International Film Critics name ‘Boyhood’ best film of last 2 years

Patricia Arquette and Ellar Coltrane in the best picture of 2014 and 2013, ‘Boyhood’

The International Online Film Critics Poll, an organization of which I am a voting member, only polls their constituent critics once every two years (unlike most groups, which meet annually to vote), which provides an interesting mix of apples to oranges comparisons — is last year’s best picture better (or worse) than this year’s? — which makes it an interesting amalgam of contenders. This weekend marked the conclusion of the most recent biennium, and it saw the Texas-shot feature Boyhood named the best film of 2013 or 2014, and its director, Richard Linklater, the best director of the last two years. The film’s co-star, Patricia Arquette, was named best supporting actress.

Fellow Texan Wes Anderson was also honored when his film The Grand Budapest Hotel took three prizes — for best ensemble cast, best production design and best original music score.

Among the other big winners were Michael Keaton as best actor for Birdman; Cate Blanchett as best actress for Blue Jasmine; and J.K. Simmons as best supporting actor for Whiplash. Gravity took three awards — best cinematography, film editing and visual effects — and 12 Years a Slave and Her both took one of the screenwriting prizes. (For the record, I voted for seven of the eventual winners, and among the 60 nominations I made, 29 made the final list.)

Lest you think newness is preferable, of the 14 winners, seven were from 2013; seven from 2014. And to highlight the internationality of the selections, the presence of nominees like The Great Beauty and The Hunt showed the diversity from the 20 nations represented among the voting critics, from the U.S. to Mexico to Poland, Romania, Pakistan and Estonia.

This is the fourth biannual poll. Previous best picture winners include Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011-12), Inglourious Basterds (2009-10) and Slumdog Millionaire (2007-08).

A full list of 2013-14 nominees and winners (in bold) is below:

Best Picture: 12 Years a Slave; Birdman; Boyhood; The Grand Budapest Hotel; The Wolf of Wall Street.

Best Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu, Birdman; Richard Linklater, Boyhood; Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel; Paolo Sorrentino, The Great Beauty; Roman Polanski, Venus in Fur.

Best Actor: Michael Keaton, Birdman; Ralph Fiennes, The Grand Budapest Hotel; Mads Mikkelsen, The Hunt; Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game; Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street.

Best Actress: Cate Blanchett, Blue JasmineAdele Exarchopoulos, Blue is the Warmest Color; Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl; Julianne Moore, Still Alice; Marion Cotillard, The Immigrant.

Best Supporting Actor: Edward Norton, Birdman; Ethan Hawke, Boyhood; Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club; Mark Ruffalo, FoxcatcherJ.K. Simmons, Whiplash.

Best Supporting Actress: Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave; Emma Stone, Birdman; Sally Hawkins, Blue JasminePatricia Arquette, BoyhoodJune Squibb, Nebraska.

Best Ensemble Cast: 12 Years a Slave; Birdman; Boyhood; The Grand Budapest Hotel; The Imitation Game.

Best Original Screenplay: Birdman; Boyhood; Calvary; Her; The Grand Budapest Hotel.

Best Adapted Screenplay: 12 Years a Slave; Gone Girl; Snowpiercer; The Imitation Game; The Wolf of Wall Street.

Best Cinematography: Birdman; Gravity; Ida; Nebraska; The Great Beauty.

Best Production Design: Gravity; Her; Mr. Turner; The Grand Budapest Hotel; The Imitation Game.

Best Film Editing: Birdman; Boyhood; Gravity; The Grand Budapest Hotel; The Wolf of Wall Street.

Best Original Score: Gravity; Her; Interstellar; The Grand Budapest Hotel; The Imitation Game.

Best Visual Effects: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes; Interstellar; Gravity; Guardians of the Galaxy; The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

FILM REVIEW: ‘Devil’s Double’

Movies where actors play their own twin tend to be excruciating exercises in vanity, as the actor tries desperately set each character apart in subtle ways, but when it comes to Dominic Cooper as both Uday Hussein and his body double Latif Yahia in The Devil’s Double, subtlety isn’t called for: Balls-to-the-wall bravado is.

That’s because Uday, the son of Saddam, was a maniac who, according to one friend, “has always wanted to fuck himself.” So he hires an old school chum, Latif, to shadow him, including surgery to perfect his appearance, making Latif the target should any assassins choose to come after him. But there’s also a narcissistic personality at work; Uday seems obsessed with Latif as an object of admiration — a living self-portrait on which he can project his twisted, sociopathic tendencies.

The theme his hit home since Cooper is frequently naked throughout the film, providing a certain homoeroticism that the film gloriously feeds on. This is a wild retelling of the life of an historic-on-the-fringe figure, who runs around with drag queens and talks about Latif’s penis size and insists his guests (male and female) strip naked far more often than a straight guy should.

The style, a combination of Scarface, Blow, Casino and The Last King of Scotland, proves to be a showcase for the talents of Cooper, who appears destined for an Oscar nomination for his captivatingly complex and layered performance. It’s never difficult to tell when he’s Latif and when he’s Uday — and it’s not just the fake teeth. “One, he’s sober and two, he’s not foaming at the mouth,” Uday’s brother, Qusay, says in describing their differences. Cooper captures Uday’s mania in his eyes, his stance, his inherent instability, then reverses those qualities as Latif. It’s a star-making role in a brutal and deliciously overwrought story of madness and power — one of the best films of the summer.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones