A brilliant final image from the best film of the year.

A brilliant final image from the best film of the year.

My Top 20:

  1. Birdman
  2. The Grand Budapest Hotel
  3. The Imitation Game
  4. Gone Girl
  5. Inherent Vice
  6. Interstellar
  7. Selma
  8. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
  9. The LEGO Movie
  10. Still Alice
  11. Nightcrawler
  12. Ida
  13. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  14. Foxcatcher
  15. The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them
  16. The Theory of Everything
  17. Boyhood
  18. X-Men: Days of Future Past
  19. Guardians of the Galaxy
  20. Big Hero 6

note:  There are a few films this year that might very well end up on this list that I still haven’t seen, notably Mr. Turner, A Most Violent Year, Into the Woods, Wild and Two Days, One Night.  For the record, the first 11 films are ****, the rest are ***.5.

Consensus Awards:

  • Best Picture:  Boyhood
  • Best Director:  Richard Linklater  (Boyhood)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  The Imitation Game
  • Best Original Screenplay:  The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Best Actor:  Michael Keaton  (Birdman)
  • Best Actress:  Julianne Moore  (Still Alice)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  J.K. Simmons  (Whiplash)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Patricia Arquette  (Boyhood)
  • Best Cinematography:  Birdman
  • Best Animated Film:  The LEGO Movie
  • Best Foreign Film:  Ida

note:  Every single one of these awards except one was set before Oscar night.  That final one, Adapted Screenplay, changed on Oscar night because Gone Girl hadn’t been nominated (if anything other than Imitation Game had won the Oscar, Gone Girl would have won the Consensus); had Imitation Game not won the Oscar, this would have been the first year ever in which the four biggest Consensus winners all failed to win the Oscar.  This is a weird combo of awards – Birdman would win Picture, Director and Screenplay at the Oscars, but not the Consensus, yet would win Actor at the Consensus, but not the Oscar.  The only other year in which Picture, Director, Actor and one of the Screenplay awards all failed to have the Consensus winner win the Oscar was in 1973.  An oddity – from 1964 to 2012, 12 times three of the acting Consensus winners would win the Oscar, but it was never Best Actor that was left out; yet, for the second straight year Actor is the only acting category to do that (see down below in Points for other strange connections between this year and last year).  This also marks the first time the Consensus Animated Film would fail to earn an Oscar nom.  By the way, not only does Chivo Lubeski win the Consensus Award for Cinematography again, but he does it in the exact same way – winning the Oscar, ASC, BAFTA, BFCA, LAFC, BSFC and CFC – in both years he would fail to win the NYFC and NSFC.

Academy Awards:

  • Best Picture:  Birdman
  • Best Director:  Alejandro González Iñárritu  (Birdman)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  The Imitation Game
  • Best Original Screenplay:  Birdman
  • Best Actor:  Eddie Redmayne  (The Theory of Everything)
  • Best Actress:  Julianne Moore  (Still Alice)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  J.K. Simmons  (Whiplash)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Patricia Arquette  (Boyhood)
  • Best Cinematography:  Birdman
  • Best Animated Film:  Big Hero 6
  • Best Foreign Film:  Ida

Top 10 Films  (TSPDT):

  1. Boyhood
  2. The Grand Budapest Hotel
  3. Under the Skin
  4. Whiplash
  5. Ida
  6. Only Lovers Left Alive
  7. Birdman
  8. Force Majeure
  9. The Immigrant
  10. Goodbye to Language

Top 10 Films  (Awards Points):

