Sunday, January 11, 2015

Otter's Top 7 Films of 2014

Why Top 7 films, instead of Top 5 or Top 10? Simple: I only saw six movies in theaters this year, plus another one on streaming. (I spent my free time becoming very familiar with every critically acclaimed TV show Netflix has to offer.) So, here is my list, ranked from Worst to Best:

7. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
I have read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, in addition to having seen every film in the relative franchises (except The Hobbit Part 1: Bilbo Packs.) I still had too much trouble following everything that was going on in the film. Halfway through the movie I turned to my brother, who was even more familiar with the series than me, to ask what was going on. He didn't know either. 

6. X-Men: Days of Future Past
Whenever I watch a movie with time travel, I find it's usually easiest not to look for plot holes. (Looking at you, time turners.) I'm sure I could pick apart the time travel rules if I wanted to, but I thought it would be easiest to have some semi-mindless fun. I don't think I'd watch this movie again, but it wasn't the worst way to spend a few hours.

5. The Lego Movie
To be honest, movies 5 - 3 could be in any order. They're the sorts of movies I don't feel a need to revisit, but if they were on TV one afternoon I'd probably spend half an hour watching them. I think The Lego Movie was slightly overrated, but with good reason: this could have very easily been an insipid cash grab. Instead, it's well-cast, funny, and charming. 

4. Captain America: The Winter Solider
This is how you do a blockbuster sequel. I'm not overly familiar with the Marvel universe, having only seen The Avengers and the first Iron Man movie. Still, I was able to thoroughly enjoy this movie, even if I didn't fully understand the significance of (SPOILER) Bucky's role. The big battle sequences fell a little flat, but the strength of this movie was in its smaller moments, like Scarlett's Natasha kissing Captain America in the mall to create a diversion. Seriously, why hasn't she gotten her own movie yet?

3. Mockingjay Part I
Honestly, this should have been number 4 or 5. It wasn't bad, but it was definitely a step down from Catching Fire and an obvious set-up to a much more action packed movie to come. Still, I can't let one of Philip Seymour Hoffman's last performances go unrewarded in my book. No matter how small his part, he was able to make every role matter. This would have certainly been easy enough to phone in, but he imbued Plutarch with an innate intelligence and understanding of the dynamics present in District 13. Also, I can't complain about a movie that features Julianne Moore and Elizabeth Banks. 

2. The Grand Budapest Hotel
While I always appreciate the immense care that Wes Anderson puts into his movies, sometimes I feel like they can hold a little too much quirk for quirk's sake. This is my favorite Anderson film of the three I've seen: the set designs do much to create a beautiful world that has gone by, only preserved in memory. Although the world of the film appears to be in a universe of its own, it's not difficult to connect the plot to the real events of the 20th century and to even have a pretty relevant discussion about nationalism in the wake of WWII. 

1. Gone Girl
I went into this movie having pretty high hopes: I loved the book, I think David Fincher is a great director, and I'm now pretty pro-Ben Affleck thanks to Argo. This movie completely lived up to my expectations, in no small part thanks to some unexpected but ultimately inspired casting (who know Tyler Perry could be so great?) Even the smaller characters felt fully realized - Carrie Coon's Go and Kim Dickens's Detective Boney are the first to come to mind. Still, Rosamund Pike made this movie into a well-deserved showcase for her immense talent. She's actually been around for quite a while (her first starring movie role was in 2002's Die Another Day) but her performance is so dominant that it feels like we're watching a brand-new star being born. 

That having been said, there are plenty of movies from this year that I'm hoping to catch up on. In no particular order: What If, Dear White People, Boyhood, The One I Love, Into the Woods, The Theory of's a long list. 

Golden Globe Predictions 2015

"We know nothing."
- Jon Snow Alicia, Irene, and Doris


Best Drama
"The Imitation Game"
"The Theory of Everything"

Should win
Alicia: Boyhood. This one goes on the highlight reel of movie history.
Irene: This hasn’t been the best moviegoing year for me - to be honest, I haven’t seen any of these.
Doris: I’ve seen 3 of these. I liked Boyhood best.

