Year-In-Review: Handing out more 2014 movie honors

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

I ran down my Top 20 films last week, but with the Central Ohio Film Critics Association voting on its annual awards, here are my favorites in other key categories.

Best Director: Paul Thomas Anderson, “Inherent Vice”

It was a great year for auteur directors, but I’ll give the narrow nod to Anderson who cements himself as the greatest living American director with his latest, a hazed-out patchwork that features many of the best scenes of the year.

Runners-up: Richard Linklater (“Boyhood”), Alejandro González Iñárritu (“Birdman”)

Best Actress: Scarlett Johansson, “Under the Skin”

Normally you’d praise a performance for how much emotion it has. Johansson in “Under the Skin” is notable for the opposite. A remarkably detached performance that is perfect for the tone of the film.

Runners-up: Essie Davis (“The Babadook”), Jenny Slate (“Obvious Child”)

Best Actor: Michael Keaton, “Birdman”

The most heartbreaking performance of the year is also one of the funniest. If this leads to a late renaissance in Keaton’s career, that would be awesome with me.

Runners-up: Jake Gyllenhaal (“Nightcrawler”), Ralph Fiennes (“The Grand Budapest Hotel”)

Best Supporting Actress: Patricia Arquette, “Boyhood”

The most remarkable performance in Linklater’s 12-years-in-the-making movie wasn’t the boy of the title; it was his mother. Arquette nails the weary challenges of motherhood.

Runners-up: Emma Stone (“Birdman”), Tilda Swinton (“Snowpiercer”)

Best Supporting Actor: J.K. Simmons, “Whiplash”

My favorite performances in this category were anything but understated, but, man, Simmons’ tyrannical music instructor seems ready to fly off the screen at any second.

Runners-up: Edward Norton (“Birdman”), Josh Brolin (“Inherent Vice”)

Best Ensemble: “Birdman”

The theatrical setting of “Birdman” set up a half-dozen of the best performances of the year. It’s a shame that Naomi Watts, Andrea Riseborough and even Zach Galifianakis are getting overlooked.

Runners-up: “Inherent Vice,” “The Grand Budapest Hotel”

Breakthrough Film Artist: Jennifer Kent, director, “The Babadook”

All Kent did for her first feature was direct the scariest movie to come along in decades. I can’t wait to see what’s up next.

Runners-up: Ana Lily Amirpour (director, “A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night”), Jeremy Saulnier (director, “Blue Ruin)

Best Cinematography: “Birdman”

Emmanuel Lubezki is a god among cinematographers, having shot “Gravity,” “The Tree of Life” and “Children of Men.” His seamless work in the “single-shot” of “Birdman” was more than a stunt. His camera dances.

Runners-up: “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” “Under the Skin”

Best Editing: “Boyhood”

“Boyhood” glides along through 12 years in a way that doesn’t announce the lapses in time, and it’s a testament to the editing that the whole thing flows by without you noticing how much time has passed. You know, like life?

Runners-up: “Whiplash,” “Birdman”

Best Adapted Screenplay: “Inherent Vice”

Paul Thomas Anderson finds the groove in Thomas Pynchon’s impossible-to-adapt novel and makes all the right tweaks to translate it to the screen.

Runners-up: “Under the Skin,” “Snowpiercer”

Best Original Screenplay: “Birdman”

The performances were stellar, the cinematography superb, but “Birdman” was born on the page, and all the biting satire starts there.

Runners-up: “Boyhood,” “The Grand Budapest Hotel”

Best Score: “Under the Skin”

Mica Levi’s stripped-down and dissonant string arrangement was haunting (“Kubrickian”) and played an unforgettable part in the tone of the film.

Runners-up: “Inherent Vice,” “Gone Girl”

Best Documentary: “Jodorowsky’s Dune”

This one was one of the toughest categories, with about five or six docs in consideration and no clear-cut winner. I’ll give the nod to an intriguing look into the making of a film that never got made.

Runners-up: “20,000 Days on Earth,” “Finding Vivian Maier”

Best Foreign Language Film: “Wetlands”

Like “Inherent Vice,” “Wetlands” was a movie made from a supposedly impossible-to-adapt novel, but the German-language tale of a young woman’s fascination with bodily fluids was one of the most unforgettable movies of the year (for several reasons).

Runners-up: “A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night” (I still need to see “Ida,” “We Are the Best,” etc.)

Best Animated Film: “Big Hero 6”

This is almost by default, but “Big Hero 6” was warm and funny. One of the better modern takes released by post-Pixar Disney.

Best Overlooked Film: “Edge of Tomorrow”

Normally this is a category for an underseen indie that deserves more love, but this summer’s time-looping Tom Cruise sci-fi vehicle came and went before enough people saw it. You may find it with “Live Die Repeat” attached to the title on home video. Watch it.

Runners-up: “The Babadook,” “Blue Ruin”

Actor of the Year (body of work): Tilda Swinton

The category for a collection of work is Tilda Swinton in a landslide. She was best-in-class caliber in both her starring turn in “Only Lovers Left Alive” and her supporting part in “Snowpiercer,” with a memorable bit part in “The Grand Budapest Hotel” thrown in for good measure.