The Best Movies of 2014 and Where to Watch Them

As 2014 comes to a close, we are all charged with heading back through the year of cinema and catching up on all the gems we might have missed. Though some are still going strong in the theaters, plenty have hit the web in one form or another, allowing easy access to the overlooked masterpieces of drama, comedy, science-fiction, horror, and documentary filmmaking.

In case you're hard up for suggestions for enjoyable watching through this forthcoming frigid month, we've got a slew of the best picks from '14 that will delight and impress on all fronts. And, in many cases, will wig you out to utmost satisfaction.

Representing films big and small, severe and humorous, traditional and effectively bananas, the list is bound to have a few entires that'll suit your fancy. Although the titles vary in terms of accessibility, everything on the list is available somewhere, and should be sought out with haste. You don't want to miss out on the opportunity to include any of these must-sees on your personal Best of '14 roundup come New Years Eve.

So peruse below: some of the very best pictures of 2014. And note that they're listed alphabetically, so don't discount early mentions as filler!


WHAT IT IS: A truly horrific horror movie about the claws of an unseen specter in the heart and mind of a harried single mother and her troublesome son.

WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH: Because The Exorcist director William Friedkin says you should.

WHERE YOU CAN WATCH: VOD, iTunes, Amazon, Google Play. And (best of all) in theaters!


WHAT IT IS: A meta-commentary on Michael Keaton's career (despite what Michael Keaton says) taking form as a story about a former blockbuster actor who loses his mind when he makes a grab for theatrical esteem.

WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH: It is a spectacle in the same vein as Gravity is, a thrill ride that is more kinetically gripping than it is narratively impressive.

WHERE YOU CAN WATCH: Catch it in theaters now.


WHAT IT IS: An odd, meandering French story about an aimless divorcee and an even more aimless hotel maid who... well, things get a little bizarre for her.

WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH: It might be a little sluggish, but the sheer ambition of this peculiar tale is worth the experience.

WHERE YOU CAN WATCH: VOD, iTunes, Amazon, Google Play.


WHAT IT IS: A macabre Danish fantasy about a home intruder whose role in the life of his new host family becomes increasingly bizarre.

WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH: The movie is a twisted delight through and through, largely because of how much more unpredictable it feels than the thrillers to which American audiences are accustomed.

WHERE YOU CAN WATCH: iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Vudu.


WHAT IT IS: A sprawling account of American childhood over the course of 12 years spent with one remarkably unremarkable boy named Mason.

WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH: If not for the enchanting naturalism of the story, then for the story behind it: Director Richard Linklater actually filmed the movie over a span of 12 years, working with young Ellar Coltrane (and his screen family Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke, and Lorelei Linklater) throughout.

WHERE YOU CAN WATCH: It's still playing in select theaters, and will be available on Amazon starting December 9.


WHAT IT IS: The Edward Snowden-endorsed Edward Snowden documentary about the long-under-wraps unconstitutional activities of the NSA.

WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH: Beyond being of tremendous sociopolitical importance, it is a thoroughly gripping film about a man's experiences with bringing a heavily guarded secret to the public eye.

WHERE YOU CAN WATCH: In theaters now.


WHAT IT IS: A fourth wall-demolishing story about an artist and dog-owner falling deeper and deeper into his own mind as he hides out from the Iranian government.

WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH: This is filmmaker Jafar Panahi's second very important attempt at exposing Iranian tyranny through film following 2011's documentary This Is Not a Film (which also needs to be seen, and can be found on Netflix).

WHERE YOU CAN WATCH: Though it isn't available at present, you can (and should) pre-order it on iTunes, or keep a look out for release on other platforms.


WHAT IT IS: Robin Wright (playing Robin Wright) signs the rights to her likeness over to a megalomaniacal Hollywood studio, then copes with her lapsed career by jumping into a world of animated fantasy.

WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH: It’s a poignant allegory about self-worth, aging, and show business steeped in wonderfully trippy cartoon imagery.

WHERE YOU CAN WATCH: VOD, iTunes, Amazon, Vudu.


WHAT IT IS: Alejandro Jodorowsky's first film in 23 years, a lavish, fantastical account of his own childhood in 1930s Chile as well as his father's experiences fighting against the tyranny of the era.

WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH: It's beautifully imaginative, humorous, moving, and often disturbing.

WHERE YOU CAN WATCH: iTunes, Amazon.


WHAT IT IS: A comedy, as it were, about a family ripped apart by an unexpected avalanche... but not in the way you'd expect.

WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH: It's a hilarious swipe at the margins of gender and class, amped up by some lovely mountain backdrops.

WHERE YOU CAN WATCH: In theaters now!


WHAT IT IS: An impressively fresh send-up of the clutches of fame, told through a story about an eccentric musician who never takes off his gigantic papier-mâché face mask.

WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH: Because Michael Fassbender gives one of the funniest performances of 2014 without the use of his face. And the music is rather catchy.

WHERE YOU CAN WATCH: VOD, Google Play, Vudu.


WHAT IT IS: A parable of modern sexism under the guise of a rock and roll-infused vampire Western.

WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH: Did you hear what I said? Rock and roll-infused vampire Western!

WHERE YOU CAN WATCH: It just hit theaters! Catch it there.


