TIFF Review: The Lobster (2015)

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The Lobster

TIFF Review: Sicario (2015)

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Violent, tense, and above all absorbing, ‘Sicario’ finds French-Canadian director Dennis Villeneuve at the height of his prowess. Led by an emotional and honest performance from Emily Blunt and especially magnetic, ruthless work from Benicio Del Toro; this action juggernaut is a must-see, even if its unflinching visuals may be difficult for some to swallow.

Relentless from start to finish, a somber, looming tone cloaks Dennis Villeneuve’s thriller in risk and secrecy. Aided by Roger Deakins ghostly, majestic cinematography and Jóhann Jóhannsson’s penetrating, ominous, intimidating score. ‘Sicario’ is an exhausting, inescapable experience.

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Supported impeccably by Josh Brolin and a slew of precise tactical performances by the film’s gunslingers. ‘Sicario’ might just be the most effective, entrancing piece of war cinema since Kathryn Bigelow’s ‘Zero Dark Thirty.’

Taylor Sheridan’s horrifying, entertaining, narratively-complex story and devastating, memorable dialogue effortlessly elevates the intensity and execution in Blunt, Del Toro, and Brolin’s performances. Additionally allowing Villeneuve and Deakins to truly explore and excel behind the camera.

‘Sicario’ has Roger Deakins in award-season form and features some of the master cinematographer’s finest work. Most notably, a night-vision sequence that gets the heart racing and palms sweating.

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The delicacy and boldness in Blunt’s performance cannot be understated. Imperative and determined, Blunt’s Macer mimics the viewer’s terrified, meddlesome mindset, expertly holding their attention as if you sit fastened in the interrogation chair.

Outshining his co-stars’ already blinding brilliance, Benicio Del Toro’s ferocious, smothering, calculated anti-hero is a performance to contemplate and savour. Exercising the actor’s formidable charisma, ‘Sicario’ catapults Del Toro back into the working elite.

Uncompromising, thought-provoking, and brutally straightforward, ‘Sicario’ is unmissable.

Sicario: 9.5 out of 10.

TIFF Review: High-Rise (2015)

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High-Rise (2015)

TIFF Review: Room (2015)

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Room (2015)

TIFF Review: The Martian (2015)

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The Martian (2015)

 

 

TIFF 2015: My Schedule

***Subject to change***

Thursday, September 10: 7:00pm:

In Conversation With…Matthew Weiner:

TIFF: We are thrilled to welcome Matt Weiner — the Emmy-winning creator and show-runner of Mad Men and writer and producer on The Sopranos — for this onstage conversation about the art of serial storytelling and his career on both the small and big screens.

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Friday, September 11: 12:00pm:

Demolition:

TIFF: Grief-stricken after a family tragedy, a New York investment banker (Jake Gyllenhaal) engages in random acts of destruction, in the highly anticipated new film by Jean-Marc Vallée (Dallas Buyers Club, Wild).

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Friday, September 11: 3:00pm:

The Lobster:

TIFF: Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz and John C. Reilly star in the deliciously bizarre new film from Greek auteur Yorgos Lanthimos (Dogtooth, ALPS), about a curious hotel where the residents are charged with finding a new mate within 45 days — under penalty of being transformed into animals should they fail.

Friday, September 11: 6:00pm:

I Saw the Light:

TIFF: Tom Hiddleston and Elizabeth Olsen star in this biopic of country-music legend Hank Williams.

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Saturday, September 12: 6:15pm:

The Danish Girl:

TIFF: Academy Award winner Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything) stars as Lili Elbe, the 1920s Danish artist who was one of the first recipients of sexual reassignment surgery, in this biopic directed by Oscar winner Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech).

Sunday, September 13: 3:45pm:

Equals:

TIFF: Kristen Stewart and Nicholas Hoult star in the ambitious new film from director Drake Doremus (Like Crazy), about a utopian future society where crime and violence have been eradicated through the genetic elimination of human emotion, and where those afflicted with the emotional “disease” are forced to go on the run.

