It’s that time of the year, when pop culture websites and critics publish their annual Best Of lists and we heap praise on the best and most beloved movies and TV shows of the year. But what about the average moviegoer and TV-viewer? That’s where Facebook comes in. The social media site has released their top 10 movies and top 10 TV shows of the year, based on the most discussed titled of 2014. While some are fairly obvious, the lists might surprise you and inspire you to contemplate the overlap between what’s popular and what’s actually good.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay
This post spawned from a curious desire to know what person appeared in the highest grossing films of the year. An extremely liberal definition of “appearance” was used: cameos and voice roles both count. So, basically, all a person has to do is actually appear in (or speak in) a movie and that movie’s worldwide box office numbers count toward that person's total.
Appropriately, the Thanksgiving holiday box office was all about the leftovers. While two high profile new releases struggled to open, films from the past few weeks continued to do solid business. In fact, this was one of the most varied weekends at the box office in quite some time, with YA adaptations, animated family movies, epic blockbusters, and small independent films all performing better than expected.
Welcome back to another installment of the Monday Morning Critic. In this space each week, I’ll be looking at the week that was in addition to the week ahead in television. The format will shift each week, as the world of TV will dictate the form and content of each piece. In this week’s installment: what the cinematic version of ‘The Hunger Games’ has to do with the future of television.
There‘s going to be a lot of blood and ink spilled across the internet on the subject of the opening weekend for ‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1.’ Yes, the third film in the series did open significantly lower than its predecessors. Yes, there are definitely people at Lionsgate wringing their hands and trying to figure out why the film opened below expectations. And yet, that opening weekend is still massive. It’s three day total is larger than most movies ever have a chance to make in their entire runs. So, let's have some perspective as we dive into this week’s top 10.
As she recently told David Letterman, Jennifer Lawrence’s biggest fear is singing in public. Not death, not small, enclosed spaces, not tracker-jacker venom; singing in public. This posed a particular problem for the young star in ‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1’ because the script called for Katniss Everdeen to singing a song to her fellow rebels. And Lawrence had to actually sing it in front of the rest of the cast, a capella, with no voice double. The song, “The Hanging Tree,” is important to the movie. It becomes a rallying cry for the growing movement against the tyrannical President Snow and the rest of the Capitol. It needed to be real and heartfelt. And it needed to come from Lawrence.
The penultimate entry into the sprawling and blood-stained 'Hunger Games' franchise takes a decidedly hip and totally en vogue approach to its final two movies—splitting one (relatively slim) novel into two feature films, all the better to dive deeper into the burning revolution headed up by a reluctant Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), further explore the various districts that make up Panem, and just make piles of cash in the process. ‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part I’ might be half a story (and our review says as much), but it's pretty remarkable that screenwriters Danny Strong and Peter Craig were able to squeeze out an entire 123-minute feature film from 187 pages of a single novel (yes, we counted).
‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1’ is a movie comprised almost entirely of deleted scenes. As it says right in the title, this isn’t the final chapter of ‘The Hunger Games’ series; it’s just the first half of the final chapter, and that’s exactly what it feels like. It’s table setting for a meal that won’t be served until next November. ‘Mockingjay - Part 1’ is good-looking, well-acted, and utterly inessential.
When you speak to Sam Claflin, he is nothing like his ‘Hunger Games’ counterpart—he comes across as humble (an adjective that does not at all describe Finnick Odair) and he doesn’t quite understand why anyone would want to make such a fuss over him. As Claflin says, ‘The Hunger Games’ has brought him a lot more attention, but he can still walk down the street—it’s not quite the same phenomenon that he’s witnessed happen to a few of his co-stars. Ahead, Claflin discusses his pivotal role in this ‘Hunger Games’ chapter—which includes a prolonged filibuster used as a distraction during a rescue mission—and he explains how Finnick, in the heat of battle, can still have such perfect hair.
This week, the third ‘Hunger Games’ movie, which follows the first part of the third book, will be released into theaters. It is called ‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1,’ which is a lot of words. But, here we are. Already, ‘The Hunger Games...