Throwback Thursday Oscar Edition: Who Should Have Won?

Carry and Oscar

The Academy Award is the most coveted award in the film industry.  When one receives this award, it translates to more parts, more fame, and bragging rights that for one year, “I was the best.”  Or not.  Since its inception, the Academy Awards have been known to be a bit of a popularity contest.  This is not to say that it doesn’t get it right sometimes (Vivien Leigh winning for Best Actress in Gone with the Wind, Schindler’s List winning Best Picture, etc.). However, the Oscar prognosticators spend time analyzing the awards and looking to see who the Academy deems the most popular for that year, but not necessarily the best.  There are classic Oscar missteps that have been addressed by many (see Shakespeare in Love winning for Best Picture instead of Saving Private Ryan or How Green was My Valley winning Best Picture over Citizen Kane).  For this Throwback Thursday, managing editor John David West and awards season guru Ariadne Ansbro look back at some of the lesser known Oscar mistakes and tell you who they think should have won.

 

1950 Best Actress
From top left: Judy Holliday in Born Yesterday, Bette Davis in All About Eve, and Gloria Swanson in Sunset Blvd.

1950 Best Actress

Judy Holliday, Born Yesterday

Anne Baxter, All About Eve

Bette Davis, All About Eve

Eleanor Parker, Caged

Gloria Swanson, Sunset Blvd.

Ari’s pick: This is a tough one for me.  Judy Holliday was excellent at playing the dizzy blond Billie Dawn who starts to receive an education in Born Yesterday, but she was not even in the same league as Bette Davis or Gloria Swanson. Pitting Davis and Swanson against each other in career defining roles is an almost impossible choice.  However, I am paid to make impossible choices, so I would have to say that the winner that year should have been Bette Davis.  Her performance in All About Eve was the stuff of legends.  Can you imagine anyone else saying, “Fasten your seatbelts.  It’s going to be a bumpy night.”?

David’s pick: Judy Holliday?  Holliday is solid as Billie Dawn, the same role she played on Broadway, but let’s have a reality check here: Bette Davis in All About Eve and Gloria Swanson in Sunset Blvd. Choosing between those two is unfair (like Meryl Streep and Jessica Lange in 1982)—and that’s probably why Holliday won. They cancelled each other out. Since life is unfair, I’m going to make a choice and say that the 1950 Best Actress should have gone to Gloria Swanson for her larger than life performance in Sunset Blvd. Her movie icon status was solidified when she said, “All right, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up.”

 

1959 Best Actor
Charlton Heston in Ben-Hur and Jack Lemmon in Some Like it Hot

1959 Best Actor

Charlton Heston, Ben-Hur

Jack Lemmon, Some Like it Hot

James Stewart, Anatomy of a Murder

Laurence Harvey, Room at the Top

Paul Muni, The Last Angry Man

Ari’s pick: I am going to start by saying one of the most unpopular things I could ever say: I don’t like Ben-Hur.  This does not mean that I cannot see past my dislike for a film, yet see the brilliance in a performance (i.e. Peter O’Toole in Lawrence of Arabia, don’t hate me).  However, Charlton Heston played Charlton Heston.  He was the exact same tough guy that he played in every movie before, and all of the Bible epics he did after.  Laurence Harvey was wonderful in Room at the Top.  I generally think that Harvey is an actor who is largely forgotten about, mostly due to his untimely death at age 45.  James Stewart really played against type in Anatomy of a Murder as a slightly dubious defense attorney who defends a man accused of murder.  In the end, I have to go with Jack Lemmon in Some Like it Hot.  There are so many great things in this film, but Lemmon is a true stand out.  Sadly, Oscar is not big on honoring comedic performances.  

David’s pick: I have to confess, I’m not familiar with many in this category and not a fan of the tediously long Ben-Hur. My choice is Jack Lemmon in Some Like it Hot for his comic performance as a musician who is forced to dress as a woman in order to hide from the mob. It’s a solid iconic comic performance in one of cinemas great classic comedies. 

 

 

1962 Best Actress
Patty Duke in The Miracle Worker and Angela Lansbury in The Manchurian Candidate

1962 Best Supporting Actress

Patty Duke, The Miracle Worker

Angela Lansbury, The Manchurian Candidate

Mary Badham, To Kill a Mockingbird

Shirley Knight, Sweet Bird of Youth

Thelma Ritter, Birdman of Alcatraz

Ari’s pick: Patty Duke won an Oscar for her role as Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker.  This film was poised to pick up acting Oscars for both Duke and Anne Bancroft in the lead actress category, as the Oscars love to reward people for playing real people and characters who must overcome some sort of physical or mental disability (check and check).  The problem is that years later, the performance that stands out the most in this category is Angela Lansbury in The Manchurian Candidate.  These days it is hard to think of Lansbury playing someone so diabolical.  Lansbury’s performance is so memorable that AFI named her portrayal of Mrs. John Iselin as one of the 50 best villains of all time.  

David’s pick: Of all the fine supporting performances in 1962, it’s Angela Lansbury in The Manchurian Candidate, who should have won for her performance as the cold and calculating, communist agent who is part of a plot to brainwash her son to commit murder. Yes, that’s right, our beloved Jessica Fletcher from Murder She Wrote played an evil communist operative. It’s an unforgettable performance that still holds up today. It’s a damn shame that Lansbury was overlooked for her most deserving Oscar.

 

1985 Best Actress
Geraldine Page in A Trip to Bountiful and Whoppi Goldberg in The Color Purple

 

1985 Best Actress

Geraldine Page, A Trip to Bountiful

Anne Bancroft, Agnes of God

Jessica Lange, Sweet Dreams

Meryl Streep, Out of Africa

Whoopi Goldberg, The Color Purple

Ari’s pick: Over the years, the Academy has given out awards to actors for their body of work instead of their individual performance in the film for which they are nominated.  For example, Henry Fonda for On Golden Pond and Jeff Bridges in Crazy Heart.  Both are fine performances, but no one would say that those were necessarily the “best” performances of their careers.  Geraldine Page’s win in 1985 is much the same.  She had been nominated seven times prior to this win and, as it turned out, didn’t have much longer to live (she died in 1987).  So the Academy felt that it was her time.  I don’t.  Whoopi Goldberg should have won for The Color Purple.   She was perfect as a woman trapped due to her circumstance, who eventually learns to find her voice.  The Color Purple was nominated for 11 Oscars, and didn’t win any.  What a shame.

