My Favorite things in 2014 - Day 23

Today we have my three favorite films of the year. All very different movies, all brilliant for different reasons.

First up is the fantastically bizarre Only Lovers Left Alive. I have a soft spot for Jim Jarmusch. His films are always unique and eccentric, and his latest might be his best creation yet. Driven by great performances by Tilda Swinton, Tom Hiddlestone, and Mia Wasikowska.

A character study of Vampires in a modern world, it's slow, well written, and a change of pace from just about any other treatment of the vampire myth you care to think of. There are no action sequences to be found, just a story of characters trying to make their way in the world. They just happen to be vampires (and suitably brooding musicians in this case). Jim Jarmusch's films are an acquired taste and this is no different. It's about as far from your standard hollywood fare as you care to imagine. That doesn't however make it any the less wonderful.

Next up is the 'so much fun' entry, Guardians of the Galaxy was simply the best popcorn movie of the year.

I was not sure what to expect from James Gunn when he was given the most peculiar of Marvel's superhero movies to helm, but he brought it home in magnificent fashion.

It was a big ask, an unfamiliar franchise to most, a strange setting, an even stranger cast of characters. It could have gone off the tracks in any number of ways. We need not have worried. Gunn fashioned a wonderfully fun science-fiction romp that almost owed as much to old Flash Gordon as it did to the often serious modern Marvel universe. It was simply good, old fashioned fun.

From the inspired soundtrack, some perfect performances. Seriously, who would have thought ahead of time that Dave Bautista would be so, so, good as Drax, who so doesn't understand humor that he is possibly the funniest thing in an already funny movie. Chris Pratt channels Han Solo in all the right ways, and the whole thing was just great entertainment.

Oh, and dancing baby Groot, sorry, won't get tired of that.

Lastly we have Wes Anderson's latest opus, The Grand Budapest Hotel. It was actually one of the first films of the year, and is sill probably my favorite.

Yes, Mr Anderson is an acquired taste, I get that, but I love the way his style combines with just enough of the fantasy of storytelling to sell his larger than life characters, and staged direction. He is a film school kid's director, and thanks to the central characters in this one, it's potentially my personal favorite of his films to date.

It's a great story, told at a wonderfully breakneck pace. As usual for a Wes Anderson movie the surrounding cast and cameos drop the usual suspects and Anderson collaborators into proceedings, but this time round the central relationship between Ralph Fiennes and relative newcomer Tony Revolori are truly the beating heart of the movie.

In a year of fantastic stories this was one of the best.

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