It seems like no matter how many movies you watch each year, there are always a few gems that slip through the cracks. They could be tiny, independent films that don’t get a wide release or a bigger budget movie that your cousin said was terrible, so you decided not to waste your money. Fortunately for you, we watch all the terrible ones so you don’t have to, then find the good ones for you to check out. Here are 12 great movies in 2014 you may have missed.
Director: Adam Wingard
Stars: Dan Stevens, Leland Orser, Lance Reddick
Why You Should See It: The guys who made You’re Next are back with another insanely good movie that, once again, you’d have to drive six hours to see in a theater. It sort of feels like an homage to the ’80s, but that doesn’t stop it from being satisfying in almost every way. Dan Stevens gives one of the best performances of the year and should be given one of the awards for it. I don’t care which award, just one of them.
Director: James Ward Byrkit
Stars: Emily Foxler, Maury Sterling, Nicholas Brendon
Why You Should See It: It’s not quite a horror movie, but the blending of parallel universe exploration with characters you actually care about in a setting that feels like you’re in the middle of it makes it a pretty fantastic film. You’ll want to watch it again as soon as it’s over.
Directors: David Leitch, Chad Stahelski
Stars: Keanu Reeves, Adrianne Palicki, Willem Dafoe
Why You Should See It: I was under the assumption that everyone saw this movie, but the more I talk to people, the more I realize so many people skipped it. For the love of all things awesome, go watch John Wick. Keanu is ridiculously cool and it’s so over the top and fun you’ll pray for a sequel.
Director: Steven Knight
Stars: Tom Hardy
Why You Should See It: A movie that features nothing but a man driving alone in a car may not sound riveting, but don’t be mistaken: Locke is compelling, original, and richly satisfying. Tom Hardy does a fantastic job of bringing Knight’s story to life, but it would be cool if we could get an alternate version where Hardy does the whole film while wearing his Bane mask.
Director: Luc Besson
Stars: Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman
Why You Should See It: Look, you know it’s going to be completely ridiculous and silly, but that doesn’t automatically make it bad. This is like if Crank replaced Jason Statham with Scarlett Johansson and took some Adderall. It’s fun without getting goofy and, most importantly, is really entertaining.
Director: William Eubanks
Stars: Laurence Fishburne, Brenton Thwaites
Why You Should See It: It’s a very ambitious film that may bite off a little more than it can chew, but I’d rather watch an indie sci-fi film that’s willing to take a chance with something original and different than another big-budget Transformers sequel with no heart or ambition. Eubanks has a sleek and polished style that should make him an exciting name to watch for years to come.
THE RAID 2: BERENDAL
Director: Gareth Evans
Stars: Iko Uwais, Arifin Putra, Tio Pakusodewo
Why You Should See It: If you are even the most casual fan of action and martial arts movies, The Raid films need to be at the top of your list. The fight scenes are so elaborate and well-constructed you’ll find yourself just staring in amazement. Seriously, there are action movies as good as The Raid series, but good luck finding one that’s better.
Director: Gary Shore
Stars: Luke Evans, Dominic Cooper, Sarah Gadon
Why You Should See It: I’m not going to tell you that Dracula Untold is an amazing vampire movie that rivals any tale that’s ever been adapted from Bram Stoker’s story, but it is a completely different take on Dracula. I was completely prepared to hate it, but I didn’t. I’m not going to be hanging the poster of it in my basement, but it’s one of those that might pleasantly surprise you. The humanization of Dracula, while it may be blasphemous to diehard fans, makes for an interesting journey nonetheless.
EDGE OF TOMORROW
Director: Doug Liman
Stars: Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton
Why You Should See It: Simply put, it’s the best movie of the year. Loved Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain America, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and The LEGO Movie, but Edge of Tomorrow was nowhere near those movies at the box office. Put your potential dislike of Tom Cruise aside and go watch this fantastic movie.
Director: Jennifer Kent
Stars: Essie Davis, Noah Wiseman
Why You Should See It: The Babadook isn’t just the best horror movie of the year; it’s one of the best movies in general. There aren’t a bunch of cheap, jump scares — rather the story of a mother and son that gets so dark and depressing you’ll call your mom afterwards just to tell her you love her.
UNDER THE SKIN
Director: Jonathan Glazer
Stars: Scarlett Johansson, Paul Brannigan, Krystof Hadek
Why You Should See It: This is the most visually stunning movie you’ll see all year. Scarlett Johansson’s performance is flawless in every way and, while some may leave feeling a bit confused, there’s no denying that it’s daring and completely compelling.
Director: E.L. Katz
Stars: Pat Healy, Ethan Embry, and Sara Paxton
Why You Should See It: Cheap Thrills is dark and demented, but in a way that you could watch it with someone that doesn’t enjoy dark and demented movies and you’d both leave satisfied. If you missed it, this is the one you absolutely have to see.