Monday, December 28, 2015

Quick Note: Jeremy Strong in The Big Short

Since becoming a mother, I've found it increasingly difficult to work on longer thought/opinion pieces for this blog. (And let's face it, my track record in posting essays pre-motherhood was never great.) Nevertheless, I still often think about film. I even try to watch them every now and again (while the kiddo is napping). So, without the time to actually sit and write these days, but still desperate to somehow memorialize my film-related thoughts, I have often used Twitter to send these thoughts and opinions out into the ether. (Thanks, social media.)

Twitter has been great for me in this regard, but there are still some things that simply cannot be fully expressed in one hundred forty characters or less. So I've decided to use this site to file away some of these lengthier reflections under the label, "Quick Note." Here's my first:

Jeremy Strong in The Big Short. (Photo Source:

Every so often, a character actor emerges in a more exposed role in a large motion picture; and it turns out that he/she has been quietly building an impressive filmography all along. It took The Big Short for me to finally notice Jeremy Strong. Everyone in this film is great, but Strong's performance truly stood out-- enough that I found myself Googling and IMDb-ing him in the office this morning. His screen presence is remarkable. There is an understated coolness about him, an ease in his physicality that belies the great control and intensity with which he performs his role. And while, again, he plays a supporting character, Vinnie Daniel, to Steve Carell's lead, Mark Baum, Strong is the even-tempered anchor for the ensemble in which Carell is allowed to bluster about, rant, rave, and ultimately shine. I'll be looking out for (and forward to) Strong in future roles. 

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Top Ten Films of 2014

Something kind of funny happens when you have a kid (which I did, last March): you stop caring quite as much about what other people think. Of this. Or that.

However, one thing I still do care very much about is what movies people are seeing and what those people think of those films. Which is to say, despite my new life as a working mom these days, I am still a die-hard cinephile. And somehow, miraculously, I managed to see some goddamned movies in 2014. One of them was even in the theater! (A blissful two hours in a darkened public space, sans baby. I actually cried when the trailers began.)

So, although my top ten lists of years past were much more comprehensively "researched," I am still immensely grateful that I got to see the dozen or so new releases that were up for consideration. Knowing that I would have such limited opportunities to see films in 2014, I also took great pains to be terrifically choosy in my recreational viewing. So hopefully that made a difference. In any case, whoever even reads this blog anymore, I humbly offer up my Top 10 Films of 2014 below. Enjoy!

1. Ida, dir. Pawel Pawlikowski

2. Birdman, dir. Alejandro González Iñárritu

3. The Grand Budapest Hotel, dir. Wes Anderson

4. The Lego Movie, dir. Phil Lord and Christopher Miller

5. Snowpiercer, dir. Joon-ho Bong

6. We Are the Best!, dirLukas Moodysson

7. Ilo Ilo, dir Anthony Chen

8. The Trip to Italy, dir. Michael Winterbottom

9. Breathe In, dir. Drake Doremus

10. Fading Gigolo, dir. John Turturro

Honorable mentions: Filth, directed by Jon S. Baird; The Immigrant, directed by James Gray