Will win
Alicia: Boyhood, continuing its steady march toward the Oscars.
Irene: Boyhood has great buzz.
Doris: You’d think Boyhood, but I’m going to go with a wildcard: The Imitation Game.

Best Comedy or Musical
"The Grand Budapest Hotel"
"Into the Woods"
"St. Vincent"

Should win
Alicia: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Irene: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Doris: The Grand Budapest Hotel, although I hear Birdman was good.

Will win
Alicia: Birdman, even though my feelings on it range from apathy to mild distaste. I can’t even bring myself to hate it.
Irene: Birdman
Doris: Yep, Birdman.

Best Director
Wes Anderson, "The Grand Budapest Hotel"
Ava Duvernay, "Selma"
David Fincher, "Gone Girl"
Alejandro González Iñárritu, "Birdman"
Richard Linklater, "Boyhood"

Should win
Alicia: Damien Chazelle for Whiplash. But he’s not nominated, so Richard Linklater.
Irene: David Fincher
Doris: David Fincher or Richard Linklater or Wes Anderson. I liked them all.

Will win
Alicia: Linklater has a good shot, but these tend to go to technical wizards like Alejandro González Iñárritu.
Irene: David Fincher
Doris: IDK! Uh… David Fincher?

Best Actress in a Drama
Jennifer Aniston, "Cake"
Felicity Jones, "The Theory of Everything"
Julianne Moore, "Still Alice"
Rosamund Pike, "Gone Girl"
Reese Witherspoon, "Wild"

Should win
Alicia: Still Alice hasn’t even been released yet, so I’ll go with the favorite performance I actually saw -- Rosamund Pike.
Irene: I agree, Alicia - Rosamund Pike was incredible!
Doris: Rosamund Pike.

Will win
Alicia: Julianne Moore
Irene: Jennifer Aniston. It’s the Globes.
Doris: Julianne Moore because she’s Julianne Moore. If not her, then Reese Witherspoon because Hollywood likes a comeback and she’s likable.

Best Actor in a Drama
Steve Carell, "Foxcatcher"
Benedict Cumberbatch, "The Imitation Game"
Jake Gyllenhaal, "Nightcrawler"
David Oyelowo, "Selma"
Eddie Redmayne, "The Theory of Everything"

Should win
Alicia: It pains me to choose between Benny and Eddie.
Irene: Jake Gyllenhaal
Doris: Benedict Cumberbatch

Will win
Alicia: Eddie Redmayne
Irene: Eddie Redmayne
Doris:  Benedict Cumberbatch (Cumberbitch for lyfe!)

Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical
Ralph Fiennes, "The Grand Budapest Hotel"
Michael Keaton, "Birdman"
Bill Murray, "St. Vincent"
Joaquin Phoenix, "Inherent Vice"
Christoph Waltz, "Big Eyes"

Should win
Alicia: Ralph Fiennes
Irene: Ralph Fiennes. Almost enough to make me forget about Voldemort. Fun fact: According to wikipedia, his full name is Ralph Nathaniel Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes.
Doris: I hear Michael Keaton was good.

Will win
Alicia: Michael Keaton walked through Times Square in his tighty-whities. I guess he’s earned it.
Irene: Michael Keaton - awards shows love a good comeback.
Doris: Michael Keaton, although I wouldn’t be surprised if Joaquin Phoenix came out of nowhere to steal it.

Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical
Amy Adams, "Big Eyes"
Emily Blunt, "Into the Woods"
Helen Mirren, "The Hundred-Foot Journey"
Julianne Moore, "Map to the Stars"
Quvenzhané Wallis, "Annie"

Should win
Alicia: Emily Blunt, MVP of Into the Woods
Irene: I’ve seen none, but Amy Adams is WAY overdue.
Doris: I’ve only seen Emily Blunt, so her.

Will win
Alicia: Most people are predicting Amy Adams or Emily Blunt, but I see this going to Julianne Moore.
Irene: Emily Blunt.
Doris: Could Julianne Moore take Best Actress in a Drama AND a Comedy?? The people love Helen Mirren though. Excuse me, Dame Helen Mirren.

