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The 10 Best Movies Of the First Half Of 2014

By The Pajiba Staff | Lists | June 29, 2014 |

By The Pajiba Staff | Lists | June 29, 2014 |

10. Obvious ChildObvious Child is scarily easy to explain in a sentence: abortion rom-com. But, like every stupidly short terrible elevator pitch explanation, that doesn’t even begin to cover the whole of what this complicated, hilarious, strange and wonderful little film is about. Obvious Child is the kind of movie that shouldn’t be so surprising. Yes! There is a way to discuss these difficult things without resorting to awkward nonsense or heavy handed drama, yes there are other people dealing with the things you’re dealing with, and they are making art and you can see it right now. It shouldn’t feel like a groundbreaking revelation when someone makes something good, something true and real. And yet it still does, and there’s something wonderful about art that can still surprise and delight. Obvious Child is worthy of contemplation, for as much as it does not say as for what it reveals about the way we think about ourselves. Also, it’s actually funny, and there’s precious little of real funny in the world these days. — Amanda Mae Meyncke

9. EnemyEnemy is a trippy little mindfuck. It’s a Canadian/Spanish production directed by Canadian Denis Villeneuve (who also directed Prisoners) based on the 2002 erotic thriller The Double from Portuguese author José Saramago. It stars an American in Gyllenhaal, a Parisian in Mélanie Laurent, Canadian Sarah Gadon, and Italian actress Isabella Rossellini. It’s a fascinating film, and to give anything away besides the premise would completely spoil it. — Dustin Rowles

8. Raid 2 — Most viewers, myself included, found the first film’s singular focus on action glorious. However, there was a minority of dissent siding with Roger Ebert, who panned the flick and found the wall-to-wall violence pointless and catering to video game fanboys. Notwithstanding the broader scope of the film, The Raid 2 remains a violently action-packed film with some brutal moments that will make even the hardest stomachs quiver. Those that found the first film unnecessarily violent will likely have the same complaints here, despite the more developed story. Those people, for the record, are p*ssies. But for the rest of us, The Raid 2 is awesome. — Seth Freilich

7. NeighborsNeighbors is insanely, hilariously funny, and what makes it doubly so is the fact that the humor comes from a familiar place: Exhaustion, the inability to find moments in our day to have have sex our spouses, and the concern that the comfortable monotony of our adult lives means missing out on some theoretical adventures. That’s what makes it more than hilarious; that’s what makes Neighbors interesting. — Dustin Rowles

6. Grand Budapest Hotel — So many parts of The Grand Budapest Hotel make this feel like Anderson’s most highly stylized film yet, though that’s not to say it’s airless. It doesn’t have any of the formal stiffness of, say, The Life Aquatic. Part of this is because the film is itself about the nature of memory and creation, so the artifice plays into the construct. But it’s also because Anderson’s script and cast are among his best. — Daniel Carlson

5. How to Train Your Dragon 2 — How to Train Your Dragon 2 is a rare followup that not only lives up to the hype of the first movie but also manages, somehow, to surpass all expectations. Dean DeBlois is back in the director’s seat. He manages the incredible feat of balancing a handful of subplots that would never come together in the hands of a lesser helmer. Not only does he give his audience a sophisticated story, but the visuals are simply spectacular. Remember how good the first movie looked? This one is better. From the very opening scene, this movie will slay you. Each scene seems to top the next. — Agent Bedhead

4. Captain America: Winter Soldier — Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a huge, fun, deeply satisfying film, and not just because it’s a well-made comic book movie. It’s a well-made movie that tells a fairly impressive story about the dangers of absolute powers, about corruption and greed and betrayal. But it’s also about heroes, and it gets the audience behind its heroes without devolving into jingoistic bloviating or ham-handed, corny imagery. There’s no flag-waving, no ridiculous speeches or lectures on freedom and justice and all that. Those ideas are there, but they’re subtly woven into the script, made a part of the story (as they should be) so as to make him a better and more engaging character, but not used as a club to beat the viewer into submission. It’s a collection of capable performances and beautifully-rendered action sequences combined to build a well-crafted, energetic and interesting story, and is unquestionably one of the best in this increasingly-large and now far more complicated universe. — TK

3. Edge of TomorrowEdge of Tomorrow is the best science fiction film since District 9. While the action is impressive and quite fun, it’s in the quiet moments that the film really finds itself. It’s in those moments that Cruise shines, taking Cage on an evolution from callowly just trying to avoid combat at all, to trying to unravel a way to win, to making winning worth accomplishing at all. — Steven Lloyd Wilson

2. The LEGO Movie — Whoever you are out there (yeah, you), you’re gonna adore The Lego Movie. I don’t care whether you’re a carefree child, a hipster college student, or a (begrudgingly) responsible adult. There’s something for everyone in this film. The Lego Movie is built for excess and pulls it off marvelously. Most importantly, the film does not follow the prescribed animation tropes. Not only does this movie look fantastic, but so much care went into the script that I have to bow down just a little bit. You don’t get this kind of unexpected satisfaction very often in the realm of kiddie flicks. The Lego Movie is not only surprising because it’s not a let down but because it celebrates the sense of surprise. Go forth and build. — Agent Bedhead

1. Snowpiercer — Readers, I see a lot of movies. Most of them are good. Some are great. A small number I love. And every once in a while I see a movie that leaves me vibrating with energy as I leave the theater, knowing that what I just saw will stick with me probably for the rest of my life, or at least until the inevitable robot overlords come and conquer the planet. Snowpiercer is one of those. Rebecca Pahle