Oy!, this tiresome refrain: “it’s a weak year for the awards race…” “looks like slim pickings for the Oscars this season…” How about consider this: If a weak year for Oscar movies is all people can extract from all the stunningly brilliant films we all saw in 2014, then maybe there’s something seriously ill with the whole concept of “Oscar-friendly.” Sasha wrote something a couple of days ago that I truly adore: Trying to cater to the taste of Academy members “tends to be like the special meal you have to prepare separately for people who come to the party and can only eat one thing.” That was something Sasha told an elderly Oscar voter who had written her directly to scold her. Among the many fingers he wagged in Sasha’s face, was his stubborn assertion that expanding the Best Picture to more than 5 nominees had “opened the door to mediocrity.” Before any of you mooks nod in agreement, take a minute to let that sink in. Yes, this guy seriously believes that World Cinema doesn’t produce more than 5 movies each year that rise above mediocrity. Any of us can demolish his ignorant belief with dozens of titles. I can do it within the narrow range of movies in English. If this this guy with his Oscar ballot is looking to get schooled, here’s my personal bitchslap slapdown.
How can anyone who truly loves movies look at this list of 50 films I threw together and come away saying “It’s been a weak year”?
(my) Top 50 movies of 2014 (in English)
- Appropriate Behavior
- Beyond the Lights
- Blue Ruin
- Capt America: Winter Soldier
- The Congress
- Dawn of the Apes
- Dear White People
- The Drop
- Edge of Tomorrow
- The Guest
- Gone Girl
- The Grand Budapest Hotel
- The Homesman
- The Imitation Game
- The Immigrant
- Inherent Vice
- John Wick
- Listen Up Philip
- Love Is Strange
- Maps to the Stars
- A Most Violent Year
- A Most Wanted Man
- Mr Turner
- Night Moves
- Obvious Child
- Only Lovers Left Alive
- Starred Up
- Still Alice
- The Theory of Everything
- Under the Skin
(yes, just look at all the “mediocrity,” you lazy-ass Oscar voter. Calling yourself an expert arbiter of movie excellence just because you found your way onto a movie set 45 years ago. I’ve seen your IMDb profile. Not one single movie you ever worked on in your entire mediocre career can match the least of any of the movies on this list. And yet, you get to tell us what qualifies as the “Best” of the year (in your estimation) for the past 40 years and for the next 40 years hence? Ha!)
Sorry, just had to get this out of my system. Trying to feel less infuriated this year and not doing a very good job of it.
For sure, not every title on my list will please everyone. (I’m steeling myself for the backlash for laying Godzilla right next to Gone Girl — but that’s how the alphabet works!)
I invite all of you to make your own lists. I’m eager to be told what I forgot and to see what I overlooked. Please give us some lists of the best international films too. Or lists of the 20 Best French Films of 2014… or Top 10 Gay-Themed Films of 2014… or Tiop 10 International Crime Thrillers of 2014 — (yes! please!) — or any kind of list you like that best expresses your love of movie movies, regardless of whether those movies even intend to be Oscar-friendly.
Two more things I’d like to add to this post. First, in our never-ending quest to make sense of the preferential ballot, Claudiu Dobre is gathering some data to run the numbers on the BP nominees. He would like for as many people as possible to submit your simple ranking of the 8 BP nominees. For example, my ranking looks like this:
3. The Grand Budapest Hotel
4. The Imitation Game
5. The Theory of Everything
8. something else, I forget… American Safari?
Please take a minute to put the BP movies in any order you like, so Claudiu can have plenty of data to crunch.
Second, another really neat project comes from our friend Benutty:
“If anyone is interested, I created a survey to nominate & eventually vote for Best of the Decade (So Far). I’m running it with friends & social media connections and would love any or all of you to make picks as well. It might serve as a nice diversion from the current race conversation and encourages you to think about placing films in a larger context than just their year. Not only do the AD threads encourage fantastic debates, but it’s a place of great diversity.”
Eligibility for films 2010 through 2014. [Here’s the link to enter your favorite films]
So, this is a 3-part post.
1. Rank the Best Picture nominees so Claudiu has a good sample size to do his preferential ballot project.
2. Nominate your favorite films of the past 5 years so Benutty can collect enough titles to create a great poll of the Best Films of the Half-Decade.
3. Then I invite you to make a list of any sort and any length to show that crotchety Oscar voter all the brilliant films he’s missing. The more sprawling and all-embracing, the better.
(and 4. Please don’t give me too much shit for enjoying the hell out of Godzilla)