The Year in Movies

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and I often agree. But when we fail to see eye-to-eye it’s usually over something important. This year is no different. To (literally) highlight these dissents—even though I know it’s far too late to right myriad injustices—I thought I would revisit the Oscar nominations not how I have historically but instead by comparing those honored with whom I think rightly deserved those same accolades for acting and directing this past year. (Note to the Academy: Well done on the leading ladies but next year please get more than two of the five best auteurs correct!)

For those only interested in my favorite movies of the year, they follow below. Without further ado . . . :

Oscar Nominees: Supporting Actress

Emma Stone, Birdman
Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game
Laura Dern, Wild
Meryl Streep, Into the Woods
Patricia Arquette, Boyhood

Nick Wood’s Top Five

1. Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
2. Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game
3. Emma Stone, Birdman
4. Laura Dern, Wild
5. Rene Russo, Nightcrawler

Oscar Nominees: Supporting Actor

Edward Norton, Birdman
Ethan Hawke, Boyhood
J.K. Simmons, Whiplash
Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher
Robert Duvall, The Judge

Nick Wood’s Top Five

1. J.K. Simmons, Whiplash
2. Tom Wilkinson, Selma
3. Ethan Hawke, Boyhood
4. Edward Norton, Birdman
5. Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher

Oscar Nominees: Lead Actress

Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything
Julianne Moore, Still Alice
Marion Cotillard, Two Days, One Night
Reese Witherspoon, Wild
Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl

Nick Wood’s Top Five

1. Julianne Moore, Still Alice
2. Reese Witherspoon, Wild
3. Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything
4. Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
5. Marion Cotillard, Two Days, One Night

Oscar Nominees: Lead Actor

Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game
Bradley Cooper, American Sniper
Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything
Michael Keaton, Birdman
Steve Carell, Foxcatcher

Nick Wood’s Top Five

1. David Oyelowo, Selma
2. Michael Keaton, Birdman
3. Jack O’Connell, Unbroken
4. Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything
5. Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game

Oscar Nominees: Best Director

Alejandro González Iñárritu, Birdman
Bennett Miller, Foxcatcher
Morten Tyldum, The Imitation Game
Richard Linklater, Boyhood
Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel

Nick Wood’s Top Five

1. Ava DuVernay, Selma
2. Richard Linklater, Boyhood
3. Alejandro González Iñárritu, Birdman
4. Angelina Jolie, Unbroken
5. Damien Chazelle, Whiplash

Two thousand and fifteen will undoubtedly heretofore be remembered as the Return of the Blockbuster. Among the franchises poised for resurrection: Mad Max, Jurassic Park, Terminator, and—in case you were trapped in the Great Pit of Carkoon with a multi-tentacled sarlacc—Star Wars.

But 2014 surprisingly turned into an extremely underrated year. All of these very fine films did not make the final cut of my favorite movies: Unbroken, Foxcatcher, Guardians of the Galaxy, The Theory of Everything, Interstellar, and X-Men: Days of Future Past.

And for the first time in 12 (how apropos!) years, two films have tied atop that prestigious list. One is incredibly intimate and focused on a few weeks in its subject’s very famous life, while the other is grand and sweeping—embracing both the seemingly mundane and unknowingly profound—in documenting the most anonymous of people.

In lesser movies these scripts would be flipped. But Selma and Boyhood both embraced the unexpected to become sweeping and magical films about the triumph of the human spirit.

The Worst Movies of the Year

1. Frank Miller’s Sin City: A Dame to Kill For
2. The Signal
3. Horrible Bosses 2
4. 22 Jump Street
5. Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb

The Best Movies of the Year

11. Begin Again
10. American Sniper
9. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
8. Whiplash
7. Gone Girl
6. Wild
5. Birdman (or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
4. Edge of Tomorrow
3. The Imitation Game
1. Boyhood
1. Selma


Breaking it down even further:

Best Movie That Made the Most Amount of Money: Captain America: The Winter Solider ($259,766,572 domestically in 2014)
Best Movie(s) That Made the Least Amount of Money: A(nother) tie—A Most Wanted Man ($17,237,855) and The Lunchbox ($4,235,151)

Worst Movie That Made the Most Amount of Money: Maleficent ($241,410,378)
Worst Movie That Made the Least Amount of Money: The Signal ($600,896)

Editor’s note: Dollar figures courtesy of BoxOfficeMojo.