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Sunday, September 13: 9:30pm:

High-Rise

TIFF: Tom Hiddleston and Jeremy Irons star in the new film by cult British director Ben Wheatley (Kill List, A Field in England), an ambitious adaptation of the J.G. Ballard novel about a London apartment tower that becomes a battlefield in a literal class war.

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Monday, September 14: 12:00pm:

Beasts of No Nation:

TIFF: Directed by Cary Fukunaga (True Detective), after his parents are killed, a young African boy is forced to become a child soldier in a rebel army led by a brutal commandant (Idris Elba, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom), in this adaptation of the acclaimed book by Nigerian-American author Uzodinma Iweala.

Monday, September 14: 6:00pm:

Spotlight:

TIFF: Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams and Michael Keaton star in this true story about a team of Boston Globe reporters who uncovered a massive scandal of child abuse and cover-ups within the local Catholic Church.

Tuesday, September 15: 2:45pm:

Black Mass:

TIFF: Johnny Depp stars as notorious Irish-American gangster Whitey Bulger, who spent thirty years as an FBI informant while rising to the top of the Boston underworld, in this adaptation of the book by Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill.

Tuesday, September 15: 6:00pm:

Room:

TIFF: Escaping from the captivity in which they have been held for half a decade, a young woman and her five-year-old son struggle to adjust to the strange, terrifying and wondrous world outside their one-room prison.

Wednesday, September 16: 11:00am:

Anomalisa:

TIFF: Charlie Kaufman, the celebrated screenwriter of Being John Malkovich and Adaptation and director ofSynecdoche, New York, and Duke Johnson venture into the world of stop-motion animation with this fable about a motivational speaker seeking to transcend his monotonous existence.

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Thursday, September 17: 3:00pm:

The Martian:

TIFF: Stranded on Mars, a NASA astronaut (Matt Damon) struggles to survive on the arid planet while his ground crew races to mount a rescue mission, in this interplanetary epic from director Ridley Scott.

 

Friday, September 18: 6:15pm:

The Witch:

TIFF: The astonishing feature debut by director Robert Eggers evokes Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining in its tale of a family of settlers in 17th-century New England who encounter mysterious, possibly supernatural forces when they are exiled from their village and forced to live on the outskirts of an ominous forest.

Saturday, September 19: 4:30pm:

The Program:

TIFF: Stephen Frears (The Queen, Philomena) directs Ben Foster in this thriller about disgraced cycling champion Lance Armstrong’s doping scandal and downfall.

Saturday, September 19: 9:15pm:

Legend

TIFF: Tom Hardy gives a bravura double performance as Reggie and Ronnie Kray, the identical twin brothers who became the rulers of the London underworld at the height of the swinging ’60s.

TADFF 2014: Kumiko: The Treasure Hunter (2015)

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It might not be horror by the book, but “Kumiko: The Treasure Hunter” definitely evokes a sense of dread and unease with its stunningly ambitious, morbidly transfixing cinematography, atmospheric, nerve-shredding score and potent hilarity rooted in heart-wrenching tragedy. Loosely based upon a snippet of Takako Konishi’s life-story, a run-of-the-mill office worker who journeyed to the United States, more specifically the city of Fargo, and ended in a field near the Detroit Lakes with her much debated suicide. “Kumiko: The Treasure Hunter” is a breath of brisk, unfiltered, decidedly hefty air and was well-deserving of a nomination for the Grand Jury Prize at this past year’s Sundance Film Festival.

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Previous to the definitive discovery of Konishi’s depression and documented intent on taking her own life, miscommunication between Konishi and a Bismarck police officer, with whom she had been conversing, led to the spawning of an urban legend regarding the motivation of Konishi’s trip to America. The fable states that Konishi had travelled to Minneapolis in search of the fictitious fortune of Carl Showalter, Steve Buscemi’s character in the Coen brothers masterpiece “Fargo.” The film depicts Showalter burying a case filled with money in a field somewhere in the aforementioned city, similar to the one Konishi was found. The media fanned the flames and it wasn’t long before Konishi and the mysterious circumstances leading up to her death reached unprecedented cult-status.

