Friday, January 2, 2015

UPDATED YET AGAIN: My favourite 2014 films

***Updated Feb 1, 2015

Actor Ellar Coltrane as seen in "Boyhood" from age 6 to 18
My Top 14 Films of 2014:

1)  Boyhood (One of my favourite directors, Richard Linklater, finally looks poised to win big at the Oscars with this gem of a film, shot with the same actors over 12 years, showing the evolution of a family through the eyes of a boy who literally grows up before our eyes within 165 onscreen minutes. Intimate, quiet, heart-breaking, highly-relatable, these characters remind us of ourselves, warts and all. It's so nice to see what could've been a filmmaking disaster instead turn into such a masterpiece.) 

2) Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson's finest film was a delight from start to finish, hilarious, colourful, charming, with great performances from what seemed like half of Hollywood appearing at least once.  I truly hope Ralph Fiennes gets a Best Actor nomination at the Oscars for this.)

3) Pride (I just got a chance to watch this lovely film about gay activists in 1980s Britain raising money to help support striking miners in Wales and across the U.K.  And I can say it's jumped into my Top 11 list.  Told with great heart and humour, beautifully acted and directed, the movie succeeds because it shows the great benefits of forming alliances between the downtrodden or attacked groups that otherwise might never interact.  A very lovely experience watching this.  I'm going to blog about it very soon with its own post above.)

4) Selma (I also just got a chance recently to see this great history film, which depicts the efforts by Martin Luther King Jr. and many others to achieve full voting rights for Blacks in Alabama and across the racist southern states in the 1960s.  The direction of this film by Ava DuVernay is artful but also completely accessible, detailing the campaign to raise awareness and pressure the political powers-that-be to dismantle racist barriers to voting for African-Americans.  I'll blog too about this film separately soon.  It's sickening that many right-wing Republicans still try to limit voting rights today with rules designed to disenfranchise the vulnerable, and many of the issues raised here are still absolutely relevant today.)   

5) Whiplash (Wow...just wow.  I finally checked out this little masterpiece and it's jumped into my ever-expanding favourite list as high as number five.  This film is better and more entertaining than 'The Imitation Game' or 'The Theory of Everything.'  Miles Teller is perfect as the ambitious drummer hoping to impress an abusive genius of a music teacher played by J.K. Simmons, who very much deserves all the accolades he's receiving for this.  Mesmerizing, brutal, this portrait of unlimited ambition will be remembered years to come.) 

6) Guardians of the Galaxy (Finally, a superbly crafted and entertaining "super heroes" movie with flawed, lovable characters we can relate to.  Hollywood will try to imitate this unique success in the years ahead and may or may not succeed.  Looking forward to the sequels.)

7) Tom at the Farm (I wasn't a Xavier Dolan groupie fan until I saw this stunning suspense thriller and now I have to admit the Canadian wunderkind can do no wrong.  This was released in festivals starting in 2013, but I saw it this year at Inside Out in Toronto and it's still making the festival rounds.  I can't wait to see Dolan's new film 'Mommy'.)

8) Birdman (Finally checked this out due to all the hype and I have to say I was very pleasantly surprised, after disliking most of the director's previous films.  The film took a little while for me to get into it, but once I got used to the rhythm including the never-stopping camera, I was hooked.  Michael Keaton is superb as the aging and troubled actor who may be hiding either mysterious super powers or slight insanity.  I also very much appreciated Edward Norton's sexy performance as an uber-narcissist actor, as well as Emma Stone's great work as Keaton's daughter.  The film does soar as high as its hero. Well done!)

9) The Imitation Game (Not perfect, but pretty damn close.  The film puts the tragic story of an obscure gay hero named Alan Turing front and centre.  Turing literally saved millions of lives and helped to end WWII early thanks to his genius breaking the Enigma Code, only later to be prosecuted as a gay man.  In the role, Benedict Cumberbatch is superb.) 

10) The Theory of Everything (Thoroughly enjoyed the love story and the great acting.  One might've hoped for more physics and explorations of Stephen Hawking's ideas perhaps, but as an adaptation that looks at his life through the eyes of his wife, this was great.)

11) Still Alice (Julianne Moore is simply great in a tough role in a film about a subject most of us don't want to know much about: early onset Alzheimer's.  She should hopefully win her first Oscar for this.)

12) Under The Skin (Weird, mesmerizing and unforgettable, one of Scarlett Johansson's great roles this year.)

13) Nightcrawler (Surprisingly strong and disturbing portrait of the media's obsession with violence and the vicious exploitation it creates.  Jake Gyllenhaal and everyone else here are amazing.)

14) Praia do Futuro, or Future Beach (Atmospheric, contemplative portrait of a Brazilian gay man struggling with identity, love and family.  Loved it from start to finish.) 

Totally Awesome, but not quite top 14:

X-Men, Days of Future Past

Elena

The Way He Looks

Foxcatcher

St Vincent

Life Itself

Lucy

Wild

Words and Pictures

Maleficent

The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies

Land of Storms

Into The Woods

Love in the Time of Civil War

Love Is Strange

Dear White People


Haven't seen these, but they're on my list to watch asap:

Mommy

Snowpiercer

Mr Turner

Ida

Chef

Starred Up

Unbroken

Cake

A Most Violent Year


Quite decent:

Noah

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

American Sniper

Neighbors

The Interview

My Mom Is A Character

Dracula Untold

My Straight Son

The Great Beauty

Interior. Leather Bar.

300 Rise of an Empire

Pasolini


Not good, but noteworthy for prurient reasons:

I Am Happiness On Earth (Mexican director Julián Hernández has made several artsy gay films that feature massive amounts of beautiful male nudity, and he does so again with this film.)

That Awkward Moment (Nothing special, but it contains Zac Efron's first onscreen nude scene, so it deserves some attention.)

Disappointing:

Gone Girl (Sorry, but I hated the characters and didn’t care about what happened to them.  Why didn’t she just kill Ben Affleck and set it up like he killed himself?  And spare us this long, drawn out piece of bullshit masquerading as "intelligent, subversive commentary on modern relationships"?  But at least it was slickly produced.) 

Interstellar (Re-thought this from my initial assessment.  It was visually stunning at times but also way too drawn out with way too many ideas, most of which weren't really explored in satisfying ways.   Perhaps this is Christopher Nolan's weakest film.)

A Most Wanted Man

Test

The Third One (How could a movie about a hot gay threesome be so boring?) 

Maze Runner (It should’ve been Lord of the Flies, but instead was full of shit)

Enemy  (Misogynist crap.  Denis Villeneuve just dropped several points in my estimation.) 

Divergent  (Crappy, boring, unoriginal.) 

Transcendence


Just plain bad:

Pompeii

Horns

1 comment:

Brahm Kornbluth said...

Wow, I have some catching up to do... some on here have not even heard of.

Loved Grand Budapest Hotel. Also liked Gone Girl actually. Top of my list was the Roger Ebert documentary "Life Itself"!


brahm
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