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AMC

“Guess I got what I deserved.” Badfinger’s “Baby Blue” provided a fitting sendoff to arch criminal Walter White in the final scene of Vince Gilligan’s landmark television drama Breaking Bad. We guess that’s all the show had to say. All that remained was silence, and, honestly, a fairly formidable void. Where now would audiences go? What did we deserve? As far back as we can remember, crime films have been a staple of American cinema. From the roaring days of James Cagney and the Warner gangster movies to the golden age of Scorsese, it seemed evident that the one place crime almost always paid was at the theater. Still, when looking back over the year in film that was 2014, it can’t be denied that the genre took some rather interesting turns and indeed experienced an embarrassment of riches that would make Henry Hill’s Lufthansa heist seem like small potatoes.

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2014review_missed

As I said in the intro for our list of the year’s best films, 2014 has been a fantastic year at the movies.There was a lot to love, and that means there were a lot of films that simply didn’t make the cut on our other “Best of 2014″ lists. The fourteen movies below didn’t get much love during the year and failed to make much of a dent at the box-office, but they’re very much worth seeking out on Blu-ray, DVD, Netflix, iTunes or anywhere else unloved movies go to rest.

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Source Code

This article is presented in partnership with Cadillac. This summer, Cadillac and the Producers Guild of America launched Make Your Mark, a short film competition that challenged producers to create compelling content with limited resources. Contestants made a short film over a single weekend in late June, and you can watch the semi-finalists’ films at the Make Your Mark website. The 30-second Cadillac spot featuring the grand prize winner’s film will air during the 2015 Academy Awards. Few names radiate the characteristics of that competition like Hawk Koch, a producer who appears in the credits for a host of enduring classics (think Heaven Can Wait, Wayne’s World and Primal Fear). He’s been the president of AMPAS and of the Producers Guild, and he was also a judge for this year’s Make Your Mark short film competition. If you’ve ever wanted a direct line into the mind of someone picking official favorites for an event that can jumpstart careers, this conversation is it.

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Simple Math MYM

This post is in partnership with Cadillac This summer, Cadillac and the Producers Guild of America launched Make Your Mark, a short film competition that challenged producers to create compelling content with limited resources. Contestants made a short film over a single weekend in late June, and you can watch the semi-finalists’ films at the Make Your Mark website. The 30-second Cadillac spot featuring the grand prize winner’s film will air during the 2015 Academy Awards. Luckily, we’ll be speaking with one of the semi-finalist teams, Ian Wagner and Michael Burke, whose short film Simple Math earned them one of the top spots and a chance to compete for the grand prize. They’ll talk about the challenge of coordinating a cocktail party film shoot with less than a day’s notice and explain how they both ended up in the pool. Plus, Geoff and I open up the viewer listener mailbag to cover questions about Canadian movie favorites, the current state of thoughtful film journalism (the Star Wars 7 characters have names, people!), and other subjects of engrossing interest. You should follow the show (@brokenprojector), Geoff (@drgmlatulippe) and Scott (@scottmbeggs) on Twitter for more on a daily basis. Please review us on iTunes Download Episode #80 Directly Or subscribe through iTunes

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Dreamworks

  This article is presented in partnership with Cadillac. This summer, Cadillac and the Producers Guild of America launched Make Your Mark, a short film competition that challenged producers to create compelling content with limited resources. Contestants made a short film over a single weekend in late June, and you can watch the semi-finalists’ films at the Make Your Mark website. The 30-second Cadillac spot featuring the grand prize winner’s film will air during the 2015 Academy Awards. One of those filmmaking teams was lucky enough to receive mentorship from Bruce Cohen, the producer behind American Beauty, Big Fish, Milk, Silver Linings Playbook and more. He has more than three decades of experience, and for semi-finalists Tim Wen and Chidi Onyejuruwa, all of that was a phone call away. Cohen speaks with us about his approach to mentoring aspiring filmmakers and shares some advice about finding a balance between the height of your creative imagination and the practical limits of putting them on film.