Best Supporting Actress
Patricia Arquette, "Boyhood"
Jessica Chastain, "A Most Violent Year"
Keira Knightley, "The Imitation Game"
Emma Stone, "Birdman"
Meryl Streep, "Into the Woods"

Should win
Alicia: Keira Knightley scores for feminism in The Imitation Game. Emma Stone was the best part of Birdman. But Patricia Arquette’s performance was a master class in authenticity -- instead of playing toward a character archetype (the heroic single mom who does it all), she just felt like someone we’d know in real life.
Irene: I’ve heard nothing but great things about Patricia Arquette.
Doris: I agree with Alicia, although I’m fine with anyone except Meryl. Just because it’s Meryl doesn’t mean she needs to get all the awards, folks!

Will win
Alicia: Patricia Arquette
Irene: Patricia Arquette
Doris: Patricia Arquette? Or maybe Keira Knightley because she knows Johnny Depp, and god knows the HFPA loves Johnny Depp.

Best Supporting Actor
Robert Duvall, "The Judge"
Ethan Hawke, "Boyhood"
Edward Norton, "Birdman"
Mark Ruffalo, "Foxcatcher"
J.K. Simmons, "Whiplash"

Should win
Alicia: I love Ethan Hawke’s storyline in Boyhood, but J.K. Simmons was UNREAL. I literally held my breath whenever he was onscreen.
Irene: J.K. Simmons, based on what I’ve heard.
Doris: Alicia says J.K. Simmons was great. I believe her.

Will win
Alicia: J.K. Simmons
Irene: J.K. Simmons
Doris: J.K. Simmons has all the buzz.

Best Screenplay
Wes Anderson, "The Grand Budapest Hotel"
Gillian Flynn, "Gone Girl"
Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, and Armando Bo, "Birdman"
Richard Linklater, "Boyhood"
Graham Moore, "The Imitation Game"

Should win
Alicia: Boyhood, proving that great screenplays can be fluidly written (take that, Aaron Sorkin!)
Irene: Gone Girl
Doris: Gillian Flynn for Gone Girl. I mean, she wrote the book!

Will win
Alicia: I’m gonna go out on a limb and say Grand Budapest.
Irene: Grand Budapest - I feel like it’s a little too quirky for Best Picture but just quirky enough for a screenplay award. (See also: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind at the Oscars.)
Doris: Gillian Flynn? The men of Birdman? Who knows.

Best Foreign Language Film
"Force Majeure Turist," Sweden
"Gett: The Trial of Viviane Ansalem Gett," Israel
"Ida," Poland/Denmark
"Leviathan," Russia
"Tangerines Mandariinid," Estonia

Should win
Alicia: … (never seen these, never will)
Irene: Ida because Poland is the only country of these I’ve been to and it’s very fun!
Doris: Pass.

Will win
Alicia: Ida
Irene: Ida, I guess?
Doris: The New Yorker said Ida. I believe them.

Best Animated Feature
"Big Hero 6"
"The Book of Life"
"The Boxtrolls"
"How to Train Your Dragon 2"
"The Lego Movie"

Should win
Alicia: The Lego Movie was unexpectedly excellent.
Irene: The Lego Movie
Doris: I haven’t seen any of these… fail.

Will win
Alicia: The Lego Movie
Irene: The Lego Movie, as Chris Pratt goes on to dominate the world. Guys, who else is excited for his requisite dramatic starring turn in a buzzy biopic in about 3 years?
Doris: Big Hero 6. It’s Disney but vaguely reminiscent of Pixar.

Best Original Song
"Big Eyes" from "Big Eyes" (Lana Del Rey)
"Glory" from "Selma" (John Legend and Common)
"Mercy Is" from "Noah" (Patti Smith and Lenny Kaye)
"Opportunity" from "Annie" (Greg Kurstin, Sia Furler, Will Gluck)
"Yellow Flicker Beat" from "The Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 1” (Lorde)

Should win
Alicia: I know I should just go and listen to these, but ehhhhh.
Irene: I’m sure many of these songs are lovely...
Doris: Agree with Alicia. I just don’t care… is that bad?

Will win
Alicia: “Glory”
Irene: Glory, I guess?
Doris: John Legend is great, so I’ll say “Glory,” too.

