2014 has been a remarkable year for movies. The year isn’t over yet (Inherent Vice OMG!), but I doubt any film performance is as good as these two. Coincidentally, these two performances are by a man AND a woman! Yay diversity! First off, lets talk about the female performance, Julianne Moore as Alice Howland in Still Alice.
Julianne Moore as Alice Howland in Still Alice
Still Alice tells the story of Dr. Alice Howland, a professor of linguistics at Columbia University, who is diagnosed with early onset alzheimer’s disease at the age of 50. Her struggle and rapid deterioration is captured on screen. The film itself is pretty mediocre; a sappy, visually unimpressive character study. But, what saves the audience from boredom is the always amazing Julianne Moore, who plays the main character. Her performance is so good and so varied, she better be nominated for a ferking oscar and she better ferking win.
The opening scene is Alice on her 50th birthday. She is giving a toast to her family. She is lovely and vibrant. Throughout the first act, she always seems to be the center of light; the ones around her do not have the same positive energy that she encapsulates. But, when she learns of her disease, that energy changes. Her positive and lovely energy is brought down, as she becomes a wreck. She pees her pants, has breakdowns in the middle of the night, and even tries to kill herself. By the end of the film, Alice is so far gone that she can barely talk. She mumbles gibberish to her caretaker daughter, who is played really unimpressively by the always awful Kristen Stewart. Alice’s eyes are dead; you can tell that the true Alice is gone forever. Without Moore’s performance, this would be a boring movie about a really meh character. But Moore portrays a level of realism in Alice, that she seems to be Moore herself. With her remarkable performance, she elevates Still Alice from a boring tearjerker to a tragic tale of love and loss.
Now, let’s move on to the male performance, Jake Gyllenhaal as Lou Bloom in Nightcrawler.
Jake Gyllenhaal as Lou Bloom in Nightcrawler
Nightcrawler tells the story of a driven, yet troubled, misfit who stumbles upon the strange and occasionally sick world of freelance local reporting; selling his often gruesome (and even illegal) tapes of accidents and murders to local news stations for money. That plot sounds interesting, but not as interesting as it actually is. Nightcrawler is one of the most twisted, yet extremely entertaining, films I’ve seen in a very long time. And a lot of that entertainment comes from Jake Gyllenhaal who literally kills it as Lou Bloom.
I’ve read interviews with Gyllenhaal; he says he jogged for 3 hours a day to lose weight and that he aspired to look like a coyote. And you know what? He looks like a coyote. To be honest, Lou Bloom doesn’t do many bad things. But, because of Gyllenhaal’s intensity, you watch him in complete disgust. But, you still watch him, nonetheless.
Gyllenhaal’s eyes are so huge and round, but when compared to the rest of his face, they seem so out of place. A weird mix of innocence, intensity, and insanity are reflected in his eyes; they’re all reflected simultaneously. It’s so strange.
While Nightcrawler is hardly a comedy, I laughed really hard during the movie because I just couldn’t comprehend everything going on. Gyllenhaal does such a good job, you start to question yourself about your own mental state. It’s so strange!!!
As much as I liked Julianne Moore’s performance (and it definitely deserves it’s recognition) Jake Gyllenhaal’s performance as Lou Bloom is one of the best of all time. There, I said it. On a side note: Still Alice – 7/10, Nightcrawler – 10/10
Anyway, here are thoughts on other big 2014 movies.
The Grand Budapest Hotel
10/10 One of Wes Anderson’s best. Anderson rebels against the rules and creates a whole different universe to set his kooky tale. It might not be for everyone, but it was definitely for me!
The Lego Movie
9.5/10 One of the shittiest concepts for a movie, but it’s awesome. EVERYTHING IS AWESOME!
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
8.5/10 An excellent throwback to 70s blockbusters. The casting of Robert Redford is pitch perfect; I really liked the industrial style. Marvel did it again!
X-Men: Days of Future Past
9/10 Best X-Men movie since the last one, X-Men First Class. This one takes it up a notch because every X-Man and his mom are in this movie. It might be a little overlong, but it’s still quite good.
10/10 Richard Linklater has crafted a unique piece of filmmaking. It’s even more unique than the Before trilogy! The 3 hours go by really fast and everything is extremely realistic. The end is kind of weak, but who cares?
Guardians of the Galaxy
10/10 I haven’t had that much fun at a theater since ever. Marvel is saving the blockbusters and Guardians of the Galaxy is probably my favorite Marvel movie so far, so, yeah. I AM GROOT!
10/10 What sounds like a really stupid drama turns out to be a pulse-pounding thriller. Miles Teller’s a douche, but he gives a really great performance. J.K. Simmons kills it! The veins on his temple are scary!
7.5/10 Meh. The acting is amazing (Keaton is fantastic, Emma Stone kinda sucks). Besides that, it’s really pretentious and anticlimactic. I like the soundtrack.
5/10 Nolan is a hack.
There were a lot of other movies this year, but these are the only ones I really cared about. So, yeah. I can’t wait for Inherent Vice! Full review coming as soon as I get to it!