Jon’s Top 5:
I’ll start off by saying that most of you probably have not even heard of a majority of these movies. That is obviously something that needs to be remedied. Soon. These are my top 5 picks of the year so far, and boy was it a hard one to narrow down. In no particular order:
5. Life Itself
No list would be complete without a phenomenal documentary. We’ll put all fiction to the side for now and actually enjoy the life of a great man, Roger Ebert. You may have heard of him, seen his old show with Siskel, or read his reviews, but dispel what you think you know about him. The wonderful part about this documentary is that it does not sugarcoat his past. It immortalizes him as an idea and a great man, but also shows us his many flaws. This documentary is special because we get to see Roger at his most vulnerable, during his last days. When filming began, no one anticipated Roger would not live to see it, which makes it all the more visceral and heart-breaking. This movie will take you through a roller coaster of emotions, so make sure you have a tissue handy. You’ll need some for your neighbors too.
Ok, enough deep, life-assessing thinking. This film is story-telling at its finest. Interwoven into this film is one story that seems to have been passed on along the generations. The story of The Grand Budapest Hotel. We are taken on a trip, back and forth and back again, as we try to solve a murder, plan a jail escape, fall in love, and try to avoid a war. Every character is over the top, but that suits this quirky setting perfectly. Every shot is a perfectly crafted dessert, with bright colors that draw you in and meticulously symmetrical designs that are just asked to be taken in. This was all thanks to head baker (director) Wes Anderson, but would be nothing without the devastatingly talented cast that is full of so many stars you’ll need an astronomer to count. In the end, you’ll devour every single morsel, leaving you pleasantly full, but also craving seconds.
This movie is one of this year’s most gorgeous sci-fi films. I’m not just saying that because we get to see Scarlett Johansson (along with a number of guys) naked. That being said, if the naked human body (and erect penises) make you squeamish, then this film is not for you. The natural human body is just one of the many beautiful imagery and surroundings you will encounter. On a philosophical level, this film deals with what makes us human, and if the characteristics of having “humanity” is something exclusive to humans, or an ideology that should (and can) be adopted by other species, like extraterrestrials. Deep, I know. But did I mention it has Scarlett Johansson as a femme fatale?
2. The Double
Now this film, based on a novel everyone should read, will make you doubt your sense of reality. It’ll even make you question what really defines “reality”. There is utter nihilism and existential dread expertly mixed together with notes of humor and beautiful imagery. This is perhaps Jesse Eisenberg’s best role(s) since The Social Network. The bleak isolation and challenging of monotony (inherent in a corporate big city) may resonate with your own life more than you even realize. So if dark, brooding, and funny are your tastes, you’ll love this one. Or hate it. Probably both.
This sleeper, critically acclaimed masterpiece is a movie that was overlooked. The reason is simple: Transformers: Age of Extinction. It came for limited release the same weekend the most recent addition to the Transformers canon came out. That’s right, while you were out watching the terribly racist, sexist and all around kind of boring Transformers movie, you could have been seeing this instead. You’ll recognize a lot of stars, and become immersed in their acting and the story. The visual effects may not be over the top and full of explosions, but that’s because this film does not need to overcompensate. It has a HUGE… talented cast that bring to life this symbolic parable about humanity and the greater good. If you want to see a better movie about a giant machine (train) fighting great adversity (the nuclear winter) and saving the human race, check out Snowpiercer.
This has been an especially great year for nerds like myself. We have seen great comic book based and sci-fi films come out in the last 6 months alone. They were each spectacular in their own way, so I thought they were worth mentioning:
– Captain America: The Winter Soldier
– X-Men: Days of Future Past
– Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
– Edge of Tomorrow
– Guardians of the Galaxy (this one is more of a prediction)