1. Foxcatcher -I liked this movie more than I thought I would, but I'm not sure it was strong enough to be an Oscar contender in 2014. There were just far stronger films, in my opinion. I couldn't care less about wrestling, but I was interested in this story. I looked up the true story that it was based on when the movie was released into theaters (I couldn't help it; several people called the ending "shocking", so I was curious). It's really creepy and tragic. Just like he did with Moneyball, Bennett Miller made the movie more of a quiet psychological drama instead of a "sports" movie. I liked that it was sort of a distant look at this man, John du Pont, a man who clearly suffered from a dangerous combination of a mental disorder and too much money. Steve Carrell did a fantastic job, but it's really about the way the movie is written/directed that gives his performance such intensity. For example, his response to Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum) saying "you can't buy Dave" is an icy stare (that will pierce your soul), instead of the expected comeback of "I can buy anyone". It's that sort of subtlety that really holds an impact and makes the movie memorable. On another note, on The Tonight Show, Channing Tatum talked about his "cauliflower ear" injury during the making of this movie and that is ALL I could see when he appeared on screen. It's really gross...*shivers*. And why was Sienna Miller even in this movie? Did she even have any lines aside from the ending? How weird is it that Sienna Miller appeared in 2 of the Oscar nominated movies from last year?
2. Whiplash - Another unexpected actress to appear in an Oscar nominated movie? The annoying girl from Glee (Segue for the win!). Seriously, though, how is this girl a thing now? She is a terrible actress. Other than that, this movie is terrific. It's definitely in my top 10 from last year (not top 5, though) and it's definitely the best movie that was nominated for an Oscar. I didn't really like the beginning because it felt very predictable and overdone. I don't think I really got into it until the scene where he has dinner with his family. The way they treat him, and vice versa, is just so fascinating. ("Isn't it subjective?" "No." - sums it up nicely, I think). The movie then dives deep into "striving for greatness". You really start to question whether this really awful, awful man has actual good intentions. There have been several successful people who credit their "bullies" to their success (Christina Aguilera is a perfect example). For some people, being told you're not good enough is incentive to do better, while it breaks others - but then maybe the ones that it breaks really just aren't good enough or don't want it bad enough. If everyone tells you you're the best; will you strive for better or will you plateau? This is all explored in the world of drumming, something that I never knew was so physically (and apparently psychologically) draining. It blows my mind that people are capable of that much passion for something. It's crazy and beautiful. The ending is so intense that I think I stopped breathing, because I found myself grasping for air at the end credits. Then I sat, unable to move for 10 minutes, then I cried my eyes out. The emotions were totally unexpected, raw and unforgettable.
3. Top Five - I love Chris Rock. As a comedian, he is one of my favorites. His stand-up routine about bullet control is genius ("there'd be no more innocent bystanders"). As a person, I also think he's pretty great. It's not like I know him personally or anything, but he literally lives 10 miles up the street from me - so I see him out and about a lot. He shops at the mall that I used to work at and he was always very friendly to everyone (once there was a woman who went into labor and he tried to calm her down by telling her jokes and the entertainment headlines the next day were "Chris Rock rescues pregnant woman at mall". It still makes me laugh.). Anyway, this movie made me laugh, mostly at the beginning - the cab screeching to a stop...I died laughing, and at the end - the stand-up routine is perfect and then the best cameo I've ever seen *spoiler* DMX singing "Smile (Though Your Heart is Breaking)" is actually perfect. I also loved Rosario Dawson giving several shout-outs to SUNY Purchase (my alma mater). It's weird that this movie title refers to ones "top five rappers" list (as opposed to...you know...comedians?), but here is mine: 1. Biggie 2. Dr. Dre 3. Kanye 4. Eminem 5. Marky Mark (HAHAHA! I'm kidding...or am I??).
4. The Theory of Everything - Sorry, but this movie is booooooriiiiiing. They focused waaay to much on the sappy love garbage. This man is the one of the greatest scientific minds of our time, and more than half of the story is about his relationship. And it's boring. Did I mention that? It also makes him seem like a complete asshole. I do like her story, though. Felicity Jones does an incredible job, but I really like the character (assumingly based on the real person). She's feisty and confident; challenging his ideas with wit and grace. She's the whole "behind every great man is a great woman" idea (she's the Alma Reville of Science). Other than that, I have nothing else to say about this movie. Oh, I guess Eddie Redmayne should be mentioned. He does a great job too, and I like him (he was the best part of Les Miserable). But Best Actor? Should have gone to Bradley Cooper.
5. Horrible Bosses 2 - The first one had its moments, but a sequel is totally unnecessary. My biggest complaint about the first one: Too much Jason Sudeikis (not funny), not enough Charlie Day (always funny). I just love Charlie Day soooo much. He makes me laugh. There aren't as many standout scenes in the sequel but him shouting "fuck you, I love Sandra Bullock!!" when Speed is insulted (how DARE they!) made me laugh out loud. Also, the scene where they do a slow motion walk to a rap song is fucking genius!! That gag always drives me insane in movies like this and I was about to groan so loud; until I realized they were in on the joke. HAHAHAHA! Chris Pine is in the movie way more than I expected him to be and he does a pretty good job with his comedic timing, but I would still prefer more Charlie Day. Always more Charlie Day.