Starring: Oscar Issac, Jessica Chastain, David Oyelowo, Albert Brooks, Alessandro Nivola, Elyes Gabel, Catalina Sandino Moreno
Directed By: JC Chandor
A Most Violent Year was never going to sweep the Oscars. It lacks the gravitas of some of the other big films this year. It’s not really an epic, or a historical journey, or anything we normally nominate in Best Picture. It does, however, feel like a highlight reel for what is still to come from JC Chandor. He’s done a good job of getting everyone excited about his future as a filmmaker with his first two films, Margin Call and All Is Lost. He’s definitely building to something, and is taking his time doing it.
Oscar Issac, who missed out on an Oscar nomination last year with Inside Llewyn Davis, again falls short with a subdued performance. It’s not a bad performance, but it’s not the kind of performance people get excited about. He owes a lot to Al Pacino in The Godfather and Ray Liotta in Goodfellas, but A Most Violent Year is a mafia movie without the mafia. That’s what’s really so hard to wrap around, is that you keep expecting to see a mob element, but it’s a little different than that. Jessica Chastain does a good job as his wife, but lets be honest, when does Jessica Chastain NOT do a good job? I liked her more in The Disappearance Of Eleanor Rigby this year. It was a showier role.
I don’t have any real major problems with A Most Violent Year, except that just lacked an element that takes a film to the next level. It’s how I felt about All Is Lost and Margin Call. Both are good films, but they’re not great films. They’re films that people will really struggle to remember in ten years, and in twenty years, and so on. But if you’re interested in seeing a fairly historically accurate film about warring trucking companies, then this film is for you!
FINAL GRADE: B+