1. “The Edge of Tomorrow” – A clever futuristic time-travel adventure that pumps your adrenaline and spins your head follows combat-shy Major William Cage (Tom Cruise) as he is shipped into battle against alien invaders, only to discover that “game over” for him means reliving the same day over and over again. To stop the cycle, and potentially save humanity, he must figure out both the riddle of survival and the mystery of the alien enemy itself.
2. “Guardians of the Galaxy” – Orphaned space pirate Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) must unify a motley group of interstellar misfits to save the galaxy. Though an addition to the Marvel Universe franchise, it feels more like a throwback to campy post-Star Wars space opera/adventure movies of the 1980’s, which is great news to 10-year-olds of all ages.
3. “The Lego Movie” – More than just a feature-length advertisement for an enduring toy, “Lego Movie” is an altogether hilarious send-up of summer blockbusters, a celebration of imagination, and a moving paean to childhood.
4. “A Walk Among the Tombstones” – In an unrelentingly grim neo-noir, private investigator Matthew Scudder (Liam Neeson) searches for the killers of a man’s wife before they can kidnap and kill again. Less a retread of Neeson’s more action-oriented “Taken,” “Tombstones” is staid and atmospheric, showcasing brilliant performances and nail-biting suspense.
5. “The Rover” – After the world ends with a whimper, loner Eric (Guy Pearce) must confront a band of bank robbers when his car is stolen in the Australian outback. A violent, gritty character study sports top-notch performances and unsettlingly beautiful photography.
6. “Godzilla” – An earthquake jeopardizes a Japanese nuclear power plant, but radioactive isotopes are the least of the world’s problems. Monstrous prehistoric chrysalides hatch, and the future of humanity may rest in the scaly hands of an unexpected ally. Showcasing less monster-action than most would have liked, this second attempt to bring The Big Guy to the American continent still satisfies.
7. “Captain America – The Winter Soldier” – The most patriotic hero in the Marvel Universe is back in a second, and superior movie of his own. This time around, Cap (Chris Evans) collects new friends and allies to defeat an old enemy in one of the best superhero movies of the last decade.
8. “The Grand Budapest Hotel” – Concierge Gustave H. (Ralph Fiennes) and his young protégé Zero (Tony Revolori) race across 1960’s Europe to avoid assassins and clear Gustave of murder in Wes Anderson’s hyperkinetic ode to screwball comedies.
9. “Noah” – A fantastical retelling of the Genesis story that is equal parts Biblical epic, “The Lord of the Rings” and apocalyptic cinema,” “Noah” is a marvel of imagery, imagination, and storytelling.
10. “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For” – A slightly Johnny-come-lately sequel brings back some favorite characters for a more linear story line that remains as visually stunning in its high-contrast black-and-white imagery and as over-the-top in its violence and larger-than-life characters as the original.