Saturday, January 17, 2015

Lolo's Lists: Top 10 BIGGEST SURPRISES of 2014!

2014 was a great year for movies that surprised us. We try to keep an open mind when going into a movie, and these are the top 10 that exceeded our expectations. In fact, we had a hard time narrowing down which ones we were surprised by the most! Do you agree or disagree with our list? Let us know!
10) "Penguins of Madagascar" - Much funnier than we expected, one of the last films we viewed for 2014 was also one of the most surprising. "Penguins of Madagascar" was cute, touching and funny, with tons of jokes for the adults in the audience and, of course, Benedict Cumberbatch.
9) "Top Five" - Chris Rock is back on top with "Top Five." Rock, who wrote, directed and stars in this film, along with Rosario Dawson and a host of other comedians and actors, pontificate about the current entertainment culture, reality TV and all, in this smart, witty and poignant film ripe with both humor and drama.
8) "What If" - Harry Potter's Daniel Radcliffe and resident indie alum Zoey Kazan shine together in this film that explores if men and women can really ever be just friends (to which I say, ask my best friend of 15 years, who is male, if this is possible since we know it is). Radcliffe serves up a hefty dose of dry British banter and wit to Kazan's quirky and weird style, and yet, we are instantly drawn to them as friends and maybe even more. Their chemistry is off the charts in this delightfully surprising movie!
7) "The Guest" - Somewhat misled by the trailers for this film, "The Guest" sees Dan Stevens, former Downton Abbey alum turned ex-military transient, as a charming, sexy and mysterious friend of a fallen soldier returning stateside to deliver a message to said soldier's family. As the layers get peeled back, we realize that all is not as it seems and that "David" might not be exactly who he's claiming to be. An homage to the horror flicks from the 70's and 80's with its creepy vibe and electro-synth-pop soundtrack, "The Guest" is an excellent mix of humor, violence and intense deceit.
6) "The Drop" - A slow-burning dramatic thriller ready to explode at any second, "The Drop" received very little promotion and was one of the best unexpected treats of 2014. In James Gandolfini's final performance, we see him, Tom Hardy and Noomi Rapace all shine in their respective roles as this little movie beautifully but dismally captures the spirit of a corrupt bar in Brooklyn.
5) "Obvious Child" - Tackling the topic of abortion is definitely one of the more personal and touchy premises for a movie. "Obvious Child" does so in a frank and honest manner, admitting that Donna, played brilliantly by Jenny Slate, is not mature enough to take care of a child when she can barely take care of herself. It makes you empathize with her, regardless of your political stance on the issue. A very well done film!
4) "Snowpiercer" - Admittedly, we knew nothing about this film going into it, so we took a chance on the premise alone. It did not disappoint, it only surprised. "Snowpiercer" will most likely be overlooked by the general public, but we urge you to pick it over blockbusters like "Transformers" because, in terms of style, story and impact, this one is a real winner full of intricate details in its costume, setting and overall aesthetic.
3) "Odd Brodsky" - Now, technically this movie came out in 2013, according to IMDb, but we knew we'd be remiss if we didn't recognize "Odd Brodsky" as one of the biggest surprises of 2014 since it was one of our favorite movies of the year, just barely missing a spot in our top 20. We went to the Big Bear Lake International Film Festival where we fell in love with this movie and the story of Audrey Brodsky, a woman with a ton of heart but not a lot of talent, who wants to become famous. If you get a chance to see this movie, do yourself a favor and watch it and we're sure you'll fall in love with it, too!
2) "John Wick" - Keanu Reeves? Isn't he washed up? You may ask yourself this question, and we know we sure did, but "John Wick" was seriously one of the most ass kicking actions movies of the year. Stylistically cool, full of blood and double-tapping, this film is a thrill and a hoot all at the same time. We rolled our eyes when we saw the trailer but were pleasantly surprised upon viewing this one. Reeves hasn't missed a step since his "Matrix" days.
1) "Whiplash" - One of our top favorite movies of 2014 is also the #1 biggest surprise of the year. "Whiplash" will keep you on the edge of your seat as J.K. Simmons gives the performance of a lifetime as a stern, angry, perfectionist and drill sergeant-like music instructor. He and Miles Teller have tremendous chemistry, even though most of the time, Simmons is either yelling at Teller or slapping him in the face. Truly an astounding movie and manages to make something as innocent as drumming become a breeding ground for "war."

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