David’s pick: This is a tough one for me because I’m pretty happy with Geraldine Page, but I have to admit that her Best Actress win does kind of feel like a lifetime achievement award. Streep and Lange are fantastic, and I was almost ready to go with Lange as Patsy Cline. But I have to go with Whoopi Goldberg for her breakout performance in The Color Purple. She was the most authentic and heartbreaking thing in a film that tended to be a bit stagy, over the top, and even silly; Goldberg kept it real.

 

 

1993 Best Sup Actor
Tommy Lee Jones in The Fugitive and Ralph Fiennes in Schindler’s List

1993 Best Supporting Actor

Tommy Lee Jones, The Fugitive

Leonardo DiCaprio, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?

Ralph Fiennes, Schindler’s List

John Malkovich, In the Line of Fire

Pete Postlethwaite, In the Name of the Father

Ari’s pick: This is a great category.  Each of these performances were so intricate and mesmerizing that they are all memorable.  However, there was one that was better than all the rest: Ralph Fiennes in Schindler’s List.  In life, most people are not all good or all evil; everyone has nuance.  Fiennes plays Amon Goeth as an evil, conniving, murderous bastard, but he also shows a human side to him.  Fiennes was asked about how he could play Goeth as a human being and not as a mustache twirling villain.  He said, “I mean, I could make a judgment myself privately, this is a terrible, evil, horrific man. But the job was to portray the man, the human being. There’s a sort of banality, that everydayness, that I think was important.”  The best scene that illustrates this is when he attempts to show a human side and does not immediately punish a Jewish worker for not getting the stains off his bathtub.  Watch it here.

David’s pick: 1993 was a great year at the Oscar, and this category is a difficult one. There’s not one clunker here. But Tommy Lee Jones Oscar for The Fugitive feels like he won for one of those big performances that inspires Academy voters to award more for career achievement than a specific performance. Without a doubt the Oscar should have gone to Ralph Fiennes in Schindler’s List as Amon Goeth, a Nazi concentration camp commandant. His portrayal of Amon was not just a two-dimensional evil Nazi that’s a pleasure to hate, but rather he played him with depth and complexity, which adds a level of tension and intensity.

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Top 5 New York City Movies from the ’70s

In response to this summer’s “New York in the 70s” film festival at Film Forum, MovefiedNYC decided to repost our first list, the “Top Five NYC Movies from the ’70s.”  The choice for our first list was obvious; it had to come from our own backyard, a place and time—now perhaps mythological—of unrelenting creativity, expression, and guts.  A town broke, dangerous, black-and-white and obscured by sweat and steam: New York City in 1970’s, the place that made our love for film like a beginning buzz (from one too many cocktails) that turned into a continuous intoxication.  -JDW & MD

John David’s Top Five 1970s NYC

Broadway, high fashion, yellow cabs, prostitutes, and neurotic intellectuals who romanticize their lives in black ‘n’ white. These are some of the images that helped form my Top Five New York City movies from the 1970s.

 1. Taxi Driver (1976)

Like the bankrupt city on edge, ready to crack under the pressure of urban decay, sleaze and political distrustTaxi Driver’s Travis Bickle, paranoid and alienated from society, looks at himself in the mirror and asks, “Are you talking to me?” Is he having fun or is Scorsese speaking what’s on the viewer’s mind? Thirty-six years later we’re still imitating DeNiro’s line. This movie has all the grit of the ’70s gritty city. Taxi Driver plays like an indexical sign that proves to us today that the mythological gritty 1970s New York City did exist.

 2. Manhattan (1979)

Every now and then I find myself in one of those “Wow-I-Love-This-City” moments. Woody Allen shares those same feelings in his 1979 film Manhattan.  The city is a character that we along with Allen romanticize. Annie Hall seemed like the obvious choice, but then Manhattan stepped up, as if to say, “Really? Let’s get serious, I have New York City shot in black-and-white, widescreen Panavision aspect ratio (2.35:1) with a nine-minute montage of New York City set to George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue!” Yes, OK, Manhattan, you win: all that and that iconic 4 A.M. shot in front of the Queensborough Bridge secure Manhattan on my list.

 3. All That Jazz (1979)

Fosse submerges his autobiographical self into the character of Joe Gideon, a hyper-sexed, director/choreographer who pops Dexedrine, screws sexy dancers, neglects his loved ones, chain smokes (even in the shower) and works himself to a perfectly choreographed death. It’s the ’70s: the Me decade, cynical and all about Fosse. The opening audition scene set to George Benson’s “On Broadway” captures the desire, joy and disappointment every dancer feels who wants to be on Broadway. 

4. Klute (1971)

New York City as it enters a decade on the brink of a meltdown. Jane Fonda plays a call girl who is complex, vulnerable, and lacks that ever-expected heart of gold. Besides Fonda’s brilliant performance, what makes this film memorable is a shot from inside a stark, corporate office on the upper floor of a high-rise. Through floor-to-ceiling windows, we see the two towers of the World Trade Center under construction. A financially powerful man sits at his desk, diminished against the multiple cranes high in the air, constructing the tallest buildings in the world. The image takes on new meaning when one realizes that the mass of construction outside the window will someday fall to a heap of destruction that will affect us all. 

5. Eyesof Laura Mars (1978)

1970s disco-fashion juxtaposed against ’70s New York City grit. Ultra glamorous Fay Dunaway is Laura Mars, a fashion photographer who wields a Nikon camera to photograph sexy models in stylized violent murder settings: Columbus Circle ablaze with overturned cars on fire as glossy girls wearing lingerie and fur coats pull each other’s hair. The violence is thrust right back at Laura when a serial killer turns her photos into real murders.  The character of Laura doubles as the camera when she witnesses the murders through the killer’s eyes, while they are happening, through her own eyes.  The film’s director, Irvin Kershner, turns the movie’s view of violence on the audience: are we looking at the eyes or are the eyes looking at us?

Myrna’s Top Five 1970’s NYC

NYC as it was in the ’70s. Sex, drugs, street gangs, disco divas, politicians, the homeless, celebrities, musicians, hookers, and some major attitude. So many great films to choose from; it is almost impossible to leave any of them off this list. I went with my gut, what I liked: candy over substance most times. I took a deep breath, wrote down five titles and never looked back.

 1. The Prisoner of Second Avenue (1974)

“Respect My Ass!”  screams Mel, and I do. Neil Simon’s slice of New York city life—once again like in The Out of Towners, not a very nice place—in Prisoner of Second Avenue is rich in its mundane everyday quality, shrouded in genuine humor delivered brilliantly by the cast. The pounding New York City heat wave is so palpable it is a character in the film. The Prisoner of Second Avenue shows us witty New Yorkers on the verge of, and breaking down in, their urban habitat, pacing back and forth, drowning in the ever—relentless noise—wrapped in a high rise box.

