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The five best films of 2014 so far

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2014 is already miles ahead in terms of quality films when compared to this time last year, especially when it comes to mainstream wide releases. With even more potential critic-pleasers on the horizon, this year seems determined to make up for the disappointment of 2013.

1. X-Men: Days of Future Past

Bryan Singer makes his triumphant return to the franchise responsible for the now decades-spanning superhero trend. Adapted from one of the most significant storylines from the comics and featuring a plethora of characters and plot points, “Days of Future Past” could have been another “X-Men: The Last Stand.” Luckily, screenwriter Simon Kinberg (who actually worked on “The Last Stand” as well) was able to weave great character work and storytelling together in the best X-Men film to date.

2. The Lego Movie

When Warner Bros. first announced a movie based on the building block toy/plastic caltrop Lego sets, skepticism amongst moviegoers was understandably high. When writing/directing duo Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (“Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs,” “21 Jump Street”) joined the project that doubt was assuaged, and the pair delivered a laugh-a-minute thrill ride that slow it’s breakneck pace until the credits rolled. With a script that provides as much heart as it does humor, “The Lego Movie” is able to please film fans of all ages.

3. Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Coming off one of the stronger Marvel solo films, this sequel had a lot to live up to. Instead of retreading the same type of story as the first movie, “The Winter Soldier” eschews World War II for an exciting ‘70s-style spy thriller. With the Sentinel of Liberty joined by Black Widow, Falcon, and score of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents as they navigate some significant turning points in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, this film served as a mini-“Avengers” film in its own right.

4. The Grand Budapest Hotel

In his latest film, Wes Anderson (“Moonrise Kingdom,” “Darjeeling Limited”) takes cineastes to a picturesque hotel in the mountains of the fictional Zubrowka. While Anderson’s script does meander a bit, it’s still filled with snappy dialogue and characters as colorful as the film’s palette. Leading actors Ralph Fiennes and Tony Revolori have great chemistry onscreen, and do a great job of carrying the film through its weaker segments.

5. Edge of Tomorrow

A cross between “Groundhog Day” and “Source Code,” “Edge of Tomorrow” fuses the comedy of the former with the action of the latter to form another entertaining action entry in Tom Cruise’s filmography. Proving that “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” wasn’t a fluke, Cruise gives a memorable performance to match co-star Emily Blunt’s (“Looper,” “The Adjustment Bureau”) excellent turn.

X-Men: Days of Future Past
X-Men: Days of Future Past Courtesy of Box Office Mojo

X-Men: Days of Future Past

1. X-Men: Days of Future Past

Bryan Singer makes his triumphant return to the franchise responsible for the now decades-spanning superhero trend. Adapted from one of the most significant storylines from the comics and featuring a plethora of characters and plot points, “Days of Future Past” could have been another “X-Men: The Last Stand.” Luckily, screenwriter Simon Kinberg (who actually worked on “The Last Stand” as well) was able to weave great character work and storytelling together in the best X-Men film to date.

The Lego Movie
The Lego Movie Courtesy of Box Office Mojo

The Lego Movie

2. The Lego Movie

When Warner Bros. first announced a movie based on the building block toy/plastic caltrop Lego sets, skepticism amongst moviegoers was understandably high. When writing/directing duo Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (“Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs,” “21 Jump Street”) joined the project that doubt was assuaged, and the pair delivered a laugh-a-minute thrill ride that slow it’s breakneck pace until the credits rolled. With a script that provides as much heart as it does humor, “The Lego Movie” is able to please film fans of all ages.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Captain America: The Winter Soldier Courtesy of Box Office Mojo

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

3. Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Coming off one of the stronger Marvel solo films, this sequel had a lot to live up to. Instead of retreading the same type of story as the first movie, “The Winter Soldier” eschews World War II for an exciting ‘70s-style spy thriller. With the Sentinel of Liberty joined by Black Widow, Falcon, and score of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents as they navigate some significant turning points in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, this film served as a mini-“Avengers” film in its own right.

The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Grand Budapest Hotel Courtesy of Box Office Mojo

The Grand Budapest Hotel

4. The Grand Budapest Hotel

In his latest film, Wes Anderson (“Moonrise Kingdom,” “Darjeeling Limited”) takes cineastes to a picturesque hotel in the mountains of the fictional Zubrowka. While Anderson’s script does meander a bit, it’s still filled with snappy dialogue and characters as colorful as the film’s palette. Leading actors Ralph Fiennes and Tony Revolori have great chemistry onscreen, and do a great job of carrying the film through its weaker segments.

Edge of Tomorrow
Edge of Tomorrow Courtesy of Box Office Mojo

Edge of Tomorrow

5. Edge of Tomorrow

A cross between “Groundhog Day” and “Source Code,” “Edge of Tomorrow” fuses the comedy of the former with the action of the latter to form another entertaining action entry in Tom Cruise’s filmography. Proving that “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” wasn’t a fluke, Cruise gives a memorable performance to match co-star Emily Blunt’s (“Looper,” “The Adjustment Bureau”) excellent turn.

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