  1. Boyhood  –  2616
  2. Birdman  –  2584
  3. The Grand Budapest Hotel  –  1963
  4. The Imitation Game  –  1257
  5. The Theory of Everything  –  1239
  6. Whiplash  –  1172
  7. Gone Girl  –  700
  8. American Sniper  –  558
  9. Interstellar  –  541
  10. Foxcatcher  –  503

note:  This list is eerily similar to last year.  Only once before had two #1 films had the exact same point total – West Side Story and Driving Miss Daisy.  But now Boyhood ends up with the exact same point total as 12 Years a Slave.  Birdman ends up just behind and actually has a higher raw point total, but a smaller weighted point total (mainly because such a large percentage of Boyhood’s points come from the critics).  Last year, was the 3rd closest finish (in terms of percentage) between #1 and #2, this year it is the sixth closest.  Then, a third film is still quite high – both American Hustle last year and Grand Budapest this year set new point highs for a #3 film – and they are the closest 3rd place finishes in a decade.  Then there is an enormous drop to the 4th place film – last year it was the 6th biggest drop from 3 to 4 in terms of percentage and this year is the 7th biggest.  Then, the #5 is a close finish to the #4.

Top 10 Films  (2014 Best Picture Awards):

  1. Boyhood
  2. Birdman
  3. The Grand Budapest Hotel
  4. The Imitation Game
  5. The Theory of Everything
  6. Whiplash
  7. Selma
  8. American Sniper
  9. Goodbye to Language
  10. Nightcrawler  /  Gone Girl

Mockingjay_part_1_poster_2Top 10 Films  (Domestic Box Office Gross):

  1. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part I  –  $336.71 mil
  2. Guardians of the Galaxy  –  $333.17 mil
  3. American Sniper  –  $330.80
  4. Captain America: The Winter Soldier  –  $259.76 mil
  5. The LEGO Movie  –  $257.76 mil
  6. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies  –  $254.32 mil
  7. Transformers: Age of Extinction  –  $245.43 mil
  8. Maleficent  –  $241.41 mil
  9. X-Men: Days of Future Past  –  $233.92 mil
  10. Big Hero 6  –  $220.88 mil

Note:  Mockingjay is the lowest #1 film since 2001 and Guardians is the lowest #2 since 2008.  The differences between the two of them is the slimmest between a #1 and #2 since 1986 and the first time since current records that the #2 is within 1% of the #1 film.  The combined top 10 is lower than each of the last two years and five of the last seven years.  Though this is the fifth year in a row and 13th time in 14 years that a franchise film has lead the box office, this is the first time the same franchise has lead in back-to-back years.  The two Hunger Games films are the first female lead films to lead the box office since 1965 and Jennifer Lawrence joins Julie Andrews (64-65) in having back-to-back years atop the box office (said note will be irrelevant if, as is likely, American Sniper overtakes it after this is posted).  Overall, Marvel rises while everything else slips.  Hunger Games, Tolkien and Transformers all hit franchise lows (and Big Hero 6 is a huge drop from Frozen), but Captain America way outperforms the first film and X-Men has its second biggest film in the franchise.

The worst film to ever top the worldwide box office.  By a long way.

The worst film to ever top the worldwide box office. By a long way.

Top 10 Films  (Worldwide Box Office Gross):

  1. Transformers: Age of Extinction  –  $1091.4 mil
  2. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies  –  $951.9 mil
  3. Guardians of the Galaxy  –  $774.2 mil
  4. Maleficent  –  $758.4 mil
  5. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part I  –  $751.7 mil
  6. X-Men: Days of Future Past  –  $748.1 mil
  7. Captain America: The Winter Soldier  –  $714.8 mil
  8. The Amazing Spider-Man 2  –  $709.0 mil
  9. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes  –  $708.8 mil
  10. Interstellar  –  $672.5 mil

Note:  Last year, Catching Fire was the first film in several years to lead the domestic but not the worldwide box office; here Mockingjay does it again and more – it has the lowest international gross for the #1 domestic film since 2000.  On the other hand, Transformers, with its franchise worst 7th place finish domestically becomes the first film in the franchise to be #1 worldwide.  It becomes the first film since worldwide records begin in 1989 to earn less than 1/4 of its worldwide gross in the U.S..  The Middle Earth franchise ends with worldwide finishes of 2, 1, 1, 4, 4, and 2.