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2014review_imports

We made a point with this year’s “Best of” lists to only include titles that received a U.S. release in 2014, but I’m not going to stick with that here. Foreign language films in particular can be difficult to highlight and give attention to if forced to wait for a proper American release — 2000’s Battle Royale, for example, took over a decade before getting a U.S. release — and many titles only see festival screenings before leaving our shores for good. So while the majority of the films below have been released in some form or other here in the States five of them remain outside the system. The odds are that some of them will debut here in 2015, and we’ll spread the word if and when that happens.

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2014review_scifi

Thanks to the continued popularity of superhero movies and YA literature adaptations and now the reignited interest in monsters, the joined genres of science fiction and fantasy are giving us what seems to be more releases than ever. It helps that computer effects are cheaper and easier for the benefit of indies and that so many makers of shorts see simple yet impressively visualized stories involving robots, dystopias and alien invasions as the perfect calling card for Hollywood. The plethora of works dealing with the unreal and as yet impossible means that while last year a Hobbit movie made the cut, this year the final chapter did not. It means that a new sci-fi film from Terry Gilliam, my longtime favorite director, also fell below our limit of the top 14. And it also means there was just too much out there for me to get around to. Apologies to Space Station 76, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1, The Boxtrolls, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, The Frame and many others. Some interesting trends to note about the year in sci-fi and fantasy before we get going: at least a few 2014 movies involve doppelgängers or doubles or clones or alternate versions of some sort; another bunch feature a plot similar to Groundhog Day; and a lot were not mere magic and space opera but rather emphasized the science side of sci-fi by at least promoting scientists and innovation (if not also always getting the tech or theories quite right). Also Scarlett Johansson.

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2014review_trailers

Movie trailers have become an odd business unto themselves. As the promotional budgets for blockbusters spiral upwards to ridiculous heights, we’ve recently seen the introduction of things like trailer teasers (ultra-brief trailers for trailers). Studios now want to build anticipation for things meant to build anticipation for other things. Where will it end? It won’t. Things will only get more ridiculous from here — just wait and see. Still, on their own, trailers make for addictive viewing. I reinforced that for myself in perusing every notable trailer that came out this year in order to make this list. They are made to suck you in, to be watched over and over; the hope is to create a void in the viewer that can only be satisfied by seeing the film proper. Taken independently of their films, trailers are curious beings. They are all potential, all speculation generators, even after their movies come out and we know whether their promise ends up fulfilled. Even though I didn’t end up enjoying the films that each trailer here promoted, I still come back to those trailers. They still stand alone as works of … perhaps not art, but something artistic, at least. So without further ado, here are 14 of the trailers I just couldn’t shake from 2014.

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20th Century Fox

Over the course of director Matthew Vaughn‘s career his love for James Bond has rang loud and clear. In Vaughn’s debut feature, Layer Cake, the suave anti-hero, XXXX (Daniel Craig), wields an old-fashioned gun with an ultra-cool pose that, for anyone who saw the film before Casino Royale, made Craig seem like an obvious contender for Bond. In the audio commentary for Layer Cake Vaughn mentions how XXXX, during that scene, “wants to be Bond.” Not only does XXXX want to be Bond, but Matthew Vaughn clearly wants — or wanted — to direct Bond. Now Vaughn has gotten his way by making a film that’s about as close one can get to Ian Fleming’s English spy. With Kingsman: The Secret Service, Vaughn has basically directed his own Bond picture, except without any self-seriousness, an anguished hero, or other modern Bond staples.

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2014review_rob

2014 has been a brilliant year for movies. We can talk all day long about the disappointments and straight-up garbage shoveled our way, but that’s a waste of time and effort when so much greatness is available too. So lets talk about the great ones. One quick note: There are always acclaimed films that slip by and go unseen before the year-end deadline, and this year is no different. So for what it’s worth, at the time of this writing I have yet to see Citizenfour, Foxcatcher, Inherent Vice and Selma.