With depression, loneliness, and a lack of identity driving her further from the clutches of any redemptive lifeline, Konishi’s story is one of deep sadness and struggle. A battle all too many can relate to nowadays. Yet, with such morose, Ill-fated source material, one cannot commend director and co-writer David Zellner enough for the divisive and debatably up-lifting end result, by and large. Zellner has truly created one of the most immersive experiences, both visually and viscerally, in recent memory. Mixing brief moments of such euphoria and promise with long, melancholic sequences of silence set against a wintery prairie or a thick, heavily-dusted forest. Zellner whole-heartedly comprehends the complexity of his muse and executes with the utmost respect,  deriving the disheartening beauty and helplessness originating from Konishi’s turbulent final days.

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That said, a strong case can be made that Zellner’s greatest accomplishment with “Kumiko: The Treasure Hunter” is despite the film’s rather macabre content, it eloquently and ultimately depicts the unyielding, boundless power of cinema in a positive light. Zellner’s subtlety and maliciously sweet approach to such a bizarre and definitively dark tale that is, to some degree about the negative, specifically one of the more rare downsides of cinema, despite it not having any control in the matter, excellently and truthfully portrays cinema’s ability to overcome any mishap or catastrophe and speaks volumes to the sheer strength and hallow nature of film as an art form.

Zellner and crew aren’t the only ones operating at the top of their game with “Kumiko: The Treasure Hunter.” In the title role, Rinko Kikuchi is at her very best. Whether she’s uttering no more than a few words in broken English, starring off into a vicious whiteout, or bearing the insufferable hospitality of her newly-found, unwanted acquaintances, Kikuchi has full command of the screen and the audience’s heartstrings. I cannot praise Kikuchi’s performance enough, it’s difficult to describe what her fully-invested honesty and child-like innocence translates to on the screen. It’s magic, pure and simple. Easily the best performance she’s given in her career to date.

Oh and David Zellner, who pulls triple duty also grabbing a supporting role, is equal to the task and much, much more. The film wouldn’t be the same without his kind-hearted, empathetically-driven moral compass.

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Mystical, incredibly transcendent, and unlike anything you’ve ever seen before, “Kumiko: The Treasure Hunter” is, without question, 2015s best film thus far and will be near-impossible to knock from that pedestal in the near future. Long live Bunzo!

Kumiko: The Treasure Hunter: 9 out of 10.

 

 

87th Academy Awards: Nominees & Predictions

The 85th Academy Awards® will air live on Oscar® Sunday, February 24, 2013.

Prediction: My best attempt at pre-determining what the panel will choose to be victorious in each respective category.

Preference: What I feel should win the category outright.

N/A: At least half of the respective categories nominees I have not seen or heard, therefore a prediction or preference would be unfair.

 

BEST MOTION PICTURE OF THE YEAR:

AMERICAN SNIPER:

CLINT EASTWOOD, ROBERT LORENZ, ANDREW LAZAR, BRADLEY COOPER AND PETER MORGAN, PRODUCERS

BIRDMAN OR (THE UNEXPECTED VIRTUE OF IGNORANCE): (Preference)

ALEJANDRO G. IÑÁRRITU, JOHN LESHER AND JAMES W. SKOTCHDOPOLE, PRODUCERS

BOYHOOD: (Prediction)

RICHARD LINKLATER AND CATHLEEN SUTHERLAND, PRODUCERS

THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL:

WES ANDERSON, SCOTT RUDIN, STEVEN RALES AND JEREMY DAWSON, PRODUCERS

THE IMITATION GAME:

NORA GROSSMAN, IDO OSTROWSKY AND TEDDY SCHWARZMAN, PRODUCERS

SELMA:

CHRISTIAN COLSON, OPRAH WINFREY, DEDE GARDNER AND JEREMY KLEINER, PRODUCERS

THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING:

TIM BEVAN, ERIC FELLNER, LISA BRUCE AND ANTHONY MCCARTEN, PRODUCERS

WHIPLASH:

JASON BLUM, HELEN ESTABROOK AND DAVID LANCASTER, PRODUCERS

 

PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE:

STEVE CARELL:

FOXCATCHER

BRADLEY COOPER:

