“Inherent Vice” – Director/writer Paul Thomas Anderson’s seventh feature film is a sprawling and ambitious movie that is a cross between “The Long Goodbye,” “The Big Lebowski” and Cheech & Chong movies. Adapting from Thomas Pynchon’s novel set in 1970s Los Angeles, the film is about a drug-addled private detective (Joaquin Phoenix) who gets entangled in a complicated plot that includes some heavy drugs, kidnapping and a presumed dead musician search for a missing, while his adversary/friend in the form of a straight-laced Los Angeles police detective (Josh Brolin) awaits for him to make a wrong move.
“Selma” – This is one of the few films I didn’t get the opportunity to watch before the end of 2014. Director Ava DuVernay takes on the true story of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s (David Oyelowo) campaign to secure equal voting rights despite opposition by marching from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in 1965. “Selma” seems like a sure-fire Oscar contender, but with the Production Guild of America snubbing the movie this morning, it looks like it is possible that it might not score an Oscar nomination for Best Picture next week.
“Blackhat” – Despite his last film, “Public Enemies,” being greeted with mixed feelings, director Michael Mann takes on the world of cyber crime in “Blackhat.” Chris Hemsworth plays a recently released prisoner who is enlisted by the American and Chinese authorities to track down a mysterious cyber criminal that leads takes him all over the world from Chicago to Hong Kong. I’m not exactly excited because of how Universal is dumping it in one of the worst months to release a movie, but here’s hoping Mann’s latest isn’t a commercial and critical failure.
“Black Sea” – It is “The Treasure of Sierra Madre” on a submarine in director Kevin Macdonald’s latest movie about a submarine captain (Jude Law) who takes a job to search the depths of the Black Sea for a submarine that might be loaded with gold. Aside from having Law as the lead, Macdonald’s film has some heavy hitters in its cast including “Killing Them Softly” co-stars Scott Mcnairy and Ben Mendelsohn.
“A Most Violent Year” – Filmmaker J.C. Chandor’s latest film channels some of the best elements of 1970s cinema including Bradford Young’s fantastic cinematography that evokes Owen Roizman’s and Gordon Willis’ work on “The French Connection” and “The Godfather.” The movie is about an immigrant (Oscar Isaac) who has a lot to deal running his heating oil business whether it is fending off attacks from his competition or dealing with federal investigation. Isaac channels his inner Michael Corleone in a compelling performance and Jessica Chastain delivering another top-notch performance as his wife, a fierce woman who will do anything to protect her family.