Jan Wahl’s Top Movies of 2014

Jan Wahl’s Top Movies of 2014

thetheoryofeverything01 Jan Wahls Top Movies of 2014Eddie Redmayne as Stephen Hawking in “The Theory Of Everything” (credit: Focus Features)

You can hear KCBS Entertainment Editor Jan Wahl’s movie reviews on KCBS All News 740AM and 106.9FM Fridays at 8:53am & 4:53pm.

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) — KCBS Entertainment Editor Jan Wahl has put together her list of her favorite movies of 2014. From “The Theory of Everything” to “Birdman” to “St. Vincent,” some movies this year just got it right.

#10 THE GALAPAGAS AFFAIR: SATAN CAME TO EDEN (NOT RATED)
Studio: Zeitgeist Films
Director: Dayna Goldfine & Dan Geller
Screenwriter: Celeste Schaefer Snyder, Dayna Goldfine & Dan Geller
Starring: Connie Nielsen, Cate Blanchett, Thomas Kretschmann, Diane Kruger, Gustaf Skarsgård, Sebastian Koch & Josh Radnor

 
About The Movie:

Fleeing conventional society, a Berlin doctor and his mistress start a new life on uninhabited Floreana Island. But after the international press sensationalizes the exploits of the Galapagos’ “Adam and Eve”, others flock there—including a self-styled Swiss Family Robinson and a gun-toting Viennese Baroness and her two lovers. Clashing personalities are aggravated by the island community’s lusty free-love ethos, and when some of the islanders disappear, suspicions of murder hang in the air leaving an unsolved mystery which remains the subject of local lore today.

Source: zeitgeistfilms.com

#9 STILL ALICE (PG-13)
Studio: Sony Pictures Classics
Director: Richard Glatzer & Wash Westmoreland
Screenwriter: Richard Glatzer & Wash Westmoreland
Starring: Julianne Moore, Kristen Stewart, Kate Bosworth & Alec Baldwin

 
About The Movie:

Alice Howland, happily married with three grown children, is a renowned linguistics professor who starts to forget words. When she receives a diagnosis of Early-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease, Alice and her family find their bonds thoroughly tested. Her struggle to stay connected to who she once was is frightening, heartbreaking, and inspiring.

Source: sonyclassics.com

#8 IDA (PG-13)
Studio: Music Box Films
Director: Pawel Pawlikowski
Screenwriter: Rebecca Lenkiewicz & Pawel Pawlikowski
Starring: Agata Kulesza, Agata Trzebuchowska & Dawid Ogrodnik

 
About The Movie:

18-year old Anna (stunning newcomer Agata Trzebuchowska), a sheltered orphan raised in a convent, is preparing to become a nun when the Mother Superior insists she first visit her sole living relative. Naïve, innocent Anna soon finds herself in the presence of her aunt Wanda (Agata Kulesza), a worldly and cynical Communist Party insider, who shocks her with the declaration that her real name is Ida and her Jewish parents were murdered during the Nazi occupation. This revelation triggers a heart-wrenching journey into the countryside, to the family house and into the secrets of the repressed past, evoking the haunting legacy of the Holocaust and the realities of postwar Communism.

Source: musicboxfilms.com

#7 MEN, WOMEN & CHILDREN (R)
Studio: Paramount Pictures
Director: Jason Reitman
Screenwriter: Erin Cressida Wilson & Jason Reitman
Starring: Adam Sandler, Jennifer Garner, Judy Greer, Rosemarie DeWitt, Ansel Elgort, Kaitlyn Dever & Dean Norris

 
About The Movie:

“Men, Women & Children” follows the story of a group of high school teenagers and their parents as they attempt to navigate the many ways the internet has changed their relationships, their communication, their self-image, and their love lives. The film attempts to stare down social issues such as video game culture, anorexia, infidelity, fame hunting, and the proliferation of illicit material on the internet. As each character and each relationship is tested, we are shown the variety of roads people choose – some tragic, some hopeful – as it becomes clear that no one is immune to this enormous social change that has come through our phones, our tablets, and our computers.

Source: menwomenchildrenmovie.com

#6 ST. VINCENT (PG-13) 102 min
Studio: The Weinstein Company
Director: Ted Melfi
Screenwriter: Ted Melfi
Starring: Bill Murray, Naomi Watts, Melissa McCarthy, Chris O’Dowd & Jaeden Lieberher

 
[ Listen To Jan’s Review ]

From his heyday on Saturday Night Live to “Caddyshack” (1980) to “Groundhog Day” (1993) and work with director Wes Anderson, many of us are Bill Murray fans, watching for whenever this unusual actor makes his next caustic, unique move. His dry comedy usually has a level of truth which brings us to his latest: “St. Vincent.” This time, Murray plays a crabby hot mess of a neighbor to a hardworking single mom and her 12-year-old son (Jaeden Lieberher). She hires this curmudgeon to watch the boy until she can find someone suitable, but soon an odd friendship begins. Murray’s character has a close friend—a woman of the night—played by Naomi Watts, who steals every scene that she’s in. That’s not easy to do with Murray. We know Watts for her dramatic roles, but here we see a true comic sensibility. Melissa McCarthy is stretches her acting muscles too, playing it straight and poignant as a woman many will relate to–hats off to her for traveling from high comedy to drama. Murray holds it together with a character as complicated and odd as life itself. Directed by Theodore Melfi. Worth seeing.

