Happy New Year 2015

What an amazing year 2014 was. Especially when it came to film. I saw the most diverse group of films this year:

  1. Her (Spike Jones)
  2. The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson)
  3. The Lego Movie (Phil Lord, Christopher Miller)
  4. An Eye for Beauty (Denys Arcand, TIFF screening)
  5. Madame Bovary (Sophie Barthes)
  6. Girlhood (CĂ©line Sciamma, TIFF screening)
  7. The F Word (special TIFF screening)
  8. Gone Girl (David Fincher)
  9. Top Five (Chris Rock)
  10. Interstellar (Christopher Nolan)
  11. Imitation Game (Morten Tyldum)

Other films I want to catch up on such as Dear White People, Pride, Only Lovers Left Alive, and The Lunchbox are thankfully playing at local Toronto indie theatres.

What ceases to amaze me is how easy it is to become wrapped up in these fictional worlds for two hours. How easy it is to be that beauty on screen, the astronaut going to space, the femme fatale, the genius, and the witty comedian. Not only do the stories capture my interests but the art and craft of creating the films: the editing, the special effects, the musical compositions, the cinematography and costume departments.

If you are looking to get caught up on some much needed popcorn and relaxing time, here are my top choices based on the following criteria:

Comedy

Top Five is an immensely intelligent film, intermixing comedic skits with serious conversation centered around race and film. The film opens with a complex and intriguing suggestion: the main character states that all films are political - suggesting all films either explicitly or implicitly argue for a certain way of life. Something to think about as you laugh and ponder you way through this film.

Thriller and suspense

Gone Girl fulfilled my much needed Hitchcockian need for a thriller film this past year. Taking what appears to be an idyllic situation (a marriage full of love and bliss) and twisting the heck out of it until we are left feeling uncomfortable, uneasy, and frankly mystified. If you are interested in a plot that centres on the need for control between a husband and his strong femme fatale wife, this is for you. Warning, this film does have explicit graphic scenes.

Love

The F Word premiered at TIFF in 2013 and was released in Canada and the States (As What If). What a film packed with witty dialogue, real life situations (no seriously I know all those places in Toronto) and likeable characters. Dear Elan Mastai, thank you for such BRILLIANT original content. Though spun from a short theatrical staged production, Elan Mastai spent ten years producing this masterpiece and I couldn't be more thrilled that it ended up being filmed in Toronto, showcasing it in all its beauty. There is a little something for everyone in this film. And I don't say that to mean it is utilitarian - it is definitely indie and very niche, but there is something universal about the characters that makes you ponder - "wow, I've done that before." Daniel Radcliffe is awesome and Zoe Kazan is magical. From live projection mapping, to Fool's Gold, to trips to Amsterdam, this film is one in a million.

Kid friendly and secretly for adults too 

The Lego Movie. Need I say anything more? Who doesn't enjoy playing with lego? Now you can sit for an hour and be immersed into a fun packed world of lego characters with a fun twist at the end that will have your hands twitching and aching to play with those long forgotten childhood toys.

Quirky in the best way 

I saw The Grand Budapest Hotel twice in theatres and officially have my very own copy on DVD. A joyous tale within a tale within a tale... full of intricate characters, your typical and lovable Wes Anderson flair, and emotional conflicts that are resolved most bizarrely. Just watch it. Seriously.

Une Film Canadienne

one of my favourite parts about TIFF is being able to access all the great Canadian films that I am otherwise limited to throughout the year. I got to see An Eye for Beauty at TIFF and Denys Arcand, himself, came out on stage for a Q & A afterwards. I was so awestruck by the beauty of the film - so deeply involved in the characters and their lives. I felt the truth of the images and reality of their situations. All of it rendered in an artistically beautiful way with stunning scenery, interesting and modern architecture, and suave cinematography. We are so lucky to have such talent here in our own backyards.

Best foreign film

If you have the chance, go see Girlhood. Not only did it have the best soundtrack in 2014, the actors were raw, the story was raw, and everything about the film was (can you guess?) raw. I was sent for an emotional rollercoaster, and no, this one doesn't end in Disney World. But it really gives you a breakdown of what a girl goes through as a teenager in suburban areas. Did I mention how amazing the soundtrack was?

I'd love to hear your thoughts about this past year in theatres and make some new suggestions for all us hungry cineastes in the world!

Looking forward to seeing what is in store this coming year.

- Jenn