The best of film in 2014

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TINSTLE TOWN — They year 2014 has come and gone and we’ve seen some amazing performances and exceptional movies this past year. In many ways, this has been a fantastic year for film. There have been emotional dramas, hilariously poignant comedies, and flat-out entertaining action films.

Before we look forward to what’s coming in 2015’s movie nerds, John Clyde and Travis Poppleton, give you their picks for the best of 2014.

The following is a list of Clyde and Poppleton's individual picks for best supporting actor and actress; best actor and actress; best director; best picture; and guilty pleasure. If we’ve learned anything over the years of posting these articles is that many of you will not agree with these picks, most of you in fact, that’s why we’d like to hear from you.

In the comments on our social media channels we’d like to hear your picks of 2014.

Best Picture

Travis: "Boyhood"

I’m usually pulling for an underdog movie when it comes to a year’s best picture, but “Boyhood” is just too good. I want it to win. My chin will hit the floor if it loses. I know it’s cliché to call a film “an experience,” but there’s something so voyeuristic about the entire project. Even though audiences know it’s scripted, it often feels more like you’re watching the most interesting home video ever recorded than some shiny, packaged Hollywood product. I’d put a “’Boyhood" for best picture sign in my yard if I thought it would add to the cause.

John: "Interstellar"

I am admittedly a huge Christopher Nolan fan, but “Interstellar” is a beautiful, ambitious and smart movie that is, in my opinion, the best film of the year. “Interstellar” stuck with me for days, even weeks after viewing it, and I could not wait for a second viewing. This film is not like the action-packed, story-rich movies we’re use to from Nolan, like “Inception” and “The Dark Knight,” but rather a familial drama in a sci-fi setting. This movie is truly an experience, and no other film affected me as deeply as “Interstellar” in 2014.

Best Director

Travis: Alejandro González Iñárritu; “Birdman

I still can’t decide if I actually enjoyed “Birdman,” but I was totally captivated by it. I remember the first time through Alfonso Cuarón’s “Gravity,” I kept wondering how long he could sustain that opening shot. Now, there’s a new long-take sheriff in town, and there’s nothing gimmicky about his approach. In fact, even though I kept searching for where Iñárritu cut away or an actor was noticeably not keeping up with the scene, I can’t imagine a better way to shoot a movie about live theater. From now on, I’ll just assume directors with accent marks in their name deserve my respect.

John: Christopher Nolan; “Interstellar

Again, I’m going with “Interstellar,” but this is by far the most ambitious film in Nolan’s catalogue to date, and he orchestrated it masterfully. When you breakdown the components of the film and the level of difficulty it took to execute it it’s truly amazing that not only did Nolan make the film comprehensible, but fascinating and entertaining as well.

Best Actor

Travis: Ralph Fiennes; “The Grand Budapest Hotel

John and I both wanted Fiennes as our best actor for the year, but the category is so strong for 2014, instead of just agreeing with John, I chose Eddie Redmayne’s performance in “The Theory of Everything” instead, and note, he was amazing.

But John changed his mind and I went running back to “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” Fiennes did something that I think is so dangerous. Sure, comedians try their hand at drama all the time, but how often do serious actors take a stab at comedy and actually make us laugh. Fiennes didn’t just make me laugh, he had the stand-out performance in a cast with Bill Murray, F. Murray Abraham, Willem Dafoe and Edward Norton. Well played, sir.

John: Benedict Cumberbatch; “The Imitation Game

I absolutely love Fiennes in “The Grand Budapest Hotel” and he was honestly my front-runner. That is until I saw “The Imitation Game,” last weekend. Cumberbatch gives one of the most powerful, moving and emotional performances I’ve ever seen. I was mesmerized with Cumberbatch’s transformation and because of that I have to give him the nod over Fiennes.

Best Actress

Travis: Shailene Woodley; “The Fault in Our Stars

It’s a certain level of insanity that Woodley didn’t receive a Golden Globe nomination and isn’t currently being discussed as an Oscar contender. Say what you will about “The Fault in Our Stars” being a teen movie, but of the actresses that moved you to tears in 2014, how many went toe-to-toe with summers bloated Hollywood blockbusters and beat them back with a samurai chop to the nose?

Commercially, Woodley did what no other actress even dared to attempt in 2014: Emotionally, she connected with audiences in a way very few actors can brag about, and on a personal level, I believe she gave the most vulnerable and authentic performance of any actor I took notice of this year.

John: Rosamond Pike; “Gone Girl

“Gone Girl,” was a dark, enthralling, disturbing tale of love, hate and longing. In all of that Pike was darker, more disturbing and enthralling than the movie itself. Pike turned in a performance that made my mouth drop open. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but suffice it to say Pike basically plays three different characters and plays them all masterfully.

Best Supporting Actor

Travis: Edward Norton; “Birdman

Norton is always great, no question. He’s an actor who shows up to every project he’s part of and so on some level, I feel people ignore him come awards season because they just expect him to be great. Well, here he is again, and in my opinion, he made the movie 100 percent better without taking the movie from Michael Keaton, as a best supporting actor should.

John: J.K. Simmons; “Whiplash

“Whiplash” was a Sundance favorite and boasts a great performance from Miles Teller. If you see the movie, however, see it for Simmons. You may better recognize Simmons for his role as the Farmer’s Insurance guy or Juno’s dad, but he is an incredible actor. His performance in “Whiplash” is both haunting and powerful.

Best Supporting Actress

Travis: Meryl Streep; “Into the Woods

So, yeah, I’m Mr. Obvious this year with “Boyhood,” Norton and now Streep. But you know what? There’s a reason they’re obvious. Streep has 18 nominations for a reason, and yeah, I die a little inside when I have to admit that yet again they were the best of the year, but it would be far worse if I ignored their performance just so I could feel snooty and elitist for knowing some indie, unknown actor. I guess I could add something here about how great she was, but you’ve already heard it.

John: Jessica Chastain; “Interstellar

There were some great performances in “Interstellar,” but I couldn’t take my eyes off of Chastain. As a whole she was solid in the film, but one scene in particular — it’s in a hospital room with Michael Caine — was so real, so powerful and raw that I gave her the award off of that scene. Granted the rest of the performance surrounding that moment is special as well, but that scene was spectacular.

Guilty Pleasure

Travis: “How to Train Your Dragon 2

John and I may get some grief for having two animated films as our guilty pleasures for the year, but no, really, these movies are amazing. I’d encourage any creative-writing student to analyze what this series is doing with its characters. Finding those compelling, sometimes heartbreaking moments that authentically transform your protagonists is an art form, and the “How to Train Your Dragon” team isn’t afraid to break Toothless and Hiccup emotionally if it makes them stronger heroes in the end. Also, if I’m being shallow, it’s just a really pretty film to look view.

John: “The Lego Movie

This was so much fun. I have seen “The Lego Movie” a few times, and I’d be happy to watch it again right now. This is the perfect family film to me. Parents can get a huge kick out of it and children will have a blast. Some of the absolute best lines of 2014 came out of “The Lego Movie.” I cannot express enough how much I loved this movie.

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