Best Score
"The Imitation Game"
"The Theory of Everything"
"Gone Girl"

Should win
Alicia: The Theory of Everything was the most memorable for me, but it almost distracted from the story. I think Gone Girl and The Imitation Game were a little more subtly integrated.
Irene: Gone Girl
Doris: I actually went and listened to the score of The Theory of Everything after I saw the movie, which I basically never do.

Will win
Alicia: No idea. Probably Birdman?
Irene: Gone Girl, why not?
Doris: Uhh… uhh… Let’s say the HFPA feel what I feel and chose The Theory of Everything too.


Best TV Comedy or Musical
"Jane the Virgin"
"Orange Is the New Black"
"Silicon Valley"

Should win
Alicia: Jane the Virgin! (is the only one I watch)
Irene: OITNB!
Doris: I don’t watch any of these. OITNB. (It’s too long to type.)

Will win
Alicia: I hear Transparent is fresh and groundbreaking, which sounds exactly like the Globes’ TV M.O.
Irene: Transparent, as Amazon continues its march towards world domination.
Doris: Modern Family. Just kidding, OITNB.

Best TV Drama
"The Affair"
"Downton Abbey"
"Game of Thrones"
"The Good Wife"
"House of Cards"

Should win
Alicia: Game of Thrones! (is the only one I watch)
Irene: I cannot consider this question because I’m too busy being angry that Mad Men wasn’t nominated.
Doris: Dear god, not Downton Abbey.

Will win
Alicia: Downton Abbey, just to anger us all.
Irene: House of Cards?
Doris: House of Cards. Netflix is trendy and the HFPA likes trendy.

Best Actress in a TV Drama
Claire Danes, "Homeland"
Viola Davis, "How to Get Away with Murder"
Julianna Margulies, "The Good WIfe"
Ruth Wilson, "The Affair"
Robin Wright, "House of Cards"

Should win
Alicia: Shonda Rhimes’ shows are too soapy for me, but Viola Davis manages to add incredible gravitas to the ridiculous HTGAWM.
Irene: Viola Davis for that incredible wig scene and the ability to bring me to tears with even the most ridiculous Shondaland dialogue.
Doris: I don’t watch any of these, but Viola Davis rocks.

Will win
Alicia: Viola Davis
Irene: Viola Davis
Doris: Robin Wright

Best Actor in a TV Drama
Clive Owen, "The Knick"
Liev Schreiber, "Ray Donovan"
Kevin Spacey, "House of Cards"
James Spader, "The Blacklist"
Dominic West, "The Affair"

Should win
Alicia: I like Clive Owen. Remember when Clive Owen was on track to play James Bond?
Irene: I’m only seen House of Cards, so Kevin Spacey.
Doris: I haven’t even heard of most of these. Pass.

Will win
Alicia: Clive Owen.
Irene: James Spader.
Doris: Kevin Spacey. No, Dominic West. He sounds vaguely famous.

Best Actress in a TV Comedy
Lena Dunham, "Girls"
Edie Falco, "Nurse Jackie"
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, "Veep"
Gina Rodriguez, "Jane the Virgin"
Taylor Schilling, "Orange Is the New Black"

Should win
Alicia: Gina Rodriguez is not only fantastic on Jane the Virgin, but also an advocate for diversity in the media landscape. Go Gina!
Irene: How weird is it that Amy Poehler, last year’s winner, isn’t even nominated?
Doris: Gina Rodriguez (for Alicia’s sake)

Will win
Alicia: Gina Rodriguez -- if anyone loves ingenues, it’s the Globes.
Irene: Julia Louis-Dreyfus.
Doris: Julia Louis-Dreyfus. She’s the queen bee.

Best Actor in a TV Comedy
Louis CK, "Louie"
Don Cheadle, "House of Lies"
Ricky Gervais, "Derek"
William H. Macy, "Shameless"
Jeffrey Tambor, "Transparent"

Should win
Alicia: I hear Jeffrey Tambor is excellent.
Irene: Jeffrey Tambor, from what I hear. Again, I haven’t seen any of these.
Doris: I don’t watch any of these… what’s with me?? How about Louis CK.

