Wes Anderson and Richard Linklater –prominent writer/directors, Texas natives (both have roots in Houston) and coincidentally my two favorite humans. Their latest films were nominated for Best Motion Picture this year and, delving further, their careers have evolved at very similar rates, humbly paving the quaint dirt road that was the indie film scene in the ‘90s with Slacker and Bottle Rocket. Onward, they transitioned to tastemakers, acquiring cult followings with Dazed and Confusedand The Royal Tenenbaums. With each film Anderson and Linklater make, their toolbox gets a little bigger without compromising their eclectic and pridefully offbeat styles, one vastly different from the other, yet hauntingly similar. Which leads to the question, who does it better?
Wes Anderson’s oh-so-deadpan characters spout off some wise, sometimes just straight up madcap tidings, whereas Linklater’s characters go for the gold with philosophical revelations even too deep for Tiny Buddha, and one-liners that end up on t-shirts. Let’s compare the two directors’ most memorable quotes.
Battle 4: Memorable Quotes
“That’s what I love about these high school girls, man. I get older, they stay the same age.”
Linklater – Dazed and Confused
“Why would a reviewer make the point of saying someone’s *not* a genius? Do you especially think I’m *not* a genius? You didn’t even have to think about it, did you?”
Anderson – The Royal Tenenbaums
In Dazed and Confused, David Wooderson is a grown-up loser who still hangs out with high school kids. In The Royal Tenenbaums, Eli is a self-absorbed author of western books and also an endearing stalker who hangs out in closets wearing only his underwear. His prose is truly hilarious, as we discover when he reads an excerpt at a press conference: “And they rode on in the friscalating dusklight . . .” Both memorable characters, but Wooderson’s wacky wisdom lives on forever in frat houses across the world.
Winner: Linklater/ Dazed and Confused
“I have been touched by your kids… and I’m pretty sure that I’ve touched them.”
Linklater – School of Rock
“I’ve never seen so many electric jellyfish in all my life!”
Anderson – The Life Aquatic
Both School of Rock and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou have ample amounts of hilarious, memorable quotes. Nothing beats that awkward moment at the parent-teacher conference when Dewey Finn says that perverted quote without even realizing. Ned Plimpton, in his nasally, southern accent-y voice, declares his quotes in a state of enamored fascination. Quotability, in my opinion, is based on if you can shout an obscure quote at a dinner party totally out of context and have people laugh, rather than stare are you questioningly.
Winner: Anderson/ The Life Aquatic
“You know how everyone’s always saying seize the moment? I don’t know, I’m kind of thinking it’s the other way around, you know, like the moment seizes us.”
Linklater – Boyhood
“I saved Latin. What did you ever do?”
Anderson – Rushmore
Linklater’s most recent coming of age opus Boyhood is ripe with wisdom and heartfelt realizations. So is Anderson’s Rushmore, which follows a confused kid as he gets caught up in an obsession with a teacher at his school. I could be biased here, since I’ve been quoting Rushmore avidly for years, but there is just so much angst-filled honesty in Max Fischer, such vulnerable truth.
Winner: Anderson/ Rushmore
Subjective Winner: Wes Anderson’s Quotes are Better
Join us next week for the next Wes/Dick showdown and check out prior segments:
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)
At the awards brunch this morning, I admitted to a programer that I didn’t even vote for any of the categories for this year’s SIFF awards. “There’s just too many and no one sees them all anyways,” I remarked. “Even though I saw it at Sundance, I guess I would just give all the awards to Boyhood.” It seems the masses were clued into my wave length, as Richard Linklater‘s Boyhood pretty much went on to take all the audience awards including Best Film, Best Actress for Patricia Arquette and Best Director for Linklater (whom I interviewed last week.)
I have a hard time giving much credit to these awards as there’s just too many films for any one person to have a reasonable grasp on what they’re actually voting on and some of the best stuff always seems to wind up overlooked. The unanimity of support for Boyhood does make me wonder about its eventual Oscar odds. At this point, I think it’s the only film of the year that is a set lock for a Best Picture nomination but will it actually have a shot at winning? While I’d like to say yes, it’s barely even June. No matter, I’ll continue to root for it until I see something else that delivers an equally stunning experience.
