I'm short on words for my love letter to this perfect film. Austere, moving, and full of unexpected plot turns. It's an intergenerational road trip movie with complicated female leads -- a Jewish nun cloistered from the world! the great Wanda who has experienced too much of it! -- about the consequences of history. Possibly the most powerful 80 minutes you can stream on Netflix?
Scarlett Johansson is an alien seductress who lures unsuspecting Scots into a room filled with black suspension gel used to trap said Scots in order to liquify their innards so that they may be easily consumed by aliens through a straw much like Katherine Hill sucks down the end of a milkshake. Hunh? This bizarre and terrifying movie is filled with unexplained sequences intended to leave more questions than answers. What is it to be human? What is it to be humane? There's also probably a deep rathole I could enter about feminism, sexuality and power, and whether or not the alien was ever truly powerful (that grisly ending is forever burned into my brain), but let's not go there.
Some friends, mainly Kirk Michael, hate the director and refused to see what was one of the more exhilarating moviegoing experiences of the year. Sure, I could kvell about a great cast, funny meta-conversations about the industry, and the many surreal plot turns. But, the movie is worth watching just for the visceral, frantic pace of its (almost) continual shot.
Just when we thought the vampire genre was totally exhausted by the Epoch of Twilight, Jim Jarmusch is here to remind us that our undead friends are still cool. I loved everything about this slow-paced story from the hipster underworld. These are vampires who have known greatness and are left to contend with the tedium of a lackluster present, taking shelter and hiding out in cities of former glory. A brooding Tom Hiddleston disappears into creative isolation in the abandoned wastelands of Detroit. On the other side of the earth, his partner Tilda Swinton, dreadlocked, pale as ever, and veiled in cream, is barely visible as she haunts the whitewashed walkways of Tangier. Sure, they're vampires and thirsty for the heroin-like high of blood, but what they really yearn for is inspiration.
This movie is situated at the exact point on which my taste in movies converges with my boyfriend's taste in movies. In other words, it is a brilliant blockbuster about outer space bounty hunting and the possibility of marital bliss.
Is it a psychological or supernatural thriller? I have no idea because I buried my face in a pillow for nearly half this wonderfully frightening movie about a single mother and her oddball son. In braver moments, I caught a story about the profound isolation of parenthood and the onslaught of mental illness. Viewers who keep their eyes open for a few minutes will be treated to a cameo by a ghoulish Johnny Depp doing a bad Buster Keaton impression circa 1993 (I swear).
Could this be my favorite recent take on the disaffected liberal artsy "has it all" underpaid lovesick creative ingenue type in Brooklyn? Kudos to Gillian Robespierre for taking on abortion and offering a character who isn't conflicted by choice. This is a romcom that skips the "relationship redemption through baby" narrative cop-out a la Knocked Up or Sex in the City. Spoiler alert: Jenny Slate nabs the guy at the end! Includes a great nostalgic Paul Simon dance-off and many funny ha ha jokes for the scatologically inclined.
2014 was a weak year for big studio movies, so why continue ranking? Special shout out to: punky girl power in We Are the Best!, gratuitous food porn in Chef, and JK Simmons for landing his perfect role in Whiplash.