Saturday, March 18, 2017

2014--The Year in Review

At the end of 2014, I was so mesmerized by Alejandro Inarritu's genuinely wild cinematic experiment Birdman, or: The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance that its late December appearance, and Michael Keaton's slashing comeback performance, sneakily erased my admiration for the real film achievement of the year: Richard Linklater's autumnal release, a furtive production called Boyhood, filmed in secretive fits over the course of a decade in a certainly comparative experimental mode. Low-key as it is, it's a singular achievement, completely moving and so well executed. Its transitions from year to year are among the film world's most special special effects, and while watching it you say to yourself "Am I actually SEEING what I'm seeing?" I was glad that Richard Linklater's consistent brilliance was now being noticed, even so many years after Dazed and Confused and the Before series. As enjoyably chaotic as Birdman was (and I sense I'm in the minority in thinking so, even if it did become one of the most unlikely Best Picture winners ever), Boyhood contained the ensemble of the year, with Ellar Coltrane becoming the bravest hero of 2014 as an untrained actor jumping into this long commitment feet first, bringing so much authentic heart to it. And then we have veterans Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke providing umph to the story, making it more a movie about parenthood. I have to add Lorelei Linklater, the director's daughter, as a major asset, since she almost steals the movie from them all (seriously, she's terrific here). A shining needle-drop song score and adept editing adorns Linklater's movie, making the year's must-see achievement. It would work well on a double bill with another of my 2014 faves, Lukas Moodysson's adaptation of his sister Coco's graphic novel We Are the Best!, about a trio of nerdy, '80s-era Swedish tween girls haggling over their desire to launch a punk band; what a fantastic joy that film is.

As I attended the Atlanta Film Festival, the Massachusetts Independent Film Festival, and the New York Film Festival this year, my final lineup is packed with obscure films. Chief among them is Raymond St. Jeans' resplendent A Chair Fit for an Angel, which certainly, for me, leads a powerful lineup of documentaries this year by deftly conflating so many art forms in its short running time. It's nearly impossible to put this film's jolt into words. The Shakers are a religious community founded in 18th Century England, and their music, transmitted entirely by voice, sounds like it's being beamed from medieval times, while the modern works of Finnish choreographer Tero Saarinen provide stunning counterpart, perhaps against the stern grain of the Shakers but somehow melding with their musical relics perfectly. Documentaries really exploded this year, with fantastic entries as diverse as Frederick Wiseman's regal National Gallery, as well as Jodorowsky's Dune, Red Army, Stray Dog, Sunshine Superman, the little-seen The Oracles of Pennsylvania Avenue, Finding Vivien Meier, Steve James' Roger Ebert bio-pic Life Itself, and Albert Maysles' final film Iris (I was not an enthusiastic fan of the eventual Best Documentary winner, the scooping but visually dull Edward Snowden profile Citizenfour). Meanwhile, world cinema contributed brilliance with films like the remarkable Wild Tales from Argentina's Damián Szifron (the finest anthology film in all of cinema), and three radically different tales of family dissolution from Sweden's Reuben Ostland and Force Majeure, Russia's controversial Leviathan by Andrey Zvyagintsev, and Two Days, One Night by Belgian superstars Jean Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne, led by an aching performance from Marion Cotillard. In the end, 2014 acquitted itself mightily as a major year in film history. NOTE: These are MY choices for each category, and are only occasionally reflective of the selections made by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (aka The Oscars). When available, the nominee that actually won the Oscar will be highlighted in bold. 


