1. Grand Budapest Hotel
I don’t excuse the twee or the saccharine. I’m no Wes Anderson apologist. And I’ve hated many of his films as much as the next guy. But here was a little gem of a movie that ended up being what I loved most in 2014. All of the director’s famous set design and visual aesthetics were here, but rather than serve as distraction or grimace-inducing “quirk,” they acted to bring that decaying hotel to life as a character unto itself. And it (like many other Central European edifices, I imagine) spoke volumes about love, loss, and the bittersweet fruits of memory. Great actors giving great performances to tell a great story. It’s why we go to the movies.