Welcome to the 4th annual Cinema Enthusiast awards! Everyone is done with their 2014 round-ups, Oscar nominations are tomorrow and as per usual I’m just getting started on mine. These will likely evolve a little because there are still films I’d like to see. I try to make these as exhaustive and representative as possible, but keep in mind it’s difficult at the end of the year to remember all one’s favorite nooks and crannies.

Some Blind Spots: Love is Strange, Selma, Goodbye to Language, Dear White People, Norte the End of History, Closed Curtain, The Strange Little Cat, Mr. Turner, The Rover, The Imitation Game, The Theory of Everything, Beyond the Lights, Wild, Still Alice, Why Don’t You Play in Hell, Leviathan, A Most Violent Year, Laggies, Top Five, Begin Again, etc)

Simpsons Don Hertzfeldt

Beginnings and/or Title Card and/or Opening Credit Sequences:
1. Don Hertzfeldt’s couch gag for “The Simpsons” Season 26, Episode 1 (opening credits) (TV isn’t included here but there are a couple of instances where TV broke through)
2. Inherent Vice (You had me at “Vitamin C”) (title card)
3. Under the Skin (beginning)
4. Guardians of the Galaxy (opening credits)
5. “Olive Kitteridge” (credit sequence)


1. Whiplash
3. Force Majeure
4. The Immigrant

5. Cheap Thrills
Honorable Mentions: Night Moves, Stranger by the Lake, Under the Skin


Ensemble Cast:
1. Olive Kitteridge
2. Gone Girl
3. Listen Up Philip
4. The Grand Budapest Hotel
5. Inherent Vice
Honorable MentionsBirdman, Snowpiercer


Underappreciated Films:
1. Coherence
2. White Bird in a Blizzard
3. Vampire Academy
4. The Boxtrolls
5. Get on Up


Films That Started Strong But….
1. Boyhood (Come back Lorelai! Ugh, Mason, just stop your babbling)
2. Blue Ruin (lots of skill with nowhere to go)
3. Into the Woods (strong is too strong a word, but the second half undoes all good will of the first)
4. Nightcrawler (as it becomes clearer that the film has nothing new to say after its first half. The final ‘gut-punch’ is so clearly telegraphed from the start thanks to surface level skewering)
5. Birdman (oh, so the movie is only about Riggan now? Goodbye excellent ensemble, good-byyy-eeeee)


1. Foxcatcher
2. Enemy
3. Obvious Child
4. Ida
5. The Double

obvious child

Wait…People Love…This?
1. Obvious Child
2. God Help the Girl
3. Neighbors
4. Locke
5. X-Men: Days of Future Past
Honorable Mention: Ida


1. Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Belle, Beyond the Lights)
2. Jack O’Connell (Starred Up, Unbroken)
3. Chadwick Boseman (Get on Up) (I know 42 was last year but this was my first experience with him and it’s a powerhouse performance in every sense of the word)
4. Katherine Waterston (Inherent Vice)
5. Zoey Deutch (Vampire Academy)
Honorable Mentions: Jack Kilmer (Palo Alto), Wyatt Russell (22 Jump Street, Cold in July)


Underappreciated Performances (work I’m not hearing mentioned nearly enough in general and/or year-end discussion):
1. Jamie Bell – Nymphomaniac Volume II
2. Sam Shepard – Cold in July
3. Nelsan Ellis – Get on Up
4. Zoey Deutch – Vampire Academy
5. Jesse Eisenberg – Night Moves
Honorable Mentions: Sarah Gadon – Enemy, Nicholas Brendan – Coherence, Viola Davis – Get on Up, Chadwick Boseman- Get on Up, Emmanuelle Seinger – Venus in Fur


Bit Parts/Smaller Roles:
1. Joanna Newsom – Inherent Vice (obviously)
2. Hong Chau – Inherent Vice
3. Evan Peters – X-Men Days of Future Past
4. Uma Thurman – Nymphomaniac Volume I
5. Missi Pyle – Gone Girl 
Honorable Mentions: Martha Wainwright – Olive Kitteridge, Martin Short – Inherent Vice, Frank Grillo and Jenny AgutterCaptain America: The Winter Soldier


1. Interstellar – Hans Zimmer
2. The Grand Budapest Hotel – Alexandre Desplat
3. Under the Skin – Mica Levi
4. Gone Girl – Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross
5. Can I just put Brian Reitzell for his insane work on “Hannibal”? Because that’s what I’m doing

GHB_9907 20130130.CR2

Favorite Characters:
1. Gustave (Ralph Fiennes) – The Grand Budapest Hotel
2. Hedvig, Bobo, and Klara (Liv LeMoyne, Mira Barkhammar, Mira Grosin) – We Are the Best! (Don’t make me choose!!!)
3. Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel) – Guardians of the Galaxy
4. Amy (Rosamund Pike) – Gone Girl
5. Henri (Patrick D’Assumçao) – Stranger by the Lake
Honorable Mentions: Oliver Baumer (Rupert Friend) – Starred Up, Lou Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal) – Nightcrawler, Margo (Carrie Coon) – Gone Girl 

The Guest[(040066)17-18-33]

Sexiest Folk of 2014 (a log of who I’m into any particular year)
1. Dan Stevens – The Guest
2 J.K. Simmons in Whiplash (those arms, the yelling; terrifying but oh so sexy)
3. Tilda Swinton – Only Lovers Left Alive
4. Tom Hardy’s voice (and Tom Hardy) – Locke
5. Emily Blunt – Edge of Tomorrow
Honorable Mentions: Jack O’Connell – Starred Up