PICTURE: BOYHOOD (US, Richard Linklater) (2nd: Wild Tales (Argentina, Damián Szifron), followed by: Birdman, or: The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance (US, Alejandro Inarritu); Inherent Vice (US, Paul Thomas Anderson); We Are the Best! (Sweden, Lukas Moodysson); A Chair Fit for an Angel (Finland/Canada, Raymond St. Jean); Whiplash (US, Damien Chazelle); Force Majeure (Sweden, Reuben Ostland); National Gallery (US, Frederick Wiseman); Leviathan (Russia, Andrey Zvyagintsev); Two Days, One Night (Belgium, Jean Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne);  Jodorowsky's Dune (US/France, Frank Pavich); Red Army (US/Russia, Gabe Polsky); Mr. Turner (UK, Mike Leigh); Stray Dog (US, Debra Granik); Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (US, Matt Reeves); The Grand Budapest Hotel (US, Wes Anderson); Nightcrawler (US, Dan Gilroy); Sunshine Superman (US, Maura Strauch); '71 (UK, Yann Demange); A Standing Still (US, Scott Ballard); The Oracles of Pennsylvania Avenue (US, Tim Wilkerson); Foxcatcher (US, Bennett Miller); The Foxy Merkins (US, Madeleine Olnek); Wild (US, Jean Marc Vallee); Finding Vivien Meier (US, John Maloof and Charlie Siskel); Only Lovers Left Alive (US, Jim Jaramusch); Life Itself (US, Steve James); Love is Strange (US, Ira Sachs); Gone Girl (US, David Fincher); Edge of Tomorrow (aka Live Die Repeat) (US, Doug Liman); Iris (US, Albert Maysles); A Most Violent Year (US, J.C. Chandor); Cheatin' (US, Bill Plympton); The Babadook (Australia, Jennifer Kent); Guardians of the Galaxy (US, James Gunn); Evolution of a Criminal (US, Darius Clark Monroe); Selma (US, Ava Duvernay); 120 Days (US, Ted Roach); Limo Ride (US, Gideon C. Kennedy and Marcus Rosentrater); The Lego Movie (US, Chris Miller and Phil Lord); American Sniper (US, Clint Eastwood); Saint Laurent (France, Bertrand Bonello); Are You Here (US, Matthew Weiner); Kids for Cash (US, Robert May); Tracks (Australia, John Curran); The Homesman (US, Tommy Lee Jones); Begin Again (US, John Carney); Cesar Chavez (US/Mexico, Diego Luna); Runoff (US, Kimberly Levin); The Overnighters (US, Jesse Moss); Top Five (US, Chris Rock); Art and Craft (US, Sam Cullman, Jennifer Grausman, and Mark Becker); Fed Up (US, Stephanie Soechtig); The Kill Team (US, Dan Krauss); Out of Print (US, Julia Marchese); Get On Up (US, Tate Taylor); Dear White People (US, Justin Simien); Having Fun Up There (US, Frankie Frain); 99 Homes (US, Ramin Bahrani); Bobo (Portugal, Inês Oliveira); The Trip to Italy (UK/Italy, Michael Winterbottom); Eden (France, Mia Hansen Love); What We Do in the Shadows (US/New Zealand, Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi); Little Accidents (US, Sara Colangelo); Nymphomania (Denmark, Lars Von Trier); Chef (US, Jon Favreau); WildLike (US, Frank Hall Green); Jersey Boys (US, Clint Eastwood); Still Alice (US, Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland); Deli Man (US, Erik Anjou); St. Vincent (US, Theodore Melfi); Maps to the Stars (US/Canada, David Cronenberg); Midlife (US, Greg Travis); Cake (US, Daniel Barnes); 15 to Life: Kenneth's Story (US, Nadine Pequeneza); The Sublime and Beautiful (US, Blake Robbins); I Believe in Unicorns (US, Leah Meyerhoff); The Frontier (US, Matt Rabinowitz); Obvious Child (US, Gillian Robespierre); The Fault in Our Stars (US, Josh Boone); And So It Goes (US, Rob Reiner); Kumiko The Treasure Hunter (US/Japan, David Zellner); The Imitation Game (UK, Morton Tyldum); The Theory of Everything (UK, James Marsh); Interstellar (US, Christopher Nolan); Citizenfour (US/Germany/UK, Laura Poitras); Labyrinth of Lies (Germany, Giulio Ricciarelli); The Skeleton Twins (US, Craig Johnson); Big Hero 6 (US, Don Hall and Chris Williams); The 50 Year Argument (US, Martin Scorsese and David Tedeschi); Manakamana (Nepal/US, Stephanie Spray and Pacho Velez); The Rover (Australia, David Michôd); The Immigrant (US, James Grey); John Wick (US, Chad Stahelski); Clouds of Sils Maria (France/Germany/Switzerland, Olivier Assayas); White God (Hungary/Germany/Sweden, Kornél Mundruczó); Rich Hill (US, Andrew Droz Palermo and Tracy Droz Tragos); Godzilla (US, Gareth Edwards); It Follows (US, David Robert Michell); Jauja (Argentina/Denmark, Lisandro Alonso); God's Not Dead (US, Harold Cronk); Into the Woods (US, Rob Marshall); Enemy (Canada/Spain/France, Denis Villeneuve); Left Behind (US, Vic Armstrong); Unbroken (US, Angelina Jolie); God's Pocket (US, John Slattery); Noah (US, Darren Arenofsky); Frank (UK/US/Ireland, Lenny Abrahamson); Locke (UK, Steven Knight); Fort Tilden (US, Sarah-Violet Bliss and Charles Rogers)) 



