Hello everyone here we are on Day 2! The list so far:
50. The Interview
49. The Infinite Man
46. Top Five
45. Blue Ruin
44. The Theory of Everything
43. Still Alice
42. Cold in July
Tom Cruise hasn’t been the most popular guy the last few years. Back in the days of War of the Worlds, Minority Report, and The Last Samurai were pretty much the last time I found Tom Cruise to be great. This movie is the best since that era. It’s basically the Groundhog Day of science fiction. It’s the story of a world basically without borders. A man gets drafted into the armed services to fight the aliens and starts restarting each day after he is killed in combat. He meets a woman (Emily Blunt) who formerly experienced the same phenomenon.
It’s an immensely entertaining sci-fi thriller. It’s a popcorn film of very high quality and even if you dislike Tom Cruise for whatever reason, it’s very much worth watching. It’s action-packed and it has a very unique story (based on a Japanese light novel called All You Need is Kill).
I’m a HUGE Mia Wasikowska fan. She was in Stoker back in 2013 which I’m pretty sure made it into my top 10. She is in multiple movies this year, all of them excellent (and one that will show up later on my list)
Tracks is the true story of a woman who decided to get a couple camels and her dog and walk across the desert. She was (reluctantly) tracked by a National Geographic photographer. That’s pretty much it. This is the story of how she did it, and it survives exclusively on Wasikowska’s incredible performance and the engaging, minimalist story and writing.
38. Obvious Child
This is what I want in a modern romantic comedy. It’s so refreshing to see a romantic comedy about something so utterly taboo in modern society. It’s the story of a comedian who has a fling with a guy and gets pregnant, so she has an abortion. It details the ups and downs of everything, and takes a critical, nonchalant look at the issue that is so overblown in today’s society. I’m not standing on a soapbox, I’m just saying it’s nice to have a romantic comedy that deals with abortion in a relaxed, non-apocalyptic way. Everyone in the movie is so understanding, and it’s just a well-written movie that challenges status quo without getting on the soapbox and trying to bring down the man.
37. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
This was an excellent entry into the Marvel mythos. 3 parts political thriller, 1 part epic superhero movie, this was a very unique take on the genre. Apart from the ending and certain high-budget aspects throughout, this really did play out like an old-school globe-trotting spy thriller. I would argue that it even transcended The Avengers.
36. Nymphomaniac (both parts)
I love Lars von Trier. All “controversy” aside, I think he is an excellent filmmaker that I wish I had seen more of. I’m thinking about doing a series of director-focus weeks and I may use him for one.
Anyway this movie was released in two parts, about a month apart, but I really see it as one, 5 hour movie, and I believe that’s the way it is intended to (and should) be consumed. It’s the life-story of a woman named Joe (Stacy Martin and Charlotte Gainsbourg and you and old, respectively) who finds that she is a nymphomaniac (or sex addict). It’s at times darkly humorous, at times very sad, and occasionally highly disturbing. This is no Fifty Shades of Grey, this is much darker, and in no way erotic.
35. The LEGO Movie
I will say it one last time: not nominating this for Best Animated at the Oscars is the most insane snub I have seen since I started watching the Oscars 12 years ago. Solomon Northup was a slave for that long.
Anyway this movie is the story of a regular guy named Emmett (Chris Pratt) and his quest to save the world. It is absolutely phenomenally-animated. It looks like it was made entirely out of stop motion LEGOs. It’s a highly imaginative, hilarious, immensely entertaining movie with the greatest song of all time in it (“Everything is Awesome by Tegan & Sara ft. The Lonely Island).
34. Dear White People
This is a movie about racism in the modern United States at a made-up Ivy League school, predominantly attended by white people. It follows four black students as they navigate the trials and tribulations of being black in post-civil-rights university-level United States. It makes you evaluate how you think and talk and delineates subtle racism rather than overt racism (“can I touch your hair?” and “hip hop” parties). It’s very funny (the satire is sharp and biting), very informative, and extremely important. This should be mandatory viewing at public colleges.
33. Mr. Turner
This movie is downright beautiful. The cinematographer, Dick Pope (“Dick Poop” according to the president of the Academy of Arts and Sciences) is a master. The subject, J.M.W. Turner, was a painter of landscapes and shipwrecks, and the movie at times looks like one of his paintings. Timothy Spall’s performance is angry and muttering, and it should absolutely been nominated. He gave the best performance of his career. It’s subtle movie, and probably won’t get the level of popularity it deserves, but it is a great movie and deserves to be seen.
32. A Most Violent Year
I love mob movies, and I’m worried this one will be forgotten due to it’s Oscar-buzz release window and lack of real advertising. But it is a fantastic movie. It’s about an immigrant who wants to make it in America by going legit, but his wife’s family’s money is dirty and he is conflicted. He runs an oil company and people keep knocking over his trucks. His struggle is emotional, because try as he might, he can’t seem to avoid using strongarm tactics to get ahead. Oscar Isaacs is a relatively new performer and he gives a fantastic, emotional performance. And Jessica Chastain is perfect, as usual.
Everyone knows the story of Martin Luther King Jr. This movie provides a side of Dr. King that we aren’t used to. He is portrayed as a down to earth human being with huge weight on his shoulders. His fight for Civil Rights is inspirational, and David Oyelowo’s performance is powerful and deserving of an Academy Award. As was much else about the movie.
Anyway that’s it for today. Look out for more tomorrow.