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Vulture’s David Edelstein Names ‘Boyhood’ the Best of the Year; ‘Selma,’ ‘The Babadook’ Place and Show

Vulture's David Edelstein Names 'Boyhood' the Best of the Year; 'Selma,' 'The Babadook' Place and Show

The “Boyhood” train keeps on rolling, with David Edelstein jumping on board. Edelstein has named “Boyhood” the year’s best film, adding to the litany of critics who’ve either picked it as their number one or just selected it as one of the top five or ten. The full top eleven list is as follows:

1. “Boyhood” (Richard Linklater)
2. “Selma” (Ava DuVernay)
3. “The Babadook” (Jennifer Kent)
4. “Whiplash” (Damien Chazelle)
5. “Tales of the Grim Sleeper” (Nick Broomfield)
6. “Only Lovers Left Alive” (Jim Jarmusch)
7. “Citizenfour” (Laura Poitras)
8. “Mr. Turner” (Mike Leigh)
9. “Two Days, One Night” (Jean-Pierre/Luc Dardenne)
10. “The Immigrant” (James Gray)
11. “The Overnighters” (Jesse Moss)

Honorable mentions for Edelstein include “The Homesman,” “Rosewater,” “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1” and special mentions for the performances of Benedict Cumberbatch (“The Imitation Game”), Eddie Redmayne (“The Theory of Everything”), and Alfred Molina and John Lithgow (“Love Is Strange”), among others. Here’s what he had to say about his favorite film of the year:

In this year, in which time weighs more and more heavily on our collective way of life — and our planet — Richard Linklater has created a film that makes time visible…We’re used to time in cinema being relative, easily manipulated. Here, as we scan Coltrane’s face and body for changes, we come to think of each moment as fleeting, irrecoverable, and so, infinitely precious. Along the way, “Boyhood” touches on fatherhood and motherhood, on men who indulge themselves, who are allowed to remain boys into adulthood, while women bear the ultimate responsibility for parenting — and so, in the end, feel as if time has wasted them. However much Linklater mapped out at the project’s inception, he clearly watched his actors (among them the extraordinary Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke as the boy’s parents) along with his own life and let many of the details find him. “Boyhood” breathes.

Edelstein’s list might be topped by a film that’s primarily focused on a young man growing up, but his list features a number of films either directed by women (“Citizenfour,” “Selma”), about women (“Two Days, One Night,” “The Immigrant”) or both. For the latter, look no further than Jennifer Kent’s remarkable debut “The Babadook.”

Jennifer Kent’s phenomenally expressive Aussie chiller (a first feature!) centers on a widowed mother (the amazingly vivid Essie Davis), her fragile 7-year-old son, and a demon out of a twisted bedtime story — literally, since it announces its presence in a rhyming, black-and-white pop-up book that appears on the boy’s shelf. But it doesn’t take long to realize that Kent isn’t terribly interested in the Babadook as anything but the manifestation of a mother’s psyche in crisis.

Edelstein also names a number of documentaries on his list, putting Nick Broomfield’s “Tales of the Grim Sleeper” the highest:

Nick Broomfield’s incendiary doc centers on a South Central Los Angeles serial killer who murdered as many as 100 women in three decades. It’s a portrait of a ravaged community in which some abetted the killer, some looked the other way, and some stood helplessly by. Driving around in the company of residents (some crack addicts, some ex-prostitutes, some homeless), Broomfield finds out more in days than the LAPD did in 25 years.

Finally, Edelstein puts the year’s two Marion Cotillard movies, “Two Days, One Night” and “The Immigrant,” back to back. He has the Dardenne Brothers’ film one spot higher, but I’ll emphasize “The Immigrant” because A. it’s my favorite film of the year, B. its lousy treatment at the hands of Harvey Weinstein is the stuff of legend, with The Weinstein Company only just adding it to their For Your Consideration page today after its triumph at a handful of critic award without their support, and C. he makes a case for Cotillard’s place at the top of any list of the best actresses working today (hear, hear).

Marion Cotillard is now the best leading film actress in the world, and she’s close to her peak in James Gray’s moody drama about a young Polish woman who arrives at Ellis Island in 1921 alongside her sister, who’s promptly quarantined, and falls in with Joaquin Phoenix as an unscrupulous jack-of-all-sleazy-trades. The images are suitable for framing, but the feel of the movie is messy, modern, psychological; it’s thick with melancholy and moral ambivalence. 

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