Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Favorites of 2014 (a.k.a The Year of El Rey)

Once again, I apologize for my long hiatus.  Between school, work, and a girlfriend moving in, I've barely had time to watch movies (much less write about them).  Nonetheless, of the movies I watched this year, these were my favorites:

5) Gone Girl - David Fincher knows how to tell a compelling crime story with a lot of suspense.  He has become a master of manipulating the audience with his camera.  With stark contrasts between environments (warm flashbacks versus cold reality), the imagery of the film had me on the edge of my seat.  I believe the casting was quite good and the score maintained an intense vibe.  This may not be my favorite Fincher film (that spot goes to Se7en), but of all the films I've watched this year, this is the one I want to revisit the most so I can take it apart.

4) Guardians of the Galaxy - This was the film that surprised me the most.  Even though I'm a big comic book fan, I had little expectations going into this film.  However, James Gunn surprised us and made an entertaining space opera.  With cool visuals, characters, and an awesome soundtrack, I can sum up this film in 1 word - "FUN!"

3) Godzilla -  The King of the Monsters is back!  I loved the direction and how they strayed away from the "bad" Godzilla.  This won't be an Oscar nominee for best picture, but this franchise has me excited for more.  The back story was solid and it was a great way to re-introduce Godzilla to a contemporary audience.  I can't wait for more "Legendary" battles and hope Kaiju are here to stay.

2) Interstellar - If I were to describe this film, it would be hybrid between Signs and 2001:  A Space Odyssey.  Having come off the Dark Knight Trilogy and Inception, I believe audiences were underwhelmed by Nolan's latest film -  I think people were expecting a visual splendor like Gravity.  However, this film is much smaller even though it spans across the space-time continuum.  It is character driven and visits some really neat concepts.  If anything, other than feeding my man-crush on Matthew McConaughey, Interstellar has fed my interest in space exploration (it even got me to visit the Kennedy Space Center over the holiday).

1) Nightcrawler - I believe I had way too much fun with this movie.  It's gritty, disgusting, and shows the flaws of humanity - Yet I still loved it.  Jake Gyllenhaal's performance was mesmerizing, playing an ugly character I didn't really like.  However he was so intriguing, I couldn't stop watching him.  The director, Dan Gilroy, does a fantastic job of showcasing how Gyllenhaal grows into a news chaser.  Showing the tricks of the trade, we discover Gyllenhaal is an adaptable creature that becomes a cameraman who is just as despicable as the news.  This isn't an uplifting film, but it's a terrific character study mixed with the procedural aspects of building a business from the ground up.  Although I'm not really familiar with the director, I can wait to see what Dan Gilroy has in store for us next.

So besides film, here's some other shout-outs I'd like to mention this year:

-Favorite TV show:  Sons of Anarchy - There's not much I need to say other than I will truly miss this show. 

-Favorite Podcast:  Film Junk
- Comic Geek Speak will always be my home, but the cast of Film Junk has kept me highly entertained during my commute between home and work.  Although I respect their movie reviews, its their interactions that keep me awaiting for next week's download.

-Favorite Radio Show:  Serial - Since I haven't listened to a lot of music this year, I figured I needed to represent the radio some how.  Even though it's technically a podcast, I'm going to group it with the FM airwaves since it originally aired on This American Life. Even though I came to this late in the game, Angie and I binged this crime case driving across the state of Florida.

-Favorite Blu-Ray Release:
  Twin Peaks - I don't normally buy a lot of TV series on home video, but this was a good year:  True Detective, From Dusk Till Dawn, Batman, and Pee Wee's Playhouse.  But the one I've enjoyed the most has been Twin Peaks.  It's contained in one beautiful package and you can't complain about getting more David Lynch on Blu-Ray.  Although I haven't fully dived into the special features, rewatching this series gives me a good excuse to have some Cherry Pie and Coffee.

-Entertainer of the Year:  Robert Rodriguez - I don't care what people say, I still enjoyed Sin City 2.  And besides, he's created the greatest cable network in the world - El Rey.  I can't get enough of this channel - it's usually what I have playing in the background as I'm doing stuff around the house.  If you still haven't checked out the El Rey Network, see the commercial below that presents everything I love about pop culture and cinema:  Kung Fu Films, Godzilla, John Carpenter, Grindhouse, Luchadors, Jessica Alba, and Quentin Tarantino.  Thank you Robert Rodriguez for an entertainment hot spot!

So 2014 was a pretty good year, but I'm anticipating a lot for 2015.  Yes, I'm excited for the big franchises: The Avengers and Star Wars.  But as you all know, what I'm really waiting for is The Hateful Eight!