Wednesday, December 31, 2014

My Favorite Films of the Year

10) Chef - It shouldn't be a revelation a father is important for a son, but it's a concept difficult for many in our culture to grasp. John Favreau wrote, directed and stars in this story of a divorced father who uses his rushed visits with his son for movies, amusement parks and pizza parlors but comes to realize his son needs much more. His son needs an introduction to the dangerous world of manhood, including the world of work. Some have understandably complained about the crude language in the film, but knowing a bit of the world of restaurant kitchens, I'd say it is sadly realistic. A warning, after the film you'll want a good Cuban sandwich ASAP.

9) The Battered Bastards of Baseball - You may know Kurt Russell as a Disney hero or as Snake Plissken, Wyatt Earp or Goldie Hawn's significant other, but this film has Kurt as the son of Bing Russell, baseball team owner. The Mavericks were an independently owned baseball team that rebelled against Major League Baseball. And considering how much MLB charges little league teams to put Big League names on their uniforms, they deserve to be rebelled against. There's talk of turning this documentary into a feature film, but it's just fine as it is.

8) Interstellar - Christopher Nolan may be the only filmmaker these days who can get a big budget for epic film not based on a comic book. This tale of the future, a dying world and hope in space has some weak character and gapping plot holes but also has big ideas and tension and a vision, so you will keep thinking about it and arguing about it after you visit. And you must admire Nolan's hope that we'll "look for our future in the stars rather than staring in the dirt."

7) Calvary - Brendan Gleeson is great as a priest in a horrible little small town in Ireland. Everyone in the town expresses disgust with the scandals of the Catholic Church when they actually have scandals in their own lives that are even more horrible. I'm very much looking forward to writing about this dark film in my churches in movies column (at

6) Fury - David Ayer wrote and directed one of the worst films of the year ("Sabotage") and this, one of the best. Maybe one of the big differences between the films is that Brad Pitt can act while Arnold Schwarzenegger can't. This tale of tank soldiers trying to hold on to their humanity, to their Christian faith in the hell of war is brutal, yet worthy.

5) The Grand Budapest Hotel - Wes Anderson makes his own worlds, and this one about an eccentric hotel manager who loves older women and good living is a world not to be missed.

4) The Drop - Tom Hardy plays a bar keep who seems like a harmless, perhaps not too bright fellow who's perhaps a bit too tenderhearted about dogs and women. But why doesn't he feel like he's good enough to take communion at church. James Gandolfini's last film, and he's good. But Hardy is great.

3) Whiplash - Want to see a film about jazz drumming? Maybe you do. Miles Teller plays a drummer who gets wants a mentor who's the best who will make him the best. But is it worth gaining the whole world of drumming excellence and yet lose your soul? Band leader J. K. Simmons says it is.

2) Guardians of the Galaxy - Okay, so I'm a sucker for walking trees and talking raccoons and Chris Pratt cracking wise. The other Marvel comic film of the year, "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" was quite good but this was even better.

1) Boyhood - Writer/director Richard Linklater had his actors keep quiet about this project... for twelve years. That's how long he took to tell this rather simple story of a boy growing up. His divorced parents seem to be trying their best, but maybe it isn't good enough. You come to love the characters as the director does, even when he doesn't take them quite seriously.

1 comment:

Richard Ferrick said...

That's a great list, Dean.I would add the Roger Ebert documentary, "Life Itself" also, being a film buff. One TV series was in my top ten in addition to most of yours. That is "Rectify," which treats real moral issues honestly and even has great points about religion and spirituality, and the lack therof...