2014 Film Year in Review

The Golden Globes are behind us and the Oscar nominations are announced on Thursday. But before I get into the throes of writing all about Oscar I wanted to highlight some of my thoughts from 2014 cinema.

MOST FUN – 2014 Comic Book Movies

X-Men 2Captain America 2, X-Men: Days of Future Past and Big Hero 6 all delivered. I’d like to say we’re in a golden age of comic book movies, and maybe we are, but with Sony still making Spider-Man nonsense it’s hard to commit. But above all, there was Guardians of the Galaxy. This is the comic book movie for everyone, not just those who like comic books. No wonder it was tops at the box office. But it’s comic book roots aside, this would have been a fun movie even if you had no clue about the source material… oh wait… that’s right… nobody knew a thing about the source material. If your friend said they were into Guardians of the Galaxy before the movie they were lying. Chris Pratt is perfect in this role and the chemistry amongst the actors makes me psyched for the sequels.

LEAST FUN – Foxcatcher

Foxcather - Steve and ChanningI hesitate to say any movie is “depressing” because I have never left a movie theater depressed by what I saw. There have been some close calls. The Hours comes to mind. Wow that was tough to watch. But this year it was Foxcatcher. Don’t get me wrong, this is an outstanding film with stellar performances from Steve Carell, Mark Ruffalo and yes, Channing Tatum. In some ways, most of all Channing Tatum. But this story has no bright spots. It’s a dark true story and director Bennett Miller tells it well. It really speaks to the greatness of the film that there isn’t anything about the story that makes you happy but you still leave the theater satisfied, just maybe a little bummed out.

PLEASANT SURPRISE – Nightcrawler

Nightcrawler - JakeJake Gyllenhaal is a fantastic actor and with plenty of good Oscar buzz around his performance in Nightcrawler it was on my list of must-sees before the nominations. What surprised me was how complete the film is. It isn’t just Gyllenhaal. It’s the script, the direction, the cinematography and so much more. I don’t know if he’ll get an Oscar nomination or not, it’s a pretty deep year for lead actors, but Louis Bloom is one of the most interesting characters I’ve seen on screen in a very long time.

Interstellar_67383

NO SURPRISE AT ALL – Interstellar

Christopher Nolan is incapable of making a bad movie. Everything he’s done is great. That is all.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT – Big Eyes

This movie was a disappointment less because of it not being very good. It’s fine I guess. But because I never even remotely cared about the story or the characters. It’s a big “so what” of a story. Amy Adams does a fair job. She’s Amy Adams and she’s a great actress. The same goes for Christoph Waltz. But I just never gave a rip about a story about a woman who painted some paintings and her husband took credit for them to help sell them (which they did) and made a bunch of money (which she enjoyed) for a decade and then left him and wanted recognition. The whole “we have to keep this secret” just was never enough for me. The stakes weren’t high enough to care if they succeeded or failed.

FAVORITE EXPERIENCE – Regal Cinemas Classic Film Series

Godfather - Corleone menMy son and I have thoroughly enjoyed seeing some of the greatest films of all time on the big screen this year. From The
Grapes of Wrath
to The Godfather to The Silence of the Lambs to Monty Python and the Holy Grail. On and on. Each week a new classic. Over the last few months they have been on hiatus. I hope they return soon.

COULD HAVE BEEN REALLY GOOD – The Drop

Tom Hardy gives a really good, subdued performance. But The Drop suffered from just being too slow. I like the concept and outside of pacing it was executed well. It needed something more to keep it going.

THE BEST OF 2015

There were really a number of movies I really enjoyed this year. But a few really stood out as exceptional. Most of these I’ll go into detail about once the Oscar nominations are announced but for now I’ll keep it brief.

birdman-movie-keaton-norton

BIRDMANMichael Keaton’s finest hour and some of the best camera work I’ve ever seen. But this film is great on virtually every level. (More here)

GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL_c371.JPG

THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL – It is clear now that Wes Anderson just keeps getting better and better at making wonderful films.

Imitation Game

THE IMITATION GAME – Powerful story that doesn’t soapbox. Supported by Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley giving very great, very human performances it’s one of the year’s best.

Gone Girl

GONE GIRLSee here.

St. Vincent - Bill

ST. VINCENT – I’d love to see Bill Murray win an Oscar someday. It’s unlikely he’ll be nominated for this film. Even if he was he wouldn’t win. But St. Vincent shows that Bill continues to be a monumental, relevant talent. Wes Anderson gets this. But to the rest of Hollywood I say, “We need more Bill Murray movies!”

What were some of your 2014 cinematic highlights (or lowlights)? Post below or Tweet at me (@cmselby). Be sure to like the Captions Facebook page. You can post your comments there too.

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