What You Missed in 2014

Can you handle one more Top 10 list? Instead of a list of my favorite movies of 2014 (which you can find here), these are my favorite articles of the year – written by me. I hope you have enjoyed reading my work this year. Thank you for reading, sharing, and thinking about my writing. It wouldn’t be the same without you.

Also, here are some handy links to everything I have written for the following outlets: The Atlantic, RogerEbert.com, Mic.com, Film School Rejects, and Movie Mezzanine.

Here they are in chronological order.

On the Need for a Harlem Renaissance for Latino Cinema (RogerEbert.com)

“Diversity is not just a black and white issue. Other races and ethnicities are still relegated to the background, both in cinema and in the American landscape as a whole. Alfonso Cuarón’s win for directing “Gravity” made him the first Latino honored in that category. Hearing him slip into Spanish during his acceptance speech must have been gratifying for aspiring Mexican-American filmmakers, but it should not obscure the fact that when it comes to the people and events depicted on the screen (as opposed to those behind the camera like Cuarón), Hollywood is actually regressing on Latino issues. Why not wish for a Spanish Harlem Renaissance as well?”

The Little Mermaid’s Twisted, Sofia Coppola-esque Origins (The Atlantic)

“Coppola’s films are known for their aesthetic beauty and moody, dream-like atmosphere. But her works all share something else, too. She’s not a political filmmaker per se, but the world that she depicts is one in which women are oppressed—not necessarily by men, but by cultural myths.”

The Rise of the Moderately Attractive Nice Guy (Esquire)

“You know the type. He is the sweet and steady man whom the female protagonist would be very happy with if she could only respect herself enough to be loved by him. He is good-looking but not in an intimidating way. He’s unusually nice, so much so that the leading lady has trouble even believing it. He has some kind of normal, steady job that contrasts with just how little the heroine has her career figured out. And his sole purpose in life is to be rejected by the woman so that she can later see what a terrible mistake she has made and that she deserves a nice guy like him.”

The One Thing Keeping “Orange is the New Black” From Being the Most Feminist Show on TV (Mic.com)

“The only featured characters asked to disrobe on Orange Is the New Black are those who adhere to our society’s rigid and unrealistic definition of female beauty. Regardless of its good intentions, the show sends a tired message to its viewers that only a thin, taut, young female body is worth viewing.”

Scarlett Johansson’s Vanishing Act (The Atlantic)

“This is exactly what happens to most of Johansson’s recent characters: they get compartmentalized. In each of the films listed above, she plays a woman who society has assigned a singular goal of serving men. Their journey is to transcend that purpose, and the process is often painful.”

Reflecting our Future: How a Tom Cruise Movie Predicted 9/11 (Film School Rejects)

“We can also read the echoes between Vanilla Sky and the attacks on 9/11 as an example of how certain cultural, political and social conditions can express themselves in widely divergent ways. No film released prior to the attacks seems so deeply, even spiritually, connected to the attacks. Years later, the journey of its protagonist remains perhaps the most useful cultural analogy for America at the end of the 20th century: riding a wave of economic and foreign policy successes that made it feel stronger and more invulnerable than we ever were or could be.”

Beyond Ferguson: Pop Culture through the Lens of Race (RogerEbert.com)

“This wasn’t supposed to happen. Conventional wisdom had it that we were slowly but surely moving towards a post-racial society, and our culture–particularly our pop culture–was leading the way. But the violence in Ferguson is a grim reminder that the stream that carries culture to politics often runs more slowly than we would like.”

Bill Cosby and the Problem of Good Art from Bad Artists (Film School Rejects)

“Perhaps the best way to judge Bill Cosby is to acknowledge that there is more than one of him. To accept that people contain multitudes, and to understand that Cosby is one of the many, many artists who functions better in his work than in his life. In life, he was terrible to women, but his art empowered them. That’s the complicated truth.”

District Mined: The Gerrymandering of Contemporary Cinema (Movie Mezzanine)

“Is Benedict Cumberbatch or Dwayne Johnson your idea of an ideal man? Do you prefer your monsters to be reptilian (Godzilla) or human (Gone Girl)? When it comes to big-budget tentpole flicks, Hollywood still has to aim big, but for the increasingly large crop of mid-range movies, the studios are starting to realize that appealing to everyone is a fool’s errand. They just need to target their movies to the right gerrymandered district.”

The Hidden Link Between Wes Anderson and Paul Thomas Anderson (indieWIRE)

“Their styles are vastly different: Wes makes nostalgia-drenched hipster fairytales with an ornate visual style, while Paul’s movies are emotionally exhausting and intellectually dense. But look closer and one can see the two Andersons as cut from the same cloth: artists relentlessly focused on personal and national histories in an era when many of their peers are far more concerned with our present or future.”

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