Well, as I predicted, this year was a big bust for me. My prognosticating digits went down the toilet with a paltry 16-8 (my worst year in half a decade, especially in light of my 22-2 numbers of last year) but at least I knew going into the ceremony that I was taking some gambles. Boyhood barely got a sniff at Oscar gold and Whiplash managed to steal fire in a few slots (taking home the third most awards with three total wins) but the big winners of the night were Birdman (4) and The Grand Budapest Hotel (4).
As for the actual entertainment value of the show, this critic would give it a resounding “meh.” It had its moments – Graham Moore‘s stirring speech, “Glory”, Jack Black‘s musical interruption, hammered Terrence Howard, the realization that Common’s real name is Lonnie Lynn – but its pitfalls were ever more memorable – including an impressive but overlong and unnecessary Sound of Music tribute, Neil Patrick Harris‘ wet blanket of a magic trick, John Travolta latching onto Idena Menzel‘s face like an Alien facehugger. Can we just not invite him back?
And though NPH was an all-around bust of a host, this year’s ceremony did manage to award some of the best films in a long while. Consider this year’s trio of Birdman, The Grand Budapest Hotel and Whiplash and compare to last year’s Gravity, 12 Years a Slave and Dallas Buyers Club. I know which threesome I would pick up at the video store.
You’ve likely already seen the winners list but below are the trophy-takers in bold and my incorrect predictions in red. Here’s hoping that next year I have much better numbers on the board.
BEST PICTURE Boyhood The Imitation Game Birdman The Theory of Everything The Grand Budapest Hotel Whiplash Selma American Sniper
BEST DIRECTOR Richard Linklater, Boyhood Alejandro González Iñárritu, Birdman Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel Morten Tyldum, The Imitation Game Bennett Miller, Foxcatcher
ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE Julianne Moore, Still Alice Reese Witherspoon, Wild Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything Marion Cotillard, Two Days, One Night
ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE Michael Keaton, Birdman Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game Steve Carell, Foxcatcher Bradley Cooper, American Sniper
ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE Patricia Arquette, Boyhood Emma Stone, Birdman Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game Meryl Streep, Into the Woods Laura Dern, Wild
ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE J.K. Simmons, Whiplash Edward Norton, Birdman Ethan Hawke, Boyhood Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher Robert Duvall, The Judge
ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Armando Bo, Birdman Richard Linklater, Boyhood Wes Anderson and Hugo Guinness, The Grand Budapest Hotel Dan Gilroy, Nightcrawler Dan Futterman and E. Max Frye, Foxcatcher
ADAPTED SCREENPLAY Graham Moore, The Imitation Game Anthony McCarten, The Theory of Everything Damien Chazelle, Whiplash Jason Hall, American Sniper Paul Thomas Anderson, Inherent Vice
FILM EDITING American Sniper Boyhood The Grand Budapest Hotel The Imitation Game Whiplash
FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM Ida (Poland) Leviathan (Russia) Tangerines (Estonia) Timbuktu (Mauritania) Wild Tales (Argentina)
ANIMATED FEATURE FILM Big Hero 6 How to Train Your Dragon 2 The Boxtrolls Song of the Sea The Tale of Princess Kaguya
ANIMATED SHORT FILM Daisy Jacobs and Christopher Hees, The Bigger Picture (National Film and Television School) Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsumi, The Dam Keeper (Tonko House) Patrick Osborne and Kristina Reed, Feast (Walt Disney Animation Studios) Torill Kove, Me and My Moulton (Mikrofilm in co-production with the National Film Board of Canada) Joris Oprins, A Single Life (Job, Joris & Marieke)
LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM Oded Binnun and Mihal Brezis, Aya (Chasis Films) Michael Lennox, director, and Ronan Blaney, Boogaloo and Graham (Out of Orbit) Hu Wei and Julien Féret, Butter Lamp (La Lampe au Beurre de Yak)(AMA Productions) Talkhon Hamzavi and Stefan Eichenberger, Parvaneh (Zurich University of Arts) Mat Kirkby, director and James Lucas, The Phone Call (RSA Films)
DOCUMENTARY FEATURE Citizenfour Last Days in Vietnam Virunga Finding Vivian Maier The Salt of the Earth
DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT Perry Films, Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1 Wajda Studio, Joanna Warsaw Film School, Our Curse Centro de Capacitación Cinematográfica, The Reaper (La Parka) Weary Traveler, White Earth
CINEMATOGRAPHY Emmanuel Lubezki, Birdman Dick Pope, Mr. Turner Robert D. Yeoman, The Grand Budapest Hotel Ryszard Lenczewski and Łukasz Żal, Ida Roger Deakins, Unbroken
ORIGINAL SCORE Johann Johannsson, The Theory of Everything Alexandre Desplat, The Imitation Game Alexandre Desplat, The Grand Budapest Hotel Hans Zimmer, Interstellar Gary Yershon, Mr. Turner
ORIGINAL SONG Gregg Alexander, Danielle Brisebois, Nick Lashley, and Nick Southwood, “Lost Stars” (Begin Again) John Legend and Common, “Glory” (Selma) Shawn Patterson, Joshua Bartholomew, Lisa Harriton, and The Lonely Island, “Everything Is Awesome” (The Lego Movie) Diane Warren, “Grateful” (Beyond the Lights) Glen Campbell, “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” (Glen Campbell … I’ll Be Me)
COSTUME DESIGN Colleen Atwood, Into the Woods Anna B. Sheppard and Jane Clive, Maleficent Milena Canonero, The Grand Budapest Hotel Jacqueline Durran, Mr. Turner Mark Bridges, Inherent Vice
PRODUCTION DESIGN Adam Stockhausen and Anna Pinnock, The Grand Budapest Hotel Suzie Davies and Charlotte Watts, Mr. Turner Dennis Gassner and Anna Pinnock, Into the Woods Nathan Crowley, Gary Fettis, and Paul Healy, Interstellar Maria Djurkovic and Tatiana Macdonald, The Imitation Game
MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING Bill Corso and Dennis Liddiard, Foxcatcher Frances Hannon and Mark Coulier, The Grand Budapest Hotel Elizabeth Yianni-Georgiou and David White, Guardians of the Galaxy
VISUAL EFFECTS Interstellar Dawn of the Planet of the Apes Guardians of the Galaxy X Men: Days of Future Past Captain America: The Winter Soldier
SOUND EDITING Alan Robert Murray and Bub Asman, American Sniper Martín Hernández and Aaron Glascock, Birdman Brent Burge and Jason Canovas, The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies Richard King, Interstellar Becky Sullivan and Andrew DeCristofaro, Unbroken
SOUND MIXING American Sniper Birdman Unbroken Interstellar Whiplash
It’s that magical time of year when film come to a head, colliding in a battleground of prestige, vying for golden statuettes that boast careers and fatten paychecks. This year’s Academy Awards nomination met with controversy out of the gate – most notably for the exclusion of noted female and African-American directors, actors and screenwriters – but that hasn’t stalled the herds of celebrities literally waiting in the wings to reward each other and today is the biggest and easily the most important of the awards season. So don your fanciest dress, pop your priciest wine and set out the stinkiest cheeses because today months and months of speculation and prognostication end to the tune of shiny statues. Read More
Let’s be frank: 2014 was a killer year for film. It was so murderous, you could call it Lou Bloom; so voluptuous, you could call it Eva Green. It was so sweet and sexy, you could call it Hello Kitty. If you were amongst the ranks of dissenters, whining on some Lazy-E-boy somewhere about how there weren’t enough Trans4mers movies or Hercules adaptations, you’re wrong. That’s all there is to it. 2014 popped cherries. It was violently mayhemious, hallucinatorily glorious, redonkulously fist-to-facey and totally, wholeheartedly, unapologetically weepy (yeah, I teared up more than once, what’s it to you?).
