I really liked Reese Witherspoon and Laura Dern in WILD. Just saw THE IMITATION GAME and liked it too. I’ll be writing about both of them this weekend. The Theory of Everything, Foxcatcher and Whiplash are really good, too. And Birdman, Force Majeure and Gone Girl are three of the VERY BEST OF THE YEAR. Here are the links to my recommendations:
- The Theory of Everything is a successful, audience-friendly biopic of both Mr. AND Mrs. Genius.
- Set in the macho world of Olympic wrestling, Foxcatcher is really a relationship movie with a stunning dramatic performance by Steve Carell.
- The cinematically important and very funny Birdman.
- The best Hollywood movie of 2014, the thriller Gone Girl, with a career-topping performance by Rosamund Pike.
- I liked the droll Swedish dramedy Force Majeure, which won an award at Cannes and is Sweden’s submission for the Best Foreign Language Oscar.
- If you want a stark and grim look at the Old West, there’s Tommy Lee Jones’ feminist Western The Homesman.
- J.K. Simmons is brilliant in the intense indie drama Whiplash, a study of motivation and abuse, ambition and obsession.
- Bill Murray’s funny and not too sentimental St. Vincent.
- If you’re in the mood for a brutal, brutal World War II tank movie, there’s Fury.
I very rarely recommend a sci-fi movie, but I really liked the thought-provoking romance I Origins that explores the tension between science and spirituality. I Origins is available on DVD from Netflix and streaming on Amazon Instant Video, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube, Google Play and Xbox Instant Video.
Tomorrow, Turner Classic Movies airs John Huston’s 1949 The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. It’s still a gripping yarn – three down-and-outers improbably (and literally) strike gold. But can they trust each other enough to realize their gains once envy and greed appear? The Treasure of the Sierra Madre features one of Humphrey Bogart’s most colorful and compelling performances, which is reason enough to watch this classic.
But I also love watching director Huston’s real life father Walter Huston, who is cast as another of the trio. Most of us know Walter Huston, with his Gabby Hayes visage, from this movie, but Walter Huston was a major movie star as cinema moved to the talkies. Just between 1929 and 1939, he starred in thirty films. I love Huston’s work in this era, and I think that, with his very modern sensibility, he would be successful if he were working in today’s cinema. This is a good introduction to his work. (He also appeared very briefly in John Huston’s directorial debut The Maltese Falcon – as Captain Jacoby, the guy who staggers into Sam Spade’s office with the titular black bird and expires.)