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The Gould Standard’s Frivolous Five – My Favorite Films of 2014

Simply put, these are my favorite films of the year.

Not the “best” by traditional standards, not the most powerful, but my biased, unashamed personal picks for 2014 (and in no particular order).

Disagree? What were your favorites of the year? Comment, fools!

The Lego Movie

Nostalgia overload. I can’t tell you how many dreary rainy afternoons I spent building spaceships and command stations and battle tanks and castles. So when Charlie Day’s character bounces off the wall yelling “spaceship spaceship spaceship!” it too me back to those days in the playroom, shoveling through giant plastic tombs of miscellaneous Lego pieces, searching for that one piece that would give my ship the perfect design.

Beyond the nostalgia, the voice acting was impeccable (especially Will Arnett), visually beautiful (the ocean waves of physical Lego pieces especially), and the humor was very Muppet-like, with some lower-level stuff for the kiddos, but how many are going to understand Green Lantern’s attempts to suck up to Superman?

Everything is Awesome!

Guardians of the Galaxy

Yup, two Chris Pratt vehicles on the same list. There are so many things to love about this film. The cast (I mean, who would’ve thought Dave Bautista would be THAT good?), the soundtrack, the set pieces (Prison, Knowhere, The Collector’s musuem), the humor (Kevin Bacon), the amazing costume designs, and the visual effects that made us care for a foul-mouthed raccoon and flash a stupid grin when Baby Groot started to dance.

My only beef? Ronan was a little underdeveloped. But that’s it.

Birdman

Wow. Such a surreal, absurdist experience. Iñárritu’s use of long shots is breathtaking, as scenes transition from one to the other while barely taking a breath. Conversations between characters that would normally break 5,6,7 times are done in contiguous, rotating shots that creates an authenticity that is rarely seen in film these days.

Oh, and Michael Keaton is a badass. Every scene he’s in has a deeper emotional weight than what’s on the surface.

The funniest moment is when Edward Norton, in his underwear, is wrestling with Keaton. It’s Batman vs. The Hulk.

 

Snowpiercer 

I’ve sang the praises of this masterpiece for about 6 months now, and it’s available on Netflix, so you should know by now exactly what I’m talking about.

It’s a powerful film about class warfare, brutality, indoctrination, isolation, false idols, and how the upper classes manipulate the system to make the lower classes dependant on them. Sounds like the cry of the 99% rally? Well, when viewed through this lens, it becomes shockingly relevant.

As for awards, I hope this gets nominated for Cinematography and I hope Tilda Swinton gets a best supporting actress nomination. Her character uniquely offers a surprisingly deep metaphor about how the ruling class communicates.

 

Gone Girl

I honestly cannot remember the last time I walked out of a movie dumbfounded, frustrated, and just in a state of “wait, what the fuck just happened?”

Ben Affleck’s performance as a smarmy, middle-class white guy whose social skills aren’t perfect is amazing. He disappears into the character so fluidly, it’s scary to think his next big role is Batman.

Rosamund Pike plays the “victim” flawlessly. And Fincher makes us sympathize with her, then hate her in the span of about 15 minutes.

I really wish Tyler Perry would do more roles like Tanner Bolt. Just as a bit player, he was phenomenal.

And finally, I was introduced to Carrie Coon  with “The Leftovers” and absolutely adored her as Affleck’s sister. I hope there are much bigger things in her future.

Just missed the cut:

Edge of Tomorrow
Captain America
X-Men
Interstellar
The Grand Budapest Hotel

Films that I haven’t seen yet but could break into my top 5:

Boyhood
John Wick
Into the Woods
The Interview

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Snowpiercer – the movie no one is talking about because the studio thought you were too dumb

Snowpiercer will hit limited theaters in about a month (June 27th), and you probably won’t see many ads for it, despite starring Chris Evans and being one of the most popular films in Korean history.

Here’s the most recent trailer – released today.

It’s a Korean-made sci-fi dystopian film about how global warming has ushered in a new Ice Age and Earth’s only survivors live on the train the Snowpiercer, powered by a perpetual-motion engine. Eventually, a class system develops and a revolution starts brewing.

Yup, it sounds like Elysium or The Hunger Games. But it’s based on a French novel and adapted by accomplished Korean director Bong Joon-ho.Click the link, see his awards. Dude’s got talent.

But it’s Joon-ho’s first English-language film, and that caused some problems. The Weinstein company acquired the distribution rights, and wanted to cut 20 minutes from the Korean theatrical cut. From Screen Rant, 

“Apparently the scenes that are to be removed are primarily ones that flesh out the characters’ backgrounds and development, and by getting rid of them, Snowpiercerwill come across more as a pure action movie than a drama. The goal, said TWC (The Weinstein Company) when explaining the request to Bong, is to make sure his film “will be understood by audiences in Iowa… and Oklahoma.””

Fortunately The Weinstein Company came to their senses and decided to leave the cut as-is. But they are only limiting it to select theaters (your Angelika theaters and the like).

The reviews of the film are phenomenal. Please keep this movie in the back of your mind when it comes out. Please see it and show The Weinstein Company that you don’t need a foreign film dumbed down to enjoy it.

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