2014 was the year that Bill Murray aped a grump,Tom Cruise aped Bill Murray and Andy Serkis aped an ape. It was a kick-to-the-shinception of a year with title releases that saw anal polyps pop in sexplotitation flicks (Wetlands), hammer fights (The Raid 2), Ridley Scott falling on his face (Exodus: Gods and Godhelpmethismovieisbad), doppelgängers galore (Enemy, et al.), hungry games (some that involved auto-cannibalism, some that didn’t), Christopher Nolan falling on his face (Inter-mitently-stellar), STDemons (It Follows), Walrusfurmations (Mr. Tusk, Tusk, Mr. Golden Tusk) and lots and lots of bloody bloody vengeance (too many to list.)
It told the tales of Martin Luther King (Selma), of James Brown (Get On Up), Stephen Hawking (The Theory of Everything), Alan Turring (The Imitation Game),John Du Pont (Foxcatcher), Cheryl Strayed (Wild), Noah (Noah), Roger Ebert (Life Itself), Robyn Davidson (Tracks), Alejandro Jodorowsky (Jodorowsky’s Dune), Maziar Bahari (Rosewater), Jimi Hendrix (All is By My Side), Dido Elizabeth Belle (Belle), Joe Albany (Low Down), Cesar Chavez (Cesar Chavez), Abraham Lincoln (The Better(more like worse! heyooo!) Angels), and a dude named Sky Lord.
This 14th year of the 21st century crammed every element possible into the indie box, shook it up and spurted it out like spicy hot cream. From sci-fi (Space Station ’76, Young Ones) to DIY game shows (Cheap Thrills, Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter), road trips (Chef, The Trip to Italy) to Twilights Zones (The One I Love, The Double), there was more buried treasure than a pirate map. Trouble is, with all these untrumpeted indie releases, you often do need a map to find them.
Maybe the fact that I attended three film festivals (Sundance, SXSW and SIFF) and was able to eke out some hidden gems that would go on to sneak past most audiences (and critics. Poor, lonely, lonely critics) helped me come to the assertion that 2014 rocked the socks off of c*cks but even without those underground, super covert, keep-them-secret-keep-them-safe riches, 2014 had a trove of wide-releases to match.
Those who guard galaxies, John Wicks,men with X’s in their names, Hobbitses, noir Liam Neesons, Godzillas and lobby boys all helped transformed the mass media cinema culture of 2014 into one worth remembering, even in the face of a fast approaching year that will see Han f*cking Solo behind the wheel of the Millennium f*cking Falcon.
Honorable mentions won’t be ticked off as we’re in the process of cranking out a top 100 movies of 2014 list and that does more than the duty of a normal man’s honorable mentions section. So ten tops and ten only. No funny business. No ties. No b*llshit. So strap in, check yourself before you wreck yourself and let’s make a f*cking list.
If 2014 was a year about blowing minds, none did it more casually and assuredly than Denis Villenue‘s total tonal WTF-fest Enemy. Starring not one but two Jake Gyllenhaals, Enemy tracks a man coming to terms with his own fracturing identity. Or did it? This existential experiment about giant spiders, locks’n’keys, balls’n’chains, dreamscapes, unrelenting ambiguity and twinsies might at first appear to be a bundle of malarky but once you dig your heels into it and break it down like a certifiable horse whisperer, everything miraculously makes sense. Not necessarily in a 5+5=10 kind of makes sense way but I’m willing to content that I have an explanation for this film (that I won’t divulge here) that will convincingly put the many aggressively jigsawed pieces into satisfying place. As the unholy apex of violently disorienting endings, there’s yet to be a movie this year that tops the complete and total f*ck you that Enemy seemingly ends on and yet, going back over it all with a fine-toothed comb (or a scalpel, it’s really up to you) it’s a masterpiece of a mind-game that isn’t as unsolvable as the casual observer may assume. For blowing my mind and allowing me to eventually recover it, Enemy sneaks into the tenth spot.