" "At her easiest she was hard, because her brain was always working, working, working - I had to exert myself just to keep pace with her... Her mind was both wide and deep, and I got smarter being with her. And more considerate, and more alive, and almost electric." - Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl) Putting aside that he's talking about a sociopath, still a pretty great quote."  - my sister Alison, on Facebook

” “At her easiest she was hard, because her brain was always working, working, working – I had to exert myself just to keep pace with her… Her mind was both wide and deep, and I got smarter being with her. And more considerate, and more alive, and almost electric.” – Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl) Putting aside that he’s talking about a sociopath, still a pretty great quote.”
– my sister Alison, on Facebook

Nighthawk Golden Globes:

Drama:

  • Best Picture:  The Imitation Game
  • Best Director:  David Fincher  (Gone Girl)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  The Imitation Game
  • Best Original Screenplay:  Interstellar
  • Best Actor:  Benedict Cumberbatch  (The Imitation Game)
  • Best Actress:  Rosamund Pike  (Gone Girl)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  J.K. Simmons  (Whiplash)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Keira Knightley  (The Imitation Game)

Comedy:

  • Best Picture:  Birdman
  • Best Director:  Alejandro González Iñárritu  (Birdman)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  Inherent Vice
  • Best Original Screenplay:  The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Best Actor:  Michael Keaton  (Birdman)
  • Best Actress:  Helen Mirren  (The Hundred-Foot Journey)  *
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Edward Norton  (Birdman)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Emma Stone  (Birdman)

*  –  Bear in mind that I haven’t seen Big Eyes or Into the Woods.

Neither won the Oscar, but they both win the Nighthawk.

Neither won the Oscar, but they both win the Nighthawk.

Nighthawk Awards:

  • Best Picture:  Birdman
  • Best Director:  Alejandro González Iñárritu  (Birdman)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  The Imitation Game
  • Best Original Screenplay:  The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Best Actor:  Michael Keaton  (Birdman)
  • Best Actress:  Rosamund Pike  (Gone Girl)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Edward Norton  (Birdman)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Emma Stone  (Birdman)
  • Best Editing:  Birdman
  • Best Cinematography:  Birdman
  • Best Original Score:  Birdman
  • Best Sound:  Interstellar
  • Best Art Direction:  The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Best Visual Effects:  Interstellar
  • Best Sound Editing:  The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
  • Best Costume Design:  The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Best Makeup:  The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
  • Best Original Song:  “The Last Goodbye”  (The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies)
  • Best Animated Film:  The LEGO Movie
  • Best Foreign Film:  Ida

Foreign Films:  This award is the one that’s usually the hardest, because of how long it takes the eligible Foreign Films to make it here.  For instance, almost every one of the 83 films submitted to the Oscars for Best Foreign Film is listed on Netflix, but so far only five of them have actually been released, including one semi-finalist (Force Majeure) and the winner (Ida).  The former is a low-level ***.5 and the latter a high ***.5.  It seems like every prominent eligible film was submitted except The Lunchbox (high level ***), so we had no prominent non-submitted film like Blue is the Warmest Color was last year.

A Most Impressive Year.

A Most Impressive Year.

Nighthawk Notables:

  • Best Film to Watch Over and Over:  The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Best Line  (comedic):  “Plus it turns out the hairy one’s a dude.  And the metal one too.  All dudes.”  (Will Arnett in The LEGO Movie)  *
  • Best Line  (dramatic):  “Yep, I’ve finally become the boring, castrated guy your mom always wanted. And she could have had it too, if she’d just been a bit more patient, and a bit more forgiving.”  (Ethan Hawke in Boyhood)
  • Best Opening:  The Imitation Game
  • Best Ending:  Birdman
  • Best Scene:  the shredding of her father by Emma Stone in Birdman
  • Best Use of a Song (comedic):  “Time in a Bottle”  (X-Men: Days of Future Past)
  • Best Use of a Song (dramatic):  “Vitamin C”  (Inherent Vice)
  • Best Ensemble:  The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Funniest Film:  The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Best Guilty Pleasure:  Knights of Badassdom
  • Worst Film:  Winter’s Tale
  • Worst Sequel:  Transformers: Age of Extinction
  • Performance to Fall in Love With:  Zoe Kazan in What If
  • Sexiest Performance:  Katherine Waterston in Inherent Vice
  • Most Wasted Sexy Performance:  Eva Green in 300: Rise of an Empire / Eva Green in Sin City: A Dame to Kill For
  • Highest Attractiveness / Acting Ability Ratio:  Juno Temple in Horns
  • Best Soundtrack:  Inherent Vice
  • Star of the Year:  Jessica Chastain  (Interstellar / A Most Violent Year / Miss Julie / The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby)
  • Coolest Performance:  Bradley Cooper in Guardians of the Galaxy
  • Best Trailer:  The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Best Cameo:  Simon Pegg in Cuban Fury
  • Best Animated Character Performance:  Will Arnett in The LEGO Movie