Will win
Alicia: Jeffrey Tambor
Irene: William H. Macy, just to be contrarian.
Doris: JIM PARSONS! Oh wait, no, that’s the Emmys. Sources tell me Don Cheadle won previously (thanks, Alicia, for your mixed-up tips) so let’s say him again. The HFPA likes to give us deja vu.

Best Miniseries or TV Movie
"The Missing"
"The Normal Heart"
"Olive Kitteridge"
"True Detective"

Should win
Alicia: I feel like we need an abbreviation for “haven’t seen any of these.”
Irene: I agree.
Doris: HSAOT. IDWET. (That’s “I don’t watch enough TV” in abbrevs.)

Will win
Alicia: I can see this going to Fargo, The Normal Heart, or True Detective. I guess I’ll pick True Detective?
Irene: True Detective, I guess.
Doris: Agreed with Alicia, but apparently Olive Kitteridge was good too! I think this is anyone’s game (but not The Missing because I’ve never heard of it). Let’s say The Normal Heart, why not.

Best Actress in a Miniseries or TV Movie
Maggie Gyllenhaal, "The Honorable Woman"
Jessica Lange, American Horror Story: Freak Show"
Frances McDormand, "Olive Kitteridge"
Frances O'Connor, "The Missing"
Allison Tolman, "Fargo"

Should win
Alicia: I’ve never heard of The Honorable Woman, but she sounds intriguing. I’ll go with Maggie Gyllenhaal.
Irene: Frances McDormand
Doris: I recognize Allison Tolman’s name from Twitter. Hehe.

Will win
Alicia: Frances McDormand. Although Jessica Lange seems to win every year, so she might get the rubber stamp.
Irene: Frances McDormand.
Doris: Frances McDormand has buzz.

Best Actor in a Miniseries or TV Movie
Martin Freeman, "Fargo"
Woody Harrelson, "True Detective"
Matthew McConaughey, "True Detective"
Mark Ruffalo, "The Normal Heart"
Billy Bob Thornton, "Fargo"

Should win
Alicia: Anyone but Matthew McConaughey. We’ve suffered through enough of his speeches.
Irene: I just watched the U.K. version of the Office, which has only continued to affirm my love of Martin Freeman.
Doris: Alright alright alright, Alicia! Gosh. Martin Freeman? (only because I love him)

Will win
Alicia: I can honestly see any of these guys winning. I’ll say Mark Ruffalo, since he doesn’t have a castmate stealing his votes.
Irene: Matthew McConaughey.
Doris: Matthew McConaughey to spite us all.

Best Supporting Actress in a TV Show, Miniseries or TV Movie
Uzo Aduba, "Orange Is the New Black"
Kathy Bates, "American Horror Story: Freak Show"
Joanne Froggart, "Downton Abbey"
Allison Janney, "Mom"
Michelle Monaghan, "True Detective"

Should win
Alicia: How does Joanne Froggart keep getting nominated in this extremely broad, hard-to-crack category? Seriously, this covers all mediums of TV, comedy and drama.
Irene: It’s a mystery! Uzo Aduba is incredible, though.
Doris: ALICIA, THAT’S WHAT I WAS GOING TO SAY! Yes that did merit all caps. I hear Uzo Aduba is great.

Will win
Alicia: Uzo Aduba
Irene: Uzo Aduba
Doris: Uzo Aduba but I wouldn’t be surprised if it were Allison Janney

Best Supporting Actor in a TV Show, Miniseries or TV Movie
Matt Bomer, "The Normal Heart"
Alan Cumming, "The Good Wife"
Colin Hanks, "Fargo"
Bill Murray, "Olive Kitteridge"
Jon Voight, "Ray Donovan"

Should win
Alicia: I just want to see Bill Murray give a speech up there.
Irene: If McConaughey wins, we better get a Bill Murray speech in return
Doris: I actually don’t care at all, but Bill Murray’s a fun guy.

Will win
Alicia: Matt Bomer, because Martin Freeman somehow stole his Emmy.
Irene: Matt Bomer?
Doris: Alan Cumming because he did Cabaret recently and even though that has nothing to do with TV, the HFPA does not follow rules of logic like the rest of us.