“What occurs as Enemy progresses is quaking, the earth below your feet seems to tremor faster and faster, moving its way up the Richter scale. A floating Tarantula as big as a Goodyear blimp slinks its way over Toronto. A woman’s body with a Tarantula’s head walks upside down through a corridor. At 90 minutes, it shrinks and expands the mind, then ends abruptly with no questions answered. Enemy is a rollercoaster personally designed by the Devil. Twist and turn, crash and burn.” (Full Review)
9. THE GUEST
Heading into last year’s Sundance Midnight Premiere of The Guest, I had nothing to go on save for the above image – an armed, robo-faced Arayan slipping through a blood-red colorscape with all the wrong kind of intent. The film that followed knocked me out (and this is after seeing five (!!!) films already that day). The Guest left me humming and high on transcended genre thrills, shellshocked from grenades and ringing in the ears from some large caliber weapon or other. I was hooked like a junkie on that sweet blue sky. Dan Stevens is a dream in the eponymous role, guiding us through Adam Wingard‘s hallucinatory and unapologetically violent landscape with the cold-hard gusto of a seasoned pro, forcing smiles, guffaws, sneers and drop jaws in equal, calculated doses. The concept of the film could be reduced to “What if Bourne malfunctioned?” and the result manages to feel fresh, even through curtain after curtain of homage. When I caught The Guest for a second time, I found that my initial enjoyment hadn’t been stayed so much as intensified – this was clearly one of the most entertaining films of the year and for it, has earned a spot on this list.
“Slam Drive and Stocker together, rub them down in a spicy 80’s genre marinate and sprinkle with mesmerizing performances and dollops of camp and you have The Guest. Like a turducken of genre, Adam Wingard‘s latest is a campy horror movie stuffed inside a hoodwinking Canon action flick and deep fried in the latest brand of Bourne-style thriller. It’s clever, tense, uproarious, and hypnotizing nearly ever second.” (Full Review)
8. DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES
There were no blockbusters this year that came close to topping Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. I mean, the freakin’ thing had apes firing automatic weapons on horseback. And tanks. And some of the most harrowing depictions of war ever set to screen. And tanks. That’s because Reeve’s film dealt with the idea of the anatomy of war and of a war mentality with a kind of sobering ideology that so few blockbusters dare to touch. It’s war sans glory. There are no heroes, just a bunch of wounded f*ck-ups. Andy Serkis‘ monkey-work was arresting as always (green screen bling king) but it was Toby Kebbell who stole the show as the year’s best villain, the emotionally-and-physically scarred Koba. There were few scenes this year that were more powerful than when all-out warfare erupts at the hands of Koba. That 360 tank sequence was a dream within a nightmare but when Koba literally drags an unwilling soldier to his death, you realize that the dreams of revolution can only be written in bright red streaks. These were haunting moments of filmmaking somehow stuffed into a PG-13 movie about monkeys ruling the world. What the hell? But even when you strip back all the ambitious themes of the film, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is still a mighty entertaining piece of blockbuster fare with unbelievably perfect FX work and stunning camera work. It really does work on every level.
