

  • Fruitvale Station

    Fruitvale Station


    A gripping honest heartfelt look at a character that despite all his flaws was truly loved and a great performance by Michael B. Jordan in a very poignant performance. From the film's open even without knowing the true events that inspired it, the film is just a countdown to the inevitable, but Jordan's performance brings heart and soul to the film.
    With social commentary that is still very much an issue today, Fruitvale Station is a film that will stay with out and that is the sign of a great film.
    My Take: Powerful story with a great Michael B. Jordan performance.

  • Memento



    The film that got me into the work of Christopher Nolan and probably the best Guy Pierce movie out there. The way this film is shot, the chemistry between Pierce and Moss and Pierce and Pantoliano along with the twist ending, that I'm sure everyone knows about now, all come together to make a solid film.
    Call me a Nolan "fan boy" if you want, but I just find his films to be some of the best out there. Sure…

  • The Nightmare Before Christmas

    The Nightmare Before Christmas


    One of my favorite Tim Burton, Christmas-Halloween,musical and animated films out there. The animation is sharp yet stays well to Burton's dark style. Great voice performances by Chris Sarandon and Catherine O' Hara among others. The story is a lot of fun with Jack trying to do to Christmas what he did to Halloween.
    The things I know pulls many viewers in and gives this film its cult status is the amazing soundtrack with such great songs as "This is…

  • Elf



    A family Christmas film that uses Ferrell's over the top acting style to full effect to produce a charming tale of self discovery and family togetherness. The movie is infinitely quotable, well shot and paced (except for a slow movie 3rd act) and the rest of the cast turn in great performances as well.
    My Take: A fun Christmas movie that employs Will Ferrell to near perfection. A mainstay in American cinema for years to come.