WHAT IT IS: Wes Anderson's answer take on the fast-paced farces of the Hollywood Golden Era, in which a stuffy hotelier and his trusty lobby boy set off on a wacky caper involving a murdered millionaire and a stolen painting.

WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH: It’s easily the funniest movie of the year, and has the most enthralling score to boot.

WHERE YOU CAN WATCH: VOD, Netflix DVD, iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Vudu.


WHAT IT IS: A grim but sweet coming-of-age story told through the lens of a pair of young brothers's first encounter with death.

WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH: Because you'll want to get in on the ground floor of debut director Daniel Carbone's film career before everyone knows about him.

WHERE YOU CAN WATCH: iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Vudu.


WHAT IT IS: If Planes, Trains & Automobiles were set in post-World War II Eastern Europe, this'd be it. An orphaned nun-in-training and her estranged Jewish aunt set off on a road trip to rediscover their roots.

WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH: Though it's a simple, unassuming story, its powerful sensitivity will stay with you for months. And it's beautifully shot.

WHERE YOU CAN WATCH: Netflix, iTunes, Amazon, Vudu, YouTube, Xbox.


WHAT IT IS: A glimpse into the corroded mind of the literary egomaniac vis a vis a Brooklyn novelist and misanthrope's (Jason Schwartzman) tired, alienating efforts to write a second book.

WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH: It's the role Jason Schwartzman was born to play (even though he seems like a truly nice guy in real life). Double the urgency if you live in Brooklyn.

WHERE YOU CAN WATCH: VOD, iTunes. It's also still playing in select theaters.


WHAT IT IS: A documentary, in the loosest (or perhaps most literal?) definition of the word, that commits the conversations (or lack thereof) of a series of passengers riding a cable car up to and from the Manakamana temple in the mountains of Nepal.

WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH: The odd movie manages a rich story without adhering to anything close to traditional narrative structure.

WHERE YOU CAN WATCH: Netflix, iTunes.


WHAT IT IS: A temperate thriller about the question of "Too far?" in regards to political activism.

WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH: Director Kelly Reichardt displays an expertise in laying tension, as does Jesse Eisenberg in playing a douche (again).



WHAT IT IS: Lars von Trier's wicked term paper on human sexuality.

WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH: Because it's... well, it's a strange, academic, oddly cheeky exploration of the darkest crevices of the human psyche.

WHERE YOU CAN WATCH: VOD, Netflix, iTunes, Amazon.


WHAT IT IS: A shockingly traditional rom-com that just so happens to be about the process of getting an abortion.

WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH: Jenny Slate, Jake Lacy, Gaby Hoffmann, and all other parties are firing on all comic cylinders.

WHERE YOU CAN WATCH: VOD, Netflix DVD, Amazon, Google Play, Vudu.


WHAT IT IS: Yet another rock-and-roll vampire flick, and possibly an even better one than A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night. Virtually ageless nightcrawlers (Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton) pass the centuries with depression, vintage albums, and human blood.

WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH: Because it's quite possibly the coolest movie in years.

WHERE YOU CAN WATCH: VOD, Netflix DVD, iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Vudu.


WHAT IT IS: A fever dream about high school life, delivered by the latest wonder to spring from the Coppola genes, Gia.

WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH: It's as potent a tale of teenage ennui (suburban teenage ennui in particular) as anything since Dazed and Confused... but sadder.

WHERE YOU CAN WATCH: VOD, Netflix DVD, iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Vudu.


WHAT IT IS: A documentary about the Higgs-Boson Particle, which, if discovered, could explain the very fabric of existence as we know it.

WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH: For a movie about the utmost of all, pardon the expression, "nerd-ass" stuff, this is a terrifically fun endeavor.

WHERE YOU CAN WATCH: Netflix, iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Vudu.


WHAT IT IS: A post-apocalyptic thriller about a tremendous train that houses all of human civilization, and the quest from caboose to engine for one brave renegade.

WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH: Because it's as fun, dark, and weird as post-apocalyptic films ought to be.

WHERE YOU CAN WATCH: VOD, Netflix, iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Vudu.


WHAT IT IS: Good question. A nearly impenetrable, freaky fable that follows Scarlett Johansson on an enigmatic quest through modern day Scotland. To say any more would be giving away elements best left to experience onscreen.

WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH: Despite being tough to permeate (or perhaps because of this) the movie is thoroughly engaging from its mysterious start to its even more mysterious finish.

WHERE YOU CAN WATCH: VOD, Netflix DVD, iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Vudu.


WHAT IT IS: A "prodigy" story about a young drummer going for broke in pursuit of musical glory, and the hard-ass teacher aiming to break him.

WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH: Because it's as rhythmic, energetic, and meticulous as a terrific piece of music.

WHERE YOU CAN WATCH: In theaters now!

Images: Cinetic Media/eOne Films International/IFC; Fox Searchlight Pictures (2); Diaphana Distribution; Drafthouse Films (2); IFC Films; RADiUS-TWC (2); Variance Films; Caméra One; Magnolia Pictures (3); Kino Lorber; Tribeca Film (3); Soloban; The Cinema Guild; Cinedigm; A24 (2); Sony Pictures Classics (2); Abramorama/BOND Strategy and Influence