Friday, January 2, 2015

The Year in Film (2014)

Let's be clear: My longlist included films from this and last year that I saw this year. That's the most inclusive method, I think, if you live in a country where so-called Oscar contenders and even local film festival entries often get late commercial releases, if none at all. Also, too lazy to make my own citations, so there.

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10. The Immigrant (dir. James Gray)
"This is compelling filmmaking, but it doesn't necessarily make a great film. Rather, what makes The Immigrant a great film is the way in which Gray uses actors and his mastery of the unspoken to create a tremendously lived-in, felt-through world. Every space--public or private, interior or exterior--feels authentic, historically and emotionally."
--Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, The A.V. Club.

9. Ida (dir. Paweł Pawlikowski)
"Though strands of plot touch contemporary chords, there is nothing overtly ideological about Ida. Its concerns are predominantly personal and emotional, like watching what transpires when two women pick up a hitchhiking musician on the way to a desultory gig."
--Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times.

8. The Grand Budapest Hotel (dir. Wes Anderson)
"Mr. Anderson is no realist. This movie makes a marvelous mockery of history, turning its horrors into a series of graceful jokes and mischievous gestures. You can call this escapism if you like. You can also think of it as revenge.
--A.O. Scott, The New York Times.

7. Violator (dir. Eduardo Dayao)
"As promotion would call it, the film is a horror story. It is--technically. But there is more to it than that. There is an almost palpable sense of dread looming around his image and sound, an unseen phantom creeping on stretched hallways, mossed terraces and lit hills of asphalt. This phantom is not captured in-frame, but its presence is unmistakable. It is unsettling."
--Armando dela Cruz, Film Police Reviews.

6. Nightcrawler (dir. Dan Gilroy)
"The movie is quite something, and, despite its title, it doesn't really crawl. It scuttles ahead, wide-eyed, antennae waving, on a journey to the end of the night, and toward a future when nothing will not be shown. Don't look now, it tells us. So we do."
--Anthony Lane, The New Yorker.

5. Child's Pose (dir. Calin Peter Netzer)
"Few viewers will come away from "Child's Pose" without strong feelings about Cornelia and her behavior. But even the most passionate judgments might be chipped away after the film's amazing final sequence, which the director begins in a cramped home kitchen and ends by masterfully framing a pivotal encounter in a car's rearview mirror."
--Ann Hornaday, The Washington Post.

4. Boyhood (dir. Richard Linklater)
"André Bazin wrote that art emerged from our desire to counter the passage of time and the inevitable decay it brings. But in Boyhood, Mr. Linklater's masterpiece, he both captures moments in time and relinquishes them as he moves from year to year. He isn't fighting time but embracing it in all its glorious and agonizingly fleeting beauty."
--Manohla Dargis, The New York Times.

3. Maps to the Stars (dir. David Cronenberg)
"Maps to the Stars might be disturbing to those who don't yet realize the corrupt and repugnant culture of celebrity we're all sort of living through right now. Maybe you had to be alive before everything went to shit. Or maybe you look around and you see nothing wrong."
--Sasha Stone, Awards Daily.

2. Norte, Hangganan ng Kasaysayan (dir. Lav Diaz)
"The force compelling us all to stay was the audacity of Diaz's filmmaking. His scenes go on, though not for the sake of their longevity. The extended takes, at every range (wide shots, close-ups, a flying digital camera that approximates dreams), allow your eye to study the details of the prison cell or the vastness of a woman's farm. They're not long takes so much as deep breaths."
--Wesley Morris, Grantland.

1. Gone Girl (dir. David Fincher)
"The movie's script, by Gillian Flynn, who also wrote the novel, pares down both the discursive and expressive rhetoric of the book as well as its psychology. I suspect that part of the book's appeal is its underlying mythic power. Fincher unleashes that primordial, archetypal fury along with its cosmic irony, making a movie that is a tragedy of our time."
--Richard Brody, The New Yorker.

And ten more that ought to be in some best-of list, in no particular order: Night Moves (dir. Kelly Reichardt); Snowpiercer (dir. Bong Joon-ho); Lilting (dir. Hong Khaou); Le Week-end (dir. Roger Michell); The Skeleton Twins (dir. Craig Johnson); X-Men: Days of Future Past (dir. Bryan Singer); Palo Alto (dir. Gia Coppola); The Babadook (dir. Jennifer Kent); Barber's Tales (dir. Jun Lana); Winter Sleep (dir. Nuri Bilge Ceylan).

Finally, my ten--let's make that 22--most favorite performances (to make it more fun, listed alphabetically):
  • Nina Arianda (Rob the Mob)
  • Patricia Arquette (Boyhood)
  • Rose Byrne (Neighbors)
  • Carrie Coon (Gone Girl)
  • Essie Davis (The Babadook)
  • Mackenzie Davis (What If)
  • Adam Driver (What If)
  • Lindsay Duncan (Le Week-end)
  • Jesse Eisenberg (Night Moves)
  • Ralph Fiennes (The Grand Budapest Hotel)
  • Paulina Garcia (Gloria)
  • Luminita Gheorghiu (Child's Pose)
  • Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler)
  • Bill Hader (The Skeleton Twins)
  • Mailes Kañapi (Mula sa Kung Ano ang Noon)
  • Agata Kulesza (Ida)
  • Sid Lucero (Norte, Hangganan ng Kasaysayan)
  • Julianne Moore (Maps to the Stars)
  • Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl)
  • Gladys Reyes (Barber's Tales)
  • Tilda Swinton (Snowpiercer)
  • Ben Whishaw (Lilting)

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