Notes from awards committee:
2014 was not the most impressive year for “great” movies. There was a surplus of message movies - prestige dramas with serious points and even more serious actors – overacting with gusto. The Imitation Game, Unbroken, Selma, Theory of Everything and Birdman: all of them aesthetically on par with a decent television movie, yet featuring few, if any, inspiring performances and no memorable images. Hell, I’d rather watch a Godzilla sequel. With so many forgettable releases, it not surprising that year-on-year box office receipts were down over half a billion dollars. We want the motion pictures that stick with us in a good way, that inspire repeat viewings and leave indelible images of high visual impact. And asking; When can I buy the DVD?
HouseClark disagrees with the Academy on all three top awards, and agreed on only two or three nominations. American Sniper, the latest anti-war, drama-adventure about war in Mess-of-potemia, drove the U.S. box office but did not scream, “Movie of the Year” to us, or most other cinema fans. We did present Brad Cooper the Simpson Best Actor award for American Sniper. The movie would have suffered without him, so we corrected a glaring Academy mistake. We liked Nightcrawler for Best Picture award; it is so much better and memorable than the boring, navel gazing Birdman. Alicia Vikander as Ava, the sexiest and most dangerous robot of the year in Ex Machina, took Best Actress award and vaulted sci-fi movies to new level. Ava has the ability to engage in human-like conversations (Turing Test), and also learned to manipulate the people that created her or think they control her. Vikander was convincing in a challenging role with a cool twist on humanoid A.I.
The rom-com Blended with Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler was LOL funny, and scored the best comedy of the year.
Katie Holmes in Miss Meadows shows spirit and attitude as she declares, “I change my style for nobody.” She also shoots a few bad guys.
Chef, a movie about a food truck business operated by a professional cook and his son, put Cuban cuisine on the American table.
The Raid 2 – a kick-ass martial arts action movie set in Jakarta, Indonesia.
John Wick – One internet guttersnipe quipped, “Just because Reeves stopped shaving doesn’t mean he can act.” To which we reply: But he sure can handle a pistol like a pro. Reeves is one of the few professional actors who has learned basic & advanced weapons skills and has trained with World Champion shooter, Taran Butler. Outside the movie biz he also spends range time to enjoy his own recreational shooting. He can actually do those quick mag changes you see on screen. When you see him manipulating weapons on screen, that's practiced skill, not acting. Two scenes stand out in the movie – Wick ensures each foe is shot once before getting a second round; and we also see him keep eyes on the threat as he reloads. Those are tactical skills taught in every defensive pistol course. (Footnote in 2022) Keanu Reeves is the last actor in Hollywood you have to worry about mishandling a firearm and shooting his camera director.
No one was more annoying than Diane Keaton and Michael Douglas in the terrible, cringey, not funny rom-com, And So It Goes. Another not funny comedy was Woody Allen's Magic in the Moonlight. You know something's wrong when you see another pervy Geezer – Gidget romance, but what do you expect from Woody Allen?
Our biggest letdown was Interstellar. We watched it on the big screen in a sold out theatre. Here’s the fatal flaw of the movie – It took FOREVER to get our hero off the Kansas corn farm and into the rocket to save the world. I was surrounded by people dozing off – and that’s never a good sign in a big budget adventure film. It was all over for me when the crew made it through the Worm Hole only to get confused about how to select the new planet Earth. I am pretty sure that would have been settled by the brain trust on Earth before blast off. What a joke!