NYFF 2014: Chris’ Top 5 – A year dominated by its main slate

birdman

NYFF 2014: Chris’ Top 5 – A year dominated by its main slate

Not much more can be said about the sheer grandeur and highbrow allure of the New York Film Festival. Gala debuts and celebrity red carpet events have become quite the norm for the festival, making its 52nd installment no exception. No, this festival isn’t for your midnight madness crowd. Instead, the festival prides itself on broad appeal. Boasting two World Premieres, including Warner Bros.’ Paul Thomas Anderson-directed Inherent Vice and David Fincher’s film adaptation of the best seller Gone Girl from 20th Century Fox, NYFF is solidifying itself as the stomping ground for Oscar-bait material. Not quite the trendsetter as earlier film festivals such as Sundance (as the case with Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash), NYFF acts as the showstopper in order to garner attention for award season. Thus, it’s no surprise that this year’s biggest hits were those apart of the festival’s main slate along with a few great contenders from its full lineup. Here are few of my favorites:

1. Birdman by Alejandro González Iñárritu

Birdman is crafted with a healthy dose of precision and passion. Iñárritu and Keaton, in particular, have the dedication in performance and design to set the film apart from any other of the year. It’s a towering achievement, one that combines stellar performances and brazen cinematography into one indulgent experience.“

2. Whiplash by Damien Chazelle

“Nonetheless, Whiplash is well deserving of its critical attention in recent months for artistic and social awareness. As school bullying has become a popular topic in filmmaking in recent years, as with the 2012 documentary Bully, Whiplash will easily raise awareness of this equally victimizing issue. As political as it is entertaining, Whiplash combines the two spectrums in a near perfect film, making it a bright contender for one of the best of the year.” Read full review

3. Inherent Vice by Paul Thomas Anderson

“Even if judgment is uncertain on an initial rendezvous, one thing’s for sure – this film is special. It’s a special delight for P.T. Anderson fans, since it encapsulates everything we have come to love about his filmography. The film has the madcap antics of Boogie Nights and Punch-Drunk Love, but combined with the historic pristine qualities of The Master and There Will Be Blood. Inherent Vice is the best of both these worlds, and, like many of Anderson’s films, will require multiple viewings to understand just how brilliant it actually is.” Read full review  

4. Gone Girl by David Fincher

“And like Affleck’s performance, Fincher’s Gone Girl is also a fine balance of sorts. Perhaps one of the least “Fincher-ian” films of his career, Gone Girl is broad enough to capture the thriller framework, but precise enough to be considered smart and witty. It falls in that comfortable space of both popular and critical appeal, which is what we have come to expect for the heterodox director who’s gone mainstream.” Read full review

5. The Blue Room (La Chambre Bleue) by Mathieu Amalric

The Blue Room is a chilling procedural that makes its viewers endure the hardships of infidelity. The film wallows in distrust and jealousy, fashioned as a modern day noir minus the mystique of that genre’s era, celebrating a general sense of hopelessness and despair.” Read full review

– Christopher Clemente

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