AWFJ Movie of the Week, Dec. 29-Jan. 4: A MOST VIOLENT YEAR

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Opening Jan. 2, the AWFJ Movie of the Week is A Most Violent Year, the latest work from writer/director J.C. Chandor (Margin Call, All is Lost). It takes place in New York City in 1981, the most crime-ridden year in the history of the Big Apple, and stars Oscar Isaac as immigrant and heating oil company boss Abel Morales. Along with his wife Anna (Jessica Chastain), Abel works hard to make his business a success, but is beset by challenges including hijackers who steal the oil from from his trucks and a vindictive district attorney (David Oyelowo) seemingly hell bent on destroying the company. And so, as the city erupts into violence behind him, Abel embarks on a mission to turn his luck around. Read on…

A Most Violent Year is the third in a series of assured, masterful films from Chandor. A filmmaker adept at exploring the emotional turmoil of those facing extraordinary circumstances – the financial crash, the open seas and now the pursuit of the American Dream against seemingly insurmountable odds – Chandor has crafted another enthralling piece of cinema. And it features stellar performances across the board; not least from the exceptional Isaac, who is as mesmerising here as he was in his breakthrough film Inside Llewyn Davis. But it is the ever-fantastic Chastain who steals the show, putting in what has been described as a ‘sizzling performance’ as Abel’s equally as ambitious wife. See it.

AWFJ Movie of the Week Panelists Comments:

Sheila Roberts: My recommendation is A Most Violent Year, a gripping, atmospheric crime thriller that examines the true cost of pursuing the American Dream in 1981’s crime ridden New York City.  It’s a compelling third feature by promising writer-director J.C. Chandor whose potent examination of the human condition is evocative of some of the best work by the late Sidney Lumet.

Anne Brodie: A Most Violent Year is and edgy crime thriller that showcases Jessica Chastain’s amazing talents. It’s a period piece that knocks it right out of the park.

Pam Grady: Oscar Isaac puts himself behind the eight ball as an ethical man in an unethical business in A Most Violent Year, J.C. Chandor’s tense homage to the gritty cinema of the 1970s.

Nell Minow: A Most Violent Year has a sizzling performance from Jessica Chastain.

MaryAnn Johanson: My pick is A Most Violent Year, in which the always awesome Jessica Chastain steals the whole film, even with Oscar Isaac as her co-star.

Film Details:

Title: A Most Violent Year

Director: J.C. Chandor

Release Date: Jan. 2, 2014

Running Time: 125 minutes

Language: English, Spanish

Shooting Location(s): New York

Principal Cast: Albert Brooks, Alessandro Nivola, David Oyelowo, Oscar Isaac, Jessica Chastain

Screenwriter: J.C. Chandor

Production Company: Before The Door Pictures, Washington Square Films, FilmNation Entertainment,
Participant Media, Imagenation Abu Dhabi FZ, Old Bull Pictures

Distributor: A24

Official Website

Trailer

AWFJ Movie of the Week Panel Members: Nikki Baughan, Anne Brodie, Pam Grady, Leba Hertz, MaryAnn Johanson, Loren King, Cate Marquis, Katherine McLaughlin, Jennifer Merin, Nell Minow, Rebecca Murray, Kristy Puchko, Sheila Roberts, Sara Vizcarrando, and Jeanne Wolf.

Other Movies Opening the Week of Jan. 5-9, 2014:

Jan. 9
Beloved Sisters (NY, LA)
Black November
Let’s Kill Ward’s Wife (limited)
Predestination (limited)
Taken 3
The World Made Straight (limited)

Edited by Sandra Kraisirideja, AWFJ.org Associate Editor

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Nikki Baughan

Nikki Baughan is a London-based freelance film critic and features writer. Formerly editor of both Film Review and movieScope magazines, Nikki is currently contributes to various print and online publications, including Screen International, BFI, The List and Film Divider.