“As Reeve’s film leaks historical allegories like a zesty geyser, his political astuteness pans to a smart dissection of why we choose war in the first place. War is a side effect of fear, fear a scar of misunderstanding. Koba’s are scars that cannot be healed. Dreyfus won’t stand for Three-Fifths of a vote. Peace is a process. Wars start inevitably. It’s not that these two civilizations could not peacefully co-habitate, it’s that sometimes a punch in the face seems like a more swift resolution than drawn-out talks.” (Full Review)
7. THE RAID 2
And then there’s Gareth Evans borderline genius The Raid 2; an action movie that makes guns look p*ssy-shaped in the face of a fury of hand-to-hand combat, that unloads scene after scene of inhumanely choreographed fistsplosions and that delivers perhaps the best martial arts movie of all time (or at least of the last decade). What this second Raid movie has over the first is a good story, and a damn good one at that. Like Internal Affairs and The Departedbefore it, The Raid 2 tells the tale of a deep cover agent, set with all the angsty check-behind-the-lamp paranoia and grueling psychological breaks that such a position demands. But that doesn’t really matter once the car chase scene rolls around and is filmed by a dude disguised as a seat cushion. Evans – who wrote this before he wrote and directed the first film – doesn’t skimp on the narrative gooeyness and when he eventually launches into a balls-to-the-walls orgy of violence that’ll have your blood pumping in ungodly, death-inviting spurts, you’ll know that you were born to behold this film. It’s just all so righteous.
“To try to boil down what is so sublimely excellent about The Raid 2: Berandalis a futile exercise in tilting at windmills. It’s like boxing a griffin, outthinking a Sicilian, or KY-Jelly wrestling an anaconda. Instead of trying to describe the irrepressible satisfaction this balls-to-the-walls, smarter-than-your-dad actioner elicits, instead conjure up what it felt like to lose your virginity, if you lost your virginity in a ten-on-one man brawl in a pit of mud.” (Full Review)
Boyhood topped my most anticipated list for 2014 and for some time, I considered it my favorite film of the year. There is something undeniably magical about watching young Ellar Coltrane grow up before our very eyes in Richard Linklater‘s ambitious 12 year experiment and that something makes for a film that demands our uninterrupted empathy like few others have. It truly gave me all the feels. Some have confused Linklater’s long-gestated gimmick as a form of indie-cred beating off where it’s really just offbeat genius. Watching Boyhood for the second time didn’t ignite all the fiery passions that it had the first so it’s lost a little traction throughout the year with me, but nothing can make me forget that first magical experience I had with it, sitting amongst the first audience to behold its glory in a giant Sundance screening room. Revisiting the oh-so-true growing pains of adolescence was heart-rending enough but Boyhood really thrives in the quieter moments where we just sat back and watched an unextraordinary young boy mature, awkwardly bragging about hooking up with a girl from out of town, huffing back on a doobie and having the cavalier gaul to admit his highness to his mom, chatting with his dad about girls and Star Wars. It may be the film on this list that I’ll re-watch the least, but it shouldn’t be.
“Calling it a coming-of-age story feels slight as Boyhood tracks the joy and pain of growing up, one delicate moment at a time. We find ourselves in Macon, a perceptive youth, in his strength and in his weakness, in his whiny teenage angst and his youthful abandon, in his quasi-stoned prolific moments of reflection and his meekest helplessness.” (Full Review)
I’m willing to admit that David Ayer‘s Fury is a bit of a mess. Then again, aren’t most of Tarantino’s films? (If you say no, I’d like to direct you to the Django Australian miner scene…) Django was my favorite movie of 2012 because it was big and weird and overwritten. And dazzling and savage and brilliant. It was great not in spite of its giddy flaws but because of them. Fury shares the same traits. Somewhere in the midst of it, the crew settles down to an impromptu dinner party (a scene that has divided critics and audiences alike). It sticks out from the rest of the movie like a sore thumb and yet is one of the most beautiful, affecting scenes of 2014. Then Ayer follows that up with Fury‘s tracer-fire highlighted Tiger tank battle and you can forgetaboutit. It’s a movie that works scene-to-scene maybe a touch better than it does as a whole but as an assemblage of scenes, Fury is a big, beautiful, bent out of shape ball of fire and I unabashedly loved it. Ayer dares to air out old things in new light (war as a job. As a mostly shitty but sometimes awesome job) and his film features the best ensemble cast work of the entire year. Push back all you want, Fury is here to stay.