AMERICAN SNIPER

BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH:

THE IMITATION GAME

MICHAEL KEATON: (Preference)

BIRDMAN OR (THE UNEXPECTED VIRTUE OF IGNORANCE)

EDDIE REDMAYNE: (Prediction)

THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING

 

PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE:

MARION COTILLARD:

TWO DAYS, ONE NIGHT

FELICITY JONES:

THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING

JULIANNE MOORE: (Prediction)

STILL ALICE

ROSAMUND PIKE: (Preference)

GONE GIRL

REESE WITHERSPOON:

WILD

 

PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE:

ROBERT DUVALL:

THE JUDGE

ETHAN HAWKE:

BOYHOOD

EDWARD NORTON:

BIRDMAN OR (THE UNEXPECTED VIRTUE OF IGNORANCE)

MARK RUFFALO:

FOXCATCHER

J.K. SIMMONS: (Prediction, Preference)

WHIPLASH

 

PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE:

PATRICIA ARQUETTE: (Prediction)

BOYHOOD

LAURA DERN:

WILD

KEIRA KNIGHTLEY:

THE IMITATION GAME

EMMA STONE: (Preference)

BIRDMAN OR (THE UNEXPECTED VIRTUE OF IGNORANCE)

MERYL STREEP:

INTO THE WOODS

 

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM OF THE YEAR: (N/A)

BIG HERO 6:

DON HALL, CHRIS WILLIAMS AND ROY CONLI

THE BOXTROLLS:

ANTHONY STACCHI, GRAHAM ANNABLE AND TRAVIS KNIGHT

HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2:

DEAN DEBLOIS AND BONNIE ARNOLD

SONG OF THE SEA:

TOMM MOORE AND PAUL YOUNG

THE TALE OF THE PRINCESS KAGUYA:

ISAO TAKAHATA AND YOSHIAKI NISHIMURA

 

ACHIEVEMENT IN DIRECTING:

BIRDMAN OR (THE UNEXPECTED VIRTUE OF IGNORANCE): (Preference)

ALEJANDRO G. IÑÁRRITU

BOYHOOD: (Prediction)

RICHARD LINKLATER

FOXCATCHER:

BENNETT MILLER

THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL:

WES ANDERSON

THE IMITATION GAME:

MORTEN TYLDUM

 

ACHIEVEMENT IN CINEMATOGRAPHY:

BIRDMAN OR (THE UNEXPECTED VIRTUE OF IGNORANCE): (Preference)

EMMANUEL LUBEZKI

THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL: (Prediction)

ROBERT YEOMAN

IDA:

LUKASZ ZAL AND RYSZARD LENCZEWSKI

MR. TURNER:

DICK POPE

UNBROKEN:

ROGER DEAKINS

 

ACHIEVEMENT IN COSTUME DESIGN:

THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL: (Prediction)

MILENA CANONERO

INHERENT VICE: (Preference)

MARK BRIDGES

INTO THE WOODS:

COLLEEN ATWOOD

MALEFICENT:

ANNA B. SHEPPARD

MR. TURNER:

JACQUELINE DURRAN

 

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE: (N/A)

CITIZENFOUR:

LAURA POITRAS, MATHILDE BONNEFOY AND DIRK WILUTZKY

FINDING VIVIAN MAIER:

JOHN MALOOF AND CHARLIE SISKEL

LAST DAYS IN VIETNAM:

RORY KENNEDY AND KEVEN MCALESTER

THE SALT OF THE EARTH:

WIM WENDERS, JULIANO RIBEIRO SALGADO AND DAVID ROSIER

VIRUNGA:

ORLANDO VON EINSIEDEL AND JOANNA NATASEGARA

 

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT: (N/A)

CRISIS HOTLINE: VETERANS PRESS 1:

ELLEN GOOSENBERG KENT AND DANA PERRY

JOANNA:

ANETA KOPACZ

OUR CURSE:

TOMASZ ŚLIWIŃSKI AND MACIEJ ŚLESICKI

THE REAPER (LA PARKA):

GABRIEL SERRA ARGUELLO

WHITE EARTH:

