Wednesday, 31 December 2014

EYEWEAR'S TOP FILM AND TV IN 2014

Gone Man, sadly
Eyewear can't see everything, even with our x-ray specs.

We loved House of Cards, Homeland, The AmericansHelix, Halt And Catch Fire, Gone Girl, and a bunch of other TV shows and movies, from The Grand Budapest Hotel to The Lego Movie to The Drop, The Equalizer, Deliver Us From Evil and The Giver to Interstellar to Guardians of the Galaxy to Peter Jackson's rip-roaring final Hobbit film; as well as the creepy voyeurism/news satirical thriller Nightcrawler (with a great turn by Rene Russo).  Not to mention the impeccable yet odd homage to 80s erotic thrillers/slasher/actioner films, The Guest, the year's guiltiest pleasure. Another fine film was Belfast-based thriller '71, with an impeccable recreation of a visual and film stock style from 40 years ago. Locke, with Tom Hardy, our favourite new actor, was a brilliant one-hander, a sort of 2001: A Birmingham-London Odyssey. Not to mention The Imitation Game, Birdman, and Whiplash (all good but over-rated).

EYEWEAR BEST ACTRESS IN A TV SERIES OR MINI-SERIES 2014
Gillian Anderson - The Fall 2. Anderson has not been so riveting since House of Mirth years ago, and makes her British detective a more mature and complex counterpoint to her earlier iconic role as Scully.  This often nasty series is a new Prime Suspect-quality show, that, despite its visual cruelty, yields striking performances.

EYEWEAR BEST ACTOR IN A TV SERIES OR MINI-SERIES 2014
Woody Harrelson - True Detective.  The true believer might opt for the gaunt haunted McConaughey, who is brilliant in this great series (see below) however Harrelson's everyman turn as the Horatio-like foil to Rust's Hamlet is actually the more challenging role, and he gets it so right.

EYEWEAR BEST TV MINI-SERIES 2014
True Detective. This brief, literate, weird, and profoundly mythic reimagining of American noir through HP Lovecraft and anti-natalist thinking is one of the finest TV shows ever made. It bears comparison with Twin Peaks and the X-Files for astonishment factor, the uncanny and quality.

EYEWEAR BEST TV SERIES 2014
House of Cards, Transparent, Orange Is The New Black, The Americans... all these and others have claim to being great TV - but in the first year since Breaking Bad ended its triumphant run, and became one of the great cultural products of the decade, no show could lay claim to such monumental greatness.

One show, however, received almost no attention or acclaim at all, and this was little-seen Manhattan, a perfectly-realised, brilliantly-acted ensemble drama set in a slightly-fictionalised Manhattan Project microcosm in the Mojave desert. Filmed with the gravitas of Brideshead Revisited, and as intelligent as the best BBC or PBS dramas of yore, it combined intelligent elements of history and science seamlessly with concerns about sexual identity, intellectual purpose, and moral values, and was often erotic and thrilling, at once.

EYEWEAR BEST FILM 2014
Selma. Simply put, the finest, most moving portrait of MLK ever filmed. The fact this uplifting, beautifully orchestrated, impeccably acted movie, funny, terrifying, inspiring, eye-opening, was directed by an African-American woman, who was neglected at the Oscars, well, is shameful.

EYEWEAR BEST ACTOR IN A MOTION PICTURE 2014
Philip Seymour Hoffman - A Most Wanted Man.  This is my sentimental favourite.  This was a strange, completely mesmerising, transformative performance, with a ball of rage exploding at the end, which sums up the master's great curtailed career.

EYEWEAR BEST ACTESS IN A MOTION PICTURE 2014
Rosamund Pike - Gone Girl. Pike might be seen as a surprise choice in this category, but she was fascinating, hugely poised and watchable, and ultimately shocking, in her complex role within roles of the perfect cool girlfriend gone sour as the bad wife.

EYEWEAR BEST MOTION PICTURE SOUNDTRACK 2014
'71. The Belfast-set film's use of an ominous tribalistic drumbeat, and sorrowful folk tune, managed to both ratchet up the tension, serve as a coda at the mournful end, and also signal rays of hope amid the mayhem.

EYEWEAR WORST MOTION PICTURE OF 2014
Grace of Monaco - this would have been my favourite bad movie of the year if The Guest had not cleverly adapted the very idea of a pre-planned cult movie and made itself such. A bizarrely affectless and yet at times histrionic telling of how little Monaco stood up to de Gaulle with the thanks of the intelligence of Grace Kelly, the movie star, who turned her back on Marnie and Hitchcock to be the perfect princess. Wooden, clumsy, contrived, and yet wonderfully kitsch.

edited January 29, 2014.






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