A Most Violent Year

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A Most Violent Year
A black and white photo of a male and female
Theatrical release poster
Directed by J. C. Chandor
Produced by J. C. Chandor
Neal Dodson
Anna Gerb
Written by J. C. Chandor
Starring Oscar Isaac
Jessica Chastain
David Oyelowo
Alessandro Nivola
Albert Brooks
Elyes Gabel
Music by Alex Ebert
Cinematography Bradford Young
Edited by Ron Patane
Production
company
Distributed by A24
Release date
  • November 6, 2014 (2014-11-06) (AFI Fest)
  • December 31, 2014 (2014-12-31) (United States)
Running time
125 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $20 million[2]
Box office $12 million[3]

A Most Violent Year is a 2014 American crime drama film written and directed by J. C. Chandor. The film stars Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain with Alessandro Nivola, David Oyelowo, Albert Brooks, and Catalina Sandino Moreno. The protagonist is Abel Morales (Isaac), the owner of a small heating-oil company who is stressed by the competitiveness in the oil trade and his having to secure costly loans to expand his business. When his truck drivers start getting hijacked, there is increased pressure for his drivers to arm themselves.

The film premiered as the opening film of the AFI Fest on November 6, 2014 and it was released theatrically on December 31, 2014, it garnered positive reviews, and J. C. Chandor, Neal Dodson, and Anna Gerb won the National Board of Review Award for Best Film.

Plot[edit]

In 1981 New York, Abel Morales (Oscar Isaac) is the owner of an up-and-coming company which has suffered the hijacking of several trucks, each carrying heating-oil worth thousands of dollars. One driver, Julian (Elyes Gabel), is severely beaten when his oil truck is hijacked by two unknown assailants. Abel's wife, Anna Morales (Jessica Chastain), beseeches Abel to fight violence with violence, but Abel refuses. Morales and his company are under investigation by Assistant District Attorney Lawrence (David Oyelowo), who seems determined to expose price fixing, tax evasion, and various other illegalities committed by Morales and his competitors in the heating oil business.

As a way to secure financial independence for himself and trump his competitors, Abel, with the help of his attorney, Andrew Walsh (Albert Brooks), brokers a deal with a group of Jewish Chassidim, led by Josef Mendellsohn (Jerry Adler), to purchase a fuel oil terminal on the East River. This will allow Morales' company to directly import fuel oil from barges and to store far more oil in the summertime when fuel oil prices are lower, he places a large down payment of 40% on the property with the agreement that he will close in 30 days—if he fails to do so, the Chassidim will sell the terminal to one of Morales' competitors and keep the down payment.

After moving into a new home, Morales prevents what appears to be an attempted burglary, but the next day one of his daughters finds a loaded handgun dropped in the bushes by the perpetrator. Suspecting this intimidation is coming from his competitors, he begins to confront them one by one; each one denies any intimidation and theft to drive him out of business. The head of the Teamsters encourages Morales to arm his drivers with handguns and fake permits that he can secure for him. Morales refuses, believing that such a move could bring down even more heat on his operation from the authorities and potentially ruin his legitimate business connections with a bank financing his business.

Returning to work after weeks of rehabilitation, Julian is again accosted by criminals, this time on the Queensboro Bridge in broad daylight. Carrying a firearm without Abel's knowledge or permission, he engages in a shootout with the hijackers, which results in the police arriving and chasing Julian and the other assailants, who all escape, this incident once again shifts Morales and his company into the spotlight of not only ADA Lawrence, but also the bank, which informs him that due to the impending criminal indictments and this unfortunate public incident, it can no longer finance his purchase of the terminal.

Desperate, and needing $1.5 million to close on the property, he approaches his competition, Saul Leftkowitz and his granddaughter, who agree to give him a $500,000 loan for 20% interest and equity in the company for the term of the agreement. He manages to scrounge up another $200,000 by taking out a mortgage loan against an apartment building that he and his younger brother own together, with time winding down quickly, he intercepts a radio call for help from one of his drivers, who states his truck is being hijacked. Being nearby, he pursues the stolen truck. Eventually catching up to and attacking one of the hijackers, Morales demands to know who the mastermind is, the hijacker denies he was hired by anyone but reveals that he sold his last stolen shipment in Far Rockaway. Morales confronts one of his competitors, who has facilities in Far Rockaway, threatening to alert the federal authorities as the stolen fuel is marked, the competitor agrees to pay Morales more than $200,000 for stolen fuel oil.

As Morales is getting closer to his $1.5 million goal, he visits mafia-affiliated Peter Forente (Alessandro Nivola) to ask for another $600,000. Forente agrees to give Morales the loan, but on very unfavorable terms. Dismayed by having to leverage his company to such a high degree in order to secure the loan, Morales begins to inform his wife, only to learn she has been "skimming" from the company for years and has been hiding the money, which is sufficient to cover the amount of money that Forente had agreed to lend, in a secret account.

