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So as you know, I stopped writing lengthy reviews on this site this year, keeping the blog as more of a film diary of sorts.  Lo and behold,...

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

The 2014 RyMickey Awards - Best Director

We're heading into the sixth year of these awards and so far my Best Director has matched the Oscar winner four out of five times.  Will this year continue that trend?  It should be noted that in the past, I've only presented a Top Five with Honorable Mentions in this category, but this year's field was so strong, I increased to a Top Ten with another five Honorable Mentions.  Good stuff this year.

Best Director of 2014
(SoN = Streaming on Netflix / SoA = Streaming on Amazon Prime)

Honorable Mentions
  • 15 -Wes Anderson - Grand Budapest Hotel - Quirkiness can only go so far, but his aesthetic is still appealing to me
  • 14 - Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu - Birdman - So obviously my award doesn't match up with Oscar this year.  I appreciated the "one cut" look, but I didn't get the film
  • 13 - Anthony and Joe Russo - Captain America: The Winter Soldier - The best Marvel movie to date with some killer action scenes
  • 12 - Morten Tyldum - Imitation Game - Anyone who makes a biopic watchable is a winner in my book
  • 11 - Pawel Pawlokowski - Ida - Somehow, he crafts beauty from such a depressing piece (SoN)

And the Top Ten...

#10 - Jennifer Kent - The Babadook
While I enjoyed The Babadook, I wasn't quite fawning over it as much as other critics.  However, in her first feature film, director Jennifer Kent manages to create a horrific gothic storybook atmosphere,  muster up great amounts of tension, and get two fantastic performances from her leads. (SoN)

#9- Doug Liman - Edge of Tomorrow
By far, the best "popcorn" picture of the year, Doug Liman has one of the trickiest jobs of anyone on this list -- making a film that keeps repeating itself enjoyable and not tedious.  He succeeds without question.

#8 - Damián Szifrón - Wild Tales
Able to perfectly balance the dark humor and the heavy drama, Szifrón manages to make an anthology piece made up of six short films feel oddly connected yet individual at the same time.

#7 - Ava DuVernay - Selma
There's power in the images that Ava Duvernay brings to the screen in Selma -- the opening scene alone still vividly remains in my mind if ever I think about the film.  She doesn't pull out too many tricks (and sometimes when she does they don't quite land), but that's okay as she places the focus squarely on a few weeks/months in the life of Martin Luther King, Jr.

#6 - Bong Joon Ho - Snowpiercer
In his first English-language film, Bong Joon Ho melds the typical Asian action flick aesthetic with serious drama.  Moving through a variety of ingenious set pieces, he visually takes us on a roller coaster ride while never forsaking the human drama of the film.

#5 - Bennett Miller - Foxcatcher
Miller lets Foxcatcher just sit there at times.  We may think that nothing's happening, but what Miller is doing is creating this lingering sense of heavy dread while also allowing the relationships between the characters to become fleshed out...even in (and in large part due to) the multitude of awkward silences.

#4 - Richard Linklater - Boyhood
While I understand the need for the film's length, Richard Linklater needed to leave a little more on the cutting room floor in Boyhood.  That being said, it's impossible for me not to recognize the unique cinematic experience that is Boyhood.  Were I an Oscar voter, the ballsiness of this project would've garnered the director my vote.

#3 - James Marsh - The Theory of Everything
Rather than hide the fact that this is a romance, James Marsh fills the screen with images of two people wooing one another, falling in love, and helping to make each other's lives better.  He gets fantastic performances from his leads and together they create a connection that builds and blossoms as the movie progresses.  As an added appreciation, I loved the flashback at the end with scenes being played out as if they were home movies.  This should've read "corny," but it came off as quite moving.  That said -- and what kept him out of the top two spots -- the film attempts to hide infidelities between its two characters in a rather vague way in its final third and I feel like Marsh was attempting to appease the real-life personas in doing so.  Still, it's a minor qualm from an otherwise great film.

#2 - Damien Chazelle - Whiplash
Not only does relative newcomer Chazelle craft a believable relationship between his two stars, but he also creates excitement in finding new and creative ways to showcase music as the film progresses.  Who knew playing drums in a jazz band could genuinely be so exciting?  We in the audience oftentimes feel as if we're part of the frenetic and vibrant atmosphere.

#1 - David Fincher - Gone Girl
David Fincher pieces together Gillian Flynn's screenplay like a puzzle and as the picture becomes disturbingly clearer, we see how warped all the relationships in this film really are.  Add to that, a lambasting of the media's newfound fascination with "creating" news stories and amping them up nth degrees and Fincher has created a rather epic mystery with strong social commentary that twists and turns with ease.

Previous RyMickey Award Winners
2013    --    2012
2011    --    2010

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