J. CHRISTIAN JENSEN

 

ACHIEVEMENT IN FILM EDITING:

AMERICAN SNIPER:

JOEL COX AND GARY D. ROACH

BOYHOOD: (Prediction)

SANDRA ADAIR

THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL:

BARNEY PILLING

THE IMITATION GAME:

WILLIAM GOLDENBERG

WHIPLASH: (Preference)

TOM CROSS

 

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM OF THE YEAR:

IDA:

POLAND

LEVIATHAN: (Prediction, Preference)

RUSSIA

TANGERINES:

ESTONIA

TIMBUKTU:

MAURITANIA

WILD TALES:

ARGENTINA

 

ACHIEVEMENT IN MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING:

FOXCATCHER: (Prediction, Preference)

BILL CORSO AND DENNIS LIDDIARD

THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL:

FRANCES HANNON AND MARK COULIER

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY:

ELIZABETH YIANNI-GEORGIOU AND DAVID WHITE

 

ACHIEVEMENT IN MUSIC WRITTEN FOR MOTION PICTURES (ORIGINAL SCORE):

THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL:

ALEXANDRE DESPLAT

THE IMITATION GAME:

ALEXANDRE DESPLAT

INTERSTELLAR: (Preference)

HANS ZIMMER

MR. TURNER:

GARY YERSHON

THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING: (Prediction)

JÓHANN JÓHANNSSON

 

ACHIEVEMENT IN MUSIC WRITTEN FOR MOTION PICTURES (ORIGINAL SONG): (N/A)

EVERYTHING IS AWESOME:

THE LEGO MOVIE
MUSIC AND LYRIC BY SHAWN PATTERSON

GLORY:

SELMA
MUSIC AND LYRIC BY JOHN STEPHENS AND LONNIE LYNN

GRATEFUL:

BEYOND THE LIGHTS
MUSIC AND LYRIC BY DIANE WARREN

I’M NOT GONNA MISS YOU:

GLEN CAMPBELL…I’LL BE ME
MUSIC AND LYRIC BY GLEN CAMPBELL AND JULIAN RAYMOND

LOST STARS:

BEGIN AGAIN
MUSIC AND LYRIC BY GREGG ALEXANDER AND DANIELLE BRISEBOIS

 

ACHIEVEMENT IN PRODUCTION DESIGN:

THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL: (Prediction)

PRODUCTION DESIGN: ADAM STOCKHAUSEN SET DECORATION: ANNA PINNOCK

THE IMITATION GAME:

PRODUCTION DESIGN: MARIA DJURKOVIC SET DECORATION: TATIANA MACDONALD

INTERSTELLAR: (Preference)

PRODUCTION DESIGN: NATHAN CROWLEY SET DECORATION: GARY FETTIS

INTO THE WOODS:

PRODUCTION DESIGN: DENNIS GASSNER SET DECORATION: ANNA PINNOCK

MR. TURNER:

PRODUCTION DESIGN: SUZIE DAVIES SET DECORATION: CHARLOTTE WATTS

 

BEST ANIMATED SHORT FILM: (N/A)

THE BIGGER PICTURE:

DAISY JACOBS AND CHRISTOPHER HEES

THE DAM KEEPER:

ROBERT KONDO AND DICE TSUTSUMI

FEAST:

PATRICK OSBORNE AND KRISTINA REED

ME AND MY MOULTON:

TORILL KOVE

A SINGLE LIFE:

JORIS OPRINS

 

BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM: (N/A)

AYA:

ODED BINNUN AND MIHAL BREZIS

BOOGALOO AND GRAHAM:

MICHAEL LENNOX AND RONAN BLANEY

BUTTER LAMP (LA LAMPE AU BEURRE DE YAK):

HU WEI AND JULIEN FÉRET

PARVANEH:

TALKHON HAMZAVI AND STEFAN EICHENBERGER

THE PHONE CALL:

MAT KIRKBY AND JAMES LUCAS

 

ACHIEVEMENT IN SOUND EDITING:

AMERICAN SNIPER:

