J.C. Chandor is making quite the name for himself -- with movies hugely acclaimed by the critics (myself included) while not setting the box-office afire. That might change just a bit (but not by much, I'm afraid) with the release of his third film, A MOST VIOLENT YEAR, which has been chosen by the National Board of Review (NBR) as the best film of 2014. Looking over the NBR's record for the past 20 years, I find the group has generally made wise choices for Best Film, with Finding Neverland and Quills the only real ringers. (Those films had certain qualities, but "best"? Please.) The NBR even managed to produce a very wise tie in 1994, honoring both Forrest Gump and Pulp Fiction -- a choice of quality both old and new.
Elyes Gabel, and it is his role and his performance that give the movie its beating heart.
Oscar Issac and Jessica Chastain (shown below and further below), playing Abel and Anna Morales, the husband/wife owners of a relatively new fuel oil firm that is about to do a make-or-break deal which should insure its major growth. Both actors are, as always, very fine, with Mr. Issac (on screen most of the time) keeping his character and emotions quite close to the vest, as Abel attempts to curtail these robberies without resorting to any kind of illegal revenge.
Albert Brooks, Alessandro Nivola and David Oyewolo), and we end up with yet another lesson -- one of the better ones -- about the costs of obtaining the American Dream.
Sucker Punch, in which his Blue Jones character runs riot (watch this film to its conclusion and end credits, just to see him and Carla Gugino cut loose). I wish somebody would write Issac a role in which he could really fly. Clearly, he's got the wings.
A24 and running 125 minutes -- opens this Wednesday, December 31, in New York City at the AMC Loews Lincoln Square and the Landmark Sunshine Cinema. In Los Angeles, look for it The Landmark and the Arclight Hollywood. A wider release will hit theaters across the country in the weeks to come.