ACTOR: Michael Keaton, BIRDMAN, OR: THE UNEXPECTED VIRTUE OF IGNORANCE (2nd: Timothy Spall, Mr. Turner, followed by: Joaquin Phoenix, Inherent Vice; Jake Gyllenhaal, Nightcrawler; Aleksey Serebryakov, Leviathan; David Oyelowo, Selma; Steve Carrell, Foxcatcher; Chadwick Boseman, Get On Up; Bradley Cooper, American Sniper)


ACTRESS:  Marion Cotillard, TWO DAYS, ONE NIGHT (2nd: Essie Davis, The Babadook, followed by: Reese Witherspoon, Wild; Lisa Loven Kongsli, Force Majeure; Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl; Jackie Monahan, The Foxy Merkins; Lisa Haas, The Foxy Merkins; Julianne Moore, Still Alice; Sara Robbin, A Standing Still

 
SUPPORTING ACTOR: J.K. Simmons, WHIPLASH (2nd: Ethan Hawke, Boyhood, followed by: Edward Norton, Birdman, or: The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance; Roman Madyanov, Leviathan; Josh Brolin, Inherent Vice; Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher; Michael Shannon, 99 Homes; Martin Short, Inherent Vice; Riz Ahmed, Nightcrawler

 

SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Patricia Arquette, BOYHOOD (2nd: Katherine Waterston, Inherent Vice, followed by: Erica Rivas, Wild Tales; Marion Bailey, Mr. Turner; Rene Russo, Nightcrawler; Emma Stone, Birdman, or: The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance; Kim Dickens, Gone Girl; Lorelei Linklater, Boyhood; Laura Dern, Wild)



DIRECTOR: Richard Linklater, BOYHOOD (2nd: Damián Szifron, Wild Tales, followed by: Alejandro Inarritu,  Birdman, or: The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance; Paul Thomas Anderson, Inherent Vice; Lukas Moodysson, We Are the Best!; Reuben Ostland, Force Majeure; Andrey Zvyagintsev, Leviathan; Damien Chazelle, Whiplash; Raymond St. Jean, A Chair Fit for an Angel)  



NON-ENGLISH-LANGUAGE FILM: WILD TALES (Argentina, Damián Szifron) (2nd: We Are the Best! (Sweden, Lukas Moodysson), followed by: Force Majeure (Sweden, Reuben Ostland); Leviathan (Russia, Andrey Zvyagintsev); Two Days, One Night (Belgium, Jean Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne); Saint Laurent (France, Bertrand Bonello); Bobo (Portugal, Inês Oliveira); Eden (France, Mia Hansen Love); Nymphomania (Denmark, Lars Von Trier))



DOCUMENTARY FEATURE: A CHAIR FIT FOR AN ANGEL (Finland/Canada, Raymond St. Jean) (2nd: National Gallery (US, Frederick Wiseman), followed by: Jodorowsky's Dune (US/France, Frank Pavich); Red Army (US/Russia, Gabe Polsky); Stray Dog (US, Debra Granik); Sunshine Superman (US, Maura Strauch); The Oracles of Pennsylvania Avenue (US, Tim Wilkerson); Finding Vivien Meier (US, John Maloof and Charlie Siskel); Life Itself (US, Steve James); Iris (US, Albert Maysles); Evolution of a Criminal (US, Darius Clark Monroe); 120 Days (US, Ted Roach); Limo Ride (US, Gideon C. Kennedy and Marcus Rosentrater); Kids for Cash (US, Robert May); The Overnighters (US, Jesse Moss); Art and Craft (US, Sam Cullman, Jennifer Grausman, and Mark Becker); Fed Up (US, Stephanie Soechtig); The Kill Team (US, Dan Krauss); Out of Print (US, Julia Marchese); 15 to Life: Kenneth's Story (US, Nadine Pequeneza); Citizenfour (US/Germany/UK, Laura Poitras))



