Paul & AJ’s Top 10 Films of 2014

The new year is less than two days old, so once again, it’s time to look back to our favorites of last year. As always, lists are imperfect, incomplete, and totally subject to change upon reflection and the passage of time.

We’ll start with Paul; he remains skeptical of this whole top 10 business, so this year, his contributions to our lists (including comics, albums, and TV shows) will be presented without comment.

(Mine, of course, will probably say too much.)

~ AJ

PAUL’S FAVORITE (NOT BEST) FILMS OF 2014
10. Boyhood (dir. Richard Linklater)
9. Interstellar (dir. Christopher Nolan)
8. Maleficent (dir. Robert Stromberg)
7. Only Lovers Left Alive (dir. Jim Jarmusch)
6. The LEGO Movie (dirs. Phil Lord & Christopher Miller)
5. Guardians of the Galaxy (dir. James Gunn)
4. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (dirs. Joe & Anthony Russo)
3. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (dir. Matt Reeves)
2. Big Hero 6 (dirs. Don Hall & Chris Williams)
1. How to Train Your Dragon 2 (dir. Dean DeBlois)

HONORABLE MENTIONS
Snowpiercer (dir. Bong Joon-ho)
Edge of Tomorrow (dir. Doug Liman)
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 (dir. Francis Lawrence)
X-Men: Days of Future Past (dir. Bryan Singer)
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (dir. Marc Webb)

DIDN’T SEE
Birdman (dir. Alejandro González Iñárritu)
Force Majeure (dir. Ruben Ostlund)
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (dir. Peter Jackson)

AJ’S TOP 10 FILMS OF 2014

10. BIRDMAN (dir. Alejandro González Iñárritu)

Film Review Birdman

“A thing is a thing, not what is said of that thing,” reads the quote (sometimes attributed to Susan Sontag) stuck to Riggan Thomson’s mirror. One imagines the former superhero actor, played by a back-and-swinging-for-the-fences Michael Keaton, clings to that mantra as he negotiates a shot at artistic integrity with his paranoid need to be loved. It also serves as a warning to anyone trying to dissect the film or Iñárritu’s intentions. After making a career out of overwhelmingly somber dramas, Iñárritu has made a frenzied comedy propelled by a furious drum score from Antonio Sanchez. He also peppers the film with flights of insanity, in which Riggan has telekinetic powers or takes to the skies just like his old alter ego. How much of this is real? What does the film’s beautiful final shot mean? There’s a lot to be said, but you can also take Birdman for the absurd, chaotic, hilarious thing it is.

Continue reading

Listen to Episode 135, “Debating, Collecting, Hating, Reflecting (feat. Gregory Sahadachny)”

ebert

Gobbledygeek episode 135, “Debating, Collecting, Hating, Reflecting (feat. Gregory Sahadachny),” is available for listening or download right here, and on iTunes here.

Gregory Sahadachny, host of The Debatable Podcast and all-around terrific tweeter, is in the Gobbledyhotseat this week. He discusses the price-gouging of collectibles and the divisiveness of Zack Snyder with the boys, which leads to some impassioned monologuing from all parties about elitism and the male gaze. Plus, Paul and AJ tell Greg which comics to read and the three of them eulogize Roger Ebert.

Next: Paul and AJ get some much-needed alone time.

(Show notes for “Debating, Collecting, Hating, Reflecting.”)

R.I.P. Sidney Lumet (1924-2011)

Sidney Lumet, the film director responsible for such classics as 12 Angry MenDog Day AfternoonNetwork, and Serpico, among others, died today, April 9, 2011, of lymphoma at his Manhattan home. I couldn’t hope to better articulate Lumet’s achievements as a filmmaker than Roger Ebert already has, except to say that Lumet never slowed during his feature film directorial career, which spanned 50 years from 1957 to 2007. He directed so many films, in fact, that it comes as a surprise to me that I’ve only seen a fraction of them. 12 Angry Men is, I would say, one of the ten best movies ever made, with stunning uses of space and perspective which so effectively draw you into the drama onscreen that they’re almost impossible to notice the first time through. But when you go back and examine the film, what was already a great courtroom drama becomes a powerhouse piece of filmmaking.

Even late in his career, Lumet was crafting high-quality movies, like 2006’s Find Me Guilty, the first (and so far only) film to fully realize the dramatic potential Vin Diesel had teased in Saving Private Ryan. It’s another courtroom drama, but much different than 12 Angry Men; Diesel’s Jack DiNorsico is a colorful character, one Diesel and Lumet seem to effortlessly elevate from wiseguy stereotype. If you haven’t seen it–and from its dismal box office take, I’d wager many haven’t–I highly recommend it.

Lumet was nominated for four Best Director Academy Awards, for 12 Angry Men, Dog Day Afternoon, Network, and The Verdict. His screenplay for Prince of the City, co-written with Jay Presson Allen, was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay. Lumet won an honorary Oscar, richly deserved, in 2005.