Best Movie I Haven’t Seen (Yet): Snowpiercer
Worst Movie I Will Never See: Left Behind

Movie Quote(s) of the Year:

“Is your sheriff Bull Connor or is he Laurie Pritchett?”

‘That’s a princess cut, bitch!’

Four categories back by popular demand:

Very Good Movie That I Thought Would Have Been Worse: Guardians of the Galaxy
Movie That Should Have Been Much Better: Monuments Men
Most Overrated Movie of the Year: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Most Underappreciated Movie of the Year: Edge of Tomorrow

And now some more fun categories:

Best Book Adaptation: Gone Girl
Best Musical: Begin Again
Best New Franchise: Divergent

Most Romantic: The Fault in our Stars
Least Romantic: Nightcrawler

Best Biblical Epic: Exodus: Gods and Kings
Worst Biblical Epic: Noah

Best Liam Neeson movie: A Walk Among the Tombstones
Worst (but still very entertaining) Liam Neeson movie: Non-Stop

Most Hunger Inducing (tie): The Hundred-Foot Journey and The Trip to Italy

Best Year—Female: Emily Blunt (Edge of Tomorrow, Into the Woods). Honorable mention goes to Keira Knightley (Begin Again, The Imitation Game)
Best Year—Male: Richard Linklater. Boyhood is a crowning achievement, a film that will still be marveled at a century from now.

Crystal Ball

Every year I peer into the future to ascertain this year’s crop of future Hollywood stars. Here are examples of previous predictions:

Actress: Shailene Woodley, Imogen Poots, Samantha Barks
Actor: Joel Edgerton, Dane DeHaan, Theo James,
Director: Marc Webb, Rian Johnson, Ryan Coogler

This year these three names appeared in my proverbial crystal ball:

Next ‘It’ Actress: Felicity Jones
Next ‘It’ Actor: Jack O’Connell
Next ‘It’ Director: Ava DuVernay

A Little Bird Noise 

I promise there will be many, many more entries in this section next year. But here are some contemporaneous reactions to just-finished films:

Secret Weapon

Need last minute help with your Oscar pool? Below is how things will go this evening on the 87th annual Academy Awards. I’ve amended some of my predicted winners (*) which I previously made before the actual nominations came out:

*Animated: How To Train Your Dragon 2
*Documentary: Citizenfour
Foreign: Ida
*Screenplay (original): The Grand Budapest Hotel
*Screenplay (adapted): The Imitation Game

As for some of the other categories: Best Song to ‘Glory’ from Selma and score to The Theory of Everything. Film editing to Boyhood and cinematography—in one unending take—to Emmanuel Lubezki for his exquisite work in Birdman.

Best production and costume design to The Grand Budapest Hotel and makeup for Steve Carell’s huge schnoz and scary visage to Foxcatcher. Sound categories may split with editing going to American Sniper and mixing to the sonorous Whiplash. Best visual effects? Interstellar is obviously the favorite but did you see those apes riding the horses? I got Dawn of the Planet of the Apes pulling the upset.

The shorts are always a crapshoot but how about Feast for animated and—for the name alone—Boogaloo and Graham for live action? Best document short, for a very hot-topic issue also touched upon in American Sniper, should go to Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1.

But those are just fillers. Now for what you really care about—the awards that will make-or-break your chances of going home with some booty tonight:

Supporting Actress: Patricia Arquette
Supporting Actor: J.K. Simmons
Lead Actress: Julianne Moore
Lead Actor: Michael Keaton
*Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Picture: Boyhood

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6 Responses to The Year in Movies

  1. Pingback: The Year in Movies | An Ebullient Existence

  2. Pingback: The Year in Movies | An Ebullient Existence

  3. Pingback: The Year in Movies | An Ebullient Existence

  4. Pingback: Snubs and Surprises: A Breakdown of the Oscar Nominations | An Ebullient Existence

  5. Pingback: Nick’s Oscar Picks | An Ebullient Existence

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