My Top 10 Movie Quotes of 2014
Squawk! It's been a good year for squawking in movies, hasn't it? I actually had to leave off some good lines: “This isn't freedom, it's fear,” for example, from “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” which states, in a popcorn movie, what would have been relegated to a Nation editorial 10 years ago. We got Dame Judi Dench quoting Shakespeare and then telling us, “Now if you'd written that you'd be up all night looking at yourself in the mirror,” in the so-so Bard doc “Muse of Fire.” Speaking of: how about John Hurt, as a world-weary Christopher Marlowe (+ vampire), telling Tilda Swinton's Eve, who wants to cause thrilling chaos, “I think the world has enough chaos to keep it going for the minute,” in “Only Lovers Left Alive.”
Most of what follows are from the usual, highly acclaimed suspects, but one in particular comes from a mediocre action movie released last January. Most are somewhat cynical, as I am.
10. “There is a sunrise and a sunset every day and you can choose to be there for it. You can put yourself in the way of beauty.”
— Cheryl Strayed (Reese Witherspoon), quoting her mother, Bobbi (Laura Dern) in “Wild.” Screenplay by Nick Hornby from the memoir by Cheryl Strayed.
9. “Everything you say is valid, but you are scaring my dick off.”
--Joey (Gabe Liedman) to Donna and Nellie (Jenny Slate and Gaby Hoffman) in “Obvious Child.” Screenplay by Gilliam Robespierre.
8. “She’s got a lovely gait.” “Probably padlocked.”
--Steve Coogan, eyeing a pretty woman, and Rob Brydon, responding, as the two actors play version of themselves in the mock travelogue, “The Trip to Italy.”
7. “Look at these people. Look at their eyes. They’re all sparkly. They love this shit. They love action. Not this talky depressing, philosophical bullshit. Give the people what they want: some good old-fashioned apocalyptic porn!”
--Birdman, the character, to his alter ego, actor Riggan Thompson (Michael Keaton), about us (the movie audience) in “Birdman.” Screenplay by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Nicolas Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris and Armando Bo. If movie audiences are said to have power, then this was Inarritu telling truth to power. My eyes did get all sparkly, but for that reason.
6. “Dear God. Thank you? Amen.”
— Oliver (Jaeden Lieberher), a possibly Jewish kid asked to give a prayer before the class on his first day of Catholic school, in “St. Vincent.” Screenplay by Theodore Melfi. It's my new prayer.
5. “The rest of us are just walking around trying not to be disappointed with the way our lives turned out.”
--Maggie Dean (Kristen Wiig) to her brother Milo (Bill Hader) in “The Skeleton Twins.” Screenplay by Craig Johnson and Mark Heyman.
4. “We are who we are: where we were born, who we were born as, how we were raised. We’re kind of stuck inside that person, and the purpose of civilization and growth is to be able to reach out and empathize a little bit with other people.”
--Roger Ebert in opening voiceover, reading from his book “Life Itself” in the documentary “Life Itself.” I left off the next line, “And for me, the movies are like a machine that generates empathy” because I tend to disagree. The best movies might but most movies simply engage us in power and romance fantasies. We are asked to identify with the beautiful and powerful, not the plain and powerless.
3. “Regret, it piles up around us like books we haven’t read.”
--Viktor Cherevin (Kenneth Branagh) to Cathy Muller (Keira Knightley) in “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit.” Screenplay by Adam Cozad and David Koepp. This is me, exactly. Please see the unread books piled in the corner.
2. “To be frank, I think his world had vanished long before he ever entered it. But I will say he certainly sustained the illusion with a marvelous grace.”
--Mr. Moustafa (F. Murray Abraham) on his mentor and friend, Gustav F. (Ralph Fiennes), in “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” Screenplay by Wes Anderson. Lovely, isn't it? It also describes Wes Anderson to a “T.”
1. “There are some sins that you can’t come back from, you know? No matter how hard you try. It’s like the Devil is waiting for your body to give up because he knows … he knows that he already owns your soul. Then I think maybe there is no Devil. You die, and God, he says, 'Nah. Nah, you can’t come in. You have to leave now. You have to leave and go away, and you have to be alone. You have to be alone forever.'”
--Bob Saginowski (Tom Hardy) in “The Drop.” Screenplay by Dennis Lehane, from his short story “Animal Rescue.” As I said in my review, I go to the movies for moments like this; to hear Tom Hardy say “Nah” the way he does.
And there goes 2014. Thanks for reading. Feel free to add your own favorite quotes in the comments below. If you're interested in looking back, here are my top 10 movie quotes from 2013, 2012 and 2011, along with my five most-quoted movie lines.