365 Movies By Day Reviews of Movies I Watch that I Feel Like Writing About


A Most Violent Year (2014)

The best movie of 2014 that has really flown under the radar is, without a doubt, J.C. Chandor's (All Is Lost, Margin Call) A Most Violent Year. This movie, as I will mention in the paragraphs below, is subtly amazing. But before I get into the movie, I want to talk about Chandor. This guy is quietly establishing himself as a master of two crafts. This is just his third movie, but it is his third that he has both directed and written the screenplay for. And all three movies have earned at least 88% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes though none of them earned more than $8 million at the box office. All three movies are completely unique from one another and Chandor has already had the opportunity to work with some of the biggest names in Hollywood (Robert Redford, Kevin Space, Jeremy Irons, Demi Moore, Stanley Tucci, Oscar Isaac, David Oyelowo, Jessica Chastain, and Albert Brooks). He has already signed on Mark Wahlberg to star in his next project. And while All Is Lost and Margin Call were both amazing movie experiences, A Most Violent Year is Chandor's crowning achievement to date.


American Sniper (2014)

In a year that hasn't had that many must see movies, American Sniper has proved that there is at least one reason to head out to the theaters. 2014 has been the most disappointing year overall for movies since 2008. Yet despite its absolutely horrendous start and some incredibly overrated movies (Birdman, Unbroken, Mr. Turner, Snowpiercer, Godzilla, even Boyhood to an extent) some movies did manage to live up to their expectations (Foxcatcher, The Theory of Everything, The Imitation Game) and some movies managed to exceed the expectations that I had for them (The Drop, Nightcrawler, Kill the Messenger, and the surprise, feel good movie of the year Chef). But the movie that had the most pressure on its shoulders to perform was clearly American Sniper, the final released movie of the year. And while the movie did not exceed my expectations, it certainly met them in every single way. Now before I get into my review of the movie, I do want to make reference to a couple of observations.


The Imitation Game (2014)

The one movie of 2014 that I really was not looking forward to seeing but knew that I had to see was, without a doubt, The Imitation Game. I learned early in the year that this would end up being one of the movies to beat, but there was something about the trailer that told me that the movie would probably be well made and tell a great, true story, but also be extremely boring and long. Boy was I wrong. The first thing to point out was that this movie was only 1 hour ad 50 minutes. I love a movie that can tell its story under two hours. I understand the standard is tending to be closer to 2 hours and 15 minutes (with many, many movies pushing or exceeding 3 hours), but that doesn't mean I have to like it. Secondly, this movie was never dull. In the wrong hands, this movie as being a complete snooze-fest. It was anything but. This is why,without even having seen some of the probably Oscar nominated movies yet to be released (most notably Unbroken, American Sniper, Selma, Mr. Turner, and Into the Woods), I am ready to give Morten Tyldum a Best Director nomination. The only other nomination I have cemented is Richard Linklater (Boyhood). The direction in this movie was outstanding and I am confident there will not be three better directed movies in 2014 that I have yet to see.


Foxcatcher (2014)

I've finally found the first "award buzzing" movie of 2014 that has lived up to its hype. While there have certainly been a handful of other movies that I've found to be good, there hasn't been a movie, with the exception of maybe Nightcrawler that has lived up to the hope that I had for the movie. That has certainly changed with Bennett Miller's (Moneyball, Capote) methodical and engrossing Foxcatcher. While this movie isn't for everybody, film purists will love it. This movie is likely to garner a Best Director Academy Award and without a doubt will land Steve Carell (Crazy, Stupid, Love., Date Night) his first Best Actor nomination. Mark Ruffalo (Reservation Road, Shutter Island) likely will also earn a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award. And not to be lost is the performance of Channing Tatum (21 Jump Street, 22 Jump Street) who gives the performance of his career. Three of the best performances of the year can be viewed in this film alone.


The Theory of Everything (2014)

The best part of James Marsh's (Man on a Wire, Shadow Dancer) Stephen Hawking biopic The Theory of Everything is the wonderful performances of Eddie Redmayne (My Week With Marilyn, Les Miserables) and Felicity Jones (The Invisible Woman, Like Crazy). Both performers have been on the scene for quite some time, but this is the movie that is definitely going to open some doors for years to come. Redmayne is a shoo-in for Best Actor and, based on what I've seen so far, he's the leader to win. I do believe that his lead will be short-lived though. I plan on seeing Foxcatcher this weekend and it is my belief that Steve Carell is going to give the performance of his career and be the clear cut favorite heading into awards season. However, I don't think I've been more disappointed in any other year than I have been with the movies of 2014. I feel as if nothing, thus far, has exceeded expectations and that only a few films (Nightcrawler, Kill the Messenger) have even met expectations. There have been a couple of movies (most notably The Lunchbox and The Drop) that had little fanfare surrounding them beforehand and ended up being pleasant surprises. But for the most part, 2014 has been a massive letdown. This year still has potential, but with each passing week and with each average movie, that hope is slowly, but surely dwindling. So it might seem like I wasn't overly impressed or was even disappointed with The Theory of Everything. However, that's not necessarily true. It was a good movie and one that I recommend seeing.