With awards season in full swing, AARP Nevada ambassador Janice Alpern, a longtime volunteer and arts fan who leads the Cinemaniacs movie club, offers her thoughts on favorite movies of 2014. If you live in the metro Las Vegas area and are interested in talking film with fellow movie buffs, join the Cinemaniacs and learn about upcoming meetings by registering here. You can also follow Janice on Twitter at @JaniceO9271
Ten Favorite Films of 2014
By Janice Alpern
ke many other avid moviegoers, I’ve been keeping an eye on the nominations and winners this award season. In the run-up to the Oscars with everyone focused on just the potential winners, I thought I’d share my list of personal favorites for the year – including a few that I felt were overlooked for awards, and others that were just flat-out entertaining. They are listed in no particular order:
- Into the Woods - Terrific ensemble cast – and living legend Meryl Streep continues to amaze as The Witch. Director Rob Marshall is a creative genius.
- Wild - Reese Witherspoon gives a stunning performance as Cheryl Strayed, author of the book the film is based on. An uplifting story that inspires.
- American Sniper - It is my hope that this film will win the Oscar for Best Picture. Bradley Cooper gives it his all as Chris Kyle, and Sienna Miller is amazing in the role of his wife, Taya.
- The Judge - The acting - and especially the verbal sparring between Robert Downey, Jr. and Robert Duvall - was so well executed. What really stood out to me was the screenplay. Seeing this solid film reminded me why I am passionate about movies.
- Nightcrawler - I was actually on the fence about seeing this, and went in expecting only a fair movie with a good performance by Jake Gyllenhaal. Wrong. It was a terrific screenplay that held my interest throughout, with a truly memorable (and creepy!) performance by Jake Gyllenhaal as Lou Bloom. I must also mention Riz Ahmed, as Rick, Lou's "partner in crime" - he's a natural!
- St. Vincent - Although billed as a comedy, this film was truly a dramedy. In a stellar performance, Bill Murray makes you laugh, then want to cry. Really enjoyed the strong ensemble cast as well. Naomi Watts is a hoot as the Russian "lady of the night," and Jaeden Leiberher simply steals your heart.
- Whiplash - Positively riveting. One of the best films of the year. Miles Teller was flawless in his portrayal of a young drummer obsessed with becoming the best, with J.K. Simmons as his overbearing (to say the least) music teacher.
- The Skeleton Twins - A touching, oft times humorous story of a brother and sister, estranged for ten years; and their relationship from that point on with flashbacks to their quirky childhood.
- Interstellar – Brilliant - thanks to the direction of Christopher Nolan and his collaboration with his brother on the screenplay. It was to me, otherworldly, and definitely thought provoking.
- Guardians of the Galaxy - Although science fiction is not typically my genre of choice, this was so totally well done. Lots of cleverly staged action, and Chris Pratt was hilarious as Peter Quill, a.k.a. Star Lord.