You could have predicted as early as 12 years ago that Richard Linklater’s Boyhood would be my favorite film of 2014. That’s when he started shooting this examination of a boy’s life from kindergarten through the start of college.
I’m a Linklater fanboy, for starters, and I’m a sucker for this sort of visual time travel. I’m the guy who takes a beach photo every year on my daughters’ birthdays so I can run them in a sequence and marvel at their growth.
Jon Favreau delivered an unexpected delight, and my second favorite movie of the year so far, with Chef, the tale of an L.A.-based chef who reconnects with both his love of cooking and his son.
Chef is a smart comedy, a tender film about family, a sumptuous travelogue and one of the best foodie movies ever made. You will never look at a grilled cheese sandwich quite the same way again.
The LEGO Movie is the happiest surprise of the year so far. What could have been a crass attempt to market an already over-exposed toy line is instead a witty, wise and subversive burst of ecstatic filmmaking.
This kids’ movie is both the funniest and one of the most profound films of the year. It’s also the most visually impressive, with every inch of the frame put to brilliant use.
As Wes Anderson has released his meticulous cinematic concoctions at a clip of about one every three years, a segment of the audience has begun to tire of him.
I sympathize with those naysayers. I can’t deny that his films have an insular, fussed-over quality that sets them a little too far away from what most of us consider real life. It’s tempting to be turned off by the certainty that he spent as much time worrying about the art direction and costumes as he did about the script and actors.
Given the back-loaded nature of major movie releases, I think it’s safe to call late August the mid-point of the cinematic year. So this week I’ll count down my top five films of 2014 so far.
This is a very strong list. It’s hard for me to imagine any of these five movies not being in my top ten at the end of the year, but with an impressive slate of films still to come, I’m sure that’s a possibility. Good problem to have.
Most memorable films make good use of music, and these are no exception. I’ll feature a soundtrack tune from each.
My first introduction to Eminem was through the Marshall Mathers LP, the record that launched him to superstar status. That album generated critical raves and public outrage in equal measure and forced pretty much everybody to have an opinion about the rapper.
I was a huge fan of the album, despite its often disturbing content, but I wasn’t sure if it was a one-off or if I could truly call myself an Eminem fan.
Today’s Random Weekend selection is the opening track from Paul Simon’s 1983 album Hearts and Bones. This was Simon’s first record in eight years following the release of Still Crazy After All These Years.
Fans who had been waiting with bated breath for new music from Simon must have been scratching their heads when the first song they heard was this bizarre track. Could a lyrical genius like Simon really be singing lines like “Where do allergies go when it’s after a show and they want to get something to eat?”