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Sony Pictures

Update: Since the publication of this article, Sony has announced that it will not move forward with the release of the film on Christmas day. This further proves that an online release would be the best option at this point. What is Sony Pictures going to do with The Interview? The film, which has been cited as the reason why an online group perpetrated a massive hack and subsequent leak of corporate documents, emails and even several films, is due to be released in the United States on Christmas Day. Those who follow the world of film closely know that it’s just another bromance comedy for Seth Rogen and James Franco, who decided to follow up their Hollywood-set apocalypse tale This Is The End with something based in the real world. It just happens to be about one of the world’s most ruthless and least humorous regimes. Early word about the film itself is that it’s pretty funny, albeit far fetched. And as Rogen (who co-wrote with Evan Goldberg) explained on The Colbert Report earlier in the week, they actually make North Korean dictator Kim Jonh-Un out to be “sort of adorable.” North Korea didn’t get the joke. Hackers took the movie too seriously and now we sit, following one of the most massive corporate hacks in history, wondering what will happen to the movie itself. In recent days, the hackers have threatened theaters with violence. And while the Department of Homeland Security has said that there is no evidence of a credible threat, theaters have begun to […]

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Paramount Pictures

When considering the value of a film, there are at least two ways to think about it. You can measure its impact on you as an individual, or you can think about what it might mean for society as a whole. Ideally, we would do both, but it is often difficult to weigh the two against each other – especially at this time of year when we reduce the totality of a year in cinema to a simple list of ten. So let us, for the moment, put a film’s purely artistic achievements on the backburner, and celebrate those films that impact our world in a positive way. These socially-conscious movies dramatize the plight of oppressed or marginalized communities, bringing light to issues that too often seem to get stuck in the dark.

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2014review_music

2014 has been an exciting and fun time for movie music with a return to the classically styled soundtrack full of popular music to scores going against convention by adding an unexpected element (vocals) or honing in on a single instrument (percussion). We also got a bunch of catchy new songs to sing along with (and get stuck in our heads) along with scores that moved us, upset us, confused us, or simply made us smile. As films and filmmakers stretch themselves to bring audiences fresh, new stories, those creating the music are starting to push the boundaries as well (or return to more “vintage” means) to mix things up and keep audiences guessing. The movies of 2014 had a very distinct sound that spanned a wide range of genres and musical styles. This year introduced us to some new talent, showed us a new side of familiar names, and had favorites working at the top of their game – read on to listen through the film sound of 2014.

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2014_review_action

There were some fantastically great action films released in 2014, but 2014 was not a great year for action films. The horror genre had no such shortage (as evidenced by the greatness occupying our list of the year’s best) and you can probably name several comedies that had you busting a gut in 2014, but action films? There weren’t very many, and what there was rarely impressed. But sometimes you find great action in less than great movies, and with that understanding I was able to find 14 movies that fit the bill as the Best Action Films of 2014. Well, almost.

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Selma

“That’s why Rosa sat on the bus; That’s why we walk through Ferguson with our hands up.” Those lyrics can be heard in John Legend and Common‘s “Glory,” a new song that plays during the end credits of Selma and makes the connection between the 50-year-old events depicted in the movie and the current events continuing to affect the nation. No, the movie isn’t about or related to Rosa Parks, but that line represents the beginnings of the African-American Civil Rights Movement that 10 years later was still unfinished, even after the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and obviously remains unfinished to this day. Had there been more time for the completion of the movie and soundtrack, perhaps there’d also be another lyric in “Glory” referencing Eric Garner’s last words of “I Can’t Breathe,” which has been adopted as a statement of protest against race-related police brutality and lack of repercussions. When the Ferguson Grand Jury decision was announced late last month, there was backlash against “insensitive” tweets and other public acknowledgment of the link between the aftermath of the Michael Brown shooting and Selma, which was a month away from hitting theaters (we’ve still got a week until it opens in limited release on Christmas, while most of America won’t have the chance to see it until its January 9th expansion). The issue was mostly taken up with anyone remarking about the movie’s Oscar chances in the wake of the Grand Jury results. They immediately noted the accidental relevance of a movie about the 1965 Selma […]

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20th Century Fox

Far too often, people tend to associate “big movie” with “bad movie.” If I was to wrangle up half a billion dollars for a film about cats that can ice dance, there’s no doubt you’d question my motives in doing so. It doesn’t matter if teaching cats to arabesque really is a hundred-million-dollar expenditure or if doing so would guarantee Two Meows on the Rink as the herald of a new golden age in cinema – with the term “blockbuster” comes phantom thoughts of brainless toy commercial cash-ins. It certainly doesn’t help that this year’ biggest movie, Transformers: Age of Extinction, was indeed a brainless toy commercial cash-in. But in 2014, Transformers was the exception, not the rule. This was a year when we went to the movies not just to see things explode, but for movies that would challenge us, intellectually… with explosions. And I’m just talking about December, when everyone’s rushing to see a slew of potential Oscar winners, but during the summer — the portion of the year usually cordoned off for spandex, fireballs and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson challenging Sylvester Stallone to a sheet-metal eating contest. What follows are the 20 biggest worldwide box office earners of the year.

