A Most Violent Year (R)

9 Stars

For the most violent year in New York City’s history, there’s fairly little violence depicted visually.

For viewers paying close attention to the radio broadcasts, it’s a different story. Wink.

Oxymoronic also considering it’s an independent film and a period piece.

Elaborately set during the winter of 1981; it doesn’t feel very ‘independent.’

It stands at $4.6M in the box office, according to Box Office Mojo and Rotten Tomatoes; a tragedy considering it’s $20M production budget.

This may be a reflection of late distribution, finally releasing wide in theaters on January 30.

Which is intrinsically tied to its complete lack of Oscar nominations.

A gosh-darn-shame, considering the filmmaker’s credentials.

As the scholars say, J. C. Chandor is an ‘auteur.’

Which Google defines as, “A filmmaker whose personal influence and artistic control over a movie are so great that the filmmaker is regarded as the author of the movie.”

A less frilly description is writer/director.

J. C.’s crafted three flicks thus far, including 2011’s Margin Call and 2013’s All Is Lost.

Both were critically well-received, and particularly the former contains my stamp of approval.

In a way, he’s comparable to Woody Allen; relying less on elaborate cinematic sequences or stylistic editing, and focusing heavily on story and strong acting.

‘Great movies for adults’ is another way to say it.

A Most Violent Year’s no different.

The cast is phenomenal.

Oscar Isaac (of Inside Llewyn Davis fame) is fantastic in the leading role.

Albert Brooks is excellent, but did you expect anything less?

No; of course not. The man’s a master of his craft.

Another master, Jessica Chastain, delivers a remarkable performance.

The word ‘snub’ is overly bandied about.

But if Laura Dern’s five minutes of Wild screen time total up to a Best Supporting Actress nomination, one can easily argue Chastain deserves it more.

All in all, A Most Violent Year hasn’t received the credit it deserves.

It’s written well, full of strong performances and compelling throughout.

Catch it in theaters while you still have the chance!

Thoughts, perchance?

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