Although 2014 wasn’t a stand-out year for movies, especially in light of recent past years, what was good, was very good. More than likely the categories of Best Movie and Best Director will split. For that I am torn. Will Richard Linklater take home Best Director, and “Birdman” Best Movie or the other way around? I’m going with the former but I won’t be disappointed either way cause from below, both films are at high on the list.
“Boyhood” (Richard Linklater, director) – This is my pick for the top spot. An absolutely special and wholly unique movie because of the subject and how it was created. Taking place over twelve years in the life of a boy from age 6 to 18, the movie was shot in real time with the same actors and non-actors in the case of the children and including the main character. The film chronicles a family- a young divorced mom and dad and their two children- through the eyes of the son, Mason. They are all affected by divorce, re-marriage, re-location and simply, life.
“Birdman“ (Alejandro G. Iñárritu, director) – Another movie that not only has an engaging story, but uniquely created and presented. “A washed up actor, who once played an iconic superhero, battles his ego and attempts to recover his family, his career and himself in the days leading up to the opening of a Broadway play.” (imdb). The film, shot with one camera, often in one or few takes features Michael Keaton as the main character with both great depth and humor. He is surrounded by a cast of equally strong characters/actors. The delightful performances, combined with the movie making style, lend for a fast-paced, laugh-out-loud, fun cinematic experience.
“Selma” (Ava DuVernay, director) – Who knew you could portray a real-life subject matter of recent history so widely known, and put a rare and fresh prospective on it?! Director Ava DuVernay focused on one aspect of Martin Luther King’s iconic campaign to secure voting right’s for Blacks in the South through the march from Montgomery to Selma in Alabama. Along the way he and his followers are met with much opposition, including from the president. There are solidly good performances from the entire cast, but the stand-out here is the story and directing from a relatively new director with only a few very low budget indie films to her cred. She was robbed of a nod!
“The Imitation Game“ (Morten Tyldum, director) – During WWII, Math wiz Alan Turing successfully cracked the Nazi enigma code, helping to topple Hitler’s regime. Masterfully played by Benedict Cumberbatch, this film is a study of an incredibly interesting and quirky character of a little known story during a pivotal time in world history. Adding to the drama is Turing’s struggle with his homosexuality. This is a fantastic example of deftly combining history and drama, with humor and heart.
“Grand Budapest Hotel” (Wes Anderson, director) – A story of unlikely friendships doesn’t get any more quirky than in the hands of filmmaker Wes Anderson and in the form of his latest project, “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” In it, viewers get to explore the world of Gustave H, a legendary concierge for the world renowned hotel during its heyday after World War I. Gustave finds a sort of kindred spirit in Zero Moustafa, the hotel’s new lobby boy. For those familiar with Anderson’s work, they can expect more of the same in the way of aesthetics, style, dialogue and pacing. The presentation is undeniably whimsical, hyper stylized with fairy tale-like settings. Additionally, the characters are almost cartoonish in somewhat contrived situations and speaking in unnatural rhythms. This is Anderson’s signature and him at his best since Rushmore.
Best Actor: Eddy Redmayne
Best Actress: Julianne Moore
Best Documentary: “Virunga”