“In my 15 years of professional movie reviewing, I can’t think of any film that has affected me the way Boyhood did,” writes A.O. Scott at the top of his list of the best films of 2014, a top ten (with three films squeezed in at #8) followed by eleven runners-up. “It is not just that I was moved—I’m frequently moved—but that my critical impulse seemed to collapse, along with my ability to find the boundary between art and life.”
Also in the New York Times, Manohla Dargis has a list, an alphabetical one without much comment on most of the films that have made the cut. Instead, she applies her allotted column inches to illustrating a point, namely, that “the ostensible liberalism of Big Hollywood doesn’t translate into cinematic representations.” The generally positive critical and audience response combined with the relatively low turnout for Gina Prince-Bythewood’s Beyond the Lights is her Exhibit A.
And for Stephen Holden, it’s back to Boyhood, “my favorite American film since Brokeback Mountain (2005).”
Today’s list here at Keyframe, another result of our recent survey of 100 friends and cineastes: “Top 20 Performances of 2014.”
The Movie City News chart of critics’ top tens is now up and being updated.
And via MCN, “Contenders: Writers on Writers,” a feature at Variety:
- Neil Gaiman on Into the Woods, for which James Lapine and Stephen Sondheim “took a handful of fairy tales and then followed those stories past the Ever After into the world of consequences and adulthood.”
- Former CIA operative Valerie Plame on A Most Wanted Man, with its screenplay by Andrew Bovell, based on the novel by John Le Carre.
- Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich on Damien Chazelle‘s Whiplash.
- Jay and Mark Duplass on Richard Linklater‘s Boyhood: “Rick studies the rules, and breaks them just right.”
- John Ridley, who wrote 12 Years a Slave: “There is a confidence in the writing of Foxcatcher.” Screenplay by E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman.
- Award-winning playwright Richard Greenberg: “Birdman is as disobliging with transitions as your dreams are.” Screenplay by Alejandro G. Inarritu, Nicolas Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris Jr. and Armando Bo.
- “Masterful drama.” Nick Stafford on David Ayer’s Fury.
- In The Grand Budapest Hotel, Wes Anderson “meticulously erects his artifice and ravishes reality with similar abandon,” writes Jan Novak.
- Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Finkel is impressed by American Sniper. Screenplay by Jason Dean Hall.
- Screenwriter Scott Frank on Dan Gilroy’s Nightcrawler: “I could listen to this movie all day long.”
- For BAFTA- and Oscar-winning screenwriter David Seidler, The Theory of Everything ” avoids being mawkish and is immensely satisfying.” Screenplay by Anthony McCarten.
- Michio Kaku on Interstellar: “For me, as a physicist, this was one movie I could enjoy without cringing.” Screenplay by Jonathan and Christopher Nolan.
- “This Wild is a beautiful thing: haunting, honest, profound.” Novelist Jess Walter. Screenplay by Nick Hornby.
- Emmy-winning writer Graham Yost on Unbroken: “There’s not a lot of dialogue in this movie, very little speechifying. But every scene reveals character.”
- “Gone Girl is a fun ride that holds our attention from the first minute to—almost—the last,” finds author Alan Jacobson.
The Guardian‘s countdown arrives at #2: Peter Bradshaw on Boyhood.
The Film Stage looks at the “Best Directorial Debuts of 2014.”
The Financial Times‘ best books feature is epic, with contributions from the likes of Elena Ferrante, Karl Ove Knausgård, David Mitchell, Martin Amis and more. Representing for “Film & Theatre” are Rebecca Rose and her three selections: Peter Ackroyd’s Charlie Chaplin, John Lahr’s Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh and Susan L. Mizruchi’s Brando’s Smile: His Life, Thought and Work.