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Ava DuVernay

The film Selma – or, more correctly, the film that would become Selma – has been in various states of creation and production for years. In 2008, screenwriter Paul Webb made Variety’s 10 Screenwriters to Watch list, where his own story (screenwriting wasn’t just a second act career for the then-sixty-year-old, it was actually a third) helped market his Martin Luther King, Jr.-centric script, which was believed to be set for a snappy and soon production. In 2009, Lee Daniels signed on to direct the film, ultimately leaving the project to direct The Butler. It wasn’t until nearly three years after Daniels exited the project that a new director was announced for the feature. Her name is Ava DuVernay, and she is our filmmaker of the year.

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LORD OF ILLUSIONS discs

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. Lord of Illusions Members of a cult rebel against their leader when he takes a young girl hostage, but thirteen years later the man they left for dead threatens to return from the underworld. Members still loyal to him begin slaughtering the innocent in preparation for his return, and a NYC detective (Scott Bakula) with a history of taking cases that lean towards the supernatural might be all that stands in the way of the murder of the world. Clive Barker‘s third and final feature as director brings together all of his trademarks — nightmarish visions, a disdain for religion, a terrible sense of fashion — and mashes them into a tale that combines noir elements with the supernatural. He delivers some wonderfully creepy and icky visuals involving the cult members and like the story it’s based on it makes me look forward to the return of Harry D’Amour in Barker’s upcoming novel. As much as I love Barker’s fiction though he’s not always the best person to bring them to cinematic life — because his appetite for cheese is never satiated. Some of the digital effects are dated too, although the practical work is all still stellar. [Blu-ray/DVD extras: Theatrical and director’s cuts, commentary, featurettes, deleted scenes, interview, photo gallery]

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Carrie Coon in Gone Girl

A few months ago, Pete Hammond of Deadline proposed that the Academy should increase the number of Oscar nominees in the lead actor category, because the “traffic jam is just too much.” That’s just the male leads, apparently, as he was focusing on the “just under 30″ possibilities for the actor race and acknowledge that once again the lead actress category is struggling to find worthy contenders (see our response to the claim that there aren’t enough to fill five slots). Obviously there are more male lead roles out there because there are more movies with male protagonists, but never mind the two lead categories, both of which should stay just as they are. The two supporting acting awards, however, should be allowed more names in the ring. There’s never any shortage of great performances in lesser parts, and as usual this year we’re seeing some deserving players go unrecognized. Two actresses that have been mostly overlooked this season are Gone Girl‘s Carrie Coon and Nymphomaniac‘s Uma Thurman. I am among those disappointed that neither has won or at least been nominated for any major awards lately. I personally voted for the two women (alongside my third pick, Tilda Swinton in Snowpiercer) with my Critics Choice Awards ballot, but they didn’t make the cut. Not that any of those actually nominated by the BFCA shouldn’t be there — well, okay, maybe Meryl Streep for Into the Woods, but I haven’t seen that movie yet and can’t judge. The issue is that for […]

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2014review_tv

Television! The original moving picture-centric method of in-home entertainment. The boob tube has gone through significant changes over the past few years, earning some long-fought-for respect and gifting the world with the kind of bold and original programming that doesn’t always find its way to the big screen. Alternative networks, from Netflix to paid premium channels like HBO, continued to flex their creative muscles, and the result has so far been a new, if not golden, at least silver age of television. Of note: this year’s list is a combination of returning shows that exhibited some extra achievement and newbie series that display significant promise. It’s not perfect — no list is, after all — but it serves to illuminate the shows that, for various reasons, were truly the best of the year. From series approaching the end of their runs to recent debuts that have already impressed us, it’s a massively mixed bag, but the quality is consistent. These are the shows you should be watching.

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published: 12.23.2014
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published: 12.22.2014
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published: 12.19.2014
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