Tuesday, December 09, 2014

favorite films this year

It's December, so it's a good time for some summing up and list-making, right? I watch a fair share of movies, but the very best that I've seen this year were not necessarily first-run in theaters. I also caught up with some titles on cable, streaming, or Blu-rays from the library.

Here is my list of the movies I liked the best, would love to see again (and again). There are links to longer reviews. The list is in the order that I saw them. Looking at it I see that there are a few trends. There are quite a few two-person movies. The fantasy films all feature a central, larger-than-life character, with a sense of humor. The comedies are all pretty quirky, and on the quiet side, as opposed to the current gross-out trend. Three of my favorite actors, who are no longer with us, all turn up on the list - Robin Williams, James Gandolfini, Philip Seymour Hoffman. They will be missed.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty - Ben Stiller takes a thoughtful, beautifully filmed journey to find himself.

Pirate Radio - Philip Seymour Hoffman is wonderful as a renegade DJ on a floating radio station in the '60s.

Philip Seymour Hoffman in Pirate Radio

James Gandolfini and Julia Louis-Dreyfuss in Enough Said

Enough Said - James Gandolfini and Julia-Louis Dreyfuss are a wonderful pair of would-be lovers in this clever, quiet film about second chances.

The Way Way Back - Sam Rockwell is an irreverent but kind boss and quasi spirit guide to young Duncan (Liam James) during a summer on the Cape.

The Lego Movie - Everything is awesome, really, in this wonderfully clever animated adventure.

Rear Window - Hitchcock's classic about love and what really happens behind our neighbors drawn curtains.

Annie Hall - Diane Keaton is the subject of this comic love story, both a tribute and a spoof, from Woody Allen.

Lovers Madame D. (Tilda Swinton) and Monsieur Gustave H. (Ralph Fiennes) in The Grand Budapest Hotel

The Grand Budapest Hotel - Another stylish (and hilarious) film from Wes Anderson, starring Ralph Fiennes and Tilda Swinton.

The Humphrey Bogart Film Festival - I was lucky enough to attend this annual festival, where I was treated to screenings of Bogie classics like Casablanca, To Have and Have Not, The Big Sleep and Key Largo.

Maleficent - Angelina Jolie, her beauty chiseled and CGI-ed to perfection, has a blast with her role as Sleeping Beauty's nemesis.

The Birdcage - One of my all-time favorite films. Robin Williams and Nathan Lane are adorable and funny as hell, and just manage to stop Hank Azaria from stealing the picture from them.

Hercules - Dwayne Johnson leads a merry crew in this fun, raucous take on the Hercules legend. Ian McShane steals every scene he's in and then some.

Guardians of the Galaxy - I am Groot. We all are Groot. And Guardians of the Galaxy is the best comic book movie of them all.

Our Idiot Brother - The movie is as laid back as its main character, played by Paul Rudd, and that is a good, and very funny, thing.

Gone Girl - Rosamund Pike is picture-perfect as Amy, in this cold-as-ice chiller-thriller.

Big Hero 6 - A very sweet animated film, with a layer of sadness that never quite goes away. Beautifully animated, too.

Philippe (Fran├žois Cluzet) and Driss (Omar Sy) go to the opera

The Intouchables - A twist on the buddy picture, this French hit features the beautiful friendship of odd couple Philippe (Fran├žois Cluzet) and Driss (Omar Sy).

Only Lovers Left Alive - A mesmerizing, beautiful love story from director Jim Jarmusch. About vampires. With Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston. And John Hurt. I could just watch this over and over and over ...


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