*  –  This line is infinitely funnier when said by my 9 year old nephew.

Film History:  Winter Sleep wins the Palme d’Or at Cannes, then becomes the second winner in five years to be submitted to the Academy for Best Foreign Film but not even make the shortlist.  A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence wins the award for most pompous title and the Golden Lion in Venice.  Whiplash wins the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, then becomes the fourth film in six years to win the award and go on to be Oscar-nominated for Best Picture (after never having happened before 2009).  After a 25 year gap where no film won the Indie Spirit and the Oscar, Birdman becomes the third film in four years to do so.   Kirk Cameron is the big “winner” at the Razzies, taking home four awards with his film Saving Christmas.

Mine and Thomas' contributions to the Robin Williams memorial that evolved quickly in the Boston Public Gardens.  Thomas wrote "I feel sheepish."  I wrote "I'm history.  Not, wait, I'm mythology."  Both are from Aladdin.

Mine and Thomas’ contributions to the Robin Williams memorial that evolved quickly in the Boston Public Gardens. Thomas wrote “I feel sheepish.” I wrote “I’m history. Not, wait, I’m mythology.” Both are from Aladdin.

Maximilian Schell begins the year of Oscar winner deaths in February.  The next day the year continues as Philip Seymour Hoffman is found dead in his apartment (would you have looked at the Best Actor nominees in 2005 and said “Two of these will be dead within 10 years” and not thought one of them would be Joaquin Pheonix?).  Honorary Oscar winner Shirley Temple dies a week later.  Sid Caesar dies two days later.  Two weeks later, it’s Harold Ramis.  Another Honorary winner, Mickey Rooney, dies in April.  Bob Hoskins (who should have won an Oscar for Mona Lisa) also dies in April.  Ruby Dee and Eli Wallach die in June.  James Garner dies in July.

A larger picture of the memorial and all the people gathered there at 1:30 the day after his death was announced.

A larger picture of the memorial and all the people gathered there at 1:30 the day after his death was announced.

Robin Williams continues the Oscar winner trend, dying in August.  Lauren Bacall dies the next day.  Richard Attenborough becomes the first Oscar-winning director on the list, dying in August.  Another Oscar winning director, Mike Nichols, dies in November.  Luise Rainer concludes the year of Oscar deaths, dying on December 30, just two weeks short of her 105th birthday; she becomes the only actor other than George Burns to live past 100 and passes off her title of “oldest Oscar winning actor” trophy to Olivia de Havilland

Academy Awards:  For the first time in a year with more than 5 nominees, all of the Best Picture nominees win at least one Oscar.  Birdman becomes the first film since Titanic to lose all of its multiple acting nominations but still win Best Picture; it’s the first since Dances with Wolves to earn three acting noms, lose them all and still win Best Picture.  For the second straight year, the Best Picture winner is nominated for Best Actor but loses, even though said actor wins the Consensus Best Actor, something that had only happened thrice before (1953, 1963, 2001).  After never having won with their own production in the first 12 years of the Best Animated Film Category (only winning with Pixar or Ghibli products), Disney wins its second straight Oscar in the category.  Emmanuel Lubezki joins John Toll as the only cinematographer to win back-to-back Oscars since 1950.  Wes Anderson’s first seven films earned a combined 4 Oscar nominations; his 8th film wins four Oscars.  Poland finally wins Best Foreign Film in its 10th nomination, leaving behind Israel (0 for 10) as the most unsuccessful.  For the third time in the last four years, Best Actress goes to a film not nominated for Best Picture; compare that to Best Actor (last winner without a BP nom in 2009) or Best Supporting Actress (last winner without a BP nom in 2008).  Ida breaks the streak of the Globes and Oscars agreeing on Best Foreign Film, but does mark the third year in a row that the BAFTAs and Oscars agree.  You can also find various Oscar morning trivia here.

