"Good films make your life better." We smile. We cry. We laugh. We shudder. Here I am, at the end of another Sundance Film Festival, 10 days and 30 films later. What did we discover this year? What films left us in awe? Maybe it's festival fatigue and intense exhaustion, but every year by the end I feel like I've grown–or evolved–as a person while at Sundance. I feel like I return home a completely different person, wiser perhaps or maybe just rejuvenated, but nonetheless changed. It's these films, it's the power of cinema, the potential it has to inform us and shape us and guide us that always leaves lasting impressions upon me. I am happy to return, but even happier that I spent another year surrounded by the glory of film in Park City.
We've been here for 9 days so far, camped out in a lovely ski condo, watching films every day. And we're exhausted. Ethan and I have been working every day seeing films at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, writing about them when we can, and trying to keep the site up-to-date with news as well. It's not easy, I will admit. We typically see 3 or 4 or sometimes 5 films each day, and have to spend time getting to each theater/venue, lining up, getting seats, and oh yea, eating food and sleeping (on occasion). Not to mention meeting up and chatting with friends/filmmakers and other cinephiles. But there's nowhere we'd rather be.
As the high school auditorium converted to a movie palace begins to fill, I glance around. Behind me sits the entire executive team of Fox Searchlight, in front of me the entire cast & crew of the movie we're about to see. A few seats over are two writers for Rolling Stone; amongst the crowd are all of my other critic/blogger/movie friends – from the lead reviewers at industry trade magazines like Variety and Hollywood Reporter, to my pals Peter from SlashFilm and Neil from Film School Rejects, and Ethan Anderton, too. We're all here, sitting together, all about to experience the world premiere of a movie no one has seen yet. This is what I love about film festivals. It puts us all on the same level, and together we get to experience cinema.
It's time. We've packed our winter jackets, long underwear, a pair of boots and gloves/hats galore. The 2015 Sundance Film Festival is about to kick off in the mountains up in chilly Park City, Utah and we're back, ready to fire up the festival and watch films. This is FirstShowing's ninth year in a row covering Sundance. It all started back in 2007, when I made the trek to Park City by driving from Colorado, seeing an impressive 31 films by the end of my first year. I've returned here ever since; I can't help it, I love this festival with all my heart and have grown to appreciate films of all kinds by coming back every year. And I'm ready for more.
Nothing like seeing movies in the mountains. Kicking off this week in snowy Park City, Utah is the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, where both Ethan and I are headed for 10 days to see fresh new indie films non-stop. To help get everyone up to speed on some of the films we're interested in, here are 10 Sundance 2015 films that we're excited for, a small look at some of the films we're keeping an eye on and will be seeing at any earliest opportunity. Alex has chosen five he's interested in, and Ethan has also chosen another five he's ready to enjoy from the diverse and hopefully impressive 123-film line-up this year. Whether it's horror or drama or comedy or a documentary or something else entirely, we seek great movies to fall in love with.
The best of the best - that you didn't see last year. We have returned with another set of worth watching, underseen films from 2014. Back by popular demand is our eighth annual list of the 19 Best Movies That You Didn't See in 2014 (past lists: 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007). Featured below is a hand-picked line-up of the best independent and/or mainstream films that were either quietly dumped, ignored by audiences, or just not marketed well enough. So to give them extra attention in the spotlight, and to support some of the finest filmmakers out there, here is our best of 2014 recap. Read on for the full list!
"It's not where you take things from—it's where you take them to." (-Jean-Luc Godard) There is a moment in Xavier Dolan's film Mommy, officially my #1 film of 2014, that took my breath away. It's the kind of moment all cinema enthusiasts live for, the kind of visceral surprise that leaves you in such awe that you end up holding your breath until that moment – the scene – ends. The more I think about it, the more it grows in my mind, and upon further reflection I believe it is one of the defining moments in cinema in 2014. That no one is talking about… yet. I can't get it out of my mind, and out of everything I saw in 2014, it's one of the most brilliant cinematic decisions any filmmaker made. Xavier Dolan showing the rest how it's done.
