It’s not very hard to determine what makes a great cinematic moment. A more than efficient barometer for judging such things is simply if an audible gasp, a bewildered stare, or even a small laugh was unconsciously produced. These moments can be wholly visceral in nature or challenge what we’re seeing and have seen (sometimes even a little bit of both), ranging from technically extravagant escapism to minor gestures that induce an overwhelming emotion or past memory—occasionally with the capacity to be seen on its own, regardless of context. (Then again, where’s the fun in not experiencing the entire film?) From Stray Dogs’s penultimate marathon take to Force Majeure’s avalanche sequence, 2014 saw no shortage of aesthetic pleasures. Here are 10 essential moments that kept our eyes open and thoughts racing more than any other. Wes Greene
The Immigrant (#1–10 of 12)
If the best posters of 2014 constitute a vibrant harmony between marketing and product, the worst ones merely amplify the already contemptuous elements present in the films being advertised. Of course, this isn’t always so, as with The Immigrant, which is more a case of the Weinstein Company attempting to market the film as something it blatantly isn’t, but on the whole, these posters are dreadful teases for grievous fare.
From Clayton Dillard’s introduction to Slant Magazine’s Top 25 Films of 2014: ” In a year when The Theory of Everything and The Imitation Game offer a most banal and repressive sort of historical biopic treatment for their respective subjects (and are being largely celebrated nonetheless), it becomes ever more important to draw lines in the cinematic sand to understand what we talk about when we talk about movies. Art historian Michael Fried once wrote of the burgeoning war between theater and modernist painting, and in many ways, contemporary filmmaking is rife with similarly antagonistic, fiery battles.” Click here to read the feature and see if your favorite films of the year made our list. And see below for a list of the films that just missed making it onto our list, followed by our contributors’ individual ballots. Happy reading.
- A Spell to Ward Off the Darkness
- closed curtain
- dear white people
- force majeure
- goodbye to language
- inherent vice
- level five
- listen up philip
- mr. turner
- national gallery
- norte the end of history
- only lovers left alive
- starred up
- story of my death
- stranger by the lake
- stray dogs
- the grand budapest hotel
- the immigrant
- the naked room
- the strange little cat
- two days one night
- under the skin
1. “Robin Williams R.I.P.” The Oscar-winning comedian dies at 63 in suspected suicide.
“Robin Williams, the comedian who evolved into the surprisingly nuanced, Academy Award-winning actor, imbuing his performances with wild inventiveness and a kind of manic energy, died on Monday at his home in Tiburon, Calif., north of San Francisco. He was 63. The Marin County sheriff’s office said in a statement that it ’suspects the death to be a suicide due to asphyxia.’ An investigation was underway. The statement said that the office received a 911 call at 11:55 a.m. Pacific time, saying that a man had been found ’unconscious and not breathing inside his residence.’ Emergency personnel sent to the scene identified him as Mr. Williams and pronounced him dead at 12:02 p.m. Mr. Williams’s publicist, Mara Buxbaum, said in a statement that Mr. Williams ’has been battling severe depression.’”
1. “Cantor ’Earthquake’ Rattles Capitol Hill.” Eric Cantor defeated in shocking primary upset.
“It’s the earthquake that rocked the GOP. In a year when mainstream Republicans have mostly bested tea party-backed challengers, a little-known and little-funded tea party challenger in Virginia’s 7th Congressional District pulled the upset of the year, defeating House Majority Leader Eric Cantor by 10 percentage points. The victory by economics professor Dave Brat gives the tea party an instant jolt of energy, sends shock waves through Capitol Hill, shakes up the GOP House hierarchyp—as Cantor was seen by many as the next speaker—and effectively kills any chance of immigration reform passing through the House any time soon. ’I think this is a scale eight earthquake. I think it will shock the Washington establishment; it will shock the House Republicans,’ former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said. ’It certainly upsets the balance of power inside the Republican conference. And combined with the results last week in Mississippi, it sends a pretty strong signal that while money matters, voters may matter more, and people have to have a little respect for the right of the voter to have attention paid to them, and the right of the voter to throw people out if they’re not happy with them,’ added Gingrich, a 2012 Republican presidential candidate and co-host of CNN’s ’Crossfire.’”
1. “Tony Awards 2014 Winners: The Complete List.” Neil Patrick Harris, Bryan Cranston and Audra McDonald were among the night’s big winners.
“The 68th annual Tony Awards were handed out Sunday night at New York’s Radio City Music Hall. A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder was named best musical, while Hedwig and the Angry Inch took home the award for best revival of a musical. All the Way was named best play, while A Raisin in the Sun won best revival of a play. The awards ceremony, hosted by Hugh Jackman for the fourth time, aired live on CBS.”
- a gentleman's guide to love and murder
- a raisin in the sun
- aaron cutler
- all the way
- audra mcdonald
- bryan cranston
- derek jarman
- hedwig and the angry inch
- michael haneke
- neil patrick harris
- Nick Pinkerton
- Paul Thomas Anderson
- silent film
- snoop dogg
- Steven Spielberg
- the immigrant
- tony awards
1. “Gabriel García Márquez R.I.P.” The conjurer of literary magic, and Nobel laureate, dies at 87.
“Gabriel García Márquez, the Colombian novelist whose One Hundred Years of Solitude established him as a giant of 20th-century literature, died on Thursday at his home in Mexico City. He was 87. Cristóbal Pera, his former editor at Random House, confirmed the death. Mr. García Márquez learned he had lymphatic cancer in 1999, and a brother said in 2012 that he had developed senile dementia. Mr. García Márquez, who received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982, wrote fiction rooted in a mythical Latin American landscape of his own creation, but his appeal was universal. His books were translated into dozens of languages. He was among a select roster of canonical writers—Dickens, Tolstoy and Hemingway among them—who were embraced both by critics and by a mass audience.”
Alice Munro wins Nobel Prize in Literature.
Which is your favorite Nymphomaniac character poster?
Fuck you, Congress.
For the Village Voice, Keegan Hamilton interviews Banksy.
Ted Hope stepping down from San Francisco Film Society post.
How Spike Jonze made the weirdest, most timely romance of the year.
What does the Zapruder film really tell us?
Why do we eat popcorn at the movies?
Adam Cook chats with James Gray.
Marion Cotillard is an icon of suffering in James Gray’s somber passion play The Immigrant. As he did in Little Odessa, The Yards, and We Own the Night, Gray introduces us to a dysfunctional family and a criminal subculture prone to preying on the weak, going light on narrative twists to focus on the milieu and the interplay between his main characters. But where the best of his work sweeps you up in a tide of emotion and imagery so strong you aren’t tripped up by on-the-nose dialogue or underdeveloped characters, The Immigrant sometimes makes it difficult to suspend disbelief.