Thursday, January 01, 2015

Hindsight is 20/20

Kelly Rilley and Brendan Gleeson in Calvary and Marion Cotillard in The Immigrant

It's customary for people who write about film to do retrospectives this time of the year. I'll make up a top whatever list eventually, but I'm still waiting on a few films to make their way to me. Meanwhile, the list I'm keeping of potential candidates for that list continues to grow. A lot of people were disappointed in 2014 (particularly movie studios, who are seeing their revenues crater in the United States in the wake of some expensive flops). I'm not one of them. To my mind, 2014 was an exceptional year. These are the films I enjoyed this year:

Age of Panic
A Thousand Suns
Begin Again
Big Hero 6
Big Men
Blue Ruin
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Casa Grande
Club Sandwich
Cold in July
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Dear White People
Edge of Tomorrow
Elena (2013)
Evaporating Borders
Finding Vivian Maier
Force Majeure
Gangs of Wasseypur (parts one and two)
Get on Up
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Green Prince
Guardians of the Galaxy
The Guest
Happy Valley
Hateship Loveship
The Homesman
The Immigrant
In Bloom
Jodorowsky's Dune
Kill the Messenger
Life Itself
Living Stars
The Look of Silence
Only Lovers Left Alive
The Overnighters
Particle Fever
Private Violence
The Raid 2
Rigor Mortis
Stop the Pounding Heart
Tales of the Grim Sleeper
The Tale of Princess Kaguya
Under the Skin

That's a lot of movies to pack into a top ten list.

Additionally, I was lukewarm to a bunch of other films this year. Consider these as the "your mileage may vary" category:

Approaching the Elephant
Captivated: The Trials of Pamela Smart
Dracula Untold
A Field in England
Here Comes the Devil
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1
The Notorious Mr. Bout
The Revenge of the Mekons
The Rover
The Stranger by the Lake
Tim's Vermeer
20,000 Days On Earth
Ukraine is Not a Brothel
The Unknown Known
Venus in Furs
A Walk Among the Tombstones
We Are the Best!
The Wind Rises
X-Men: Days of Future Past

Finally, there were a number of films that I hated hated hated. This is an occupational hazard. Since I'm not compelled to watch movies by a paying job, I can usually avoid these, but sometimes you get burned anyway. The movies I really hated this year were:

The Amazing Spider-man 2
I, Frankenstein
The Obvious Child
The Purge 2: Anarchy
The Theory of Everything
They Came Together

I'm still waiting to see a bunch of other 2014 releases. The ones I most want to see are:

The Babadook
Beyond the Lights
Big Eyes
A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night
The Imitation Game
Into the Woods
John Wick
Love is Strange
Maps to the Stars
A Most Violent Year
Mr. Turner
National Gallery
Song of the Sea
Starry Eyes
The Strange Color of Your Body's Tears
Two Days, One Night
Why Don't You Play In Hell

We'll see how it goes once these become available to me.

I'm not likely to see the following based on my previous relationship with their directors. If you want my opinions on these films, you will wait in vain.

Gone Girl
Inherent Vice
Nymphomaniac parts 1 and 2

I'm sure there are other films that will come my way eventually that I don't even know about. It's a large pond.

I did a piss-poor job of keeping up with reviewing what I've seen this year. A lot of films listed above are films I haven't written about. I'll probably write about a few of those eventually (most probably Calvary and The Immigrant, the two films I probably liked best this year). I want to do better this year, but I'm not making any promises. The last four months of the year are generally packed with obligations for me, so my posting usually drops off dramatically once I hit that wall. Even The October Challenge was a grind for me this year and I didn't finish writing about what I saw. For that, I'm moderately abashed.

I'm planning to watch and write about more films by and about women this year. And more films by not-straight-white-cis-het men. I mean, they'll get their licks in because they dominate the industry, but I think deliberately leveling the playing field has to come from both ends. So I'm going to do better if I can. I'm probably not going to hoard horror movies for October this year, either.

As a final note: I want to give a shout out to The Ragtag Cinema in Columbia, Missouri. In a lot of ways, this blog wouldn't exist if not for the access to films provided by the Ragtag. Their program director, a guy by the name of Chris Boeckmann, curates several excellent series during the year that bring films like Stop the Pounding Heart and Living Stars and The Strange Little Cat and countless others to a part of the country that could very easily be a film desert. Sometimes, he's years ahead of the curve (The Strange Little Cat, making the rounds now, showed at the Ragtag two years ago). There are other theaters around the country like The Ragtag, and if you're near one, please, please, please give them your business. The communal experience of movies is increasingly being replaced by solitary home viewings, and it would be a shame if it vanished all together.

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