2. The French Connection (1971)

“Doyle fights dirty and he plays rough, but that’s ok because Doyle is a good cop” —growls the trailer.  Let’s be honest: New York looks better in grit than any other city, and The French Connection’s grimy realism and downbeat ending are refreshing. Popeye Doyle—not your classic hero—violent, racist and mean-spirited. His dedication to his job, just short of dangerous obsession—a New Yorker! The film’s high point, a high-speed car chase with Doyle tailing an elevated train, was one of the most exciting screen moments of its day. The French Connection gives me the visceral charge that keeps me addicted to New York.

 3. Shaft (1971) 

I can not ignore the blaxploitation genre when talking about the New York of the 1970s. Shaft full of mood, attitude and fashion. Brought the world—the Harlem-dude look of feather-hat, platform boots and silver-top cane—what delicious eye candy! The theme song also unforgettable . Shaft took us all over the city; he lived in the Village, worked in Times Square and cruised up and down 125th Street.  Can you dig it?  

4. Saturday Night Fever (1977)

John Travolta strutting down the streets of Brooklyn to his dead end job changed the world as we knew it. No one ever walked down the street the same way again. He escapes to the local disco, where he is/was King and dreams for a better life in Manhattan. Don’t we all? Fever is dripping with a  gritty sense of the ’70s economic malaise that plagued New York. Dance numbers, the Bee Gees soundtrack and Travolta’s white-suited presence all set in the city of dreams. “They had me at hello” 

5. All That Jazz (1979)
“It’s showtime!” Director and choreographer Bob Fosse takes a Felliniesque look at the life of a driven entertainer (some say his own life)—Joe Gideon. The ultimate work-and-pleasure aholic. All That Jazz shows the merciless price you pay to be an entertainer, taking us from realistic dance numbers to extravagant flights of cinematic fancy with Gideon as our guide; he meditates on his life, his women and his death. A ll That Jazz is a  fiercely personal personal film. Roy Scheider’s brilliant performance as Joe Gideon leaves me wanting for more every time.

 

5 New York Film Festival Movies to Catch when they Hit Theaters

NYFF2015collage

The New York Film Festival may have ended a couple weeks ago but the movies that premiered at the festival continue to roll into theaters including Robert Zemeckis’s The Walk, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt; Steven Spielberg’s The Bridge of Spies, featuring Tom Hankes; and Steve Jobs directed by Danny Boyle. In the weeks and months ahead more NYFF movies will be released in theaters. While the above-mentioned features are good, here are five films that are not to be missed and I hope to see, once again, in theaters.

—John David West

The Lobster

IMG_2135.CR2
Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz in The Lobster

As one of my most anticipated movies of 2015, I had high hopes for The Lobster. How could I not? Yorgos Lanthimos—who brought us the Oscar nominated Dogtooth (2011) —directs his first English language film starring a middle aged, pudgy Colin Farrell and a short-sighted Rachel Weisz in a movie whose title begs the question, “what the hell is this about?”

Set in the near future, The Lobster is about how single people are arrested and transferred to The Hotel, where they must find a mate and fall in love or they will be forever transformed into an animal (or crustacean) of their choosing. Essentially it’s a love story that explores the human condition and examines the ubiquitous fear of there’s something wrong with you if you’re single. Beyond the film’s absurd, bleak view of a world where people are failures unless they’re in love (and become a voiceless animal), it’s a laugh-out-loud comedy—sad, but funny: violent, but smart and oddly hilarious. It leaves the viewer with much to ponder the big questions, like does being coupled matter that much and what animal would you choose to be?

 

Son of Saul

son of saul 2
Géza Röhrig as Saul. Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

Directed by László Nemes and featuring Géza Röhrig as Saul, this film won the Cannes Film Festival Grand Prize of the Jury. Nemes’ first feature film is a powerful and unique look at the horrors of Auschwitz. Shot in 35mm, in academy ratio, with shallow focus, and long tracking shots; Son of Saul provides an immersive human experience that sticks with you long after the film is over. This should be an Oscar front-runner for Best Foreign Language film.

 

The Martian

Astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) finds himself stranded and alone on Mars, in THE MARTIAN.
Astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) The Martian

Directed by Ridley Scott and starring Matt Damon, The Martian is based on Andy Weir’s best selling book of the same name, Matt Damon plays astronaut and botanist Mark Watney who is left behind on Mars and thought as dead when the crew encounter a violent sandstorm and are forced to abandon their mission and make an emergency lift off from the red planet.

The Martian is both a crowd-pleasing movie and a smart science fiction film. It’s action packed fun and gorgeous to watch, and arouse rebellious thoughts like “come on NASA, let’s get back into space travel” —perhaps The Martian will inspire future missions to Mars astronauts and scientists. Unlike Gravity, Drew Goddard’s script succeeds in making the events plausible. The movie is packed with interesting science facts that don’t feel jarringly expositional, perhaps due to the comedic script and Damon’s charismatic performance. Ridley Scott succeeds in weaving a complicated story that is, at times visually poetic, at other times hilarious, but always consistently engaging. His use of is 3D is subtle and thankfully not distracting by being annoyingly self-aware. It sometimes comes dangerously close to having moments of schmaltzy Hollywood-feel-goodness (a few too many shots of cheering crowds in the control room and on the streets), and many characters are rather one-dimensional, but once you get past that The Martian is just elegant, fun, filmmaking.

 

Carol

ROONEY MARA and CATE BLANCHETT star in CAROL
Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchett

In typical 1950s tradition Carol, brilliantly played by Cate Blanchett, lives in a world where everything is seemingly perfect, ordered, and definitely stylish. All is as it should be or at least it appears so on the surface, as Carol conceals the secret of her sexuality. She is more progressive than one might expect, as her husband, Harge (Kyle Chandler) is aware of her past relationships with women. Living in the repressed ’50s, a mother and a beautiful wife to a wealthy man her sexuality is a secret that must be concealed despite herself. Todd Haynes has explored this world before, in the luscious Douglas Sirk homage, Far From Heaven (2002), a film filled with colorful autumn-rich wide-angle shots. Carol is a bit more subdued, honest, and quite cold. Rather than vibrant shots, Carol is filled with close-ups, notably of faces, toys, and shiny vintage 1950s cars; and it’s a cold lonely winter that fills the screen. Perhaps this is not the most inviting world for the viewer, but Blanchett’s brilliance for conveying great depth without saying a word is evident in the film’s final shot, a simple yet impactful, delicate moment that lives beyond the life of this movie.