The only other win on this list that I was really excited to see was Carlos Marques-Marcet taking a prize for Best New Director for 10,000 KM, which I loved. I actually just interviewed him the other day and will be posting that shortly for anyone interested in the (now award winning) director.
The full list of winners, and accompanying SIFF press release, is included below:
SIFF 2014 GOLDEN SPACE NEEDLE AWARDS
SIFF celebrates its most popular films and filmmakers with the Golden Space Needle Award. Selected by Festival audiences, awards are given in five categories: Best Film, Best Documentary, Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Short Film. This year, nearly 90,000 ballots were submitted.
GOLDEN SPACE NEEDLE AWARD – BEST FILM
Boyhood, directed by Richard Linklater (USA 2014)
First runner-up: Life Feels Good, directed by Maciej Pieprzyca (Poland 2013)
Second runner-up: How to Train Your Dragon 2, directed by Dean DeBlois (USA 2014)
Third runner-up: The Fault in Our Stars, directed by Josh Boone (USA 2014)
Fourth runner-up: Big in Japan, directed by John Jeffcoat (USA 2014)
GOLDEN SPACE NEEDLE AWARD – BEST DOCUMENTARY
Keep On Keepin’ On, directed by Alan Hicks (USA 2014)
First runner-up: Alive Inside: A Story of Music & Memory, directed by Michael Rossato-Bennett (USA 2014)
Second runner-up: I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story, directed by Dave LaMattina, Chad Walker (USA 2014)
Third runner-up: Strictly Sacred: The Story of Girl Trouble, directed by Isaac Olsen (USA 2014)
Fourth runner-up: The Case Against 8, directed by Ben Cotner, Ryan White (USA 2014)
GOLDEN SPACE NEEDLE AWARD – BEST DIRECTOR
Richard Linklater, Boyhood (USA 2014)
First runner-up: Maciej Pieprzyca, Life Feels Good (Poland 2013)
Second runner-up: Zaza Urushadze, Tangerines (Estonia/Georgia 2013)
Third runner-up: Pawel Pawlikowski, Ida (Poland 2013)
Fourth runner-up: Sara Colangelo, Little Accidents (USA 2014)
GOLDEN SPACE NEEDLE AWARD – BEST ACTOR
Dawid Ogrodnik, Life Feels Good (Poland 2013)
First runner-up: Guillaume Gallienne, Me, Myself and Mum (Belgium/France/Spain 2013)
Second runner-up: Matt Smith, My Last Year With the Nuns (USA 2014)
Third runner-up: Felix Bossuet, Belle & Sebastien (France 2013)
Fourth runner-up: Igor Samobor, Class Enemy (Slovenia 2013)
GOLDEN SPACE NEEDLE AWARD – BEST ACTRESS
Patricia Arquette, Boyhood (USA 2014)
First runner-up: Juliette Binoche, 1,000 Times Good Night (Norway 2013)
Second runner-up: Agata Kulesza, Ida (Poland 2013)
Third runner-up: Jenny Slate, Obvious Child (USA 2014)
Fourth runner-up: Jördis Triebel, West (Germany 2013)
GOLDEN SPACE NEEDLE AWARD – BEST SHORT FILM
Fool’s Day, directed by Cody Blue Snider (USA 2013)
First runner-up: The Hero Pose, directed by Mischa Jakupcak (USA 2013)
Second runner-up: Strings, directed by Pedro Solis (Spain 2013)
Third runner-up: Mr. Invisible, directed by Greg Ash (United Kingdom 2014)
Fourth runner-up: Aban + Khorshid, directed by Darwin Serink (USA 2014)
LENA SHARPE AWARD FOR PERSISTENCE OF VISION
Bound: Africans Versus African Americans, directed by Peres Owino (USA 2014)
This award is given to the female director’s film that receives the most votes in public balloting at the Festival. Lena Sharpe was co-founder and managing director of Seattle’s Festival of Films by Women Directors and a KCTS-TV associate who died in a plane crash while on assignment. As a tribute to her efforts in bringing the work of women filmmakers to prominence, SIFF created this special award and asked Women in Film Seattle to bestow it.
SIFF 2014 COMPETITION AWARDS
SIFF announced three Competition Awards for Best New Director, Best Documentary, and Best New American Film (FIPRESCI). Winners in the juried New Director and Documentary competition each received $2,500 in cash, while the New American Cinema competition winner was awarded a copy of Adobe Creative Suite 6: Production Premium edition in addition to the FIPRESCI prize.