“To boil Ayer’s masterful Fury down to “war is hell” is to ricochet off the mark. To call it a movie without subtext is to poke holes in a block of swiss. The themes stare you in the face, they thump into your cranium and they sick in your soul. They bear witness to wartime masculinity pig-piling on itself in a nasty, self-fulfilling prophecy that causes and perpetuates war. The rally speeches become just as dangerous as the nuclear weapons. The hoorahs build into their own Manhattan Projects.” (Full Review)
We’re getting down to the big ones at this point and there’s perhaps no movie bigger, bolder and more bonkers this year than Dan Gilroy‘s Nightcrawler. From the very moment we stumble upon Lou Bloom, the sociopath with a banker’s name, everything feels like a happy accident, as if Gilroy’s camera just happened upon this X-manly-purported slip of a human and decidedly followed him like a nightly news crew. But there’s no accidental filmmaking in Nightcrawler (there are many accidents, though mostly of the vehicular kind) and as Gilroy bends his titular Nightcrawler into bigger and odder shapes, he makes room for one of the most important and mind-altering filmic trips of the season. With the borders filled in by revivalist performances from Rene Russo and Bill Paxton – and a whole chunk of space dedicated to Riz Ahmed‘s consciously unconscious thespian discharge – Gilroy’s perfectly written diatribe to greed and America’s obsession with suburbian horrors becomes the most arresting and visceral thematic account of where we stand as a nation and featured the best performance of the year in Jake Gyllenhaal. Greed is good is dead. Long live all is greed. Long live Lou Bloom. Long live Jake Gyllenhaal.
“With a name as innocuous as Louis Bloom, you wouldn’t initially suspect the lead character of Nightcrawler to be so dangerous. But the virulent Lou is the kind of guy who dissolves into shadows; who feeds vampirically in the darkness. He’s not a villain so much as a force of nature. Silent but deadly. Throughout the film, Lou’s facial expressions percolate with a kind of serpentine other-worldliness. As if his tongue could dart from his mouth at any moment to nip at the night air. It doesn’t. He remains squarely within the realm of the human. No matter how inhumane he is. A testament to Dan Gilroy‘s narrow degree of restraint and Gyllenhaal’s tightrope-walking ability.” (Full Review)
The fourth (and final) entry to this list that I caught at Sundance 2014, Whiplash knocked me on my ass. Adapted from an award-winning short film, Damien Chazelle‘s Full Metal Jazz Kitis a whirlwind of genre. It’s a sports movie blanketed in a war movie and punched in the face by a character study. JK Simmons roars as a drill sergeant of a conductor and we gratefully whimper in response. His performance is monsterous and marked by some of the best one-liners of the year (“That’s not your boyfriend’s d*ck; don’t come too early). Whiplash is a film that’s all about keeping tempo and getting walloped when you don’t. That beady stare that Fletcher’s perfected promises a hearty verbal wallops if not a lashing or two from those unnaturally muscled 60-year old guns. Like the most studious graduates of the school of hard rocks, Chazelle keeps tempo like Buddy Rich, chugging us along to a grand finale that is nothing short of grand. Really, really f*cking grand. If you don’t want to explode up from your seat with hands full of applause at curtain time, you’re probably deaf. Or at least tone deaf.
“Through Chazelle’s assured hand and Blacklist-topping script, Whiplash is fantastically dynamic – a perfect ode to that musical constant acting a central catalyst to the film’s narrative. While students get smacked for being the slightest bit off tempo, Whiplash is unmistakably paced to precision – the loving design of a satisfied perfectionist.” (Full Review)
2. GONE GIRL
Ben Affleck‘s grin can eat shit like none other and only a genius like David Fincher could cast on a grin alone. If there’s but one linchpin moment to Gone Girl (there’s so many) it might be his solitary poo-scarfing beam. Planted next to his wife’s missing poster, smirking like a grinch, the man looks a positive jackass. And this is the brilliance of Gone Girl – to present two sides and make us uncomfortable choosing either. As much a dissection on media as it is on marriage, Gillian Flynn‘s adaptation of her own novel presents a darker Amy and a less reasonable Nick. In this dark tale, no one gets away with being called “amazing”. Backed up some of the best score work of the year (Atticus Ross and Trent Reznor solely backing Fincher’s horse is just too perfect to be true) and one-upped by the preeminent kill of the year, Gone Girl is a masterclass stroke of jet black intelligence.
