So 2014 was a great year for films, to the extent that I have 10 favorites and 44 honorable mentions. And of course a handful of films I haven’t seen.
And I’m still trying to catch up on 2019’s films. Three films over this past Friday-Saturday-Sunday, which means I’ve watched about 50 of last year’s films. I also did some OCD research last night to see how much I felt I should see before committing to my list of favorites- that would be 32 films still to see. I won’t get through them all, but I can try.
It’s not like the Oscar voters watched all of last year’s movies anyway.
In fact, I’ve probably seen more than Stephen King. (Why does he get to vote for Oscars anyway? He’s a writer. The one great film that was made from his work (The Shining) is one that he’s essentially disowned because it’s too far from his novel. And that’s because his writing
sucks isn’t good.)
If you’re not sure why I’m picking on Stephen King, he’s said some questionable stuff about the Oscar nominees’ lack of diversity. And he hasn’t reflected very much on the issue, apparently.
OKAY, SO MY FAVORITES MOVING ON!
In no particular order:
- John Wick: I’m not in love with the sequels, but the original film is an original concept executed electrically. And sneakily deep for a film that explores how many deaths it takes to avenge a puppy (dude, if you’ve ever met/seen a puppy you know it’s A LOT).
- Kingsman: The Secret Service: Again, not a huge fan of the sequel, and there are definitely some moments in this that give me serious pause, but on the whole it’s a great time. Like, the kind of good time where you want to use the word “rollicking”. An excellent secret agent film for a post-Bond world. With a sprinkle of class conflict examination.
- Ex Machina: I’m a bit conflicted on this one because while I quite like Ex Machina, it does feel like it tries a bit too hard to be deep. There’s a whole lot of navel-gazing going on. But the performances are all excellent, Oscar Isaac’s dance scene is the most disturbing thing I could ever imagine, and the message is interesting.
- Fury: It’s an excellent ensemble war film about the crew of a tank, focusing on the newest and youngest member. Bloody, dramatic, and tragic.
- Whiplash: I’m not the hugest fan of Damien Chazelle, but this is my favorite of his films so far (the others being La La Land and First Man). But I’m always into stories of obsession and the clash of disturbed personalities, so there you go.
- Grand Budapest Hotel: Wes Anderson, Ralph Fiennes, early Saoirse Ronan, and many more exciting faces, plus a pink hotel and Andersonian hijinks. I’ve been feeling a bit deflated about Anderson post-Isle of Dogs, but this was back in the good old days. And I watched it with my family over Thanksgiving break. Anderson has another film coming out next year, so maybe that will get me back on the train?
- Nightcrawler: Brilliantly chilling thriller starring Jake Gyllenhaal as a man who sells grisly camera footage to news outlets. Rene Russo is also great and similarly distressing to watch. Examines the ties between unethical journalism and consumer demand.
- Big Hero 6: Completely different from the preceding film, Big Hero 6 has a very big heart and watching it is like receiving a very big hug. I remember it was very popular when it came out but it doesn’t get talked about as much anymore, which is a shame.
- Ernest & Celestine: A French animated film based on a children’s series, depicting the touching friendship between a big bear (Ernest) and a little mouse (Celestine).
- The Book of Life: So I guess 2014 was a big year for animation, for me. To save the love of his life, Manolo sacrifices himself and must journey through the Land of the Remembered, meeting his ancestors along the way. Stop comparing it to Coco. Do you know how many Christmas movies there are? We can have more than one film about the Day of the Dead and Mexican tradition. Thanks.
Honorable mentions: The Wind Rises, Gone Girl, Edge of Tomorrow (good film but if I see poor Emily Blunt do the sexy stretch one more time I’m going to break something), Imitation Game.
I have not seen: Boyhood, It Follows, Highway, or The Lunchbox.
Most of my movie watching is not new releases, so much as catching up on films that were once new releases but haven’t been from somewhere between a year to a century.
And they’re none the worse for that.
To be eligible for this list, the film must be one of my favorites that I watched in 2017 but NOT released this year.
- Shall We Dance (1937)
I can’t say enough about this film- one of the most beautiful Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers vehicles that I’ve ever seen. Highlights: Slap That Bass and Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off (roller-skates!)
- Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014)
I’ve already talked tons about Kingsman so I’ll keep this short. You’ll never think of Free Bird the same way again.
- 3:10 to Yuma (1957)
While the more recent version is good (particularly for a modern remake, that most justly maligned of categories) it still doesn’t really hold a candle to the absolutely masterful original- the frustrating but heroic town drunk (completely cut from the modern version), Van Heflin’s scrappy portrayal of Dan Evans, and above all Glenn Ford’s suave outlaw Ben Wade. Plus the song.