SIFF 2014 BEST NEW DIRECTOR
GRAND JURY PRIZE
10,000KM,directed by Carlos Marques-Marcet (Spain/USA 2014)
JURY STATEMENT: Our unanimous winner is Carlos Marques-Marcet’s 10,000KM for its ability to simply and creatively convey the complexity and fragility of human relationships with gorgeous attention to detail.
SPECIAL JURY MENTION
B For Boy, directed by Chika Anadu (Nigeria 2013)
JURY STATEMENT: Our special jury mention goes to B For Boy‘s director Chika Anadu for her assured and fierce storytelling.
Festival programmers select 12 films remarkable for their original concept, striking style, and overall excellence. To be eligible, films must be a director’s first or second feature and without U.S. distribution at the time of their selection. The New Directors Jury is comprised of Ron Leamon (costume designer), Sharon Swart (journalist), and Helen du Toit (Artistic Director, Palm Springs International Film Festival).
10,000KM (d: Carlos Marques-Marcet, Spain/USA 2014)
40 Days of Silence (d: Saodat Ismailova, Uzbekistan/Tajikistan/Netherlands/Germany/
France 2014, North American Premiere)
B For Boy (d: Chika Anadu, Nigeria 2013)
Eastern Boys (d: Robin Campillo, France 2013)
History of Fear (d: Benjamín Naishtat, Argentina/Uruguay/France/Germany 2013)
Life Feels Good (d: Maciej Pieprzyca, Poland 2013)
Macondo (d: Sudabeh Mortezai, Austria 2014, North American Premiere)
Me, Myself and Mum (d: Guillaume Gallienne, Belgium/France/Spain 2013)
Remote Control (d: Byamba Sakhya, Mongolia/Germany/USA 2013)
Rhymes for Young Ghouls (d: Jeff Barnaby, Canada (Québec) 2013, US Premiere)
Marmato, directed by Mark Grieco (Colombia/USA 2014)
JURY STATEMENT: We give the documentary prize to Marmato. With courage and ambition, director Mark Grieco artfully brings to life a personal story with global significance and provides a window into a world that few would have access to.
SPECIAL JURY MENTIONS
Dior and I,directed by Frédéric Tcheng (France 2014) and Garden Lovers, directed by Virpi Suutari (Finland 2014)
JURY STATEMENT: We want to give special recognition for the aesthetic richness and cinematography of these films.
Unscripted and uncut, the world is a resource of unexpected, informative, and altogether exciting storytelling. Documentary filmmakers have, for years, brought these untold stories to life and introduced us to a vast number of fascinating topics we may have never known existed-let alone known were so fascinating. The Documentary Jury is comprised of Brian Brooks (FilmLinc.com), Claudia Puig (USA Today), and Pat Saperstein (Variety).
Ballet 422 (d: Jody Lee Lipes, USA 2014)
#ChicagoGirl – The Social Network Takes on a Dictator (d: Joe Piscatella, USA/Syria 2013, North American Premiere)
Dangerous Acts Starring the Unstable Elements of Belarus (d: Madeleine Sackler, United Kingdom/USA/Belarus 2013, US Premiere)
Dior and I (d: Frédéric Tcheng, France 2014)
Garden Lovers (d: Virpi Suutari, Finland 2014, US Premiere)
I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story (d: Dave LaMattina, USA 2014)
Leninland (d: Askold Kurov, Russia/Germany/Netherlands 2013, North American Premiere)
Marmato (d: Mark Grieco, Colombia/USA 2014)
Obama Mama (d: Vivian Norris, USA/Poland/France 2014, World Premiere)
Shake the Dust (d: Adam Sjöberg, USA 2014, World Premiere)
Song of the New Earth (d: Ward Serrill, USA 2014, World Premiere)
Two Raging Grannies (d: Håvard Bustnes, Norway/Denmark/Italy 2014,
North American Premiere)
SIFF 2014 BEST NEW AMERICAN CINEMA
GRAND JURY PRIZE
Red Knot,directed by Scott Cohen (USA/Argentina/Antarctica 2014)
JURY STATEMENT: An ethnographic journey to the South Pole becomes an unsettling tale of fumbled love and transcendent redemption, capped by an extraordinary performance from Olivia Thirlby.
