It's probably safe to say that if Kornél Mundruczó's "White God" were a 2014 domestic release, it would be on my top 10 list (comin' at'cha Friday). It's that good, and totally caught me by surprise when I watched it on a whim a few months back. I'm hoping it shows up on the Academy's narrowed list of Best Foreign Language Film contenders, which should drop any day now (right?).
Julianne Moore is looking like an Oscar winner in the trailer for "Still Alice."
Awards-season watchers are already pegging Moore as the likely Best Actress winner at next year's show, and it's about time: the four-time nominee has yet to take home the gold despite turning in a slew of stunning performances over a career spanning nearly 25 years. Based on Lisa Genova's bestselling novel of the same name, the Sony Classics film centers on a cognitive psychologist (Moore) as she grapples with early-onset Alzheimer's disease.
The live action shorts in Oscar contention this year span the globe. There are stories from and of Israel, Northern Ireland, Iran, China, Iraq, the United Kingdom, Vietnam and Switzerland to be considered, and naturally, some real stand-outs in the mix.
The American Film Institute released its annual best of the year film list and, for the first time, increased the number of honorees to 11.
Each film needed to be an "American" film -- one guesses that is determined by financing -- and while "The Imitation Game" was eligible due to financing "Theory of Everything" was not.
The Sundance Institute effectively filled out its slate for the 2015 Sundance Film Festival with the announcement of the always star-friendly premieres category. It's also where many former Sundance filmmakers bring their second, third and even fourth films back to the fest.
This year, Richard Linklater’s "Boyhood" played in the closing night slot of the True/False Film Fest, a festival dedicated to documentaries. The organizers explained the that, because of its documentary-like production schedule, the film represented something that only non-fiction is capable of. "For most casual filmgoers, the role of the producer may be mysterious, in part because their efforts are designed to be invisible onscreen. But a film like 'Boyhood,' seamless as a viewing experience, also demands that we acknowledge the epic care and attention to detail than went into its creation. What's more, Linklater's artistic process, by necessity, took into account the natural meanderings of his actor's lives, lending a verisimilitude to the action missing from many other fiction films."
The folks behind the Cinema Eye awards clearly agree with True/False’s assessment and in the possibility that fiction can transcend its own narrative to become something worth designating as "non-fiction." They’ve honored "Boyhood," "Under the Skin" and three other films with Heterodox nominations, an award for accomplishments in blurring that line.
I've been trying to put my finger on just what it is about 2014 that has me reticent to embrace the "it's weak" narrative. First and foremost, it's a narrative that I do understand. Maybe there's something about the overall cultural impact of film product this year that feels beneath bars set in the past, I don't know. But as I've worked through my personal assessment of the year's best over the last few weeks, I've found that I'm revisiting films more often than usual. I'm finding that my favorites are a funky bunch and that the old top 10 isn't clicking into place as fluidly as it has before (not a bad thing). I'm basically just finding my passion for the year in interesting places.
And then it finally dawned on me. The reason 2014 doesn't feel "thin" or "weak" to me is less big picture than nuts and bolts: On a purely craft level, this has been an absolutely outstanding year for film.
In an on-going trend, "Boyhood" has stood out the most for another critics group. The film led the way with the Online Film Critics Society's batch of nominations, announced this morning, with six total mentions alongside Wes Anderson's "The Grand Budapest Hotel." The films were the #1 and #2 choices respectively among the LA critics awards yesterday.
It’s very possible that, by the Oscars in February, every name associated with the awards season will somehow be honored by the Palm Springs International Film Festival. Its winners are all names you know: Julianne Moore for "Still Alice," Rosamund Pike for "Gone Girl," Eddie Redmayne for "Theory of Everything," and J.K. Simmons for "Whiplash" are among the talent set to be honored at the fest’s awards gala. Now we can add two predictable, completely worthy names to the list: Benedict Cumberbatch and David Oyelowo. They'll be honored on PSIFF's gala on Jan. 3, 2015.