From the funniest movie of the year to a true Love story and two inspiring biopics to a wonderous musical to a sweeping historical saga to a snappy noir, 2014 is a banner year for great holiday movies. This awards season is going to be a neck and neck horse race with so many AMAZING performances that I wish there could be second and third runner ups!
Here is a rundown of what to see and what to skip this season.
1. Selma – It was bitter irony that I passed a protest for Eric Garner to get to the screening of this monumental film. As the recent murders of Black men nationwide have proven, so much has changed and so much has stayed the same. At the press conference, producer Oprah Winfrey expressed the importance of us knowing our history in order to excel in this Life. I heartily agree. I walked out with gratitude for how hard my elders had fought for the basic things I take for granted, a sense of what is and is not truly important, and a renewed purpose to live up to their sacrifices and not allow the continuing racism that is still in place in this counrty to mar my Life or others. Every person of conscience in the US and the world, needs to see this film.
2. Big Eyes – I LOVED this story of Margaret Keane, the artist behind those awesome big eyed girl pictures from the ’60s. In true Burtonesque fashion, the movie is kooky, yet moving. Inspiring women to never lose their true selves or mask our talents, Margaret’s story is another call to live your best authentic live and not let anyone suppress your true spirit or make you question your self worth . Both Amy Adams and Christopher Waltz are Oscar worthy. I’m living to meet the real Margaret Keane!
3. The Theory Of Everything – More Oscar worthy performances from Eddie Reddmayne and Felicity Jones make this a three-way tie with Big Eyes and Selma for my favorite movie of the year. One of the most heartfelt Love stories ever brought to the screen, you will fall hard for this couple. Eddie brings Stephen to such charming Life that, as pictured above, it is hard to distinguish between the actor and the real man. Felicity Jones is magical as Jane, a woman who sacrifices everything for the man she loves. She literally WILLS him to live and it is perhaps his greatest achievement that he married this amazing woman. I got to meet Stephen at the World Science Festival, a few years back, I would love to meet Jane.
4. Into The Woods – Delightful and poignant, this is one of the best musicals ever brought to the screen. I smiled, laughed out loud, got teary eyed and wept at this one. And of course, Meryl is Oscar-worthy. Again! In fact, they should just give Meryl an Oscar every year that she makes a film. Chris Pine and Billy Magussen are standouts – who knew they could sing? My only issue was that I found James Corden, a bit too campy as the baker, who was married to Emily Blunt. I would’ve loved someone hunkier in the role, like a Hugh Jackman or Will Swenson.
5. The Gambler – Interesting remake of the James Toback scripted semi-autobiographical 1974 film of the same name,this film has it all. It’s Mark Wahlberg’s best screen performance to date. It’s also John Goodman’s best performance since “The Big Lebowski” with a breakout performance by Brie Larson and Michael K. Williams. The script has a ton of snappy one-liners, particularly from Goodman’s character. Oh, and Jessica Lange plays herself well too.
6. Unbroken – The 2014 trend of inspirational true-Life stories, continues with the story of Louis , an Italian American Olympic champion, who survives forty-seven days abandoned at sea only to find himself trapped in the nightmare of a Japanese prisoner of war camp during WWII. The scenes of torture are difficult to watch and I wept to think that men do this to other men, even today. Angelina Jolie knocks it out of the park and deserves an Oscar nod, in her second outing as a director, with this epic story of survival. For some odd reason, this film was overlooked for both the Golden Globes and SAG Award which, with last year’s snub of Forrest Whitaker in “The Butler”, renders both ceremonies oddly incomplete for the second year in a row.
7. Top Five – You will laugh your ass off at this over the top hilarity from Chris Rock. Great performances from Rock and Rosario Dawson couples with cameos from Whoopi Goldberg, Jerry Seinfeld, Adam Sandler, Sherri Shepherd, Tracey Morgan and more comedic legends make this the funniest movie of the year.
8. Exodus Gods And Kings – It’s the Ten Commandments rebooted with Christian Bale as a hottie Moses and stunning CGI 3-D effects making the sea of blood, the locusts, and the passover come to Life.
1. Mr. Turner – ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ I slept through most of Timothy Spall’s grunting. I went in with no knowledge of who this artist was and left still not knowing anything about him. Hilariously, I met a young artist on the train yesterday, who told me Turner’s art is real boring too.
2. The Interview – Badly conceived with staggering consequences to the studio, this film just didn’t need to be made. And with threats to moviegoers, I am glad I don’t have to risk my Life to see it. Great PR job by my hero Judy Smith, turned a 2-star comedy into a must-see for the curious. Interesting that the Sony e-mails exposed the rampant nastiness and racism of Pascal and Rudin, then a Black woman had to be called in to save the whole embarrassing, badly handled debacle!