  • Worst Oscar:  Best Supporting Actress for Patricia Arquette in Boyhood
  • Worst Oscar Nomination:  Best Makeup for Foxcatcher
  • Worst Oscar Omission:  Best Adapted Screenplay for Gone Girl
  • Worst Oscar-Nominated Film:  The Judge
  • Best Eligible Film with No Oscar Nominations:  The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them
  • Worst Oscar Category:  Best Original Song
  • Best Oscar Category:  Best Costume Design
  • Oscar / Nighthawk Award Agreements:  Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography, Art Direction, Visual Effects, Costume Design, Foreign Film

Golden Globes:  Gone Girl becomes the first film since Munich in 2005 and only the second film since 1978 to be nominated for Director and Screenplay but fail to be nominated for Picture (that was eligible for Picture); its 4 nominations are the most without a Picture nom since 2008.  Amy Adams becomes the first Actress to win Best Actress – Comedy in back-to-back years since Kathleen Turner in 1984 and 1985; she also becomes the first actress since 2008 and only the second since 2000 to win the award and fail to earn an Oscar nomination.  Birdman wins Best Screenplay but loses Best Picture – Comedy, the third film to do that in four years (following Midnight in Paris and Her); prior to that the last time this happened was in 1985.  Julianne Moore becomes the first actress since Sandra Bullock in 2009 to be nominated in both Actress categories, and like Bullock wins Actress – Drama.  Grand Budapest Hotel joins a distinguished list of films nominated for Picture – Comedy, Director and Screenplay to only win one award and have it be Picture – Comedy, a list that only includes M*A*S*H, Breaking Away, Hannah and Her Sisters and Hope and Glory.  There is also a variety of Globe related trivia here.

Awards:  Boyhood dominates the critics groups, which act a lot like 2009.  Boyhood has the 8th highest point total ever (1208), behind The Hurt Locker, in 7th.  Those are the two highest films in critics history to not earn points from all the major critics groups (NYFC, LAFC, BSFC, CFC, NSFC, NBR) because both were completely shutout by the NBR.  Also like 2009, the critics pretty much all agree on Supporting Actor (J.K. Simmons) and Supporting Actress (Patricia Arquette), but both of them also fail to get any love from the NBR.  Boyhood ends up with the 6th highest points total ever from the Boston Society of Film Critics.

For the third year in a row at the BAFTAs, neither Screenplay winner wins Best Picture.  Going 0 for 9, The Imitation Game is the biggest loser at the BAFTAs since 2004.  On the other hand, while Boyhood wins more awards than 12 Years a Slave and ties Argo with 3, it has only 320 points, the lowest for a Best Picture winner since 1989 and only 5 nominations, the lowest for a winner since 1985.  Birdman becomes the first film to lose the BAFTA and go on to win the Oscar since 2007.  The BAFTAs and Oscars agree on all four acting and all the tech categories as well as Foreign Film, but disagree on everything else (Picture, Director, both Screenplay awards, Animated Film).

Birdman becomes only the second film since 2005 to lose the BFCA but go on to win the Oscar.  Yet, it wins 5 awards at the BFCA (most for an eventual Oscar winner since 2000) and earns 475 points (most ever).  Unbroken becomes the first film with Picture, Director and Screenplay noms at the BFCA to not earn an Oscar nomination for Best Picture since Into the Wild in 2007.

