The Best and Worst Movies of 2014

  • Publish Date: January 6, 2015
  • Comments: ↓ 12 user comments

Wide releases: The best

Breakdown of 2014 Wide Releases (Min. 7 Reviews)
Good (Metascore ≥ 61) 46 films
Mixed (40-60) 58 films
Bad (≤ 39) 40 films
2014 Average Metascore 51.5
vs. 2013 average 52.4

Despite Boyhood's record-setting 100 score, the average Metascore for films in wide release declined for the second consecutive year, but the news wasn't all bad in 2014. The percentage of films receiving positive reviews (a score of 61 or higher) last year actually increased to nearly 32% (from less than 31% in 2013).

However, only six different wide releases met or exceeded the 81 cutoff denoting "universal acclaim" from critics in 2014, well below 2013's total of 10 great films. Just two of those films scored 90 or higher last year, compared to five such films in 2013 (though that mark was a record for a single year). And one of those two films, the civil rights drama Selma, wasn't technically a wide release in 2014, though it expands nationwide this Friday. (Its Metascore, however, could conceivably drop below the 90 mark when critics in additional cities review the film.)

This was the second year in a row that director Richard Linklater has cracked the top three, by the way. His 2013 release Before Midnight finished third that year.

When was the best time to catch a good movie at the cineplex? Unsurprisingly, 21 of the year's 46 positively reviewed wide releases (over 45%) arrived after Labor Day, while the next-biggest chunk (16, or almost 35%) were summer releases..

The Best Wide Releases of 2014
Title Genre(s) Buy/Watch Metascore Users
1 Boyhood Drama Amazon iTunes 100 8.1
2 Selma * Drama   91 7.7
3 Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) Dramedy Amazon iTunes 89 7.9
4 The Grand Budapest Hotel Dramedy Amazon iTunes 88 8.3
5 The LEGO Movie Animation Amazon iTunes 83 8.2
6 Top Five Comedy   81 6.4
7 Gone Girl Thriller Amazon iTunes 79 8.2
8 Dawn of the Planet of the Apes Sci-fi/Action Amazon iTunes 79 8.2
9 How to Train Your Dragon 2 Animation Amazon iTunes 76 8.4
10 Wild Drama   76 7.1
11 Guardians of the Galaxy Sci-fi/Action Amazon iTunes 76 8.6
12 Nightcrawler Thriller   76 8.4
13 X-Men: Days of Future Past Sci-fi/Action Amazon iTunes 74 8.3
14 American Sniper * Action/Drama   74 8.2
15 Interstellar Sci-fi   74 8.4
16 Big Hero 6 Animation Amazon iTunes 74 8.0
17 A Most Wanted Man Thriller Amazon iTunes 73 7.1
18 Beyond the Lights Drama   73 7.4
19 The Imitation Game Drama   72 8.5
20 The Theory of Everything Drama   72 7.1
21 The Raid 2 Action Amazon iTunes 71 8.6
22 22 Jump Street Action/Comedy Amazon iTunes 71 7.3
23 Edge of Tomorrow Sci-fi/Action Amazon iTunes 71 8.4
24 Get On Up Drama Amazon iTunes 71 6.5
25 Captain America: The Winter Soldier Sci-fi/Action Amazon iTunes 70 8.2

* Limited release in 2014, but will expand nationwide in early 2015. (Score may change slightly when it does.)

Only movies with seven or more reviews released between January 1, 2014 and December 31, 2014 were considered. Re-releases are excluded. A wide release film is one that screens at 600 or more theaters. The Metascore is a weighted average of scores from top professional critics, on a scale from 0 (bad) to 100 (good). Although scores have been rounded to the nearest whole number, movies are ranked prior to rounding. User scores represent an average of scores assigned by Metacritic.com site visitors on a scale from 0 (bad) to 10 (good). All scores in this article are from January 4, 2015.

Wide releases: The worst

The worst-reviewed nationwide release of 2014 is Persecuted, a Christian-themed thriller starring Dexter's James Remar. In fact, the two lowest-scoring films (including a remake of the apocalyptic thriller Left Behind starring bottom-10 regular Nicolas Cage) each had a religious bent, while the third-lowest (Dinesh D'Souza's political "documentary" America: Imagine a World Without Her) was, like Persecuted, also designed to appeal to a right-wing audience. Our bottom-10 list does not include an Adam Sandler film this year, though he just missed—twice—with Blended and Men, Women & Children, while his next feature The Cobbler picked up a few lousy reviews on the festival circuit in the fall but won't hit theaters until 2015.

The Worst Wide Releases of 2014
Title Genre(s) Metascore Users
1 Persecuted Drama/Thriller 11 3.2
2 Left Behind Sci-fi/Thriller 12 3.1
3 America Documentary 15 6.1
4 A Haunted House 2 Horror/Comedy 17 3.7
5 The Legend of Hercules Action/Fantasy 22 2.0
6 The Pyramid Horror 24 3.5
7 Moms' Night Out Comedy 25 5.1
8 Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return Animation 25 5.6
9 The Identical Drama 25 3.4
10 No Good Deed Thriller 26 3.9

Limited releases

On the next page, we reveal the best and worst limited release films of the past year, including many of the year's best documentaries and foreign films as well as some additional Oscar best picture contenders.

Comments (12)

  • DanBurrito  

    It's despicable that "The Lego Movie" didn't get nominated for Best Animated Feature at the Oscars. It's also shocking that How To Train Your Dragon 2 beat it at the Golden Globes. I mean, what a joke. HTTYD 2 was good, but nowhere near as good as The Lego Movie.

