December Movie Updates

We’re officially a week into 2015 which means I’m officially a week behind on this blog post. But I’ll just assume you are all wildly understanding readers and know how crazy the holidays are and have already forgiven me for the agonizing wait for my highly anticipated updates.

So right then, thanks for that and moving on!

December was a beautiful month with so many beautiful movies. I tried to pack in a double feature at least once a week since I had quite a few to catch up on. So without further ado, here are my thoughts on last month’s films:

**Read at your own risk – possible spoiler alerts for:
Foxcatcher, Wild, Nightcrawler, Fury, Into the Woods, Unbroken, Inherent Vice

This was one of my most highly anticipated films of the year, and it did not disappoint. I was expecting it to be much more in the mainstream style of this year’s biopics (The Imitation Game, Theory of Everything, etc.), so I was pretty surprised at its slow but steady pace. The overall tone was very Paul Thomas Anderson, which was interesting to see blended with director Bennett Miller’s own unique touches. Probably not a film you’ll want to see late at night as it does take its sweet time but well worth checking out, if only for the brilliant acting from the three leads. Steve Carrell is unrecognizable in his transformation into John du Pont, but both Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo hold their own alongside him, creating an unstoppable ensemble and delivering performances for the books.

One of my favorites of 2014. And unsurprisingly one of the most underrated. Reese Witherspoon delivers an incredibly raw and touching performance as Cheryl Strayed, bringing her story to life in a way that seems unreal yet so, so real. The film manages to show this woman’s extraordinary accomplishment to overcome her awful yet ordinary demons without over-glamorizing her achievement. Strayed’s story is inspiration enough but it’s the subtle back-and-forth between the flashbacks and the journey that really bring the film together. Why this movie is not getting more Best Picture buzz is beyond me. I’d hate to chalk it up to the fact that it’s female-led, female-produced, and female-inspired but then again…

So I’ve been a fan of Jake Gyllenhaal for years now. I’m talking like middle school Donnie Darko and The Day After Tomorrow years ago. It is a testament to his brilliant performance in this movie that I am now so unbelievably creeped out by him, I shudder just reading his name. His embodiment and transformation into the shady, creepy Louis Bloom is so impacting, I had difficulty thinking of anything else. The film itself was good, nothing spectacular but still a fascinating storyline that kept me mesmerized in spite of myself. Gyllenhaal has a decent chance at the Best Actor nom, and I wouldn’t argue against it. I just need him to make a cute dumb rom-com like stat so I can stop being so scared every time I see him.

I don’t have much to say about Fury other than it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. I did a double feature with Nightcrawler or else I probably wouldn’t have bothered and just waited for it to come out on-demand. That being said, I had pretty meh expectations, and the film definitely surprised me. Though I’ve never been a fan of gore (sorry Tarantino), I think it was one of the more decent and different war movies I’ve seen in a while. Brad Pitt was great as usual but the big surprise was Shia Labeouf. His impressive performance stayed with me the most. Doubt it will be a player this awards season in any capacity but it’ll make a great choice for a movie night in a few months.

Into the Woods
Disclaimer: I’m a huge fan of musical theater and Steven Sondheim and this musical and definitely listened to the film’s Deluxe Soundtrack on repeat for like two weeks straight as soon as it was put on Spotify (yes all 50 tracks) so I might have come into this movie a little biased but whatever. I thought it was brilliant. Film adaptations of musicals are always hit or miss (cough Mamma we-will-never-speak-of-this-again Mia cough), but I think director Rob Marshall nailed it this time around. Not to mention the spot-on casting and acting all around. Who knew Chris Pine could sing?! And be funny?! At the same time?! And Meryl Streep proves once again that she was put on this earth from an alien planet where everyone is perfect and her only mission is to put us all to shame. Slay, Meryl. Slay. Also I am very happy that James Corden and Emily Blunt are getting more mainstream attention because they are both precious talented nuggets who deserve all the things. Okay I’m done go watch this movie.

Another one of my most highly anticipated movies of the year. Count me out of the Angelina Jolie haters, I think she’s an incredibly talented woman and her work gets better with each project. This film had its flaws to be sure. Pacing felt a bit off, and I wish we had been given a chance to connect more with Louis Zamperini (played brilliantly by British newcomer Jack O’Connell) from a human struggle perspective rather than an outsider watching a hero perspective. That being said, I was beyond impressed with the cinematography, set and production design, and costume design. The visuals were stunning all around, the acting was terrific, and though it probably won’t do as well in awards as it (so clearly) hopes, it should still definitely be on your must-see list.

Inherent Vice
The last movie I saw in 2014. Literally saw it on New Year’s Eve. Because how else am I going to say goodbye to the year than with a good old-fashioned Paul Thomas Anderson film with all the fixings. I’ll say up front, this movie is not for everyone. Then again, PTA has never cared about the mainstream, which is why he will always be one of my faves. His works have always been passion projects, led by his unique vision and distinct talent. I don’t always like them but I always love watching them. Inherent Vice was no different, though the all-star cast probably propelled it more into the mainstream than his last work, The Master. Brilliant performances all around, and none more so than Joaquin Phoenix who proves once again he and PTA are truly a dynamic duo. The adapted screenplay, based on the novel by Thomas Pynchon, still somehow had the undeniable PTA touch. Pynchon’s voice is not lost by any means but there is no denying PTA’s influence, and it’s his touch that makes the film such a success.

Well there you have it folks! Coming up next:

  • Selma
  • Big Eyes
  • American Sniper
  • Still Alice
  • Cake

What’s that? You don’t want to wait an entire month again for an update? Oh well never fear my dear. I will be back with a vengeance this Sunday, January 11th with an emotional recap of the GOLDEN GLOBES hosted by my adoptive mothers Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. And then Oscar nominations just a few days later on Thursday, January 15! Such awards, much excite. So until next time, happy watching!


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