Best Director:  In spite of the major awards, the Consensus winner was never really in question.  Richard Linklater had the highest total in four years, basically winning everything but the DGA, NBR and the Oscar (and the Nighthawk).  He’s followed by Alejandro González Iñárritu, with DGA and Oscar wins, nominations from BAFTA, Globes, BFCA, Satellites and the Indie Spirits.  The rest of the Consensus is Wes Anderson (DGA, Oscar, BAFTA, Globe, BFCA noms), Clint Eastwood (NBR win, DGA nom, BSFC runner-up) and David Fincher (Globe, BFCA, Satellite noms, CFC runner-up).  My own top 5 is González Iñárritu, followed by Anderson, Fincher, P.T. Anderson and Morten Tyldum (DGA, Oscar, Satellite noms).

Best Adapted Screenplay:  The Imitation Game wins the Consensus (not by much) by winning the Oscar and WGA and earning Globe, BAFTA and BFCA noms (it also wins the Scripter, though I don’t count that for Consensus consideration).  It has the lowest Consensus score for a winner in this category since 1999.  It’s helped because only two adapted scripts win critics awards, the lowest total since 2005.  In second place is Gone Girl, which wins the BFCA and CFC and earns WGA, Globe and BAFTA noms.  Those are followed by The Theory of Everything (BAFTA win, BFCA, Oscar noms – not WGA eligible), Inherent Vice (NBR win, BFCA, Oscar noms) and American Sniper (Oscar, WGA, BAFTA noms).  My own top 5 are The Imitation Game, Gone Girl, Inherent Vice, Still Alice and Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

Best Original Screenplay:  The Grand Budapest Hotel earns the second highest Consensus score ever in original Screenplay (behind only Pulp Fiction) by winning four critics groups (NYFC, LAFC, NSFC, CFC), the BAFTA and the WGA and earning Oscar, Globe and BFCA noms (it also wins the Nighthawk).  Birdman is in second place at the Consensus (and Nighthawks), winning the Oscar, Globe, BFCA and BSFC and earning a BAFTA nom (it wasn’t WGA eligible).  Boyhood also wins the BSFC and earns Oscar, Globe, BAFTA, BFCA and WGA noms to finish in third, followed by Nightcrawler and Whiplash (both earning Oscar, WGA, BAFTA and BFCA noms, though Whiplash’s Oscar nom is Adapted because of a bizarre interpretation of the rules).  I actually think Boyhood and Whiplash are brought down by their scripts.  My next three are The LEGO Movie (NBR winner), Nightcrawler and Interstellar.

Best Actor:  From 1938 to 2012, there were 76 Consensus Best Actor winners (in 1953 there was a tie).  Of those 76, 26 of them failed to win the Oscar.  Of those 26, only three were in the Oscar winner for Best Picture – Burt Lancaster in From Here to Eternity, Albert Finney in Tom Jones and Russell Crowe in A Beautiful Mind.  Lancaster tied for the win, Finney won by four points and Crowe by 20.  But last year, Chiwetel Ejiofor, in the Oscar winner for Best Picture, won the Consensus by 31 points (63 over the Oscar winner) and lost the Oscar and this year Michael Keaton wins the Consensus by 89 points and loses the Oscar.  Very strange.  We also have the second straight year of the Oscar winner having failed to win any critics awards.  The last time this happened in back-to-back year was 1992 and 1993 (and that 92 win was Pacino, one of Oscar’s worst choices) and the last time before that was 72-73-74.  The last two years the NYFC winner hasn’t even been nominated – it’s the first time in history that’s happened in back-to-back years; you have to go back to 1993 to find two more NYFC winners who failed to get Oscar noms.  The last two NSFC winners haven’t been Oscar nominated – the first time back-to-back winners failed to earn nominations since 1987 and 1988.  The top 5 at the Consensus are Michael Keaton (BSFC, CFC, NBR, Globe – Comedy, BFCA wins, SAG, Oscar, BAFTA noms), Eddie Redmayne (Oscar, SAG, BAFTA, Globe – Drama wins, BFCA nom), Benedict Cumberbatch (Oscar, SAG, BAFTA, Globe, BFCA noms), Timothy Spall (NYFC, NSFC wins) and Steve Carrell (SAG, Oscar, Globe noms, BAFTA nom for Supporting).  Jake Gyllenhall is just two points behind Carrell, with SAG, BAFTA, Globe and BFCA noms.  This year is just too ridiculously good.  I have not yet seen Mr. Turner or A Most Violent Year.  But I still feel the need to do a Top 10 to really do the category justice.  My Top 10, in order, are Michael Keaton, Benedict Cumberbatch, David Oyelowo (Globe, BFCA noms), Eddie Redmayne, Ralph Fiennes (BAFTA, Globe – Comedy, BFCA noms), then Jake Gyllenhall, Joaquin Phoenix (Globe – Comedy nom), Steve Carrell (who really belonged in supporting), Matthew McConaughy in Interstellar (which I thought was better than his Oscar winning performance the year before) and Ben Affleck in Gone Girl.  This still leaves out strong performances from Bradley Cooper (Oscar nom), Tom Hardy (LAFC win), Ellar Coltrane, Channing Tatum and Miles Teller.

