The Best and Worst Movies of 2014

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

Limited releases

Breakdown of 2014 Limited Releases (Min. 7 Reviews)
Good (Metascore ≥ 61) 245 films
Mixed (40-60) 180 films
Bad (≤ 39) 86 films
Average Metascore 57.6

Most of 2014's very best films—the ones that met or surpassed the 90 mark—played in fewer than 600 theaters, qualifying them as limited releases. This group includes Mike Leigh's biopic about British painter J. M. W. Turner, Mr. Turner, the year's top foreign-language films in the form of Russian drama Leviathan, the Marion Cotillard-starring French drama Two Days, One Night, and Ida, about a Polish nun dealing with the repercussions of WWII, and energy-related documentaries Big Men (about corruption in Africa's oil industry) and The Overnighters (which looks at the local, personal effects of North Dakota's recent shale oil boom).

In fact, foreign-language films and documentaries make up much of our list of 2014's highest-scoring limited releases, much as they do every year. The most notable films not falling into those categories (and not already mentioned) are Damien Chazelle's charged Sundance hit Whiplash, which has been very active on the awards circuit and could be on the verge of major Oscar consideration, and The Babadook (assuming that you don't consider Australian to be a foreign language), the year's highest-scoring horror film.

Nearly 48% of 2014's limited releases received positive reviews from critics. That's better than 2013's success rate of 46%, putting a halt to four straight years of declines in that percentage (though still far below 2009's stellar 58% rate of positive reviews). The increase in the percentage of films with positive reviews is especially noteworthy given that more films are being released than ever before. We tracked 511 limited releases (with at least 7 reviews from critics) in 2014, which was up by nearly 40 compared to the year before, and represented a 90-film increase vs. 2012.

The Best Limited Releases of 2014
Title Genre(s) Buy/Watch Metascore Users
1 Mr. Turner Drama   95 7.0
2 Leviathan Foreign/Drama   91 7.9
3 Two Days, One Night Foreign/Drama   91 8.1
4 Big Men Documentary   90 7.1
5 The Overnighters Documentary Amazon iTunes 90 7.0
6 Ida Foreign/Drama Amazon iTunes 90 7.8
7 National Gallery Documentary   89 n/a
8 The Tale of The Princess Kaguya Animation/Fantasy Amazon 89 8.3
9 Citizenfour Documentary   88 7.0
10 Last Days in Vietnam Documentary   88 7.8
11 Whiplash Drama   87 8.3
12 Force Majeure Foreign/Dramedy Amazon iTunes 87 7.9
13 We Are the Best! Foreign/Drama Amazon iTunes 87 7.8
14 Night Will Fall Documentary   87 n/a
15 The Babadook Horror/Thriller Amazon iTunes 87 7.7
16 Particle Fever Documentary Amazon iTunes 87 7.9
17 Life Itself Documentary Amazon iTunes 87 8.3
18 Manakamana Foreign/Documentary Amazon iTunes 86 5.4
19 Stand Clear of the Closing Doors Drama Amazon iTunes 86 n/a
20 Manuscripts Don't Burn Foreign/Drama Amazon iTunes 86 5.0
21 Ernest & Célestine Foreign/Animation Amazon iTunes 86 7.1
22 Tales of the Grim Sleeper Documentary   86 n/a
23 Ilo Ilo Foreign/Drama Amazon iTunes 85 8.2
24 Winter Sleep Foreign/Drama   85 8.2
25 Watchers of the Sky Documentary Amazon 85 n/a

Only movies with seven or more reviews released between January 1, 2014 and December 31, 2014 were considered. Re-releases are excluded. A limited release film is one that screens at fewer than 600 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 site visitors on a scale from 0 (bad) to 10 (good). All scores in this article are from January 4, 2015.

