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."
This was my second time watching with ‘Whiplash,’ Damien Chazelle’s film about basically two sociopaths and their terrible relationship. One of these sociopaths (I’m exaggerating a little, but not by much) is played by Miles Teller as an up-and-coming jazz drummer trying to make it at the best school in the country. The other is played by J.K. Simmons, his jazz instructor. Both of these people are assholes. Both of these people hate each other. Both of these people kind of need each other, but in the process, both do awful, awful things to each other. There’s no real reconciliation for these two. ‘Whiplash’ will never have these two characters put apart their differences and form a friendship. The dynamic between these two assholes is just what makes ‘Whiplash’ so incredible to watch.
The 2014 New York Film Festival was already looking to be a can't-miss event for cinephiles, given its previous announcements of gala screenings of David Fincher's 'Gone Girl,' Paul Thomas Anderson's 'Inherent Vice' and Alejandro G. Iñárritu's 'Birdman,' but the announcement of the festival's Main Slate selections brings with it some of the most highly anticipated titles of the year.
One of the films to gain a lot of buzz at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year was 'Whiplash,' an intense indie drama starring Miles Teller as a young man pursuing a career as a jazz drummer. And if that doesn't sound like it would be very riveting, let this first trailer persuade you.