Excitations of the two-dimensional electron gas, including many-body effects, are calculated with a variational Monte Carlo method. Correlated sampling is introduced to calculate small energy differences between different excitations. The usual pair-product (Slater-Jastrow) trial wave function is found to lack certain correlations entirely so that backflow correlation is crucial. From the excitation energies calculated here, we determine Fermi-liquid parameters and related physical quantities such as the effective mass and the Landé g factor of the system. Our results for the effective mass are compared with previous analytic calculations.