Purveyors of high-quality snark, the kind that’s most like a vial of acid in the face than a mild singe of the eyebrows, look forward to Reverse Shot’s annual “11 Offenses,” in which the publication’s writers take on some of the past year’s most egregious cinematic offenses. You may not agree with all of them — it’s practically a mathematical impossibility — but you have to admire, preferably from a safe distance, the cold-eyed precision with which they filet their targets. “11 Offenses of 2014” is also endlessly quotable, so rather than pick one — it’s just too hard — we’ve excerpted five of the most pointed barbs, and leave you to discover, and be offended by, the rest yourself.
Nick Pinkerton on “A Most Violent Year”: “[Director J.C. Chandor] handles his story, a save-the-family-business fundraising countdown à la Tommy Boy, with the conscientious care of someone in an egg-and-spoon race, which assures that no point will be less than laboriously elucidated, and safely arrives at the conclusion that all movies about the business world must inevitably arrive at: that anyone working in it must be a morally numb sociopath, which, even if true, can’t really bear ad nauseam repetition.”
Michael Koresky on “The Imitation Game”: ” After a couple hours of the most standard British wartime melodramatics and eye-glazing visual dullness (peep that match-cut from an underwater torpedo being fired to—BAM!—a pencil moving into a sharpener… cinema!), Turing’s tragedy is treated as a last-act nuisance, like a few final crumbs brushed from an otherwise shiny lapel.”
Adam Nayman on “St. Vincent”: “First-time director Theodore Melfi is neither talented nor ethical enough to even try to disguise these award-trolling intentions, and the desperately dirty dialogue and conscientiously indie soundtrack (enjoy your walk-in humidor, Matt Berninger) are telltale signs of a wannabe-cool crowd-pleaser.”
Julian Allen on “The Sacrament”: “In the wake of the likes of Wolf Creek, The Sacrament is doing its bit to liberate atrocity porn from the ghetto of heart-tugging true-life drama films and haul it into the realm of pure exploitation, all with a catastrophically straight face.”
Andrew Tracy on “Gone Girl”: “What it does have is hefty doses of glib, po-po-mo nattering about the Masks We Wear and the Personas We Adopt—catnip for a cultural climate that defines art (and, increasingly, reality) as primarily a matter of positioning and branding. “