Best Actress:  Julianne Moore takes a commanding win, winning all five awards groups (Oscar, SAG, BAFTA, Globe, BFCA) as well as the CFC and NBR (she also earns a Globe – Comedy nom, but since Maps to the Stars won’t be Oscar eligible until next year, that will count next year).  Now, I absolutely adore Moore – she wins the Nighthawk for Supporting Actress in 1997 and Actress in 1999 and earns at least five other Nighthawk nominations – she is amazing and her performance is amazing.  That being said, she barely just comes in 2nd place on my list to Rosamund Pike.  Pike would actually tie for 3rd place at the Consensus with Felicity Jones and Reese Witherspoon, as all three would earn noms from all five awards groups but nothing else.  But, surprisingly, the 2nd place finisher is Marion Cotillard.  That’s because, in spite of only earning Oscar and BFCA noms from the awards groups, she wins three critics awards: NYFC, NSFC and BSFC.  So, Jennifer Aniston can’t really complain about her Oscar “snub” – even had she been nominated for the Oscar she wouldn’t have made the Top 5 Consensus.  My own list is truncated at the moment, because I haven’t seen the performances from Cotillard (I have seen The Immigrant, which was part of two of her critics awards), Witherspoon or Aniston (or even Amy Adams, who won the Globe – Comedy and was BAFTA nominated).  So what does that leave me with?  My list is Pike, Moore, Jones, Cotillard (in The Immigrant) and Anne Hathaway, who I thought was really very good in Interstellar.

Best Supporting Actor:  There wasn’t a whole lot of dissent in this category.  J.K. Simmons won everything except the NBR.  Edward Norton, Mark Ruffalo and Ethan Hawke were all nominated by the Oscars, SAG, Globes, BAFTA and BFCA (Norton also won the NBR).  Robert Duvall was nominated by all except the BAFTAs (who nominated Steve Carrell, who, because I go with Oscar placement, I put in Actor, but I think the BAFTAs got it right).  Josh Brolin earned the sixth BFCA nom.  Well, here’s my dissent – I drop Duvall and Hawke (although Hawke is my 6th place finisher) and Simmons isn’t my winner.  My Top 5, in order, are Norton, Simmons, Ruffalo, Brolin and Alex Lawther, who was so very impressive as the young Alan Turing in The Imitation Game.

Best Supporting Actress:  Patricia Arquette wins the Consensus with the highest point total in 5 years, winning all the awards groups and four critics groups (she wins lead in LA).  Personally, I don’t understand it – I didn’t think she was all that good in the film.  She’s followed by Emma Stone (BSFC win, noms from all five groups) and Keira Knightley (noms from all five), Meryl Streep (four noms – didn’t get a BAFTA nom).  There was pretty widespread consensus for those four.  But the other spot couldn’t be agreed upon, with SAG, Oscars, Globes and BAFTAs all going in different directions.  Jessica Chastain takes the fifth spot with Globe and BFCA noms and a win from the NBR.  My own list, like with lead, is incomplete, because I haven’t seen the performances from Streep, Chastain, Naomi Watts (SAG nom) or Laura Dern (Oscar nom).  So, this is subject to change, but my top 5 at the moment is Stone, Knightley, Agata Kuleza in Ida (LAFC winner), Rene Russo in Nightcrawler (BAFTA nom) and Carrie Coon in Gone Girl.