ALAN ROBERT MURRAY AND BUB ASMAN

BIRDMAN OR (THE UNEXPECTED VIRTUE OF IGNORANCE): (Prediction, Preference)

MARTÍN HERNÁNDEZ AND AARON GLASCOCK

THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES:

BRENT BURGE AND JASON CANOVAS

INTERSTELLAR:

RICHARD KING

UNBROKEN:

BECKY SULLIVAN AND ANDREW DECRISTOFARO

 

ACHIEVEMENT IN SOUND MIXING:

AMERICAN SNIPER:

JOHN REITZ, GREGG RUDLOFF AND WALT MARTIN

BIRDMAN OR (THE UNEXPECTED VIRTUE OF IGNORANCE):

JON TAYLOR, FRANK A. MONTAÑO AND
THOMAS VARGA

INTERSTELLAR:

GARY A. RIZZO, GREGG LANDAKER AND MARK WEINGARTEN

UNBROKEN:

JON TAYLOR, FRANK A. MONTAÑO AND DAVID LEE

WHIPLASH: (Prediction, Preference)

CRAIG MANN, BEN WILKINS AND THOMAS CURLEY

 

ACHIEVEMENT IN VISUAL EFFECTS:

CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER:

DAN DELEEUW, RUSSELL EARL, BRYAN GRILL AND DAN SUDICK

DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES:

JOE LETTERI, DAN LEMMON, DANIEL BARRETT AND ERIK WINQUIST

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY:

STEPHANE CERETTI, NICOLAS AITHADI, JONATHAN FAWKNER AND PAUL CORBOULD

INTERSTELLAR: (Prediction, Preference)

PAUL FRANKLIN, ANDREW LOCKLEY, IAN HUNTER AND SCOTT FISHER

X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST:

RICHARD STAMMERS, LOU PECORA, TIM CROSBIE AND CAMERON WALDBAUER

 

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY:

AMERICAN SNIPER:

WRITTEN BY JASON HALL

THE IMITATION GAME: (Prediction)

WRITTEN BY GRAHAM MOORE

INHERENT VICE: (Preference)

WRITTEN FOR THE SCREEN BY PAUL THOMAS ANDERSON

THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING:

SCREENPLAY BY ANTHONY MCCARTEN

WHIPLASH:

WRITTEN BY DAMIEN CHAZELLE

 

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY:

BIRDMAN OR (THE UNEXPECTED VIRTUE OF IGNORANCE): (Prediction, Preference)

WRITTEN BY ALEJANDRO G. IÑÁRRITU,
NICOLÁS GIACOBONE, ALEXANDER DINELARIS, JR. & ARMANDO BO

BOYHOOD:

WRITTEN BY RICHARD LINKLATER

FOXCATCHER:

WRITTEN BY E. MAX FRYE AND DAN FUTTERMAN

THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL:

SCREENPLAY BY WES ANDERSON
STORY BY WES ANDERSON & HUGO GUINNESS

NIGHTCRAWLER:

WRITTEN BY DAN GILROY

 

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What do you think of my selections? Have a few guesses of your own? Feel free to comment in the section below!

 

Top 10 Films of 2014

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Just a quick update before we get started. I’ll have my Oscar predictions and results from the latest Vote! segment out this week, so make sure to get your votes in before it closes. Additionally, hopefully, my review of “Kumiko: The Treasure Hunter,” a film I greatly adore, will be published before week’s end. Now let’s get going…

25: The Raid 2: Berandal (Gareth Evans)
24: Snowpiercer (Joon-Ho Bong)
23: Foxcatcher (Bennett Miller)
22: The Trip to Italy (MIchael Winterbottom)
21: Only Lovers Left Alive (Jim Jarmusch)

20: The Rover (David Michod)
19: I Origins (Mike Cahill)
18: Frank (Lenny Abrahamson)
17: The Imitation Game (Morten Tyldum)
16: Inherent Vice (Paul Thomas Anderson)

15: Whiplash (Damien Chazelle)
14: The Drop (Michael R. Roskam)
13: Nymphomaniac (Lars Von Trier)
12: Under the Skin (Jonathan Glazer), A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (Ana Lily Amirpour)
11: Birdman (Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu)

10: Starred Up (David Mackenzie)/(’71, Yann Demange, 2015?)