ANIMATED FEATURE: CHEATIN' (US, Bill Plympton) (2nd: The Lego Movie (US, Chris Miller and Phil Lord), followed by: Big Hero 6 (US, Don Hall and Chris Williams))


 
LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM: THE PHONE CALL (UK, Mat Kirkby and James Lewis) (2nd: Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1 (US, Ellen Goosenberg Kent) (won as Documentary Short), followed by: Thirteen Blue (Greece, Jacqueline Lentzou); Waging War (France, Cosme Castro and Léa Forest); Butterfly Fluttering (Russia, Roman Kayumov))



ANIMATED SHORT FILM: ME AND MY MOULTON (Norway/Canada, Torill Kove) (2nd: The Bigger Picture (UK, Daisy Jacobs), followed by: Feast (US, Patrick Osborne))
 
ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Richard Linklater, BOYHOOD (2nd: Alejandro Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, and Armando Bo, Birdman, or: The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance, followed by: Damián Szifrón, Wild Tales; Ruben Ostland, Force Majeure; Oleg Negin and Andrey Zvyagintsev, Leviathan



ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Lukas Moodysson, WE ARE THE BEST!, (2nd: Paul Thomas Anderson, Inherent Vice, followed by: Damien Chazelle, Whiplash; Paul Webb, Selma; James Gunn and Nicole Perlman, Guardians of the Galaxy)

CINEMATOGRAPHY: Emmanuel Lubezki, BIRDMAN, OR: THE UNEXPECTED VIRTUE OF IGNORANCE (2nd: Jean-Francois Lord, A Chair Fit for an Angel, followed by: Dick Pope, Mr. Turner; Robert Elswit, Inherent Vice; Robert Yeoman, The Grand Budapest Hotel)

ART DIRECTION: THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL, Mr. Turner, Inherent Vice, Into the Woods, The Imitation Game 


COSTUME DESIGN: THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL, Saint Laurent, Mr. Turner, Inherent Vice, Maleficent



FILM EDITING: WHIPLASH, Wild Tales, Boyhood, '71, Birdman, or: The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance

SOUND: WHIPLASH, Birdman, or: The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance, Wild, Edge of Tomorrow, American Sniper 



SOUND EFFECTS: AMERICAN SNIPER, Edge of Tomorrow, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

 

ORIGINAL SCORE: Antonio Sanchez, BIRDMAN, OR: THE UNEXPECTED VIRTUE OF IGNORANCE (2nd: Gary Yershon, Mr. Turner, followed by: Alexandre Desplat, The Grand Budapest Hotel; Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, Gone Girl; Johann Johannson, The Theory of Everything)



ORIGINAL SONG: "I'm Not Gonna Miss You" from GLEN CAMPBELL...I'LL BE ME (Music and lyrics by Glen Campbell and Julian Raymond) (2nd: "Ryan's Song" from Boyhood (Music and lyrics by Ethan Hawke), followed by: "Glory" from Selma (Music and lyrics by John Stephens and Lonnie Lynn); "Hate the Sport" from We Are the Best! (Music and lyrics by Mira Barkhammar, Mira Grosin, Liv LeMoyne, Julia Forssell, and Niels Berglund); "Lost Stars" from Begin Again (Music and lyrics by Gregg Alexander, Danielle Brisebois, Nick Lashley and Nick Southwood); "Everything is Awesome" from The Lego Movie (Music and lyrics by Shawn Patterson); "Everyone Hides" from St. Vincent (Music and lyrics by Jeff Tweedy); "Heart Like Yours" from If I Stay (Music and lyrics by Heitor Pereira))

SPECIAL EFFECTS: DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES, Interstellar, Guardians of the Galaxy, Birdman, or: The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance, Edge of Tomorrow 


MAKEUP: THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL, Guardians of the Galaxy, Foxcatcher