Hollywood Elsewhere is registering sharp disagreements with two of Scott Feinberg’s personal picks for 2015’s Ten Best films. Feinberg has the nerve to place Quentin Tarantino‘s The Hateful Eight, which is ruined by one of the most repulsively violent third acts in cinema history, in his #2 slot, and he’s ranked Ramin Bahrani‘s lethally dull and predictable 99 Homes seventh on his list. And I really, really didn’t like Room, which Feinberg has ranked sixth. And Mustang, for me, is a flatliner. But I’m down with the rest — Brooklyn, Spotlight, 45 Years, Far From The Madding Crowd, Straight Outta Compton and especially Feinberg’s tenth-ranked Love & Mercy. Wait…he blows off The Revenant, one of the hands-down immersive masterworks of the 21st Century?
Excerpt: “I must confess that I went into this June release with a sense of dread, thinking to myself, ‘Do we really need another biopic about a famous musician who falls upon hard times?! In retrospect, I failed to account for two things: (1) this film is not a biopic and (2) Brian Wilson is not like any other musician. Wilson, the co-founder and key creative force behind The Beach Boys, has lived many different lives, and it is a credit to writer Oren Moverman and director Bill Pohlad (best known as a producer, though he directed once before, decades ago) that they decided to construct a film focused on ‘just’ two of them.
“Interestingly, those two depictions are interwoven and involve different actors (not unlike 2007’s I’m Not There, also penned by Moverman) The first, in which he’s played by an absolutely extraordinary Paul Dano, looks at Wilson’s life in his twenties, when he was working on the now-iconic Pet Sounds album; the second, in which he’s played by John Cusack, looks at his life in his forties, by which point he had been overtaken by mental illness and was being being used and abused by his manager. The contrast is deeply affecting, since exposure to the first helps one to appreciate just how much is being robbed in the second — at least until his future wife Melinda Ledbetter (a never-better Elizabeth Banks) enters the picture.
“Every aspect of this film is handled with, well, love and mercy, right down to the Atticus Ross soundscape that permeates the film, providing viewers with a sense of the sort of auditory hallucinations that both inspire and torment Wilson. Many moviegoers, including me, are deeply moved by Wilson’s perseverance in the face of this sort of adversity, his wife’s tenacity on his behalf and their love story, which continues to this day.”