Festival programmers select 12 films without U.S. distribution that are sure to delight audiences looking to explore the exciting vanguard of New American Cinema and compete for the FIPRESCI Award for Best New American Film. The New American Cinema Jury is comprised of members of the International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI): Juan Manuel Dominguez, Gerald Peary, and Amber Wilkinson.
Alex of Venice (d: Chris Messina, USA 2014)
Another (d: Jason Bognacki, USA 2014, World Premiere)
Five Star (d: Keith Miller, USA 2014)
Kinderwald (d: Lise Raven, USA 2013)
Layover (d: Joshua Caldwell, USA 2014, World Premiere)
Little Accidents (d: Sara Colangelo, USA 2014)
Medeas (d: Andrea Pallaoro, USA/Italy/Mexico 2013)
Red Knot (d: Scott Cohen, USA/Argentina/Antarctica 2014, World Premiere)
Sam & Amira (d: Sean Mullin, USA 2014, World Premiere)
The Sleepwalker (d: Mona Fastvold, USA/Norway 2014)
Time Lapse (d: Bradley King, USA 2014, North American Premiere)
X/Y (d: Ryan Piers Williams, USA 2014)
SIFF 2014 FUTUREWAVE AND YOUTH JURY AWARDS
YOUTH JURY AWARD FOR BEST FUTUREWAVE FEATURE
GRAND JURY PRIZE
Dear White People, directed by Justin Simien (USA)
JURY STATEMENT: For skillfully using humor as a vehicle for social awareness, breaking the mold of traditional cinematic archetypes, and unifying audiences of all backgrounds.
YOUTH JURY AWARD FOR BEST FILMS4FAMILIES FEATURE
GRAND JURY PRIZE
Belle & Sebastien, directed by Nicolas Vanier (France)
JURY STATEMENT: For its realistic characters, beautiful scenery and cinematography, and strong, touching theme of friendship through hard times.
SPECIAL JURY PRIZE
Zip & Zap and the Marble Gang, directed by Óskar Santos (Spain)
JURY STATEMENT: For being a funny, adventurous story about the importance of creativity in children’s lives.
FUTUREWAVE WAVEMAKER AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN YOUTH FILMMAKING
GRAND JURY PRIZE
Malone Lumarda, Black Rock Creek (USA)
JURY STATEMENT: For its gentle depiction of a young girl exploring her natural surroundings that was both captivating and realistic.
FUTUREWAVE SHORTS AUDIENCE AWARD
While We’re Asleep, directed by Summer Matthews (USA)
FUTUREWAVE PRODIGY CAMP SCHOLARSHIP
Khidr Joseph, Clapping for the Wrong Reasons (USA)
SIFF 2014 SHORT FILM JURY AWARDS
All short films shown at the Festival are eligible for both the Golden Space Needle Award and Jury Award. Jurors choose winners in the Narrative, Animation, and Documentary categories. Each jury winner will receive $1,000 and winners in any of the three categories may also qualify to enter their respective films in the Short Film category of the Academy Awards®.
GRAND JURY PRIZE
Twaaga, directed by Cédric Ido (Burkina Faso/France)
JURY STATEMENT: A rich and compelling world with beautiful cultural and generational chapters. The seamless use of animated comic book imagery to reflect the protagonist’s journey and the larger political backdrop.
SPECIAL JURY MENTION
Aban + Khorshid, directed by Darwin Serink (USA)
JURY STATEMENT: A beautifully filmed and tragic story, based on real life events, about freedoms here that carry the death penalty elsewhere.
GRAND JURY PRIZE
Maikaru, directed by Amanda Harryman (USA)
JURY STATEMENT: An honest, vulnerable and authentic piece that exposes an invisible issue that is happening in Seattle and worldwide. The character’s story of healing leaves the audience with a sense of hope. The use of artistic footage illustrating the character’s transformative journey.
SPECIAL JURY MENTION
The Queen (La Reina), directed by Manuel Abramovich (Argentina)
JURY STATEMENT: Effective framing, to craft a haunting portrait of youth in exhibition pageants.
GRAND JURY PRIZE
Rhino Full Throttle, directed by Erik Schmitt (Germany)
JURY STATEMENT: A story of self redemption told through quirky and playful animation bounding with shifting formats that would be dizzying if the story wasn’t so timeless. An animated love story that tips its hat to its own genre.
