Thursday, January 1, 2015

10 Best Films I Saw in 2014


10. Ida (2013)

Blu-ray

This austere gem from Poland succeeds on pure aesthetics; its story and shocking climax mere stretchers for the visual canvas of director Pawel Pawlikowski. Cinematographers Ryszard Lenczewski and Lukasz Zal must share in the glory as well, for while Ida has the look of distant memory, its melancholy of regret is timeless.






9. Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance (2014) 

Theatrical - Review


Birdman is a either a great movie or complete bullshit. I still can’t decide. Until I get a chance to see it again, I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt.






8. The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

Theatrical

This was the most fun new movie I saw in 2014, no question about it. Ralph Fiennes got a chance to do what he does best: be totally insufferable. But this time his character was supposed to be that way so it was a win-win.





7. The Jewish Cardinal (2013)

French TV - Review

Perhaps the most competently executed film I saw this year, with superb work in all phases of production. The film also offers compelling insights into the international politics of the Reagan years and Pope John Paul II’s sneaky attempts to manipulate public perception.





6. Goodbye to Language 3D (2014)

Theatrical - Review

I’m so tired of people whining that they don’t know what this film is “about.”  People, it's Godard. Put your big boy pants on and watch this marvelous thing and shut up. Or go see fucking Transformers again, I really don’t care.





5. The Past (2013)

Blu-ray - Review

Asghar Farhadi takes dull stories of ordinary people with boring lives and turns them into riveting thrillers. I’ve never seen anything quite like it.







4. Whiplash (2014)

Theatrical - Review

Whiplash turns every cliche of the student vs. teacher genre up to 11. If J.K. Simmons doesn’t get an Oscar I’m going to have a fit. Watch this space.




3. Nebraska (2013)

Theatrical - Review

Although I saw it 11 months ago, Nebraska’s brilliant construction of a decaying, wobbly Americana sticks in my foggy old mind like a glorious sunset.





2. Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)

Theatrical - Review

The times may have been a changin, but the life of this wandering minstrel remained a twisted muddle.






1. The Great Beauty (2013)

Blu-ray - Review

The Great Beauty is composed of magical moments - often seemingly unconnected - that amuse, mystify and occasionally befuddle. Through an ebb and flow of images and imaginings, truth is revealed in the Roman dawn while flocks of birds fill a gleaming sky.




Honorable Mention: Gloria (2013), The Theory of Everything (2014),  Gabrielle (2013),  The Lunch Box (2013),  La Tendresse (2013)

I'll be doing a post later on the year's best older films on home video and rewatches.


10 Best Films I Saw in 2014


10. Ida (2013)

Blu-ray

This austere gem from Poland succeeds on pure aesthetics; its story and shocking climax mere stretchers for the visual canvas of director Pawel Pawlikowski. Cinematographers Ryszard Lenczewski and Lukasz Zal must share in the glory as well, for while Ida has the look of distant memory, its melancholy of regret is timeless.






9. Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance (2014) 

Theatrical - Review


Birdman is a either a great movie or complete bullshit. I still can’t decide. Until I get a chance to see it again, I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt.






8. The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

Theatrical

This was the most fun new movie I saw in 2014, no question about it. Ralph Fiennes got a chance to do what he does best: be totally insufferable. But this time his character was supposed to be that way so it was a win-win.





7. The Jewish Cardinal (2013)

French TV - Review

Perhaps the most competently executed film I saw this year, with superb work in all phases of production. The film also offers compelling insights into the international politics of the Reagan years and Pope John Paul II’s sneaky attempts to manipulate public perception.





6. Goodbye to Language 3D (2014)

Theatrical - Review

I’m so tired of people whining that they don’t know what this film is “about.”  People, it's Godard. Put your big boy pants on and watch this marvelous thing and shut up. Or go see fucking Transformers again, I really don’t care.





5. The Past (2013)

Blu-ray - Review

Asghar Farhadi takes dull stories of ordinary people with boring lives and turns them into riveting thrillers. I’ve never seen anything quite like it.







4. Whiplash (2014)

Theatrical - Review

Whiplash turns every cliche of the student vs. teacher genre up to 11. If J.K. Simmons doesn’t get an Oscar I’m going to have a fit. Watch this space.




3. Nebraska (2013)

Theatrical - Review

Although I saw it 11 months ago, Nebraska’s brilliant construction of a decaying, wobbly Americana sticks in my foggy old mind like a glorious sunset.





2. Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)

Theatrical - Review

The times may have been a changin, but the life of this wandering minstrel remained a twisted muddle.






1. The Great Beauty (2013)

Blu-ray - Review

The Great Beauty is composed of magical moments - often seemingly unconnected - that amuse, mystify and occasionally befuddle. Through an ebb and flow of images and imaginings, truth is revealed in the Roman dawn while flocks of birds fill a gleaming sky.




Honorable Mention: Gloria (2013), The Theory of Everything (2014),  Gabrielle (2013),  The Lunch Box (2013),  La Tendresse (2013)

I'll be doing a post later on the year's best older films on home video and rewatches.


40 Years of Close Encounters

I’ve changed my mind about Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) several times over the years, proving once again that ...