The Fifties 2014: Ensemble, Foreign Film, Costumes, Sound
ENSEMBLE CASTNICK'S PICKS:
Gloria: A star vehicle and beguiling two-hander that expands gracefully to include relatives and background players of real color and depth.
Hide Your Smiling Faces: The movie I wanted the best parts of Mud to be, with an eye for child actors and adults who do a lot with a little.
Ilo Ilo: Where the kid, the parents, and the nanny all feel intimate with each other and strange to each other. Everyone nails the dramedy.
Only Lovers Left Alive: Another smallish ensemble, but drawing dissimilar actors so fully in line with Jarmusch's peculiar idiom is a feat.
Unrelated: Where almost every actor has at least two roles to play, except the lead, who has no role to play. Gives and takes all marvelous.
Honorable Mentions: Boyhood (missed my cutoff)
Runners Up: Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?, Begin Again, Borgman, Neighbors, Obvious Child, Young & Beautiful, Cold in July
On the Radar: Non-Stop, The Grand Budapest Hotel, It Felt Like Love
Borgman: For finding different ways for the ensemble to react to the chaos agent in their midst.
Hide Your Smiling Faces: For putting together that most challenging of collectives, the youth actor ensemble, and having them all succeed.
Neighbors: For top-notch work by performers we knew could do great work (Byrne), we suspected could do great work (Franco), and we were somewhat wary about (Efron).
Obvious Child: For friend relationships that seem real (because in some cases they are) and accurate but un-showy Brooklyn depictions.
Only Lovers Left Alive: For the way Tilda and Tom receive guests both welcome and unwelcome; for Yelchin and Wasikowska and Hurt making bold impressions.
Runners Up: Chef
NICK: You mistyped "Viaskovska." So, two of these we fully agree on and three are in my runners-up. Neighbors, the only American studio movie anywhere near our lists, would have joined my top five if it felt more confident in its supporting players; the best friends and policeman felt under-exploited to me. Plus, too little Kudrow and the automatic Mintz-Plasse Deduction (MPD). But I agree that the central quartet is delectable, and not just in the way that Zac Efron and Rose Byrne are already delectable. Extra points for that one girl's line reading of "He saw me." I've been avoiding Chef because of a low-level Favreau allergy, and I just resent having movies called Chef and Le Chef in the theater at the same time. How many mistakes am I making?
JOE: I'm not usually a Favreau guy, either; Chef legitimately surprised me. As for yours, I wholly endorse the Gloria and Hide Your Smiling Faces nods. And I should say that as soon as Love Is Strange legitimately opens, that one jumps to the top of my ensemble list.
FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILMNICK'S PICKS:
Heli (Mexico): Achieves severity and visual grandeur of Reygadas' films with less leering and self-congratulation. Matches the more hailed Miss Bala.
Ida (Poland): Story silences anyone who thinks a short feature can't pack a tremendous punch, or who thinks there's no new way to address the Shoah.
The Last of the Unjust (France): Lanzmann also defies those who think there's no new way to address the Shoah, even by its preeminent film historian.
The Missing Picture (Cambodia): Panh tests the limits of documentary, making something universally accessible while staying particular to its context.
Norte, the End of History (The Philippines): Story feels foreign and familiar in the best ways, the skeleton of a classic tale given new, transformative life.
Runners Up: Ilo Ilo (Singapore); Borgman (The Netherlands); Gloria (Chile)
Borgman (The Netherlands): Playful when it wants to be, scary and unsettling more than you expect it to be.
Gloria (Chile): One of those movies where a pullquote like "a triumph!" wouldn't be out of order. Best ending of the year.
Omar (Palestine): For being That One Middle East Movie You're Always Seeing, but doing an excellent job at it.
Stranger by the Lake (France): Sexy and seductive but also smart about its worldview and rather thought provoking as a result.
Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? (Taiwan): I generally don't do whimsical, but the balance of whimsy and guilelessness in this one is on point.
NICK: One of the most insidious truisms out there in Movieland is that all the good movies come out in the fall. I'd say most of the self-important movies come out in the fall, many of which wind up feeling genuinely important and many of which are utterly unimportant. The best non-English stuff, in particular, often bows in the winter and spring, as evidenced by this spread. I'd gladly cosign your entire list, even though we don't overlap on any titles. And check the array of genres, from romantic cupcake (Will You Still...) to surreal black comedy (Borgman) to adult dramedy (Gloria) to documentaries (Unjust, Picture) to hushed period film (Ida) to brazen epic (Norte) to suspense both sexily underplayed (Stranger, with loins on fire) and brutally confrontational (Heli, with loins literally on fire). Two confessions, though: I haven't seen Omar yet, and I don't remember the ending of Gloria at all.
JOE: The ending of Gloria is the part where she's dancing to "Gloria" right? Or did I just mentally remember it that way because that's how I want all movies to end?
COSTUME DESIGNNICK'S PICKS:
Begin Again (Arjun Bhasin): Clothes tell great, mostly subtle stories about how and why people dress up or dress down and evoke a lived-in New York City.
Belle (Anushia Nieradzik): Set in an era movies haven't overdone, indicating through color, texture, and silhouette how Belle is seen and feels about herself.
The Grand Budapest Hotel (Milena Canonero): Retaining some palettes and clothing accents from the Anderson repertoire but adds new styles and embellishments.