“Always going, going, gone, David Fincher absolutely knocks it out of the park. Gone Girlis one of the best, and darkest, visions he’s ever dished up. Always one step before the action, Fincher demands we race to catch up. Each shot ends just marginally too quickly. His vision is frantic by design. Things get lost in the dark that are never recovered. You just have to pretend along with it.” (Full Review)
Ka-KAW! Number one. Explosions in the sky. Theater in the streets. Birdman is the most relevant, important and downright entertaining film of the year. Kind of a comedy, kind of a drama and 100% a showcase of actors doing their best acting, Iñárritu’s jeremiad on the death and resurrection of art in the 21st century is as bitingly funny as it is boldfaced misunderstood. Existentialism has never seemed so moody and hysterical as Michael Keaton, Edward Norton and Emma Stone tear up the world stone-by-stone and try and piece it together to fit their narrow-minded narratives. Their undressings are their undoings and Iñárritu shoves the camera oh-so-perfectly down their throats. No film this year played with the mounting importance of social media, the unbecoming preeminence of superhero culture and the distressing role of celebrity status while meticulously piecing together a construct of high art like Birdman was able to and from the no-cut gimmick to a firing-on-all-cylinders ensemble cast, Birdman left me as intellectually rock hard as Mike Shiner on dress rehearsal night. No need to fade to black, this is what movies are made for. Period. The end.
“Steeped in an exacting degree of irreverent relevance, Iñárritu’s able to pull off the rare feat of raising existential questions in the same scene that he blows up a cityscape. It’s like seeing Black Swan and A Beautiful Mind fist-fighting in a Charlie Kaufman play; a crossroads of cinema and theater that’s entirely novel and entirely brilliant.” (Full Review)
So there you have it. Ten magical films to cherish from henceforth until happily ever after. Ten Bountiful beauties that will transport you to a better (or worse) place, regardless of your potentially feeble headspace. No need to thank me, just doing my critic-y duty. If you happen to disagree, I’m willing to afford you one spoonful of words. Anything more than that is a waste of breath and probably warrants a punch in the mouth.
2014 has been one big toss up for Oscar contenders. With the release of nominees from the Golden Globes (winners now), SAGs, the PGAs, the ADGs, the ASCs, the WGAs and the BAFTAs as well as AFI Top Ten, LAFCA, NYFCC and more things have been shaping up into more and more of an unconventional top crop for contenders. Front runners Boyhood, The Imitiation Game, Birdman, The Theory of Everything, The Grand Budapest Hotel and Selma look to nab nominations across the board while darker films like Nightcrawler, Gone Girl and Whiplash are looking more and more likely to be amongst the conversation as serious players.
However hazy some of the later-down-the-list nominees might be, the front runners and potential winners are looking more locked up than they do most year before the nominations are even announced, with few big battleground categories. You could assuredly put your money on a Richard Linklater win for Best Director, Michael Keaton for Best Actor, Julianne Moore for Best Actress, JK Simmons for Best Supporting, and Patricia Arquette for Best Supporting Actress. Wes Anderson‘s script for Grand Budapest Hotel looks like a shoe-in win while Gillian Flynn hopes to score Oscar gold for Gone Girl.
I would bet money on a second Emmanuel Lubezki win in a row (Gravity, now Birdman) for Best Cinematography, even though it’s looking like a crowded field. This happens to be the case with many of the technical fields. Just too few slots for too many contenders. Those categories that I really feel like I’m just taking a shot in the dark at are Best Song, Sound Editing/Mixing and Best Visual Effects (which could go many, many ways.)
