We're over a week into 2014, but since top 10/20/etc. movie lists are still creeping out, here's ours. This isn't a best of list, necessarily, but, taking a page from Film Comment, these are some of the moments that stuck with us.
--A heavy rain, green and brown, feculent but luminous, heralds the beginning of Bastards, a prelude to the world of shit Claire Denis is about to toss her characters (and us) into.
--Frances Ha: the noise she makes on reading the letter from the IRS.
--Post Tenebras Lux: the devil...
--The kids are playing with something very dark and very tall, and they couldn't be happier. Reluctant adopter Annabel (Jessica Chastain) is blissfully unaware, but will meet Mama soon enough...
--The slow pull in onto the house of glass, coyotes howling in the distance as the place is quietly looted by The Bling Ring...
--12 Years a Slave: Solomon finally, dejectedly, throws his lot in with his fellow slaves, and begins to sing.
--A kinda shlubby, maybe academic-looking dude steps into the booth at Berberian Sound Studio. He steps up to the mic, opens his mouth, and a goddamn Goblin jumps out...
--Me and You: the embrace.
-- (Fast &) Furious 6: the MID-AIR embrace.
--James Franco serenades his young things with Britney Spears' "Everytime", a performance so powerful that the song fills the world as they embark on a gorgeous slo-mo crime spree. For the duration of this montage, at least, all is right with Spring Breakers.
--The Mullins family (all played by certified comedy geniuses) continue to bicker inside the safehouse. Brother Mark (Bill Burr) sits outside, a baseball bat in one had, a big dog at the other, twitchy and scared but ready to throw down. The shot lasts barely a few seconds but it juices The Heat, adding urgency to the otherwise nonstop Bullock/McCarthy/Feig party.
--Michel asks Noam about Carol. Clearly choked up, Noam says that her death is still too raw to talk about. Michel doesn't push it, but discreetly pauses Is The Man Who Is Tall Happy? to allow, at least in animated form, a couple of minutes for Noam & Carol to meet again.
--Cameron Diaz, in her finest spandex, enters a church to find out for herself what this whole "confession" thing is about, and insists on telling her story. The priest, wise to her
utter non-interest in salvation (and perhaps weary of the low-grade nihilism throughout Cormac McCarthy's
screenplay for The Counselor), isn't having it.
--Something In The Air: the dragon in the fog.
--The quaaludes finally kick in, and DiCaprio/Belfort seems to physically transform before our very eyes. We wonder, briefly, if The Wolf of Wall Street is actually about lycanthropy.
--The Last Stand: the truly majestic shot of Arnold on the bridge.
--The Great Beauty: the flamingos.
And the Shakespeare triple-feature we'd travel miles to see:
--Of all of the Whedon regulars who prove adept at Shakespeare in Much Ado About Nothing, Nathan Fillion turns out to be the movie's greatest gift. This constable actually gets his man, but it's a Pyrrhic victory, at best. He was called an ass, you see...
--We watch as actors run lines, and feel the same stretch of dialogue mean different things each time, and grow in intensity. And yet the kiss in Viola still feels like it detonates.
--M (a stellar Rob Corddry) has found himself transforming in the subplot of R & Jules' blossoming, post-zombie apocalypse romance. We leave him at the end of the movie with life returning to his fingers, romantic words tentatively finding their way back to his lips. Of all of Warm Bodies' fancies, and the liberties it takes with Shakespeare's plot, one of its most generous is to let its Mercutio finish the movie alive (again), with a shot at getting the girl.