That is one seriously appealing couple.  Or non-couple.  You have to see the movie.

That is one seriously appealing couple. Or non-couple. You have to see the movie.

Under-appreciated Film of 2014:

What if  (dir. Michael Dowse)

Daniel Radcliffe is no longer playing Harry Potter.  But that doesn’t mean he isn’t still making interesting movies.  In October he was the star of Horns, which was a flawed film (the last third of the book was never going to work too well on film, so they went way away from it and really rather mucked up the ending) but one in which he gave an interesting performance.  Before that there was What if, his romantic comedy about finding the right girl but finding her at the wrong time (it was originally called The F-Word, which would have been a better title but the winner of this year’s Let’s Not Let Marketing Choose The Title Because They’ll Make It Stupid and Bland Award goes to Begin Again, which was originally called Love is an Unfinished Song).

Daniel Radcliffe (who really is a very likable actor – I’m glad when he makes films since I don’t live in New York and can’t go see him on stage) and Zoe Kazan (who is really just adorable in everything) don’t really have a meet cute.  They meet the same way a lot of people do – at a party.  It’s just that Wallace (Radcliffe) has just been through an awful breakup (he found out his girlfriend was cheating on him) and he meets Chantry (Kazan) at a party (they discuss magnetic poetry as he plays around at the fridge) and instantly connects and walks her home, only then finding out she has a boyfriend.  Obviously, the goal of the film will be to find a way to make these two end up together – falling in love clearly won’t be the hard part.

The film helps us along with that by providing Zoe Kazan with an objectionable boyfriend.  One of my problems with a movie like Sleepless in Seattle is that Meg Ryan’s boyfriend, played by Bill Pullman, was nice, but a little pathetic.  Clearly they had to get rid of him so she could end up with Tom Hanks, but I always felt bad for him.  So, to get around that problem this film presents us with a boyfriend who is a workaholic, who takes a job on the other side of the ocean and who is played by Rafe Spall, who, for some reason, always makes me want to punch him in the face.  So, problem solved.

But that wouldn’t be enough if the couple in question didn’t really seem to belong together.  It’s not just that they are attracted to each other – they clearly are.  It’s that they have a chance to allow their friendship to grow naturally before that attraction has to get in the way.  They already know how much they genuinely like each other.  They find they have conversations that the other one is so in tune with (about, say, Cool Whip, or fool’s gold).  When they think they’re saying goodbye, they give each other the exact same gift because their minds are in tune.

But again, none of that would work if the film weren’t so likable.  It doesn’t just force the nice couple on us.  They’re counterbalanced nicely by the other couple, played by Adam Driver and MacKenzie Davis.  Driver has become the perfect person for a role like this – he’s utterly obnoxious and says whatever comes into his head, but because he genuinely cares about these people (Radcliffe is his best friend, Kazan is his cousin), it all works anyway (Driver is also good in a similar role in This is Where I Leave You).  Whether he’s trying to push too hard to get them together, explaining how he will always be honest in his new relationship (except for that moment in New Orleans – he’s definitely keeping quiet about that), or proclaiming loudly (“I just had sex and I’m gonna eat nachos.  This is the best day of my life.”), we are willing to forgive him, even when’s an asshole, because he really cares about these two and wants them to be happy (but, especially, be happy with each other).

Quite frankly, you might find this to be just another romantic comedy.  You might not find it as warm as Veronica and I did.  But it reminded us of when we first met (we bonded over our mutual love of Vonnegut and dislike of Emily Dickinson).  And we laughed a lot.  And in the end, we were won over.  You might be too.

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