 

The Witness

THE_WITNESS_2-1

A thoroughly engrossing documentary by director James Soloman that unpacks the details and misinformation surrounding the events and iconic death of Kitty Genovese, who in 1964 was reportedly killed in front of 38 witnesses in Queens, New York.

The Witness is a powerful look at the devastating results of irresponsible journalism. Over the years, the Genovese murder became the subject of numerous books, news reports, themes on episodic TV crime shows, and case studies; her brutal murder shocked the country and its myth has remained alive through the world over the last half century. What is most refreshing in The Witness is how the film brings Kitty to life and reveals the person behind the grotesque murder. For the first time in 50 years, we see her as a beloved sister, popular friend, and a never-forgotten lover.

—John David West

Top Ten Man vs Nature Disaster Movies

With the recent release of Everest, we thought we would satisfy our natural destructive interests with a list of some of our favorite movies highlighting man’s fight for survival against the planets natural forces, be it loud earthquakes, erupting volcanoes, and our course, massive title waves.

David’s Top Five Man vs Nature Movies

 

Poseidon Adventure (1972)

09dvd-2-6001This Twentieth Century Fox-made deity of disaster movies started out as a relatively low-budget ($5,000,000) feature for the financially strapped Hollywood studio and ended up making over $93,000,000. It’s a typical disaster melodrama complete with an all-star cast (five Oscar winners). It’s strength comes from some pretty well drawn characters and good performances that make it easy for viewers to care for each character—not since The Poseidon Adventure have viewers encountered a greater loss than that of Shelly Winter’s Mrs. Rosen. With little special effects or big epic shots, this is a small budget disaster movie that delivers as much adventure as our current CGI ornate movies but also a level of intimacy that is rarely seen today. Poseidon Adventure is pure disaster cinema.

Earthquake (1974)

earthquake !When this epic disaster blockbuster was released, it not only had state of the art special effects, an all-star cast including: Charlton Heston, George Kennedy (the King of disaster flicks), Ava Gardner, Richard Roundtree all at the top of their game, oh and some guy listed in the credits as Walter Matuschanskayasky (Walter Matthau)—it also had Sensurround. This ticket-selling gimmick produced a low frequency sound vibration along theater seats giving an audience the feeling of being in the movie. Earthquake became the fourth highest grossing film of 1974. The second highest grossing film that year was the other disaster flick The Towering Inferno.

The Impossible (2012)

The Impossible !It wasn’t too long ago when the devastating 2004 tsunami struck Southeast Asia killing over 230,000 people. More disturbing than the other films on this list as it’s a true part of our recent history (perhaps too soon?). That truth makes it a little less of an adventure and more of dramatization than the tidal wave that overturns the fictional ship in the Poseidon Adventure.

Melancholia (2011)

Melancholia 1A study of one woman’s journey through despair and clinical depression after learning that the earth is going to collide with another much larger planet. The film features a career high performance by Kirsten Dunst, who went on to win a number of awards. This is not so much a man versus nature film but humanity accepting reality and surrendering to our final end. Melancholia may have one of the most disturbing yet satisfying endings of all disaster films as a strangely cathartic masterpiece.

Meteor (1979)

Meteor 1Maybe an odd choice when you consider the splendid special effects in 1998’s Armageddon and Deep Impact—a banner year for civilization threatened by comets and asteroids. But 1978’s Meteor, featuring Natalie Wood (speaking perfect Russian) and Sean Connery, was the first script to blow up the foreign body speeding towards earth by unifying the efforts of both cold war enemies the U.S. and the Soviet Union and turning the cold war symbol of mass destruction—the nuclear “defense” missile—on the deadly meteor.

Myrna’s Top Five Man vs Nature Movies

 

127 Hours’ (2010)

127-Hours-127-hours-18560862-800-533

Based on a true story, mountain climber Aron Ralston (James Franco) fights for his survival after being pinned beneath a boulder in a narrow, isolated canyon. Franco delivers a captivating performance, anchoring the Danny Boyle docu-style drama. Over the next five days we see him go through a range of emotions—pain, fear, resilience and resignation—as he fights for his life in a seemingly no win situation. Ralston survives the elements to finally learn that he has the courage and the wits to rescue himself by any means necessary.

The Perfect Storm (2000)

The Perfect Storm 2

The Perfect Storm is a thrilling film of survival against impossible odds, odds that overcome the courage (or insanity) of some men. Director Wolfgang Petersen’s (Das Boot) film is about the 1991 hurricane that struck the New England Coast. Unaware that the storm is coming, a boat, dubbed the Andrea Gail, is trapped in the storm and the fishermen try to make it home alive. A terrific true story, packed with drama and action. The scope of the film is enormous and the storm itself is a sight to see on screen. Petersen is great at showing us the immense dilemma that the characters are in. The Perfect Storm is a good film from but considering it’s crafted by the same hands who made Das Boot, it is slightly disappointing. The Perfect Storm relies on awesome special effects for the hurricane scenes and is definitely a solid action drama film with a very good cast of actors.

Twister (1996)

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Twister follows almost-divorced storm chasers Bill (Bill Paxton) and Jo Harding (Helen Hunt) as they try to save Oklahoma from a series of violent tornados that threaten to destroy the state. For the next twenty-four hours the Harding’s and their scrappy, gold-hearted crew try to get a tornado to scoop up one of their tracking devices with the goal to get inside one of those suckers. They are hoping they will learn about tornadoes’ patterns and better be able to predict their movements, all the while competing against the big, bad corporate-financed tornado chasers in their shiny black vans. The action starts in the opening frame and never lets up—if you are a thrill ride junkie Twister is the film for you.

Armageddon (1998)

armaggedon-GC

N.A.S.A. discovers that an asteroid is headed straight for Earth and we will have impact in less than a month. They recruit a misfit team of deep core drillers to save the planet. Enter Bruce Willis (Harry, a tough guy with a heart of gold) in full action mode as the leader of his motley crew of roughnecks, a group of oil drillers that are sent into space to plant a nuclear warhead in an asteroid “the size of Texas” and blast it apart. Once on the rock, just about everything unexpected that can happen does. Its 200 degrees in the sun, 200 below zero in the shade and the surface is covered with razor sharp rocks, as one of Harry’s crew describes it, “it’s the scariest environment imaginable.”