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Are we going with 2014 or 2015 for “’71?” It’s rather comical that up-and-coming super-stud Jack O’Connell had three films screen this year, the worst of which received the widest release. “Starred Up” is a hard-hitting prison drama that’s lifted to towering heights by the performances of O’Connell and co-star Ben Mendelsohn. Swapping the more traditional, cringe-worthy visual aspects of the unflinching prison sub-genre (not all) for impenetrable dialogue and a vast array of relationships teetering on the brink, “Starred Up” will fill you with insight before knocking a few teeth down your throat.

9: Nightcrawler (Dan Gilroy) / Enemy (Dennis Villenueve)

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Very few have had quite as stellar a year as Jake Gyllenhaal in 2014, which is why I couldn’t help but rank this remarkable double-feature inside my top 10. This double-dose of Gyllenhaal showcases the actor’s staggering, at times terrifying range. It’s mind-blowing that Gyllenhaal didn’t garner an Oscar nomination for either of these two fantastic performances, but I digress.

8: The Guest (Adam Wingard)

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Containing easily the best soundtrack any film of 2014 had to offer, “The Guest” sees dynamic duo Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett reach new cult status. With incredibly charismatic performances from Dan Stevens and Maika Monroe, in addition to non-stop action “The Guest” is endlessly entertaining!

7: Locke (Steven Knight)

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Looked upon as a reliable, strong-minded scribe with a plethora of solid screenplays to his name, including the creation of “Peaky Blinders,” a personal television favourite of mine. Prior to 2014’s “Locke,” Steven Knight hadn’t much to brag about from behind the camera, but that quickly and assertively changed. Led by a phenomenal performance from occasional Knight collaborator Tom Hardy, “Locke” is a magnificent spectacle of the human experience.

6: A Most Violent Year (J. C. Chandor)

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This is the second consecutive year-end “best of” list J. C. Chandor has cracked for me, personally (All Is Lost, 2013). Much like last year’s film “All Is Lost,” “A Most Violent Year” didn’t get much love come award season, but once again that didn’t discourage my ranking it inside the top 10. With formidable performances from its entire cast, including Jessica Chastain, Oscar Isaac, and Albert Brooks, a subtle, yet immensely powerful story, gloomy atmosphere, and the sure-handed direction from Chandor, “A Most Violent Year” is a must-see to any who missed it.

5: Force Majeure (Ruben Ostlund)

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As I’m sure most of you are aware, comedy cinema doesn’t sit too well with me. Which should only speak volumes in regards to “Force Majeure’s” placement on this list. Providing the laughs, abundantly, and a rock-solid story that’s never as easy to watch as its breezy demeanour would insist, “Force Majeure’s” Oscar snub is almost as unforgivable as the absence of “Mommy” in the Best Foreign Language Film category.

4: Gone Girl (David Fincher)

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To say that I adore David Fincher and his very impressive resume would be a massive understatement. “Gone Girl,” although not the illustrious filmmakers best work to date, certainly has a place amongst the top of his efforts. Further cementing Ben Affleck as a force to be reckoned with both on and off screen and earning Rosamund Pike an Oscar nomination, deservedly so I might add, “Gone Girl” mixes all the potent Fincher facets into one hell of a morbid cocktail.

3: Leviathan (Andrey Zvyagintsev)

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The odds-on favourite to take home “best foreign language film” at this year’s Academy Awards, “Leviathan” is an aptly titled juggernaut. Breathtaking visuals, impressive performances, and an unfathomable socio-political complexity are just a few tangents of what makes “Leviathan” triumphant.

2: Mommy (Xavier Dolan)

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Directed and written by home-grown Canadian wunderkind Xavier Dolan, “Mommy” catapults the young filmmaker to the relative peak of my top 10. I’d feel very unpatriotic leaving Dolan’s latest off this list, but rest-assured he earned this spot. “Mommy” is brutal, unforgiving, whilst conversely evoking the most genuine and rooted responses of the emotional spectrum. Performed with the utmost investment by the entire ensemble, “Mommy” is one foreign language film you won’t want to miss.