Otherwise, I’m just hoping that my Best Picture contenders are on the money since if things go the way I’m thinking they will, we’ll have one of the best Best Picture collections in recent history.
BEST PICTURE Boyhood The Imitation Game Birdman The Theory of Everything Selma The Grand Budapest Hotel Gone Girl Whiplash Nightcrawler
BEST DIRECTOR Richard Linklater “Boyhood” Alejandro G. Inarritu “Birdman” David Fincher “Gone Girl” Ava DuVernay “Selma” Wes Anderson “Grand Budapest Hotel”
BEST ACTOR Michael Keaton “Birdman” Eddie Redmayne “The Theory of Everything” Jake Gyllenhaal “Nightcrawler” Benedict Cumberbatch “The Imitation Game” David Oyelowo “Selma”
BEST ACTRESS Julianne Moore “Still Alice” Reese Witherspoon “Wild” Rosamund Pike “Gone Girl” Felicity Jones “The Theory of Everything” Jennifer Anniston “Cake”
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR JK Simmons “Whiplash” Mark Ruffalo “Foxcatcher” Edward Norton “Birdman” Ethan Hawke “Boyhood” Robert Duvall “The Judge”
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS Patricia Arquette “Boyhood” Emma Stone “Birdman” Keira Knightley “The Imitation Game” Jessica Chastain “A Most Violent Year” Meryl Streep “Into the Woods”
BEST EDITING Whiplash Boyhood Birdman Gone Girl Interstellar
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY Wes Anderson “Grand Budapest Hotel” Alejandro Inarritu et al “Birdman” Richard Linklater “Boyhood” Dan Gilroy “Nightcrawler” Ava Duvernay, Paul Webb “Selma”
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY Gillian Flynn “Gone Girl” Graham Moore “The Imitation Game” Nick Hornby “Wild” Damien Chazelle “Whiplash” Anthony McCarten “The Theory of Everything”
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM Fource Majeure Ida (Poland) Leviathan (Russia) Wild Tales (Argentina) Tangerines (Estonia)
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY Birdman Mr. Turner Grand Budapest Hotel Unbroken Interstellar
BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN Grand Budapest Hotel Interstellar Into the Woods Birdman The Theory of Everything
BEST SOUND MIXING Into the Woods Interstellar Whiplash Dawn of the Planet of the Apes Transformers 4
BEST SOUND EDITING Whiplash Into the Woods Interstellar Birdman Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
BEST COSTUME DESIGN Into the Woods Grand Budapest Hotel Mr. Turner The Imitation Game A Most Violent Year
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE Gone Girl Interstellar The Grand Budapest Hotel The Theory of Everything The Imitation Game
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE Citizenfour Life Itself Jodorowsky’s Dune The Overnighters Last Days in Vietnam
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE The LEGO Movie Princess Kaguya How to Train Your Dragon 2 The Boxtrolls Big Hero 6
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS Interstellar Dawn of the Planet of the Apes Guardians of the Galaxy Godzilla The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies BEST MAKEUP & HAIRSTYLING The Theory of Everything The Grand Budapest Hotel Foxcatcher
BEST ORIGINAL SONG “Glory” (Selma) “Mercy Is” (Noah) “Opportunity” (Annie) “Yellow Flicker Beat” (The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part I) “Miracles” (Unbroken)
Unlike quite anything else, Alejandro González Iñárritu‘s Birdman is a surrealist commentary on 21st century franchise culture, absolutely pumped full of energy, wit and scintillating satire. A massively relevant take on modernity, Iñárritu’s restless film comes dressed up as black comedy but resonates wholeheartedly with the slobbish zeitgeist du jour. Truth, it seems, can come masked in all sorts of outfits. Read More