Leviathan (2014) is the story of an independent Russian man battling
malevolent forces of politics and bureaucracy.
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) is a metafictional biography
of Michael Keaton, modern art and commerce.
Boyhood is Richard Linklater's real-time growing up of Ellar Coltrane's
character and family, subtle, remarkable and powerful.
A Most Violent Year is a great, tense, surprising fictional drama of a
heating oil business under attack from all sides.
Whiplash (2014) is a J.K. Simmons/Miles Teller duel of talent, ambition
and hate, ratchets dramatic tension like crazy.
Unbroken is the great true story of Olympic runner and WWII airman
Louis Zamperini lost at sea and as a POW in Japan.
Selma is a very well-acted drama of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the 1965
voting rights demonstrations in Selma, Alabama.
The Grand Budapest Hotel is Wes Anderson's handmade tribute to peculiar
people and peculiar times, starring Ralph Fiennes.
American Sniper is Clint Eastwood's apologia for Jersey Boys as a
straightforward portrait of a Navy SEAL warrior.
Inherent Vice is a more or less faithful adaptation of the Pynchon '70s-set
stoner detective novel, weaker where less.
The Theory of Everything is a wise drama of Stephen Hawking (Eddie Redmayne
in a knockout performance), light on physics.
The Imitation Game is a well-acted, well-intentioned, pretty good, simplistic,
didactic drama of Alan Turing and Enigma.
Foxcatcher is Bennett Miller's brilliant jutted-jaw true crime/sports/wealth drama
with great Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo, Steve Carell.
Spare Parts (2015) is moving and funny, the true story of undocumented
Arizona high school students' triumph building robots.
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is a strong end to a trilogy
which started well but had an awkward middle.
Interstellar is Christopher Nolan's absorbing and thought-provoking, slightly
corny and derivative deep space adventure.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1. It's striking how each new
installment is less cheesy, like an anti-Twilight.
Blackhat is Michael Mann's hacker battle about when hacker s--- gets real,
avoids most Hollywood hacker movie hokiness.
Cake (2014) is a nice dramatic turn from Jennifer Aniston as a woman refusing
to recover from a severe accident and loss.
Mr. Turner is a biopic of painter J.M.W. Turner and the gruntiest movie
since Foxcatcher, just not near as interesting.
Paddington (2014) is a gently funny, quite faithful update to the beloved
British children's classics, not great, good.
Annie (2014) is a reasonably charming if somewhat clunkily updated version of
the musical with some (not all) good humor.
Into the Woods is an okay Steven Sondheim fairy tale musical adapted to
the screen without lots of magic or great singing.
Big Hero 6 is an entertaining animated Marvel robot comic book adaptation
with some deftly handled big ideas, from Disney.
Big Eyes is a fairly fun biopic of painter Margaret Keane which makes
her seem a bit dull, her con man husband more real.
Wild (2014) is Reese Witherspoon going so in a movie (mostly for non-hikers)
about the transformative power of hiking.
Mortdecai is just-miss satirical absurd louche action bumbling, they can only use
that double-gag gag a couple more times.
Strange Magic is a Shakespeare-ish, George Lucas-storied not-great American
jukebox musical fairyland computer animation.
The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death is an amateurish-to-inept horror
jumper sequel not nearly as fun as the original.
Exodus: Gods and Kings is a slow, unfocused Ridley Scott Moses story,
not great in an already hurting year cinebiblically.
Gone Girl is a well-acted misogynistic parody? essay or some kind of
horses---. Look at me! I'm Gone Girl! I'm so clever!
Taken 3 is set mostly in L.A. this time instead of Ultra-Dank Europe,
lots of crawling through sewers, including actually. NO STARS
The Drop (2014) is a Brooklyn low-level gangster story with strong work from
Tom Hardy and the late, great Gandolfini.
Men, Women & Children is a fine, well-acted, wry dramatic pondering of
the universal situation of human communication.
Lucy (2014) is an over-the-top, fun, silly Luc Besson ride through everything
in the universe and more. Johansson rules.
Annabelle is a familiar James Wan brand demon-summoning culter with some
pretty good ideas and performances, not bad.
A Walk Among the Tombstones is a rare Liam Neeson action dud with an opaque plot
and not much else of interest going on.
The Identical is a cliché-ridden fake story of a fake fake Elvis impersonator.
Keeps seeming like something will happen.
Gone Girl (see above).
The Boxtrolls is aimed at no audience, stay away and don't spend time
or money on it, half a star for some potential.
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