Favorites of 2014: Movies

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As each year passes, I find it increasingly challenging to keep up with movie releases. Not only are most “prestige” films limited releases in the fall/winter (to qualify for awards season), but now their wide releases are pushed to the following January. So, technically a movie will be released in one year but it won’t become available to a large audience until the next year. In the end, they become available but it’s a bit frustrating for year-end list creators like me to keep on track.

With all of the business that comes for a major move, Jordan and I didn’t get to see as many movies this year, so my year-end list is a bit smaller this time around. I’m excited to catch up with several 2014 films once they are released on DVD.

That being said, here are a few of my favorites from 2014.

Boyhood | Richard Linklater, 2014
To the untrained eye, Boyhood could be seen as only a gimmick: one movie, filmed for a handful of days over the course of 12 years. And with a lesser filmmaker than Richard Linklater, it might have been not only a gimmick but also a complete mess. The good news is that it isn’t either of those. It’s incredible. Boyhood follows Mason, his sister Samantha, mother and semi-estranged father over the course of 12 years as they encounter the many ups and downs that life brings us.

Unlike films that use different actors to carry a child through adolescence, the framework of Boyhood allows us to actually follow Mason growing up before our eyes. It’s beautiful and sad to realize how quickly time passes and the only thing we can do about it is to enjoy the ride and hold our love ones close.

Gone Girl | David Fincher, 2014
I finished reading Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl earlier this year. I knew David Fincher was slated to direct the movie and wanted to read the novel first. I don’t read many suspense novels, but I was instantly drawn into the mystery of what happened to Amy Dunne. Many movie-to-film adaptations fall short. Studios know that the public will purchase tickets based off of the popularity of the novel and sometimes quality suffers, but I was thoroughly pleased with this movie. I sat gripped to the edge of my chair (or Jordan’s arm!) despite knowing how it would end.

Rosamund Pike has been one of my favorite actresses ever since she played Jane in Pride & Prejudice and while her performance might not win a Golden Globe or Oscar, I think she needs to be recognized.

The Grand Budapest Hotel | Wes Anderson, 2014
Wes Anderson is one of our favorite directors. Jordan and I anticipate seeing his movies, regardless of premise, strictly on his name alone. I love Anderson’s attention to visual detail and combination of comedy and tragedy. His use of miniatures for different set pieces in The Grand Budapest Hotel is quite impressive.

Anderson has an army of actors that pop up repeatedly in his movies (Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman, Owen Wilson, Anjelica Huston, Adrien Brody, etc.) but it’s always exciting to see what actors he brings into his coterie. Saoirse Ronan’s acting is truly captivating on-screen and I would love to see her used again.

Into The Woods | Rob Marshall, 2014
Picture 13-year-old Catherine, searching out a VHS copy of the original broadway recording of Into the Woods to watch for the first time and becoming mesmerized by Stephen Sondheim’s fantastical world. I spent a certain period of time in high school, immersing myself into Broadway musicals. Watching any film adaptations I could find or at least listening to sound cast recordings. 

When I heard that Into the Woods was finally going to be made into a movie, I was extremely concerned. I’ve always had an obsession with Bernadette Peters (Hello, Annie!) and her portrayal of the Witch is incredible. Meryl Streep can (almost) do no wrong, but her singing in Mama Mia was a little lacking. My fears subsided once the official trailer was released and I realized everyone was singing…and singing well! 

Meryl brought the gravitas needed for the Witch and as Susan Wloszczyna put it, “…[Meryl] knows how to make an entrance and an exit as if she were an unwelcome weather event.”

I was delightfully entertained and moved, just as I hoped.

WildJean-Marc Vallée, 2014
Reese Witherspoon had quite the year. She produced Gone Girl and Wild, two well-received movies. I devoured Cheryl Stayed’s memoir this summer and thankfully as I hoped, the movie delivered. We all have a story to tell, but some people have more mountains to climb than others: Cheryl being one of them. Her life story doesn’t even seem plausible and I bet many people will leave the theatre believing some of her circumstances are fictional.

Wild takes you on a journey of self-discovery and leaves you thankful to be sitting in a temperature controlled room drinking lots of water.

What were some of your favorite movies you saw in 2014?

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Book Club: Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Wild Cheryl Strayed

“…I considered my options. There were only two and they were essentially the same. I could go back in the direction I had come from, or I could go forward in the direction I intended to go.” –  Cheryl Strayed, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

Reading and I are in a dysfunctional relationship. We have our highs and lows like any other couple: There are seasons where I have to turn down new books because there are too many good ones on my nightstand. But there are also low points where I wonder “Is the world filled exclusively with YA books about terminally ill vampire teenagers, living in a dysotopia future and fighting for their lives, while riding the roller coaster of love?!?”… Not that I haven’t read those books and maybe enjoyed one or two.

Anyway, earlier this summer I was in a drought. Books were letting me down and it was extremely frustrating especially with all of the travel coming up.

Continue reading “Book Club: Wild by Cheryl Strayed”