Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Ten Best Films of 2014: #10


84-year-old Clint Eastwood bookends an amazing year, following his first-class film of "Jersey Boys" with "American Sniper," a war movie that adds something new to the genre, forcing us to look into the sniper's sight and imagine making instantaneous life-or-death judgment calls. Bradley Cooper delivers a breakthrough performance as sharpshooter Chris Kyle, ably abetted by Sienna Miller as his wife Taya, who elucidates Eastwood's defining theme: the damage that violent combat inflicts on its participants - even when they make it back home. Among the scenes I'll remember for a long time: a telephone call between a very pregnant Taya in Texas and Chris, in a gunfight in Iraq, who suddenly goes off the line; a last-minute evacuation during a sandstorm yielding practically zero visibility; and the last shot of Taya standing in a doorway, warily watching Chris walk away. It's a haunting depiction of the power of intuition.

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