The closer we get to the top ten, the more exciting these little mini-clusters of titles get. I'm a fan of “Wild,” the Reese Witherspoon film about a woman who found herself at rock bottom and found a way to pay a penance by hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. It's not what I expected it to be, and it cuts pretty close to the bone. I think Witherspoon has never been better, and she's never played a character quite this emotionally ugly before. It's bracing adult work, and as we look around at a cinema landscape that has become increasingly infantilized, it's important to celebrate films that are made for grown-ups about things that actually matter.
I wish I hated Xavier Dolan. It is flabbergasting to me that he is still only in his 20s. He's already created a fairly impressive body of work, and his latest film “Mommy” is just the latest example of what a ferocious voice he has in his best moments. I would imagine that we'll be seeing some remarkable work from him for decades to come, and it feels like each new film demonstrates freshly-learned discipline and control.
I'm still not sure how Steven Knight managed to make an entire movie about a guy talking on the phone while he drives, but he did, and I'm actually looking forward to seeing it again. There's something sort of hypnotic about it. I had to leave the LAFCA meeting on Sunday before we got to the best actor category, but I am delighted by the idea that we gave it to Tom Hardy for “Locke.” I'm guessing that means he'll win it twice in a row since obviously “Fury Road” is going to sweep every category in every contest next year, including Best Short Subject Live-Action for the trailer.
Steve James has made better documentaries than “Life Itself,” but I can't even begin to be objective about the film. Roger Ebert was not just a hero of mine, but he also reached out to me personally over the years and shared some very special moments with me. I don't think the full impact of his death hit me until I sat in my apartment, watching this film, weeping. I could not have seen this in a theater or in a screening room with other people. It was just too painful, and for anyone who had any feelings about Roger, I can't imagine there will be a more kind-hearted film about him.
Finally, I have to once again offer up some praise for “Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet,” the ambitious animated anthology film adapted from the famous book of poetry. It's not an easy film to market, but I'm curious to see how they handle this when they do finally make a theatrical push. It's a beautiful, big-hearted film, and simply gorgeous to look at. Just as visual art, “The Prophet” would deserve a place here, but considering the real wisdom that is part of every one of the segments, this is a film that I hope people embrace.
Oh my god, we're about to publish the Top Ten list, and I still have my runners-up to name. I guess you'll get these last two steps slightly out of order, but a little chaos at this time of year is to be expected. You should see the Top Ten in the next ten minutes, and I'm very excited to see the finished video my team put together.
Here's the full list so far:
24. “Life Itself”
25. “Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet”
26. “What We Do In The Shadows”
28. “A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night”
29. “Wish I Was Here”
31. “The LEGO Movie”
32. “Bad Words”
33. “Obvious Child”
34. “The Mule”
36. “We Are The Best!”
38. “Glen Campbell: I'll Be Me”
39. “The Guest”
40. “Tokyo Tribe”
41. “Edge Of Tomorrow”
42. “How To Train Your Dragon 2”
43. “Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes”
44. “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”
45. “The Overnighters”
46. “The Theory Of Everything”
47. “Goodnight Mommy”
48. “Shrew's Nest”
49. “St Vincent”
50. “The Imitation Game”
That's a lot of good stuff, and we're not done yet…