- Django Unchained (2012)
Tarantino’s films are very hit or miss for me, but Django Unchained was very much a hit. The cast is excellent, the plot is fun and exciting. Tarantino does his fun soundtrack thing.
- The Piano Teacher/ La Pianiste (2001)
This movie is beautifully repulsive. Basically a piano teacher (Heyyy Isabelle Huppert) conducts and affair with one of her students who believes that she is falling in love with him, essentially misreading the symptoms of her rapidly deteriorating sanity as signs of romantic obsession.
- The Hurt Locker (2008)
I had pretty much decided not to watch this because it looked a bit testosterone-heavy for me, but a confluence of circumstances led to me watching it and discovering that it is in fact a thoughtful and well-paced film with interesting characters and developments.
- La Piscine/ The Swimming Pool (1969)
Alain Delon is beautiful. So is Romy Schneider. So is Jane Birkin. So is summer.
- Les Enfants du Paradis/ Children of Paradise (1945)
This film had me absolutely spellbound for all 3+ hours of runtime. A theater mime is in love with a courtesan who is also beloved by three other, very different men- a pretentious actor, a conniving thief, and a rich count.
- Contracorriente/ Undertow (2009)
Contracorriente is my most recent addition to this list, having just watched it I think the day before yesterday. It’s a surreal and poignant ghost story in which a married fisherman has to find a way to reconcile two aspects of his life: his more conventional family life with his pregnant wife and his devotion to his male lover, a painter and town outcast.
Here’s to another year of good films!
The life of a superstar is all fast cars, drugs and rock and roll, right?
Well, if I were a superstar and could take my pick, it would probably be something more like fast horses, sparkling water… and still rock and roll.
Because rock and roll is pretty great, and probably my preferred genre at the moment. It makes you feel free and like getting up and dancing or just doing anything you feel. Which is a pretty appropriate soundtrack for the curtains closing on summer.
Speaking of rock and roll, the 40th anniversary of Elvis’s death was yesterday, so I was thinking about doing a playlist post for Elvis- but there is one fairly insurmountable stumbling block.
I only listen to Can’t Help Falling in Love. Very short playlist. Continue reading “Playlist: Rocking Out (A Little)”
Firstly, a brief apology that my posting has fallen off (that said, one a day is a bit tricky to maintain- which is the same reason I haven’t taken my vitamins for maybe two months). I blame my “moving to France” preparations. And also I am so tickled that that’s a thing- the best kind of preparations to be making and complications to be having.
But it really does make me annoyed with the government- both governments, America’s and France’s. Anarchy!!!
Okay, I’m done.
You may remember that I did a post some not very long distance of time ago about the movies that were coming out this year, they’re various release dates, what I was excited to see and what not. Well, I foolishly assumed that that would cover my new and unseen film enthusiasm at least for a few months- until the films started popping up that I hadn’t yet heard much about.
It doesn’t seem to have even tided me over for a week. Continue reading “Can I Just Talk About Movies For a Minute (or Twenty)?”
I saw The Big Sick the day before yesterday! It was pretty good but not as excellent as I was hoping it would be. It’s hard to get a romcom right- I mean it’s hard to make an intelligent romcom. Without spoilers, a few of the things I found lacking: a number of the best jokes were used in the trailer, and I found myself wishing I hadn’t seen the trailer so I could appreciate the film more. Kind of says something negative re: rewatchability.
Also, the movie, despite being a romantic comedy, is too much about the male main character, Kumail Nanjiani. Given that the female protagonist is in a coma for the majority of the film (not a spoiler; that’s the premise), it’s an easy hole to fall into. But even when Emily’s parents (Holly Hunter!) show up to stand in for her, the film still leans into being a coming of age story for Kumail Nanjiani (which, he did do a lot to make this film happen, so I can see how it focuses on his experience). The romantic plot line and family merging took a backseat to his personal development, to the extent that Emily’s coma feels more like a plot device to trigger Kumail’s transformation, rather than the premise of the film. And even though she’s based on a real person, Zoe Kazan’s Emily (through no fault of Zoe Kazan’s, who had to spend most of the film being coma patient) comes across as more manic-pixie-dreamgirl. Probably as a result of the script more than anything else.
But it was a good movie. It was funny and quick, even if it was not as insightful or deep as I was hoping it would be. Continue reading “2017 Films I’m Looking Forward To”