From Rocket Raccoon to Amazing Amy, our runners-up for 2014's best movies

From Rocket Raccoon to Amazing Amy, our runners-up for 2014's best movies

This would make a perfectly great top ten list on its own

It was not my intention to confuse anyone.

When I published my Top Ten of 2014 yesterday, that was timed around a larger slate of other Top Ten stuff being published here, and it was timed around the delivery from the video team, and when it ran, I realized that it was going to be very odd to skip from #21, published in this piece, to the top ten, but it was also unavoidable.

The truth is that, as with most years, I would have been just as happy with these ten movies as my picks for best of the year, and I am just as fond of everything on this list as I am of the films that made the top ten. Because, seriously, you don't really just have ten movies that sum up a year. For me, there are so many films that will be a huge part of 2014 for me that deserve to be discussed. That's why I counted down my top 50. And even doing that, there are films I didn't mention that I certainly enjoyed and would happily see again.

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Review: James Franco and Seth Rogen anchor the violently funny 'The Interview'
Credit: Sony

Review: James Franco and Seth Rogen anchor the violently funny 'The Interview'

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But Randall Park as Kim Jong-un steals the show

"The Interview" should not exist.

One of the things I find most interesting about the careers of comic actors is the way they make choices as their career gets into the ten or twenty or fifty year range. Comic performers have to evolve and grow over time if they hope to keep the audience engaged. In some cases, they keep distilling their essential identity until they are left with something that is almost reflexive, like Bill Murray, for example. In other cases, they just start shaking it up, throwing everything at the wall just to see what sticks.

Seth Rogen is still, relatively speaking, a young performer. Sure, he's been working since "Freaks and Geeks," but as a movie star, we're still talking about someone who hasn't reached the ten year mark. "Knocked Up" was 2007, and I still remember the conversations on the set of that film, where Judd Apatow was convinced that Rogen could carry a movie, even if the studio was still not sure.

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From bone-crunching to mind-bending with Drew McWeeny's Top Ten of 2014

From bone-crunching to mind-bending with Drew McWeeny's Top Ten of 2014

Movie stars and newcomers alike made this a great year at the movies

Last year, my favorite film of the year was "Her," the Spike Jonze movie about a guy falling in love with the operating system of his computer. My pick for number two was "Before Midnight," about a couple reaching a stress point in their marriage and trying to figure out if it makes sense to stay together or if it would be better if they let each other go.

There was no conscious decision on my part to pick those two films to satisfy an agenda or make some point about my life. Far from it. It's only now, looking back on 2014, that I realize how clearly issues of love and commitment and human connection were on my mind in a big way. I may not have known for sure that I was about to have my marriage collapse, but I was definitely already grappling with some big feelings, and those two films managed to hit me sledgehammers because that's where my head was.

Divorce is life-changing, and I do mean that literally. When I moved out of my house this past August, it was a near-total re-invention of how I live. It has been enormously difficult, but I have been lucky enough to have good friends who have helped me through, and while I started this year saying that I was perfectly happy going without that close human intimacy as long as that meant I'd never have to go through anything like this divorce again. I was convinced I would just throw myself into my work and keep my head down.

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2014 movies that won't make my list - walking the high wire

The closer we get to the top ten, the more exciting these little mini-clusters of titles get. I'm a fan of "Wild," the Reese Witherspoon film about a woman who found herself at rock bottom and found a way to pay a penance by hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. It's not what I expected it to be, and it cuts pretty close to the bone. I think Witherspoon has never been better, and she's never played a character quite this emotionally ugly before. It's bracing adult work, and as we look around at a cinema landscape that has become increasingly infantilized, it's important to celebrate films that are made for grown-ups about things that actually matter.

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Paul Thomas Anderson on finding the music in Thomas Pynchon for 'Inherent Vice'
Credit: Warner Bros

Paul Thomas Anderson on finding the music in Thomas Pynchon for 'Inherent Vice'

Plus find out why he was worried about 'The Towering Inferno'

When "Inherent Vice" made its premiere at the New York Film Festival, I was there, having flown out specifically so I could see the film and then attend the after-party at Tavern On The Green.

At the party, I spoke to many of the cast members and finally got to meet Joanne Sellers, Paul Thomas Anderson's longtime producer, and at the end of the evening, I spent a few quick minutes talking to Anderson about his film. It was a lovely evening, and they all seemed to be enjoying the high of that first public reaction.

Since then, my enthusiasm for the movie has only grown, and I was eager to attend this year's Los Angeles Film Critics Association meeting to vote for the film in several key categories. So of course, that's the exact time they also scheduled my time to speak to Paul Thomas Anderson, and there was no other window for the interview.

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2014 movies that won't make my list - vampires, emo auteurs, and big laughs

I hate to specifically disappoint Jenni Miller, but when she was guessing at films on my list for this year, she mentioned Jim Jarmusch. For me, though, "Only Lovers Left Alive" qualified for last year's list, and while it didn't make my top ten, I am a fan of the film.

One of the things I love about it is that it managed to be a straight-faced take on vampires and still somehow avoided cliche. It felt fresh because it was so simple, so unafraid of the archetypes. On the other hand, knowing those cliches isn't a bad thing every time. Take the example of "What We Do In The Shadows," the wicked mockumentary about a house full of vampires living in modern-day New Zealand. It is a painfully funny film, and one of the things I love about it is how they manage to tweak each and every iteration of the pop culture vampire using each of the characters in the house.

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Coming up for air

See, this is what happens.

I am nothing but good intentions. But real life has a way of climbing all over those good intentions and kicking me around a bit. In this case, it's just been a labor-intensive week, and everything's been focused on finishing that top ten list, as well as the worst of list for next week.

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2014 movies that won't make my list - Comedy makes everything better

My schedule is frantic this week. That's the best word for it. I feel like I'm constantly in motion.

You'll start to benefit from that in these next couple of days. I have some great "Inherent Vice" stuff going up, I've got a piece about the "Community" 100th episode celebration at the CBS Radford Studios, and my ten best video goes up on Thursday.

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Sony's tortured plans for 'Spider-Man' are just the latest details leaked in the Sony hacking
Credit: Sony

Sony's tortured plans for 'Spider-Man' are just the latest details leaked in the Sony hacking

How bad is this going to get for the studio before it gets better?

When I recently reported on the possibility of Spider-Man making an appearance in an official Marvel movie, the news was greeted with no small amount of skepticism. Tonight, thanks to the massive hack of Sony's internal networks, the Wall Street Journal has published a piece that details many of the conversations that have happened about the future of the iconic comic book character.

The problem is that while I'm certainly curious to read about Sony's plans, I am deeply uncomfortable with the way the media has responded to the Sony hack. These massive infodumps that are happening are obviously designed to hurt the company, and it feels like much of the coverage of the leak so far has been playing right into that goal.

Then again, much of what I do is based on the way I protect my own sources of information, and it depends on me being able to sometimes see and read and hear things that were not meant for my eyes or ears. I can't very well be upset if people want to read all of this leaked material simply for the curiosity of it.

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2014 movies that won't make my list - broken homes and broken bones

Here's the thing... if my top ten list for the year ended up with a single one of the next five titles on the list as I count down from fifty to the top spot, I'd be perfectly happy with that.

A dude e-mailed me this morning and asked me why I would bother ranking 50 films. "There are never more four or five great movies in any year, and you're a cheap date."

Ouch.

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