  • adb7  

    What a travesty that "Boyhood" didn't win best picture at the Oscars and received only one award. Well, that puts it in exactly the same category as "Citizen Kane"!

  • loudross  

    what about 'not coo'l or '10 rules for sleeping around'. they both scored 1s.

  • Cozar  

    Just finished watching this sad, bizarre film. My friend and I kept commenting on the boy's flat affect, effeminate demeanor and depressing outlook on life. "What is wrong with these people?" we kept asking ourselves. Occasionally a character would step in and attempt to talk sense to the boy but most of them turned out to be violent or abusive drunks. Hollywood's propagandizing is becoming comical-- it is soooo bad. Their political pandering has become shameless. Of course the Christians were stereo-typed yet again as simple country, gun-toting folks. The dad, a jobless loser for most of his life in the film was full of self-righteous anti-American rhetoric. He set a terrible example for his children not just because he failed to man-up financially but because he did things like steal signs out of people's yards because they had signs up for the "bad" guy. His judgement of Sarah Palen's pregnant daughter was just well ... pathetic (especially since he didn't even bother to pay a dime of child support, himself ). Unbelievable hypocrisy. When his son asked about his stepbrother's baptism, the dad responded, "don't worry, I don't expect you to be baptized... I have no concern for your eternal soul." Nice! Oh... and... The one Republican threatened to shoot the dad and kids in the film just because they were campaigning for Obama! That's actually so bad it is funny! Who writes this **** Really. I'm not a Republican but these people in Hollywood really need to expand their horizons and get out and meet people who don't agree with them once in a while. Maybe they will lose their fear and ignorance of people who actually read and watch news shows other than MSNBC and start presenting people who haven't fallen off the far left cliff more realistically rather than such stereotyped one-dimensional characters. That, unfortunately is what happens when people stop communicating with others who don't think exactly like they do! Sad really.

    Anyway- back to the plot (or lack thereof) The mom seemed the only one trying to do something with her life but even she lacked depth. It wasn't until the mom had her empty nest emotional breakdown that my friend realized why these people seemed so bizarre and depressing to us. "This is what life looks like with no faith or inspiration," my friend said. A relationship with God is what the poor family lacked in this movie. The two main kids in this film were self-centered to the extreme and lacked passion and direction. Other than the novelty of watching the family age over twelve years I don't get all the accolades --at all. After watching the Seattle Seahawks come from behind to beat the Green Bay Packers and watching, Russell Wilson, cry with joy, and proclaim, "God is good." I'm just so blessed and grateful to be a part of this team!" this movie was particularly depressing. I'm just glad I have a faith that sustains me through the good times and bad today, thanks to my parents!

  • UngratefulCward  

    I think for top 10 2014 best movie:

    1 Boyhood
    2 The Tale of The Princess Kaguya
    3 Winter Sleep
    4 Leviathan
    5 Birdman
    6 Selma
    7 Ida
    8 Goodbye to Language
    9 Under the Skin
    10 Two Days, One Night

    Overrated: Interstellar, Guardians of the Galaxy, Boyhood (best but overrated)
    Underrated: Goodbye to Language, The Tale of The Princess Kaguya, Norte, The Look of Silence (well this movie maybe for 2015 release but BFI choose this for one of 2014 best movies)

  • jayman69  

    Have not seen a handful of newer films but tops so far....

    1. Boyhood
    2. Birdman
    3. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
    4. Nightcrawler
    5. The Lego Movie
    6. The Grand Budapest Hotel
    7. The Drop
    Over rated : Interstellar, Gone Girl, Under The Skin

  • ThePieperReview  

    I should add that "The Theory of Everything" is the year's most overrated movie and that "Nymphomaniac Vol. II" is the year's biggest disappointment. (In my opinion.) Underrated/Under-seen could be a very long list this year, but "Calvary", "Locke", "Obvious Child", and "The Drop" come to mind as front runners.

  • ThePieperReview  

    I still need to see Inherent Vice and A Most Violent Year, but so far, my favorites of the year are as stands:

    1. Boyhood
    2. Birdman
    3. The Grand Budapest Hotel
    4. Foxcatcher
    5. Whiplash
    6. Calvary
    7. Interstellar
    8. The Imitation Game
    9. Snowpiercer
    10. The Lego Movie

    But wow, it has been a fantastic year for movies. Definitely the best year of the 2010's decade so far. I have a whole slew of honorable mentions that didn't make the top ten: The Babadook, Locke, Under the Skin, Gone Girl, Obvious Child, Nightcrawler, Guardians of the Galaxy, American Sniper, Mr. Turner, The Drop, Stranger by the Lake, Listen Up Philip, and Edge of Tomorrow to name a few.

    IMDB Link: http://www.imdb.com/list/ls059480332/?publish=save

    Favorite Lead Actor: Brendan Gleeson in Calvary
    Favorite Lead Actress: Jenny Slate in Obvious Child
    Favorite Supporting Actor: Ethan Hawke in Boyhood (virtually tied with J.K. Simmons in Whiplash)
    Favorite Supporting Actress: Patricia Arquette in Boyhood

  • heisenbergsfan  

    My top 10 favorite movies of 2014:

    1. Snowpiercer
    2. Boyhood
    3. The Grand Budapest Hotel
    4. Birdman
    5. Nightcrawler
    6. Whiplash
    7. Gone Girl
    8. The Babadook
    9. Frank
    10. Interstellar

  • MouseyV  

    Oh yeah sorry I missed this movie too, probably would've been 6 or 7 knocking out The Fault In Our Stars. Gone Girl was an incredible movie, but I felt the ending was a little short. :

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