NBR stands for the National Board of Review and it was established in 1909. Every year they pick roughly 10 movies that they deem to be the best of the year, and they name one movie of the year. It is a bucket list accomplishment for me to eventually conclude every year’s list in full.

If you are curious in the lists, there is a fabulous Wikipedia page they has everything you need. I also have a tab on my Stanko Movie List – Google Sheets.

Below are the movies (listed in alphabetical order) that NBR deemed the best of 2014.

  • A Most Violent Year
  • American Sniper
  • Birdman
  • Boyhood
  • Fury
  • Gone Girl
  • The Imitation Game
  • Inherent Vice
  • The LEGO Movie
  • Nightcrawler
  • Unbroken

There is a much bigger discrepancy in terms of the upper tier and lower tier of these respective movies. Some are legit excellent while others are total head scratchers. Some are rewatachable while others are hard to sit through once. There are a few in here that you forget about but then remember how strong they were, while others were good when you saw it once but haven’t wanted to revisit it at all.

Now here is my time to rank these movies. I am going to blend entertainment value and my interpretation of the film making. As with all lists, this is subjective. Feel free to let me know what you think of these movies and my rankings.

My Rankings Of the 2014 NBR Top 10 Movies

11. Unbroken

It is genuinely crazy that Unbroken is on this list. I was expecting at least an uplifting movie, but when you don’t give a flying hoot about the main character, that is a really hard thing to accomplish.

Most unfortunately for Unbroken is that it is boring. The story drags in numerous places, and it was boring to look at. Yes, I said it. A movie with cinematography by Roger Deakins is boring to look at.

STANKO RATING: D+ (2.0/5 Stars)

10. Inherent Vice

I am in the minority here, but I do not like a Paul Thomas Anderson movie. I know, I know. Shoot me.

Inherent Vice was just a bit too quirky for me. A bit too much of the awkward experience for me. Joaquin Phoenix was also a bit too aloof for me. Too much Phoenix being Phoenix. A lot like how Matthew McConaughey can be too much Matthew McConaughey, like in The Beach Bum.

Inherent Vice was the first Paul Thomas Anderson movie I saw (I think), so maybe I need to rewatch it.

STANKO RATING: C- (2.0/5 Stars)

9. Fury

Did i see this movie with my dad? I don’t know.

Is Fury an ultimate dad movie? Absolutely.

Fury was better than I expected and the unique twist of a war story told through a tank is something I had not seen before.

However, in the years that have gone by, I think Fury has been forgotten and now is just in the realm of good war movies that dad’s will watch if they are on TV.

STANKO RATING: A- (4.5/5 Stars)

8. The Imitation Game

Another war-time movie. There are four of them on this NPR list.

The Imitation Game is a notch above Fury because I remember learning something from this movie. I didn’t know the story.

Is The Imitation Game an imitation of A Beautiful Mind (2001)? In some ways, yes. In some ways, no.

STANKO RATING: A (5.0/5 Stars)

7. American Sniper

The best performance of any of the four war movies on this list belongs to Bradley Cooper.

American Sniper was nominated for six Academy Awards, and Cooper was one of them. It won for Best Achievement in Sound Editing.

This was a stretch where Clint Eastwood was making quality movies; American Sniper and Sully. It has been a roller coaster directing journey for Eastwood in the latter-latter half of his career, but this one hit.

The ending got me. I know it is based off a true story, but I didn’t know how it ended.

STANKO RATING: A- (4.5/5 Stars)

6. A Most Violent Year

The rise of Oscar Issacs. Got introduced to him with the Coen Brothers Inside Llewyn Davis (2013), and then in 2014 he got Ex Machina and A Most Violent Year. I am grateful that Oscar Issac making it into my life.

The same kind of thing can be said for Jessica Chastain, but she got more of a rise to prominence with Zero Dark Thirty (2012).

A Most Violent Year not a very happy movie…a theme for 2014. The struggle to keep what you have fought for or what you value. This was an under the radar movie from the year, and it was another one I treasure for watching it in my small Somerville movie theater.

STANKO RATING: A (5.0/5 Stars)

5. Birdman: Or (The Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance)

Birdman: Or (The Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance) is a crazy movie. It is bonkers. But good god is Michael Keaton absolutely unbelievable.

This was the first of two Oscar wins for Alejandro G. Iñárritu for his directing. The way that Birdman was shot blew my mind. Did Emmanuel Lubezki show the way for something like 1917 (2020), or did it take inspiration from Gravity (2013) even though it was only made a year prior?

Side note, Emma Stone was gorgeous in this movie with the blond hair. Yes, bonk alert.

STANKO RATING: A- (4.5/5 Stars)

4. Nightcrawler

Is this Jake Gyllenhaal’s best performance? It has to be up there.

Nightcrawler is DARK. There is very little positivity in this movie. It is meant to show the deplorable parts of humanity and our obsession with the bleak. And man-oh-man, does it do it.

Also, a very nice directorial debut for David Gilroy. He has done two projects with Gyllenhaal, Nightcrawler and Velvet Buzzsaw (2019). His next movie is Faster, Cheaper, Better, which has Harry Styles’ shining star attached to it.

STANKO RATING: A- (4.5/5 Stars)

3. Boyhood

I remember watching this movie for the first time. I went to the small theater in Somerville, MA that specialized in showing more obscure movies. I went with a co-worker from my first job.

This movie by Richard Linklater is one of the greatest achievements in film making with how long it took to make. The movie was made over 11/12 years. The film was shot over 45 days from May 2002 to August 2013 which, roughly speaking, is spanning more than 4,000 days.

Boyhood educated me on how dedicated filmmakers can be to creating the project and vision they want.

STANKO RATING: A+ (5.0/5 Stars)

2. The Lego Movie

I also remember where I was when I saw The Lego Movie for the first time. I attended a screening at the Alamo Drafthouse, and it was kind of late notice so my then girlfriend and I had to sit a bit closer than I wanted.

When we walked out of the theater, I honestly thought I had more fun watching The Lego Movie than the rest of the audience, which was mainly parents and their kids.

The first time I was ever absolutely disgusted at the Academy Award nominations was when The Lego Movie was snubbed in the Best Animated Feature category. I was FUMING (and I still am…from the movies I saw that were nominated…The Lego Movie is better than Big Hero 6 and How To Train Your Dragon 2).

STANKO RATING: A (4.5/5 Stars)

1. Gone Girl

Of all the movies that came out in 2014, why is that Gone Girl has come out as the most memorable?

It is because Rosamund Pike is amazing, and it is the re-emergence of Ben Affleck as a hot Hollywood commodity. Also David Fincher weaves his magic to make the movie’s most maleficent figure also the most charismatic. Why the hell should we be rooting for Amy Dunne to ruin everyone’s life?

Pike was nominated for an Oscar, and that was the only nomination. I am a bit surprised that it didn’t get nominated for Best Adopted Screenplay.

STANKO RATING: A- (4.5/5 Stars)

Ranking NBR’s Top Movies From 2014
Ranking NBR’s Top Movies From 2015

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