I enjoy reading top ten lists, but I don’t particularly like making a top ten list—which does nothing as far as an explanation as to why I decided to do a Top 147 list (or Bottom 147 list, if that’s more your thing). I covered four film festivals in 2014, so I saw more than 147 movies, but these are the 147 movies I saw that came out in a theater this year. (I realize ‘The Interview’ is now not coming out, but, whatever, it’s on here too.) I am only one human being, so I didn’t see every movie that came out this year—Where’s ‘Noah’? I never saw ‘Noah’—but I think I saw quite a few! Anyway, here they all are. (I only wrote about a few of them because I am not a crazy person.)
I’m gonna let you in on a little secret: No one likes putting together a Top 10 list. Oh, don’t get me wrong; it’s fun at a party if someone asks you, “What were your favorite movies this year?” and you can just rattle off a list of titles in no particular order, not overly concerned if you accidentally left something off. But this list is formal. Published on the Internet. This will be my legacy. And that’s not something to take lightly.
It’s no secret that President Barack Obama is a film and TV buff. You may recall him organizing a private White House screening of ‘Lincoln’ back in 2012 or asking HBO for screeners of ‘True Detective’ last year. He may be tasked with keeping the country from descending into total chaos, but the man still finds time to catch up pop culture. And he seems to have good taste! In a recent interview, he revealed that Richard Linklater’s ‘Boyhood’ is his favorite film of 2014.
We’ve got two more big awards updates today, and they come from the Online Film Critics Society and the Broadcast Film Critics Association, the body responsible for the annual Critics’ Choice Awards. The OFCS (of which I’m a member) announced their winners, giving the Best Picture of 2014 to Wes Anderson’s ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’; the film also won Best Original Screenplay and Best Cinematography. Meanwhile the BFCA (of which ScreenCrush editor-in-chief Mike Sampson is a member) announced their nominees for the Critics’ Choice Awards. ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ was among the Best Picture nominees, along with Oscar contenders ‘Boyhood,’ ‘The Imitation Game,’ ‘Selma,’ and ‘Birdman,’ which led all films with 13 CCA nominations.
It wasn’t a great year for critics in movies—see ‘Birdman’ (or ‘Chef’ [or ‘Top Five’ (or ‘Big Eyes’)])—but it was a great year for critics at movies. 2014 offered an tremendous variety of fantastic films: big and small; foreign and domestic; mainstream and indie. To anyone who says the overall quality of movies has declined, I call B.S. There are more good movies now than ever before. If you can’t find one, you’re not looking very hard. Take, for instance, these ten instant classics:
If you’re going to play the Oscar prediction game, the Screen Actors Guild Awards are often one of the biggest indicators of who’s going to get nominated and who’s going to win. The actors represent the largest portion of the Academy’s voting body, so it wouldn’t be surprising if the nominations for the 21st Annual SAG Awards are hugely representative of what we will end up seeing when Oscar nominations are announced early next year. And that’s a shame: These are some of the safest and most predictable nominations in a long time.
Starting today, you can purchase ‘Boyhood’ for digital download (you can rent it, or get it on DVD and Blu-ray starting on January 6). To mark the occasion, IFC Films released this excellent 10-minute featurette, which includes interviews with the cast from 2002, when the unique “12-Year Project” to document these characters’ lives began, and 2014, when it finally concluded. You can see how much they’ve aged physically and how much they’ve matured emotionally, and it adds a lot of eye-opening background detail about the story and its meaning.
Conventional wisdom says that award-winning movies are released after Labor Day, usually in mid-October through early December, after playing at the Telluride or Toronto film festivals. Academy voters have notoriously short memories, and films released outside of that window tend to get lost in the shuffle. But so far Richard Linklater’s ‘Boyhood’ is bucking that trend in a big way, at least with critics groups. Over the weekend, Linklater’s epic coming-of-age drama swept the Best Picture prizes from critics associations in three major cities: Boston, Los Angeles, and Washington D.C. That comes on the heels of the film also receiving the Best Picture award from the New York Film Critics Circle. That doesn’t necessarily mean ‘Boyhood’ is lock for an Academy Award win, or even a nomination, but at least the latter is looking more and more likely.
Trailers are a huge part of the fabric of movies. They play before every film shown in theaters, and on every movie website around the world. They’re commercials, obviously, but they’re also more than that; miniature works of art that utilize the core elements of cinema—image, sound, music, action, editing—at their most pure and refined. And today at ScreenCrush we’re celebrating movie trailers by saluting the best sneak previews of 2014.
At a meeting in New York City earlier today, the members of the New York Film Critics Circle announced the winners of their annual awards, which will be handed out at a special ceremony early next year. The biggest prizes, Best Picture and Best Director, went to Richard Linklater and his epic ‘Boyhood,’ which took 12 years to make. The other big winner of the day, in a bit of a surprise, was James Gray’s ‘The Immigrant,’ which hasn’t gotten a ton of attention during awards season so far but picked up two trophies from the NYFCC, for star Marion Cotillard and cinematographer Darius Khondji.