Okay, so there was a fair amount of disappointment around the 2015 Academy Award nominations. Everything was not awesome for ‘The Lego Movie,’ robbed of a Best Animated Movie nod, and David Oyelowo’s dreams of a Best Actor nomination vanished when Steve Carell and Bradley Cooper’s names were mentioned instead. ‘Force Majeure’ got snubbed for a Best Foreign Language Film nomination and ‘Selma’’s Ava Duvernay was robbed in the Best Director Category. I just keep looking at the list of nominations and playing “Sad Trombone” over and over again. It’s basically the official theme song of the 2015 Academy Awards.
James Gunn had a very busy 2014 with the release of ‘Guardians of the Galaxy,’ Marvel’s superhero space opera, which went on to become one of the hugest films of the year. But even though Gunn was preoccupied with Marvel business, that didn’t keep him from seeing a lot of great films besides the one he directed, and the director has finally revealed his favorite films of 2014. Unsurprisingly, ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ is one of them.
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 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:
Damien Chazelle’s film, ‘Whiplash’—the story of a future jazz prodigy (Miles Teller) and his manipulative, sadistic conductor (J.K. Simmons, who seems to be the odds-on favorite to win an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor) has had quite the journey this year. It premiered in January at the Sundance Film Festival and wound up taking home the top prize. After, it steadily built momentum from word of mouth on the festival circuit and now, having been in release for two months, it still seems to be operating on a word of mouth system. (I still get text messages from friends back in the Midwest asking, “Should I see ‘Whiplash’? I keep hearing it’s good.”)
341 movies were submitted, and nominating committees of “writers, directors, producers, cinematographers, editors, actors, critics, casting directors, film festival programmers, and other working film professionals” chose their favorites. (What, no caterers?) Those votes were tallied and the results are the nominees below, for the 2015 Film Independent Spirit Awards, generally regarded as the most important and prestigious awards for independent film in the country.
People love watching famous people accept trophies. So, every so often, The Huffington Post’s Chris Rosen and ScreenCrush’s Mike Ryan will speculate about these trophies and which famous person might win one. It will be fun. Let’s talk some trophies! Today, we discuss the possibility of 'Whiplash' being a dark horse Best Picture winner.
Rising star Miles Teller has already gotten a lot of attention for his next role: starring in the jazzy thriller 'Whiplash' as a young drummer (of the jazz variety) who finds himself pushed to the breaking point by a somewhat crazy (and definitely offensive) teacher, played by J.K. Simmons. The film is pretty heavy on the music, and within minutes, it's obvious that Teller couldn't have faked the musical side of his performance. Like, at all.
Miles Teller has a movie he's very proud of this year. That movie is 'Whiplash,' a movie about the dysfunctional relationship between a jazz drummer and his demented teacher. He says of all the training he put into the film, "It was, by far, the hardest thing I’ve ever done." Miles Teller also has a movie he's not very proud of. That movie is the young adult hit 'Divergent,' which Teller says left him feeling "dead inside."