Armageddon is as hyperactive and as deafeningly loud as you can expect from director Michael Bay, but the special effects are stupendous. And by the film’s end every emotional button you might have has been pushed raw and there is nothing you can do to stop it.

Touching The Void (2004)

Touching the void

Director Kevin Macdonald’s film is based on mountain climber Joe Simpson’s book Touching the Void: The Harrowing First-Person Account of One Man’s Miraculous Survival, the remarkable true story of two young British mountain climbers’ near-death experience scaling a 21,000-foot peak in the Peruvian Andes in 1985. Based on one of the most captivating tales of survival one can imagine, the film gains credibility from sequences filmed in the exact locations where the events took place. Macdonald’s uncompromising reenactments put us inside the physical and mental nightmare that Joe Simpson and Simon Yates endured. Intense and drenched in the riveting determination of one man’s will to live, Touching The Void is a surprising film that rattles your nerves and sends a cold chill deep inside.

The Best of 2015 So Far

Best of 2015 so far 7.20.15It’s the middle of July already and much has happened on screen so far in 2015. Jurassic World has broken box office records to become the number one movie followed by—no surprise—Avengers: Age of Ultron and Furious 7. There have been some unique comedies with great ensemble performances including the hilarious vampire mockumentary What we do in the Shadows and the sex farce The Overnight staring Adam Scott, Taylor Schilling, and Jason Schwartzman. One of the biggest surprises and delights this year has been the release of Mad Max: Fury Road, which has garnered both box office success and critical praise. 

We pulled together some of the films that we think are the best so far in 2015. So, if you’re determined to catch up with some of the movies and performances you’ve missed this year, here are our recommendations. Don’t forget to click on the movie title to view the trailers.

David’s Five Best Films so far

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Gueros

Gueros
Mad Max: Fury Road
Ex Machina
Sunshine Superman
Inside Out

Myrna’s Five Best Films so far

Mad Max: Fury Road
Mad Max: Fury Road

Ex Machina
Inside Out
Mad Max: Fury Road
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
The Wolfpack

Notable Performance by an Actor

David

Paul Dano - Love and Mercy
Paul Dano – Love and Mercy

John Cusack – Love and Mercy
Paul Dano – Love and Mercy
Jack O’Connell – ‘71

Myrna

Viggo Mortensen in Far From Men
Viggo Mortensen in Far From Men

Viggo Mortensen – Far From Men                                      
Oscar Issac – Ex Machina
Ben Stiller – While We Were Young
Adam Driver – While We Were Young
Arnold Schwarzenegger – Maggie

Notable Performance by an Actress

David

Juliette Binoche, Kristin Stewart - Clouds of Sils Maria
Juliette Binoche, Kristin Stewart – Clouds of Sils Maria

Juliette Binoche – Clouds of Sils Maria
Kristin Stewart – Clouds of Sils Maria
Kristin Wigg – Welcome to Me

Myrna

Rinko Kikuchi in Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter
Rinko Kikuchi in Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter

Kristen Stewart – Clouds of Sils Maria
Phyllis Smith – Inside Out
Naomi Watts – While We Were Young
Julianne MooreMaps to the Stars
Rinko Kikuchi – Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter  

What has been great about this year so far:

David

Sunshine Superman
Sunshine Superman

Inside Out: The anthropomorphization of our emotions
Slow WestRobbie Ryan’s Cinematography.
-Flying high in Sunshine Superman.
Kingsman: The Secret Service / Mad Max: Fury Road : Villasns and heroes with prosthetic limbs. 
Monty Python Mostly Live: Stephen Hawking’s surprise drive by assault, “I think you’re being  pedantic” he calls as he knocks down English physicist Brian Cox. 

Myrna  

World of Tomorrow
                                                                                                    World of Tomorrow                                                                                                                                           

Jurassic World Just because I miss dinosaurs, not because it was good.
-Mad Max:Fury Road – Amazing score composed by Tom Holkenborg aka Junkie XL.
Kingsman: The Secret ServiceVery fun spy spoof with great action built in.
-The shorts after Inside Out, especially the one with the cats.
World of TomorrowDon Hertzfeldt’s 15 minute cartoon, might be the best thing of I have seen this  year. Rent it on Vimeo.

What to look forward to in the next six months:

David

Oh, I don’t know? Maybe Star Wars!
Stars Wars shot on film.
Lily Tomlyn’s return to the big screen in Grandma.Let’s hope it’s better than Netflix’s insipid and blandly written Grace and Frankie.
Ricki and the Flash, with Meryl Streep in the lead, Diablo Cody’s script, and Jonathan Demme direction. It could be good or—most likely—just fun. 

Myrna

Southpaw – the Gyllenhaal-aissance is upon us! 
Steven Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies
Crimson Peak – I’m all about anything del Toro
Pan – I’ll give anything Joe Wright does a shot
Jeff Nichols’ Midnight Special
Oh yes and that little ditty called Star Wars  

2015’s biggest disappointments so far

maxresdefaultDavid                                                           

Tomorrowland – Pretty and pretty dull.
San Andreas  – A pornographic CGI overload. Sensaround couldn’t make this one any better.
Jurassic World – It was completely forgettable and, by the way, where was Chris Pratt?

Myrna                                                                     

Chappie, Chappie, Chappie…I so wanted to like you.
BlackhatBeautifully shot but that’s it.
Jupiter Ascending – I still love the Wachowskis though.
San Andreas – You weren’t even fun. 
The Cobbler – I was hoping this would be Adam Sandler’s new Punch Drunk Love but sadly no, not even close.

2015’s Worst and most annoying performances

Eddie Redmayne in Jupiter Descending
Eddie Redmayne in Jupiter Descending

Eddie Redmayne in Jupiter Descending, I think I’ll do some of that whisper acting and then yell.
Johnny Depp in Mortdecai just another Pink Panther that doesn’t make the cut.
Jaime Dornan‘s performance was the most sadistic thing in Fifty Shades of Grey.
Sean Penn in The Gunman, please put your shirt back on.

MoviefiedNYC’s Most Anticipated Films for 2015

Star Wars: The Force Awakens:

Its’a given, like almost everyone else, John David and I are both super excited about Star Wars: The Force Awakens the most eagerly awaited movie of 2015.

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Now here is where we both part ways:

Myrna’s Most Anticipated

Crimson Peak

crimson-peak

Crimson Peak a gothic horror film from the director of The Devil’s Backbone, sees Guillermo del Toro return to his roots.