The Immigrant (Patricia Norris): Weighs Ewa down with heavy fabrics without making her look overdressed, and toes a delicate line between elegance and chintz.
Only Lovers Left Alive (Bina Daigeler): because I might be flummoxed what thousand-year-old, LP-loving bohemian rockers might wear but Bina Daigeler isn't.
Honorable Mention: Boyhood (missed my cutoff)
Runner Up: Cold in July (Elisabeth Vastola)
On the Radar: Noah (Michael Wilkinson), Edge of Tomorrow (Kate Hawley), Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (Melissa Bruning, missed my cutoff)
Captain America: The Winter Soldier (Judianna Makovsky): Because, and I know how this is going to sound, but: they made the Winter Soldier look foxy as hell. Plus Redford in those suits!
Edge of Tomorrow (Kate Hawley): A smart blend of form and function in almost every respect, except for when they were evoking military throwback looks.
The Grand Budapest Hotel (Milena Canonero): Because whatever I thought of the narrative as a whole, I'm still into the aesthetics, particularly, the purples and pastels of the costumes.
The Immigrant (Patricia Norris): Again, not a movie I liked, but it walked a very fine line to get the look of the participants just right. Nothing too ostentatiously cruddy, but there's wear and tear and stress and desperation on those clothes.
Snowpiercer (Catherine George): For the gradations of garb throughout the train, and basically for every single thing Swinton wore.
Runners Up: Blue Ruin (Brooke Bennett), Only Lovers Left Alive (Bina Daigeler), Stranger by the Lake (amazingly, none billed)
NICK: Every time I feel fine about missing both Captain America movies, I get to feeling like I messed up. Then, as soon as I express that, someone tells me that no, I'm doing fine. But Mackie and Redford and ScarJo and Frank Grillo all dapperly dressed? Hmmm... Also, I'm sensing that your Immigrant is my Snowpiercer, the movie adulated by many of the Finer Types that we respectively couldn't groove on? As you said in an earlier installment, I think it's important to recognize what works even in movies that don't. But for me the only list Snowpiercer belongs on is this one.
JOE: Yeah, I mean, my appreciation for certain elements in The Immigrant is certainly grudging but I liked how everyone looked in it just fine. Speaking of things we liked in movies we didn't, if I'd have seen Magic in the Moonlight before my 50-film cutoff, this here category is the only place it would've showed up, so I could make note of the summer suits worn by Colin Firth and Hamish Linklater.
SOUND MIXING & EDITINGNICK'S PICKS:
Begin Again (Lewis Goldstein, et al.): Blows a big opportunity in Ruffalo's gloopy, imagined arrangement of that first song but misses few beats from that point on.
Blue Ruin (Cory Melious, et al.): Deftly uses sonic atmospheres and specific cues to heighten tension to nerve-wracking levels without showing off (see: The Rover).
Edge of Tomorrow (James Boyle, Dominic Gibbs, et al.): Never uses music to make story unduly triumphal. Gives the world density, energy, and menace, and includes witty effects.
Only Lovers Left Alive (Dominick Tavella, John Midgley, et al.): Evoking a world where music is both seductive lure and sad-sounding retreat, making Detroit an empty, echoing cave.
Under the Skin (Johnnie Burn, Steve Single, et al.): Where motorbike engines are haunting, car interiors are safe and scary, and you lose your skin not with a bang but a rumple.
Runners Up: The Grand Budapest Hotel (Christopher Scarabosio, Wayne Lemmer, et al.), Heli (Sergio Díaz, Vincent Arnardi, et al.), The Immigrant (Thomas Varga, et al.), Stranger by the Lake (Philippe Grivel, Nathalie Vidal, et al.), Ida (Andreas Kongsgaard, Michael Dela, et al.)
On the Radar: Godzilla (Ethan Van der Ryn, Erik Aadahl, et al.)
Captain America: The Winter Soldier (Shannon Mills, Daniel Laurie, et al.): Great car chases. Punishing fight with the Winter Soldier. You could feel the air around Anthony Mackie.
Edge of Tomorrow (James Boyle, Dominic Gibbs, et al.): The metallic squirminess of those aliens was rendered pretty spectacularly. Also, whomever mixed Tom Cruise's girlish squeals as he got run over by that humvee gets my personal gold star.
Godzilla (Ethan Van der Ryan, Erik Aadahl, et al.): For those monstrous screams and for keeping the human voices just faint enough.
Raze (Jon Greasley, Ricardo Garza, et al.): For crunchy, grody, awful, amazing hand-to-hand combat scenes.
Under the Skin (Johnnie Burn, Steve Single, et al.): For all those eerie, windswept silences. For the conversations with townies seeming just low-fi enough. For body horror that's played quietly.
NICK: Under the Skin's and Edge of Tomorrow's phenomenal achievements in this category are only underscored by the fact that we both included them and neither of us referenced the same aspects in writing them up. How much clearer can we be, people? If you didn't see these in the theater, at least once apiece, your ears, eyes, and brains are all mad at you. Though at least your nerves got a rest.
JOE: Your writeup makes me want to see Blue Ruin again and just listen to it. It took a lot of effort not to just cite Only Lovers Left Alive in every category, but know that I could.
Previous in the 2014 Fifties: Supporting Actor, Adapted Screenplay, Film Editing, Original Score, Visual Effects, Eligibility Lists