#5 BIRDMAN (R)
Studio: Fox Searchlight Pictures
Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Screenwriter: Alejandro González Iñárritu, Armando Bo, Nicolás Giacobone & Alexander Dinelaris
Starring: Michael Keaton, Emma Stone, Naomi Watts, Edward Norton & Zach Galifianakis

 
[ Listen To Jan’s Review ]

Birdman or “The Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance” is a black comedy that tells the story of an actor (Keaton) – famous for portraying an iconic superhero – as he struggles to mount a Broadway play. In the days leading up to opening night, he battles his ego and attempts to recover his family, his career, and himself.

#4 SELMA (NOT RATED)
Studio: Paramount Pictures
Director: Ava DuVernay
Screenwriter: Paul Webb
Starring: Tim Roth, Tom Wilkinson, Oprah Winfrey, Alessandro Nivola, Cuba Gooding Jr., David Oyelowo, Carmen Ejogo, Lorraine Toussaint, Giovanni Ribisi & Common

 
About The Movie:

“Selma” is the story of a movement. The film chronicles the tumultuous three-month period in 1965, when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led a dangerous campaign to secure equal voting rights in the face of violent opposition. The epic march from Selma to Montgomery culminated in President Johnson (Tom Wilkinson) signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965, one of the most significant victories for the civil rights movement. Director Ava DuVernay’s “Selma” tells the story of how the revered leader and visionary Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (David Oyelowo) and his brothers and sisters in the movement prompted change that forever altered history.

Source: selmamovie.com

#3 THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING (PG-13)
Studio: Focus Features
Director: James Marsh
Screenwriter: Anthony McCarten
Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, Charlie Cox & Emily Watson

 
About The Movie:

Starring Eddie Redmayne (“Les Misérables”) and Felicity Jones (“The Amazing Spider-Man 2″), this is the extraordinary story of one of the world’s greatest living minds, the renowned astrophysicist Stephen Hawking, who falls deeply in love with fellow Cambridge student Jane Wilde. Once a healthy, active young man, Hawking received an earth-shattering diagnosis at 21 years of age. With Jane fighting tirelessly by his side, Stephen embarks on his most ambitious scientific work, studying the very thing he now has precious little of – time. Together, they defy impossible odds, breaking new ground in medicine and science, and achieving more than they could ever have dreamed. The film is based on the memoir “Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen,” by Jane Hawking, and is directed by Academy Award winner James Marsh (“Man on Wire”).

Source: FocusFeatures.com

#2 PRIDE (R) 120 min
Studio: CBS Films
Director: Matthew Warchus
Screenwriter: Stephen Beresford
Starring: Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton, Dominic West, Paddy Considine , Joseph Gilgun, Andrew Scott, George MacKay & Ben Schnetzer

 
[ Listen To Jan’s Review ]

When movies are based on actual events, they can enlighten, educate and inspire. But sometimes, they can exploit and exaggerate. Once in a while we get lucky with the former. “Pride” is a film that’s not only is based on reality, but leaves us feeling better about the world. The year is 1984 and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher is at war with mining unions all over the U.K. At the same time, a small but earnest gay population is fighting for human rights. A decision is made within the LBGT Community: Let’s join the striking miners, beginning in a small town, and show the world that we are on the side of the oppressed. When this group ends up in a small mining town in Wales, they meet traditional, confused and even outraged people though some, like the characters played by Bill Nighy and Imelda Staunton, welcome them. It’s a story that reminds us of our similarities instead of our differences, of our compassion and ability to help others.

#1 THE IMITATION GAME (PG-13) 114 min
Studio: The Weinstein Company
Director: Morten Tyldum
Writers: Andrew Hodges & Graham Moore
Starring: Allen Leech, Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley & Matthew Goode

 
[ Listen To Jan’s Review ]

“The Imitation Game” is at the top of the list. It’s the story of Alan Turing, the British mathematician who was an expert in logic. He saved millions of lives by helping to break Enigma, the Nazi encryption device used to code all German communiques. Benedict Cumberbatch is Oscar worthy as Turing, playing him complicated, obsessive and brilliant. Keira Knightley turns in a believable performance as a scientist born at the wrong time. Incredibly bright women in her time did not have a chance at success in the sciences. But she became Turing’s friend—and so does the audience for as much as he lets us into his thoughts. Flashbacks to his childhood school days add to the richness of this story. When it’s over, go look up the real Turing and pay respect to him on Castro Street’s Rainbow Walk of Fame.

Runner’s Up:
BELLE, AMERICAN SNIPER, FURY, LIFE ITSELF, ELAINE STRITCH: SHOOT ME & BIG EYES

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