"Our motivation was simple: revenge. We loved womping fuzzy-cheeked college-bonus-babies owned by the Dodgers, or Phillies." We're well into the New Year which means it's time for another Monthly Must See feature highlighting a great film to watch this month (or instead of/while waiting for the Golden Globes on Sunday). It's the perfect time of year for documentaries, so this month's pick is The Battered Bastards of Baseball from directors Chapman Way & Maclain Way, a Netflix documentary that runs a brisk 79 minutes telling the story of the Portland Mavericks, an independent baseball team started in the 1970s. This light-hearted, highly entertaining film is easily available on Netflix for your enjoyment anytime. It's good.
Just earlier today, we ran out last retrospective video looking back at the films of 2014, and today I'm chiming in with my final year-end list with my Top 10 Films of 2014. This year I had a hard time narrowing down my list, and I almost broke down and decided to do a Top 15, but I promised myself to be a little more disciplined to pick my absolute favorite films of the year. You can see how hard it was just by taking a glimpse at all the honorable mentions that could have made the list, and the ones that made the cut are a hodgepodge of indies, blockbusters, comedies, dramas and a couple more. So let's get to the actual list.
The end of 2014 is upon us, and tomorrow begins a whole near year of cinema to soak in. We've been posting some of our favorite movies from this past year, with FS.net chief Alex Billington listing his Top 10 Documentaries and also his Top 10 Movies of the year, and our Golden Briefcase boys chimed in as well with Jeremy Kirk listing his Top 10 Movies of 2014 and Tim Buel getting a little more specific with his Top 8 Horror Movies of the year. My final year-end list is coming before the week is out, but for now, I wanted to focus on the big laughs with my Top 7 Favorite Comedies of 2014. So what made me laugh this year?
Not my tempo. It all began at Sundance 2014, with the opening night film, a little breakout indie called Whiplash starring Miles Teller & J.K. Simmons. Now, 12 months later, we're at the end of the year and I'm ready to reveal my Top 10 list for 2014 - which includes Whiplash. It was the first film I saw the festival and I was floored, I kept thinking, there's no way but maybe this is one film that might remain my favorite all year long. The little film that could, and indeed, it lasted the whole year because it's a perfect example of what I love in cinema - exhilarating films that leave you in a total state of awe at the end, impressed by the potential of cinema. The rest of these 10 films on my list also had that same kind of effect, the experience being a key component in my connection to the films I genuinely love. Take a look at my 2014 picks below.
All I want is to be free… Without a doubt, Richard Linklater's Boyhood is going to leave a long-lasting impression on cinematic history, primarily as a film beautifully crafted out of 12 years of footage but also as a story that captures the actual feel of growing up in America. Not only in the way certain fleeting moments mean more in the end than big events, but also in the way our upbringing shapes us. How the way we're raised, and the experiences that we're involved in, influence the person we become and the attitudes we maintain. Within Boyhood, there was one strong feeling that I picked up on the very first time I saw it at Sundance in January (and it has been on my mind ever since) – the nagging desire to be free from control. After another rewatch, I've confirmed that control is omnipresent throughout Boyhood. Let me explain.
"This has been such a bad year for movies." That odd statement inevitably rears its head throughout social media pretty much every year. The easy response, the right response, to such a statement is, "You haven't seen enough movies." There are always great films out there just waiting to be found, incredible pieces of cinema mixed in with all the weekly, standard garbage lovers of film have to sift through. It's always worth sifting through to find the diamonds in the rough, those quality treasures of exceptional filmmaking and storytelling. So now I present to you my own Top 10 Films of 2014 that I am thankful to have discovered.
"One dream can change the world." Happy Holidays folks! Continuing our annual tradition of providing new release Thanksgiving and Christmas Week Movie Guides every holiday season, our San Francisco-based contributor, Marco Cerritos, has once again put together another comprehensive guide for Christmas 2014, providing a recap and rundown of what's playing and what's worth seeing. Marco has seen almost everything out there, and while you may not always agree with him, he provides the best reviews he can to make it a bit easier for everyone to choose. There's an interesting selection of movies playing this holiday.