Tomorrowland

tomorrowland

Director Brad Bird (Toy Story 3), writer Damon Lindelof (World War Z) and George Clooney (Gravity) take us on a journey to the Tomorrowland inside all of us, where wishes come true and and ideas come to life. In these dark times we live in, it’s a film that dares you to hope.

Midnight Special

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The latest from director Jeff Nichols (Take Shelter, Mud) about a father and a son that go on the run after the dad learns his child possesses special powers.

Kingsman: The Secret Service

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Based on the  comic book  Kingsman: The Secret Service tells the story of a super-secret spy organization that recruits promising street kid into the agency’s ultra-competitive training program but more importantly bring us Colin Firth as an action star.

Self/Less

selfless_0

A psychological science fiction thriller from Tarsem Singh ( The Cell, The Fall). I can’t help it I like they way his movies look.

The Revenant

Revenant

Deep in the uncharted American wilderness, Leonardo DiCaprio,  directed and co-written by renowned filmmaker Alejandro González Iñárritu. DONE! I’m there.

Knight Of Cups

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Knight of Cups is a story of a man, temptations, celebrity and excess. Terrence Malick’s newest film seems to be much more than a standard character study. So EXCITED!

Macbeth

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Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard and director Justin Kurzel ( Snowtown Murders) making a grim and bloody adaptation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth? Yes, please.

Dark Places

Charlize-Theron-Dark-Places

 

With Gone Girl proving a giant and acclaimed hit, hopes are high for this adaptation of an earlier novel by author Gillian Flynn.

Southpaw

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A boxer fights his way to the top, only to find his life falling apart around him. Um…I’m all about Jake Gyllenhaal in 2015!

Honorable Mentions:

Mission Impossible 5, Bond 24, Ant-Man

David’s Most Anticipated

San Andreas

san-andreasIt may be just awful, but come on–The Rock (Dwayne Johnson) in earthquake disaster flick? I’m in

The Hateful Eight

7882faad-1c50-4e2a-b005-b0e51c821e04-meet-the-entire-hateful-eight-in-this-behind-the-scenes-image-breakdownQuentin Tarantino is back—western style—with his less than Magnificent Seven featuring Channing Tatum, Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tim Roth, and Bruce Dern—enough said!

The Walk

1418142255463Joseph Gordon-Levit stars as French high-wire artist Philippe Petit and his 1974 high wire walk between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. 

Jurassic World 

jurassic-world-2015.

I’m just not sure about a new Jurassic Park. Director Colin Trevorrow (Safety not Guranteed) might surprise everyone. but for nostalgic reasons, I look forward to returning the world of Jurassic Park. Will the new dinosaurs have feathers?

Crimson Peak

Crimson PeakI’m so ready for Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth,) to return to a horror story, this one features Jessica Chastain and Tom Hiddleston—a triple YES!

Every Thing Will Be Fine

everything-will-be-fine

Director: Director Wim Wenders (Paris, Texas), latest feature is a 3D (love it when auteurs go 3D). This one stars James Franco, Charlotte Gainsbourg, and Rachel McAdams

La Blessure 

Abdellatif-Kechiche

I can’t wait to see what director Abdellatif Kechiche does to follow up Blue is the Warmest Color. Something about Gerard Depardieu and a teenage trying to lose his virginity. 

The Martian

martian-banner

Sci-fi gets a boost from director Ridley Scott with The Martian, as Matt Damon stars as an astronaut stranded on Mars. Also it features Jessica Chastain, Kate Mara, and Kristen Wiig.

Flashmo

Michael-HanekeDirector, Michael Haneke’s next flick involves a group of people who stage a flashmob. Sounds kookie and a far cry from demential of Amour and child abuse of The White Ribbon – sounds just kookie.

Ex Machina

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Writer Alex Garland (28 Days Later) directs his first feature, which stars Oscar Isaac (A Most Violent Year) Domhnall Gleeson (About Time). Gleeson is a young programmer who must evaluate the human qualities of a sexy artificial intelligence babe.

 

MoviefiedNYC’s Best of 2014

Best PicMonkey Collage

2014 was filled with the typical crop of blockbuster flops (Winter’s Tale, and The Legend of Hercules), a block buster not based on a comic book (Edge of Tomorrow), and blockbuster winners (Guardians of the Galaxy). We saw the typical formulaic comedies, some hits, the Skeleton Twins, some misses (A Million Ways to Die in the West). What is most notable in 2014 is the directorially daring, and seemingly simple risks that some filmmakers took, such as Linklater’s Boyhood with its twelve years in the making (it could have gone oh, so wrong), Iñárritu’s Birdman with its long tracking shots (and its location—a Broadway theater), Pawlikowski’s Ida an artsy film shot in black and white in box format; and Jean Luc Godard’s bird-flipping 3-D deconstructed in Goodbye to Language. These outwardly simple technical choices resulted in some of the most inspired films in years. One director did it best, his masterful command of technique playfully peaked out to transport the viewer and realize a beautifully wholly unique film that took viewers to the quirky new world found in The Grand Budapest Hotel. Without further delay, here are Myrna’s and Dave’s Top 10 Films of 2014, and a few extras.

John David’s Best

1. The Grand Budapest Hotel

The Grand Budapest Hotel - 64th Berlin Film Festival

Wes Anderson’s world is a wonderful place to visit and in The Grand Budapest Hotel he takes us to a new fantastical, quirky place, while skillfully maintaining and enhancing his signature directing style. Anderson masterfully and playfully switches aspect ratios from widescreen to Academy (box format) and incorporates elements of silent film, and black and white, with unbelievable imagination. He effectively transports the viewer to the imaginary Republic of Zubrowka, which is squarely situated in the middle of Wes Andersonland.

2. Ida

Ida_6236093Director Pawel Pawlikowski strips down all the glitz of today’s sleek, CGI-sexy movies to presents a masterful black and white film whose lush images beg to be captured, framed, and hung on a museum wall. Shot in academy ratio, Ida recalls classic 35 mm film and early Carl Dreyer (The Passion of Joan of Arc). Ida’s minimalistic style and stationary shots allows the viewers to enter the scene and immerse themselves into the film’s world and enjoy the beauty and story that unfolds before them. Ida stands out as one of the films this year (the other being The Grand Budapest Hotel) that will be sure to stand the test of time.

3. Boyhood

article-0-1D6F491700000578-452_634x380We all know the story: director Richard Linklater shot Boyhood over twelve years using the same actors. Through seven-year-old Mason (Ellar Coltrane) eyes, we see before our own eyes him and the rest of the cast grow up on screen. While it’s not a perfect film (a couple scenes are preachy with some heavy handed commentary), Boyhood effectively plays out the human condition and the imperfect process of growing up. Boyhood’s self-reflexive honesty ultimately leaves the viewer to ask, “Is that all there is?” For most of us the answer is a painful yes—and that’s not so bad.

4. Birdman

birdman_704_intBirdman opens with a steady shot of Michael Keaton from behind, apparently levitating a few feet from the floor of his Broadway dressing room. Once the camera starts moving, it’s apparent that that this is going to be a unique viewing experience. Director Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu creatively blends the ego driven worlds of movies and theater to explore the themes of fame and success. Birdman combines a career high performance for Keaton, a percussive score that layers on an element of aural turbulence, and intricate long tracking shots (film school students watch out) shot by cinematographer it-boy Emmanuel Lubezki (Gravity, Tree of Life), to make this one of the most daring and unique films of 2015.

5. Whiplash

75Whiplash is probably the year’s most tense and emotionally draining film. With it’s over the top dramatics (kind of a brutal bro version of The Devil Wears Prada) Whiplash is the total opposite of the many subtle, contemplative foreign films in my Top Ten. As we root for the gifted jazz drummer Fletcher, played with raw guts by Miles Teller, his literal blood, sweat, and tears demand empathy from the viewer. It’s much easier to watch a dozen guys get their heads blown off by John Wick than to watch this kid prodigy succumb to emotional abuse by his master teacher. It also helps to have well written, multi-dimensional characters—a rare thing in Hollywood films these days.

6. Under the Skin

under-the-skin-scarlett-johansson-under-the-skin_rgbThe tone of this dark film is like the thick viscous fluid that the victims of the alien protagonist find themselves trapped in—it’s oddly sleek and beautiful, yet quietly disturbing and hauntingly mesmerizing. With the spare dialogue this is some of Scarlet Johansson’s best work, not because she doesn’t have many lines, but because she effectively displays her increasing vulnerability as she transforms from sublime lady alien to naive, disillusioned victim.

 7. The Tale of Princess Kaguya

2cbc6924d71fda27809170f970006b6dDirector Isao Takahata created a small miracle in our world of fantastic computer animation and 3-D immersion. The Tale of Princess Kaguya is one of the most emotionally moving films of the year as it shifts from moments of simplistic intimacy to moments of cinematic grandiosity. An animated film that sometimes appears to be not much more than line drawings, yet it plays both like a majestic epic and intimate piece.

 8. Force Majeure 

force majeure-turistA simple yet human story that explores questions of masculinity in the family dynamics and ideas of the father as both protector and fallible individual. It’s surprisingly captivating, cleverly funny, uncomfortably honest, and refreshingly original.

 9. Selma

Brody-Selma-690Selma is no didactic history lesson, it’s a drama that is both engaging and moving and yet, feels important but not in a tedious or masochistically I-have-to-watch-it way. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, David Oyelowo creates a very human King that is relatable, as he stays clear of delivering a performance that is a mere impersonation of the inspiring Civil Rights leader.

 10. Mr. Turner 

Timothy-Spall-in-Mr-Turne-010Mike Leigh’s latest export is not your typical biopic, nor is it the typical Leigh film. Mr. Turner focuses on the later years in the life of artist J.M. W. Turner—brilliantly played by rather a gruff Timothy Spall. The film focuses on Turner in his later years, already a famous and successful artist. This is no rags-to-riches story but rather an unconventional love story that features a very un-Hollywood looking couple. Without heavy climactic monologues or narration, Leigh shows everything the audience needs to paint together a beautiful narrative.

Honorable Mentions:

LeviathanAdultery, a conflicted teenage boy, small town political corruption, and lots and lots of vodka.

Snowpiercer – a train ride through a frozen dystopian world with an unforgettable performance by Tilda Swinton.

Citizenfour – You feel like your witnessing history unfold, and you are.

Two Days, One Night. – A winning combination, the Dardenne brothers and Marion Cotillard who turns in one of 2014’s best performance

Goodbye to Language – For this viewer who avoids 3-D whenever possible, it was one of the best film moments I’ve had in years.

 

Myrna’s Best

1. Grand Budapest Hotel

the-grand-budapest-hotel-featurette-the-story-e1396381555167Wes Anderson’s latest farce is set in the ‘30s is a European screwball comedy, stolen-art caper, and romantic bit of nostalgia about best friends. Outrageous characters with severe hairdos and posh clothing populate the story that moves as if taking place in a giant dollhouse with innumerable moving parts. It unfolds in surprising ways and is colored with theatrical images, as if the pages of a gorgeous storybook are being turned in tempo to an equally striking Alexandre Desplat score. Just as outrageous is his cast of 15 Academy Award nominees. Some are regulars in Anderson’s films (Bill Murray, Owen Wilson); while others have only recently joined the club (Edward Norton, Tilda Swinton). Most captivating of all in The Grand Budapest Hotel is Ralph Fiennes, in a career defining performance, which should be remembered for his comedic genius comes Oscar time but, historically and tragically won’t.

2. Under the Skin

under-the-skin-scarlett-johanssonUnder the Skin is one of those extraordinary movies that stays with you long after the end credits have rolled. Director Jonathan Glazer‘s film (only his third feature in fourteen years after Sexy Beast and Birth) is a gorgeous and haunting piece of film-making that leaves the story’s heavy-lifting to the viewers as it forgoes a traditional setup and instead relies on visuals to clue us in as the story progresses. The details may be elusive, but the steadily absorbing story is clear. In truly an impressive performance, Scarlet Johansson conveys character through nominal dialogue, not in what she says but in how she says it, her shifting tone when her prey is unattainable, and the upward lilting when she discovers an unfamiliar curiosity. Most of Johansson’s accomplishment is done in silence. Her expressions or lack of them, her body movement, and even the life in her eye shifts reveal the maturing enlightenment within. Glazer’s film encourages comparisons to filmmakers like Stanley Kubrick, but it’s unfair, as he certainly earns his own due here.

3. Only Lovers Left Alive

only lovers left alive tom hiddleston tilda swintonJim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive is both one of the most unusual vampire pictures ever made and probably one of the best. The film is elegant, somber, literary-minded, and methodical in its pacing, otherworldly, inexpressibly sad, sometimes very funny and invariably beautiful. The visuals are striking. The soundtrack is full with packed 1950’s pop music. The story is often indirect and his humor is quirky occurring at unexpected moments. It’s in the horror genre, but untraditional. Brilliantly done, Jarmusch has made a film that feels like a wonderful old bookstore. The images of Adam (Tom Hiddleston) driving Eve (Tilda Swinton) around the ruins of Detroit in his white Jag are both eerie and strangely wonderful. Every moment has something remarkable to see or hear or feel. But so much depends on Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston as the lovers, and their weary, yet passionate appreciation for the world of art and beauty. It is almost impossible to imagine two other performers for the roles.

4. Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

Birdman-Stills-HD-WallpapersBirdman is a compelling mix of dark comedy and psychic meltdown with energy throbbing from every frame. Writer/director Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu (Babel), star Michael Keaton (in a bold performance), and an excellent supporting cast deliver a movie unlike anything I’ve seen before. There’s no arguing with the creativity on display — technical, dramatic and theatrical, it is breathlessly inventive. Birdman takes a while for us to realize that it’s more an intellectual experience than an emotional one with most of these characters being self-absorbed and/or damaged. Tying all of these characters together is Iñárritu’s dynamic, fluid direction and with a cinematographer like Oscar winner (and six-time nominee) Emmanuel Lubezki behind the lens, there was never any doubt that Birdman would be a work of technical wizardry. The cinematography is a character unto itself by time and again achieving seemingly impossible shots that break down the barrier between the screen and the audience. Antonio Sanchez’s jazzy, percussion-heavy score paired with Lubezki’s cinematography create an atmosphere of explosive tension that lingers strongly throughout the film.

5. Nightcrawler

movies-ncrawler-103114-videoSixteenByNine540Screenwriter Dan Gilroy (The Bourne Ultimatum) makes his directorial debut with this twitchy Los Angeles thriller starring Jake Gyllenhaal as a creepy loner who worms his way into a career as a freelance videographer, chasing car crashes and murders and selling his footage to a TV news director (Rene Russo) who’s just as ethically flexible as he is.  Nightcrawler is a modern-noir depiction of the way we devour our news, but amid the media, it slowly turns its unblinking eye on something darker. A media satire in the spirit of Network and To Die For that takes the slogan “If it bleeds, it leads” to its horrifyingly logical conclusion. It’s a comedy. Anchoring this film is a gonzo and transformative performance by Jake Gyllenhaal, his second one in one year (Enemy).

6. Whiplash

hr_Whiplash_1The film’s beat swings between several moody scenes – and the awkward humour of Teller asking the cinema’s popcorn girl out on a date – to a finale that pushes and pushes until it breaks. Whiplash left Sundance taking away the Grand Jury prize and the Audience award. “I push people beyond what’s expected of them,” J.K. Simmons tells Miles Teller’s character. “I believe that’s an absolute necessity.” It’s a musical that plays like a sports movie. Whiplash is true to its title, throwing you around without exception, yet director Damien Chazelle exerts tight, exacting control over his feverish and often weirdly comic melodrama.

7. Selma

SELMASelma is the story of a movement and it demands to be seen. Director Ava DuVernay and writer Paul Webb do an impressive job of both telling the events of one of the most important moments in the American Civil Rights Movement and establishing the climate in which it took place. The movie has flaws, but with such lofty ambition, they are easy to forgive. DuVernay does an amazing job of establishing the tensions surrounding the march as well as establishing what was truly at stake. David Oyelowo’s performance is a solemn anchor for the film, as he embodies Martin Luther King Jr.’s steady drive as his eyes convey the enormity of weight he was under. It is impossible not to get goose bumps as Oyelowo channels King as a master orator. While Selma depicts a piece of history, it feels timely for reasons that should be obvious to anyone. It is hard to see the casual violence of racism here because we realize we are only separated from it by a few decades. As Selma so succinctly demonstrates, we’ve both come a long way and have a long way to go.

8. Snowpiercer

snowpiercer-1rlf5h1280Snowpiercer delivers vibrant, engrossing pop entertainment as its climate-disaster and class-war stories play out on a hermetically sealed train. Writer-director Bong Joon-ho (The Host) demonstrates his skills as both showman and auteur in his English-language debut. On a globe-circling train in a near future where a climate-fix backfire has frozen the planet, an oppressive social order has divided passengers — the earth’s only human survivors — into first-class and tail-section categories. As such, they live in obscene luxury or inhuman squalor. This is a solid, distinctive and sometimes exquisitely inspired thriller and the movie has everything from Dickensian horror to contemplative monologues to outrageous social satire — translating into a stimulating canvas, and action scenes feel spontaneous, not injected at prescribed spots. Tilda Swinton as Mason is reason enough to check out the fun and engaging Snowpiercer.

9. Boyhood

Coltrane-and-Arquette-in-BoyhoodBoyhood is technically an impressing feat, and narratively, it’s a gutsy experiment on which only one filmmaker would ever have taken a chance. Months or years pass in the blink of an eye. Shot over 12 years, with director Richard Linklater (Bernie, Before Sunset) filming scenes with the same young actor (Ellar Coltrane) for a few weeks annually, capturing a boy named Mason as he transforms from a happy six-year-old into weary but hopeful 18-year-old. It’s wondrous to see the cast age 12 years over the course of three hours without the assistance of makeup or prosthetics. Much of the audience focus has been on the boy’s transformation. However what stood out to me was the transformation of the mother, Olivia, played by Patricia Arquette. It’s rare and fascinating to see a real actress allow herself to age onscreen. Boyhood is a singular filmic event.

10. Citizenfour

Edward-Snowden-and-Glenn-Greenwald-in-Hong-Kong-in-Laura-Poitrass-documentary-CITIZENFOUR.Director Laura Poitras opens reading Snowden’s initial emails and the events in the hotel room that follow are thrilling, though the film doesn’t play as a thriller. The simplicity of Citizenfour is one of its strengths; it is basically a straightforward documentation of the events that make up this journey: legal proceedings, phone conversations, editorial meetings, testimony in international court—events as they transpire, but that we are invited to witness. Citizenfour is groundbreaking, not so much due to the filmmaking, but due to the extraordinary access. You feel witness to a historic moment in a powerful and visceral way, and feel the danger experienced by the whistleblower and his confident handling of the tense situation.

Honorable Mentions:

Edge of Tomorrow – Almost made my list, a hard number 11. See it!

Venus in Fur – More magical realism and an amazing performance by Emmanuelle Seigner.

John Wick – Don’t judge me! They killed his puppy and it is a beautiful looking film.

Inherent Vice –  Joaquin Phoenix and Josh Brolin are good fun.

We Are the Best – Just a joyous celebration.