24. Foxcatcher (dir. Bennett Miller)
This is Channing Tatum's film. And also Mark Ruffalo's. Because everybody got so preoccupied with Steve Carell playing against type and with that bird's beak of a nose hanging on his face. But this is really Channing's movie. Hulking, brooding, troubled Channing, who should have been nominated for stuff.
25. The Lego Movie (dirs. Phil Lord & Chris Miller)
Innovative? Sure. But its ten-gags-a-second format can be quite exhausting, no matter that the script is just devilishly funny (poLISH remover of Na-Yeel, anyone?). So buckle up, get on that Batmobile, and all together now, "Everything is awesome..."
26. The Boxtrolls (dirs. Graham Annable & Anthony Stacchi)
In my book, the most beautifully animated film of the season. I simply couldn't get over the images after watching it, so I've devoted a separate section below. Notice how the animators never intentionally use straight lines; everything bends, spirals, curves. And the colors literally illuminate every face, object, place, it's all so festive, and the scenes just... twinkle. The story's nothing new: "Tarzan" set to Victorian England, where the apes have become trolls, and the invaders, cheese-obsessed snobs. And Tarzan is now voiced by Bran Stark, and Jane by Dakota Fanning's little sister! The ending's grotesque and definitely not for children. I mean, cheese allergy gone hideously wrong?! So not for kids.
27. Big Hero 6 (dirs. Don Hall & Chris Williams)
I don't think any major player during the past awards season had a more profound sense of loss than "Big Hero 6." Here's this spunky, devil-may-care genius who's lost his parents, and then his genius brother, and now that hug-me-pinch-me-squish-me white robot too?! The animation is topnotch (San Fransokyo beats Rio in "Rio," in my opinion). But while we welcome and laud that reach-for-the-moon attitude, I did feel that the movie failed to honor some of its ambitions, that the story eventually fell apart and gave way to a clichéd superhero story--which it really had a huge chance of not falling into, as the earlier parts so astutely demonstrated.
28. The Casual Vacancy (dir. Jonny Campbell)
I read the book a couple of years ago, was kind of bored by the slowness, but eventually ended up liking the small-town feel. This BBC adaptation is downright funny, occasionally sentimental, and looks like it was shot while the cinematographer was on 'shrooms.
* * * * *
Right now, I'm thinking my vote for Best Animated Feature would probably have gone to "The Boxtrolls." I'll explain next time, but just look at these shots, they're so... delicious. The first two, by the way, are hands down the film's most disturbing parts.