Before listing today’s actual lists, another awards-seasony thing must be mentioned, Variety‘s “Writers on Writers” package. It opens with none other than Harlan Ellison singing the praises of screenwriter (and director) John Ridley: “Rarely, in a lifetime of endless filmgoing and decades of serious cinema criticism, is one honored, privileged, rewarded by having seen a motion picture that is memorable down to one’s core. Having seen 12 Years a Slave, I cannot remember being as mesmerized, as touched, as stopped stock-still since the night I first saw Stanley Kubrick’s anti-war film Paths of Glory. It is that nonpareil a film.”
Thereafter: Walter Mosley on Aaron Guzikowski (Prisoners), Mark Bowden on Billy Ray (Captain Phillips), Phil Keith on Peter Berg (Lone Survivor), Reza Aslan on Asghar Farhadi (The Past), Kelly Oxford on Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, and Ethan Hawke (Before Midnight), Suze Orman and Jon Batiste on Woody Allen (Blue Jasmine), Earl Ofari Hutchinson on Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale Station), Amanda Foreman on Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope (Philomena), John Lewis on Danny Strong (Lee Daniels’ The Butler), Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana on Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack (Dallas Buyers Club), Dr. Phil McGraw on Tracy Letts (August: Osage County), Herbert Gold on Bob Nelson (Nebraska), Greg Behrendt and Amiira Ruotola on Nicole Holofcener (Enough Said), George Saunders on Steve Conrad (The Secret Life of Walter Mitty), Nick Sagan on Alfonso and Jonas Cuarón (Gravity), James Ragan on Brad Inglesby and Scott Cooper (Out of the Furnace), Neal Gabler on Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell (American Hustle), John Green on Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber (The Spectacular Now), John Patrick Shanley on J.C. Chandor (All Is Lost), Gay Talese on Austin Bunn and John Krokidas (Kill Your Darlings), Phillip Margolin on Cormac McCarthy (The Counselor), and Rosanne Cash on Kelly Marcel and Sue Smith (Saving Mr. Banks).
It’s been “an excellent year for strong, complicated female protagonists in foreign-language films,” argues Noel Murray at the Dissolve.
Speaking of films that speak in languages other than English, Argentine critic Diego Lerer writes up a list of top 20 international releases. Only five of them are not in English, which he finds “speaks poorly” of the state of distribution in Argentina. (livingproof.co) Still, his #1 is Miguel Gomes‘s Tabu.
The Guardian‘s countdown arrives at #7. Andrew Pulver: “In an interview earlier this year, [So Yong Kim] told me For Ellen is informed—like her earlier films—by her father’s attempt to reconnect with her after abandoning the family when she was a child. How she managed to transmute such difficult personal experiences into such cinematic delight is something of a miracle.”
For Esquire, Nick Schager picks out and posts the year’s best trailers.