The ‘Why Are You Even Here’ Award:
1. Everybody  – X-Men: Days of Future Past
2. Johnny Depp – Into the Woods
3. Jena Malone – Mockingjay Part 1
4. Topher Grace – Interstellar
5. Juliette Binoche – Godzilla


This Performance Isn’t Working For Me:
Am I allowed to put Christoph Waltz in Big Eyes as #1 off the trailer alone? No? OK.
1. Jennifer Lawrence – X-Men Days of Future Past (the crux of the entire film, yet she sleepwalks through it. Zero commitment)
2. Christian Slater – Nymphomaniac Parts I and II
3. Johnny Depp – Into the Woods
4. Sharlto Copley – Maleficent
5. Steve Carell – Foxcatcher
Honorable Mentions:Daniel Radcliffe – Horns, Max Minghella – Horns, Aaron Taylor Johnson – Godzilla


Great Performances in Not-So-Great Films:
1. Emily Blunt – Into the Woods
2. Chris Pine – Into the Woods
3. Tom Hardy – Locke
4. Zac Efron – Neighbors
5. Sarah Gadon – Enemy
Honorable Mentions:Brendan Gleeson – Cavalry, Gaby Hoffman – Obvious Child, Channing Tatum – Foxcatcher


Worst Film:
1. Raze
2. Turks and Caicos (made for TV)
3. See No Evil 2
4. Joe
5. God Help the Girl

Chris Evans Snowpiercer

1. “I know babies taste best” (Snowpiercer)
2. “There are no two words in the English language more harmful than ‘Good Job'” (Whiplash)
3. “There are still faint glimmers of civilization in this barbaric slaughterhouse once known as humanity” (really just pick anything that comes out of Ralph Fiennes’s mouth in The Grand Budapest Hotel)
4. “We are Groot” (Guardians of the Galaxy)
5. “Here’s a piece of paper with some staples in it”(Listen Up Philip, or really anything from this film)


1. Edge of Tomorrow
2. Palo Alto but particularly Emma Roberts in Palo Alto
3. Chris Pine in Into the Woods
4. Whiplash (yes huge Sundance hit, but I honestly did not expect to latch onto this anywhere near the way I did)
5. Lucy

Character Dynamics:
1. Bobo, Klara and Hedvig – We Are the Best!
2. Andrew and Fletcher – Whiplash
3. Cage and Rita – Edge of Tomorrow
James Brown and Bobby Byrd Get on Up
Gustave and Zero – The Grand Budapest Hotel
Honorable Mentions: Doc and Bigfoot – Inherent Vice, Gunther and Irna – A Most Wanted ManHenri and Franck – Stranger by the Lake, Ernest and Celestine – Ernest and Celestine

Gone Girl

1. Bloodbath – Gone Girl
Escaping the palace – Tale of the Princess Kaguya
3. Crushing the male ego – Force Majeure
4. “Agony” – Into the Woods
5. Philip returns – Listen Up Philip
Honorable Mentions: Dave Schultz’s interview – Foxcatcher, The Red Circle – John Wick, Visiting Dr. Blatnoyd – Inherent Vice, Harry Potter book opening – Boyhood, Lucy talks to her mother – Lucy, Times Square – Birdman


1. Belle and John Davinier – Belle
2. Nick and Amy – Gone Girl
3. Adam and Eve – Only Lovers Left Alive
The Girl and Arash – A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
5. Olive and Henry – Olive Kitteridge

Song Usage:
1. “Super Bad” – James Brown – Get On Up 
2. “Vitamin C” – Can – Inherent Vice
3. “Death” – White Lies – A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
4. “Gloria” – Van Morrison – Two Days, One Night
5. “Trapped by a Thing Called Love” – Denise LaSalle – Only Lovers Left Alive

7 thoughts on “Top Fives of 2014 (in which I dole out a boatload of superlatives)

  1. I agree with you on so much, yet it pains me to see the hate for God Help the Girl. Of course, I recognized while watching it that it’s the kind of movie that’s going get a lot of love and strong dislike.

    On the positive side, i also found so much to like with the interplay among the three girls in We Are the Best!. The finale is just pitch-perfect for me. I was also surprised by Edge of Tomorrow. Despite the love I’d heard, it grabbed me more than I expected.

    I didn’t mind X-Men: Days of Future Past, though I keep forgetting that I saw it. That isn’t a good sign. I agree that Lawrence gives very little to the movie. It feels like they crammed so many characters into the story that no one really got much chance to shine. I’d put Aaron Taylor-Johnson even higher on the list of performances that gave me nothing. In fact, I’d extend that to most of Godzilla, especially once Cranston was gone.

    I really liked Boyhood, but I agree that it becomes less interesting when Lorelai and Patricia Arquette move further into the background.

    I could keep on going, but I think this will do.

    1. Yeah a lot of people really adore God Help the Girl, and that’s great(!), I just am allergic to twee and found it shapeless and deeply obnoxious. But yay for the clothes and Emily Browning!

      1. I’m possibly the least twee person in the world, yet somehow I’m okay with it on film. High five for Emily Browning!

  2. Even though the movie, The Rover , was highly underrated and under-seen , I truly thought Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson did phenomenal jobs portraying their characters! What a shame more people did not see this bleak but elemental film . The hint of the western flavor, the bare storyline, the beautiful landscape, and the exceptional acting made this film very worthwhile to see.

    1. Coherence is incredibly high on my year-end list. It completely floored me. I’m glad it’s at least got a very small contingent of people who have seen and appreciate it!

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