[Editor’s Note: This post is presented in partnership with Movies On Demand. Catch up on last year’s Awards Season contenders and past winners On Demand. Today’s list is a selection of the best 2014 movies on MOD.]
Filmed over twelve years with the same cast, Richard Linklater’s acclaimed smash hit is a groundbreaking celebration of life. The best-reviewed film of the year, “Boyhood” has struck critics for its unwavering realism, penetrating emotional resonance and powerhouse performances. Patricia Arquette, as mother Olivia, has won the Golden Globe, the Screen Actors Guild Award and numerous critics’ prizes for Best Supporting Actress, and she and co-star Ethan Hawke have both been nominated for Oscars. “Boyhood” won the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture (Drama) and Best Director (Linklater), and competes in six categories including Best Picture at this Sunday’s Academy Awards.
Starring Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones, “The Theory of Everything” chronicles the extraordinary story of love between renowned astrophysicist Stephen Hawking and his tireless first wife Jane. Tragically romantic and remarkably performed, “The Theory of Everything” has also received high praise for the emotive, Golden Globe-winning score from Jóhann Jóhannsson and the gorgeous imagery elicited by Director of Photography Benoit Delhomme. Winner of two Golden Globe Awards and recipient of five Academy Award nominations, “The Theory of Everything” is the love story of the year.
“Whiplash”( Feb 24)
From first-time director Damien Chazelle, “Whiplash” follows a young musician (Miles Teller) as he struggles to make it as a top jazz drummer at his conservatory. Teller and co-star J.K. Simmons, who plays his monstrous mentor Terrence Fletcher, give blistering performances, while the swift editing from Tom Cross keeps the film moving at a rapid pace. “Whiplash” was made for a mere $3.3 million, but Chazelle injects a dizzying kinetic energy that puts big-budget heart-racers to shame. The film, already a recipient of a Golden Globe and multiple BAFTAs, is also nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture. (Available starting February 24.)
“Foxcatcher” (Mar 3)
Based on true events, “Foxcatcher” follows the dark and fascinating story of an eccentric multi-millionaire (Steve Carell) and two champion wrestlers (Mark Ruffalo and Channing Tatum). Director Bennett Miller infused the film with an unsettling sense of the inevitable, commandeering scenes with a remarkable level of control. Carell, a comic actor best known for his role in “The Office,” physically and mentally transforms in the role of the troubled John du Pont, while Tatum and Ruffalo turn in career-best performances. “Foxcatcher” is nominated for five Oscars, with its performances, script and direction all recognized. (Available starting March 3.)
From the creators of “Coraline” comes a fun adventure about a boy, raised by a group of loveable yet quirky creatures, who must fight the town’s villain to save his family. Noted for its stunning stop-motion animation, the film earned strong reviews and is nominated for Best Animated Feature at the Oscars. “The Boxtrolls” also features a stand-out voice cast including Oscar winner Ben Kingsley, Oscar nominee Toni Collette and Emmy nominee Tracy Morgan.
“Beyond the Lights” (Feb 24)
“Beyond the Lights” tells the story of Noni (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), the music world’s latest superstar. The pressures of fame have Noni on the edge — until she meets Kaz Nicol (Nate Parker), a young cop who has been assigned to her detail. Director Gina Prince-Bythewood spins an intimate, sexy story into a fascinating exploration of gender, race and fame. Mbatha-Raw, who earned a Gotham Award nomination for Best Actress, explodes in this breakout role with a remarkably expressive performance. And the music isn’t too shabby, either — Diane Warren’s “Grateful” received an Oscar nomination for Best Original Song. (Available starting February 24.)
From John Carney (writer-director of Academy Award-winner “Once”), “Begin Again” follows a disgraced record exec (Mark Ruffalo) who forms a life-changing bond with a young singer-songwriter (Keira Knightley). Though released in the early summer of 2014, “Begin Again” stayed in memory thanks to its infectious original soundtrack and sweeping survey of New York City. Adam Levine’s rendition of “Lost Stars” netted an Oscar nomination for Best Original Song, while Ruffalo and Knightley earned terrific reviews for their gritty, down-to-earth performances.
When Hiccup and Toothless discover an ice cave, home to new wild dragons and the mysterious Dragon Rider, they find themselves at the center of a battle for peace. “How to Train Your Dragon 2” is the rare example of a sequel that builds in quality and in impact. Featuring awe-inspiring Dreamworks animation and a splendid cast led by Jay Baruchel, the film triumphed as Best Animated Film at the Golden Globes and contends for the equivalent prize at the Oscars.
Indiewire has partnered with Movies On Demand for Indiewire’s Awards Season Spotlight. Meet the nominees and watch the movies with Movies On Demand. Go HERE for profiles, Contender Conversations, Awards news, and viewing guides for your complete Awards Season experience.