The Short Film Jury comprised of Laura Jean Cronin (B47 Studios), Craig Downing (Couch Fest Films), and Brooks Peck (EMP Museum).
I made no secret of my admiration for director Richard Linklater. Over the course of 25 years, the self-taught auteur has been responsible for some of the finest, most human pieces of film to grace the silver screen. From his hauntingly perfect Before series to his most recent – and most ambitious – masterpiece Boyhood, Linklater is not a guy who plays by the rules. Where traditional films zig, Linklater zags. Read More
Update June 3: More reviews added, no standing replacements.
Update May 17: Seeing that some of these didn’t live up to expectation, some prior “Must Sees” have been yanked and new additions have taken their place. After all, who doesn’t love some corrections and omissions?!
For its 40th, the Seattle International Film Festival is again raising the bar on itself, this year offering a whopping 435 films including 198 feature films, 60 documentaries, and 163 short films from 83 countries. Of those, 44 are world premieres, 29 North American premieres and 13 US premieres. All this amongst a slew of festival favorites from this year and last. Let’s just say that the odds of seeing them all just got that much slimmer.
Kicking the festival off is Oscar-winner (12 Years a Slave) John Ridley‘s Jimi: All is By My Side, a zero frills biopic that chronicles the afro-ed classic rocker’s year in Britain leading up to his iconic Woodstock performance. And all by his side is 12 Years alum Chiwetel Ejiofor who will be in attendance May 19 (6 PM @ The Egyptian Theater) to talk about his new film Half of a Yellow Sun, an African-produced historical drama about Nigerian’s civil war through the 60s. Ejiofor will also take place in a Q&A with an audience eager to speak with the Academy Award nominee that same evening.
The festival will close June 8 at the glorious Cinerama with The One I Love starring Elizabeth Moss (Mad Men) and Mark Duplass (The League) which saw strong reviews opening at Sundance and is said to mix elements of modern romance with “Twilight Zone” twists and turns. Add it to the ever growing “To See” List.
But likely the most exciting and anticipated film of the festival will be found in SIFF’s Centerpiece Gala in Richard Linklater‘s Boyhood on Saturday, May 31 @ 5 PM. I had the great fortune of being amongst the first audience to see this at Sundance and it did nothing short of blow me away. Though I don’t want to be greedy and steal away the seats of those yet uninitiated to Boyhood, I look forward to experiencing it again and may not be able to resist a second viewing.
Since it’s all but impossible to see everything at SIFF, I have a list of 25 must sees that should put you on the right track for this year’s festivities.
The 25 Must Sees of SIFF 2014
Boyhood Obviously Boyhood is gonna be on the list. I absolutely loved it and could wax said love over this page all day but I’ll spare the gushing and just tell you that of the 80+ films I’ve reviewed this year (!!!) this is the only to have yet received an A+. Sundance review here.
Mood Indigo Michael Gondry returns to the realm of the weird, this time in his native French language, in what should be equal measures charming, bittersweet, and esoteric. The incredibly alluring Audrey Tatou is Chloe, who becomes wrapped up with a quirky inventor, even though she’s dying (because she has flowers growing in her lungs.)
Grand Central Blue is the Warmest Color star Lea Seydoux puts in her second turn against A Prophet‘s Tahar Rahim in this French/Austrian production about a risky love affair set at the nuclear power plant where they both work.
Venus in Furs Carnage wasn’t exactly the prodigal return for Roman Polanski we might have hoped for but it was anything but bad. Polanski continues his recent tradition of adapting lauded plays with Venus in Furs which stars Mathiew Amalric (Quantum of Solace) and is filmed in Polanski’s native French. Venus focuses on a playwright’s battle with his creative side. SIFF review here.
Cannibal The chilling promo image alone gets me thinking Psycho and added to the fact that this production is in part Spanish, Romanian, Russian and French, gives it the taste of “something new.” Hopefully it brings the scares to the table in a SIFF surprisingly short on them.No longer considered must see, read our SIFF review here.
The Double(new addition) Jesse Eisenberg stars as two polar opposites in this Orson Welles inspired black comedy. Wickedly weird but quietly potent, The Double might not be the best doppleganger film of the year (that award goes to Enemy) but it’s certainly compelling viewing that’ll leave you oddly fulfilled. SIFF review here.