I’d hoped to see more of last year’s big films (Whiplash, Citizen Four, Imitation Game, The One I Love before finalizing my list, but with the Oscars over, here is my top 10:
10. Gone Girl
One of my favorite books in contemporary literature, I wasn’t quite sure how it would translate to screen. I’m not sure anyone but Fincher could have done it. There were definitely things Flynn cut or changed in her adaptation, but I wasn’t dissatisfied. And no matter what anyone says, I think Affleck was the perfect choice for Nick.
9. Inherent Vice
After it ended, I turned to Mary Ann and said “that is a movie we would’ve watched in high school [in the late 90s], then gone to the budget theater and rewatched 80 more times.” If you want weird and different, I recommend this way more than Birdman.
8. Under The Skin
Another beyond weird and different movie, with Scarlett Johannsen as literal maneater. I really need to read the book. The visuals and score were absolutely haunting. This film is not for the weak of heart, but it’s really, really good.
7. Life Itself
I don’t know how this ended up not getting a documentary nomination, but whatever. Focusing on the life and death of Roger Ebert, it’s one of the most moving life stories I’ve ever seen. Do not watch without a box of Kleenex close at hand.
5. Obvious Child
Oh, how much do I love this movie? I actually ended up seeing it twice in theater. It warms every piece of my feminist heart. It candidly discusses abortion, dating, sex. The leads are relatable females. The love story is cutely realistic. The break up parts are so so so real. And it’s funny as fuck. See it.
4. Top Five
This one deserved way more attention and accolades then it got. Chris Rock got lots of Woody Allen (without the creep factor) comparisons, but there’s also a healthy dose of Linklater’s Before series. The dialogue is funny, sometimes harsh and always spot on.
3. Grand Budapest Hotel
Wes Anderson’s “action movie”, sign me up. Truly a fun adventure film that will hold up for the generations. Maybe one day kids will feel about this as I did about movies like Babes In Toyland.
Now we get to the reality of movies that were not just my faves but much better “Best Picture” options. I’m not a huge biopic fan, but Selma hit all the marks of just a good film. It didn’t sugar coat anything, the pacing and acting were solid, and it made you feel without emotional manipulation. The direction drew parallels that are so important to things going on in today’s world. This isn’t just a great movie, it’s an important one too.
While in a better world, Selma would’ve won an Oscar. In my perfect fantasy world, Boyhood would win them all. I’ve been a Linklater fan since my video store days and this seemed like something I personally had been waiting for the last 12 years, even though I had no idea about it. Much about life I gleaned from obsessive repeat viewings of Dazed and Confused as a teenager and Boyhood drove much of that home. The portrayals and relationships of the adults hit home in that “we never really grow up, but we have to pretend to” kinda way. I only wish I had time for obsessive repeat viewings.
And now a note about Birdman:
Sunday’s Academy Awards ended with me turning off the television, throwing the remote across the room, and texting my fellow film nerd friend, Grant, “FUCK THAT SHIT.”
In my opinion, the only Oscar that Birdman deserved was Michael Keaton for acting. And that’s the one it didn’t get. Instead, it received top honors for screenplay, directing and Best Picture. Fumes flew out of my head.
Why? Because I had high hopes when I went to see the movie. Everyone was raving. It was so different. To me it was indie-movie “light”, something for the masses who’ve never gone to an art house film where people are talking versus just blowing shit up or barfing romantic drivel. It was “different” compared to most mainstream Hollywood crap.
That doesn’t excuse it from being an disturbingly misogynistic, hyper-masculine circle jerk. The female characters are either oversexed ingenues or resentful harpies. In one of my twitter criticisms of it, I was hit back with “well, the main character is male, so why do the female characters matter?” Because it’s 2015.
As a “twist” the film includes a subplot skewering critics, in a way to make you feel like an asshole for criticizing it. Luckily one of my favorite critics, Scott Tobias, now of Dissolve, didn’t hold back.