The past year's worst-reviewed movie, period, was Septic Man, a truly stinky (and not very scary) horror tale about a sewage worker who turns into a mutant. In something of a positive development, however, the truly awful directorial duo of Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, who usually stick to spoofs like Date Movie, had one of their "best" releases in the past eight years with their first non-spoof comedy Best Night Ever, which was somehow better than five other limited releases last year.

The Worst Limited Releases of 2014
Title Genre(s) Metascore Users
1 Septic Man Horror 8 1.6
2 Among Ravens Drama 8 1.4
3 Atlas Shrugged III: Who Is John Galt? Drama 9 2.6
4 Don Peyote Comedy 14 2.6
5 Authors Anonymous Comedy 16 n/a
6 Best Night Ever Comedy 17 5.7
7 Behaving Badly Comedy 18 4.1
8 Kirk Cameron's Saving Christmas Comedy/Drama 18 1.5
9 Kite Action 19 3.1
10 Cavemen Comedy 19 4.3

What are your favorites?

What are your selections for the best and worst movies of last year? Let us know in the comments section below. If you are looking for even more of 2014's best movies, be sure to check out our compilation of nearly 200 film critic top 10 lists as well as our 2014 Film Awards Scorecard.

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:

    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. :

New in Metacritic Reports

  1. What to Watch Right Now on Netflix Image
    Published: November 23, 2021
  2. What to Watch Right Now on Paramount+ Image
    Published: November 23, 2021
  3. What to Watch Right Now on Amazon's Prime Video Image
    Published: November 22, 2021
  4. What to Watch Right Now on Peacock Image
    Published: November 22, 2021
  5. What to Watch Right Now on HBO and HBO Max Image
    Published: November 19, 2021
  6. What to Watch Right Now on Hulu Image
    Published: November 17, 2021
  7. What to Watch Right Now on Disney+ Image
    Published: November 17, 2021
  8. Every Will Smith Movie, Ranked Worst to Best Image
    Published: November 15, 2021

What Our Users Are Talking About

  1. /feature/film-awards-and-nominations-scorecard Image
    Best of 2021: Film Awards & Nominations Scorecard
    October 21, 2021 - 4 comments
    1. jacobboe : What's the deal with the Gothams and Spirits being included? There are a significant number of films ineliglbe for... Read »
  2. /feature/hulu-best-new-movies-and-shows Image
    What to Watch Right Now on Hulu
    November 17, 2021 - 4 comments
    1. Hamish234 : The View needs to rethink its platform. It has developed into a racially overtoned commercial for the Democratic... Read »
  3. /feature/major-upcoming-video-game-release-dates-xbox-ps4-pc-switch Image
    Notable Video Game Releases: New and Upcoming
    November 22, 2021 - 19 comments
    1. harper18 : Will definitely suggest you to try Lego Star Wars. Wonderful adventurous and action game it is. Plus point is that... Read »
  4. /feature/now-streaming-on-amazon-instant-video Image
    What to Watch Right Now on Amazon's Prime Video
    November 22, 2021 - 14 comments
    1. MIchaelBuss : Very good list. I didn't know this exists. So it helped to find right movies Read »
  5. /feature/tv-premiere-dates Image
    2021-22 TV Premiere Calendar
    August 11, 2021 - 303 comments
    1. asmanraj : 20 Years of Christmas With The Tabernacle Choir premieres on PBS on Monday, December 13th at 9/8c. Read »
    2. asmanraj : The 2022 Eurovision Song Contest will begin airing live on Peacock on Tuesday, May 10th. Read »
    3. paul_kolas : Showtime is premiering the feature film followup to "Ray Donovan" on Friday, January 14, at 9PM. Read »
    4. asmanraj : The 95th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade airs on NBC on Thanksgiving (November 25) at 9 AM. Read »
    5. paul_kolas : HBO's "The Gilded Age," from Julian Fellows, premieres on Monday, January 24,at 9PM. Read »
    6. paul_kolas : The sequel to "Sex & the City" premieres on HBO MAX Saturday, December 11. Read »