1: Interstellar (Christopher Nolan)

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It doesn’t exactly bode well for the credibility of Nolan’s latest topping this list, seeing as I could be considered the leader of Nolan’s group of so-called “Fanboys,” but I can’t stress “Interstellar’s” greatness enough. You’ve either seen this film by now and loved it or hated it. I fail to see the middle ground and apparently so does everyone else. With monumental visuals, a complex, out-of-this-world premise that simultaneously showcases the down-to-earth emotionality and intellectual reach of the human race. “Interstellar” will leave you in awe and down-right flabbergasted. Thankfully, this film offers much post-viewing reading that should solve any issues or curiosity.

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What did you think of my list? Have a list of your own? Let me know in the comment section below!

 

Best Cinema Experiences of 2014:

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What really counts in this post is the experiences, not the wording or grammar, etc… That’s my polite way of asking you to disregard the lazy, formulaic summaries and to focus on each, particular screening and the atmosphere each created. Also, please forgive my shoty camera work and the quality of some of the videos…

I Origins (Cast and Director Q and A):

I’m a Mike Cahill admirer. “Another Earth” blew me away and I couldn’t wait for his follow up…and it did not disappoint. Oh, and having Michael Pitt join Cahill in a post-screening Q and A was the icing on the cake.

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99 Homes: (Cast and Director Q and A):

Michael Shannon, Laura Dern, and Andrew Garfield so close I could literally reach out and touch them…need I say more? Shannon is one of my all time favourite actors and the chance to hear him speak about his latest film nearly had me in tears of fortune and excitement.

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Locke: (Stephen Knight Q and A):

If you know me, you know that my fandom in regards to Tom Hardy and “Peaky Blinders” knows no bounds. Naturally, having the chance to catch an advance screening of “Locke,” Hardy’s and “Peaky Blinders” creator Steven Knight’s latest collaboration, left me winded. It’s also the only time my mom has ever stepped into my world, the life of a die-hard cinephile. And the fact that she loved it in its entirety left me overjoyed.

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The Imitation Game: (Cast and Crew Q and A):

Benedict Cumberbatch…in person…that is all… Oh, and Keira Knighley and Matthew Goode too.

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Q and A: Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

The Guest: (Director/Writer/Cast Q and A):

This past year’s screening of “The Guest” during TIFF 2014’s Midnight Madness program was easily the most fun I’d had at a cinema all year. Simon Barrett and Adam Wingard are uproariously funny and extremely talented at what they do. Add in the charismatic, unbelievably charming and handsome Dan Stevens in addition to the lovely Maika Monroe, and you’ve got one hell of a theatre experience. The film itself cracks my top 10 of 2014 with ease and this screening has a lot to do with it. I hate to admit it, but having my lame-o friends undergo the craziness with me made all the difference in the world. Plus, we were the only ones to bring a beach ball! Which only added to the over-the-top atmosphere throughout the entire screening. I should probably explain… Midnight Madness is TIFF’s most out of control cinephile experience. There’s loud music beforehand, it starts at midnight, there’s the potent scent of substance abuse lingering in the air, and usually has a ball or two being tossed around. It’s essentially a rock concert that replaces the band with a film.

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The 50 Year Argument: (Martin Scorsese Q and A):

This is, without question, the best experience I’ve ever had in a theatre to date, let alone 2014. Of course, any occasion that has you sitting in the presence of one of cinema’s greatest filmmakers is a monumental occurrence indeed. To be completely honest, the film, “The 50 Year Argument,” although thoroughly engaging and utterly interesting, was simply a welcomed formality, a terrific bonus. Being granted the opportunity to listen and digest Martin Scorsese discussing film and his career for an extended period of time is unlike any euphoric treat that’s ever graced itself to my presence.

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Did you have a particularly awesome cinema experience this past year? Let me know in the comment section below, I’m dying to know! Also, if you haven’t contributed your voice to the latest poll, please click on Vote! in the bar above to do so…don’t make me chase you down!