Having the money he now needs, Morales and Walsh pay off his creditors and secure the terminal, as Abel, Anna, and Walsh are looking over the property, they are approached by an angry Julian carrying a gun, who blames Morales for his problems, believing that he should also be entitled to some of Morales' good fortune. Despondent by his being a wanted man, Julian commits suicide in front of Abel, Anna, and Walsh, as the police show up with ADA Lawrence to investigate the suicide, Morales expresses that the broader investigations into his firm are hurting his business, and that they should find a conclusion at some point. Lawrence agrees in general terms and suggests that this new fuel oil terminal will propel Morales' business and give him "political influence." Lawrence then suggests that Morales might be able to help him with his higher aspirations. Morales claims that he has always done "the most right thing".

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

On May 23, 2013, Deadline reported that filmmaker J. C. Chandor would write and direct A Most Violent Year, which was to begin shooting in the fall.[11] Neal Dodson and Anna Gerb co-produced the film along with FilmNation Entertainment's Glen Basner as executive producer,[11] on January 22, 2014, A24 Films acquired the US distribution rights to the film, which A24 then scheduled for release in the fourth quarter of 2014.[12] The film was co-financed by Image Nation and Participant Media, and produced by Before the Door Pictures and Washington Square Films.[8]

Casting[edit]

On June 5, 2013 Javier Bardem joined the film to play the lead,[13] on July 16, 2013 Jessica Chastain joined the cast to play the lead role along with Bardem.[5] On December 3, 2013, Oscar Isaac officially replaced Bardem,[4] on January 27, 2014 Albert Brooks joined the film, playing Isaac's character's attorney,[8] and actress Catalina Sandino Moreno also joined the film in a supporting role.[9] On January 29, 2014, while the film's shooting was underway, David Oyelowo joined the cast.[7] Other cast members include Ashley Williams, Elyes Gabel, Harris Yulin, Giselle Eisenberg, and Elizabeth Marvel.[10] On February 21, 2014 Alessandro Nivola was cast to play Peter Forente, a heating oil distributor who is a competitor to Isaac’s character.[6]

Filming[edit]

Principal photography began on January 29, 2014 in New York City.[7][14]

Music[edit]

The musical score for A Most Violent Year was composed by Alex Ebert, who previously collaborated with director Chandor on All Is Lost (2013).[15] Influenced musically by the culture and life of the 1980s, specifically thinking of Miami Vice and Scarface, Ebert predominantly utilized synthesizers.[16] "It's a synthesis of sort-of calling-card themes and extended atmospheres. There’s horns and flutes and strings, but there’s also sort of these meditative synthetic beds underlying."[17]

A soundtrack album was released by Community Music on December 16, 2014.[18]

Release[edit]

The film had its world premiere at the AFI Fest on November 6, 2014 at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. The film was released in four United States theaters on December 31, 2014 by A24 Films and expanded from there to a nationwide release.[19]

Critical response[edit]

A Most Violent Year received very positive reviews, with many critics comparing Chandor's style in this film favorably to the works of Sidney Lumet, and praise given to the performances of Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain. On Rotten Tomatoes the film has a rating of 89%, based on 202 reviews, with an average rating of 7.7/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Gritty, gripping, and weighted with thought-provoking heft, A Most Violent Year represents another strong entry in writer-director J.C. Chandor's impressive filmography."[20] Metacritic gave the film a score of 79 out of 100, based on 44 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[21]

Business Insider's Brett Arnold wrote that the movie "may be slow, but it's never dull."[22] Variety's Scott Foundas compared it to Chandor's previous film saying the movie is "a tough, gritty, richly atmospheric thriller that lacks some of the formal razzle-dazzle of his solo seafaring epic, 'All Is Lost,' but makes up for it with an impressively sustained low-boil tension and the skillful navigating of a complex plot."[23] TheWrap's Alonso Duralde praised the director, proclaiming that Chandor "firmly plants himself among this generation's great filmmakers."[24] Chastain was nominated for a Golden Globe.

Top-ten lists[edit]

A Most Violent Year was listed on many critics' top ten lists.[25]

Accolades[edit]

Award Date of Ceremony Category Recipient(s) and nominee(s) Result Ref(s)
Central Ohio Film Critics Association January 8, 2015 Best Film A Most Violent Year 9th Place [26][27]
Best Supporting Actress Jessica Chastain Nominated
Best Original Screenplay J. C. Chandor Nominated
Actor of the Year Jessica Chastain Nominated
Golden Globe Awards January 11, 2015 Best Supporting Actress Jessica Chastain Nominated [28]
Chicago Film Critics Association December 15, 2014 Best Supporting Actress Jessica Chastain Nominated [29]
Critics' Choice Movie Awards January 11, 2015 Best Supporting Actress Jessica Chastain Nominated [30]
Dallas–Fort Worth Film Critics Association December 15, 2014 Best Supporting Actress Jessica Chastain 4th Place [31]
Florida Film Critics Circle December 19, 2014 Best Supporting Actress Jessica Chastain 3rd Place
Georgia Film Critics Association January 9, 2015 Best Picture A Most Violent Year Nominated [32][33]
Best Supporting Actress Jessica Chastain Nominated
Gotham Awards December 1, 2014 Best Actor Oscar Isaac Nominated [34]
Houston Film Critics Society January 10, 2015 Best Picture Nominated [31]
Best Supporting Actress Jessica Chastain Nominated
Independent Spirit Awards February 21, 2015 Best Supporting Actress Jessica Chastain Nominated [35]
Best Screenplay J. C. Chandor Nominated
Best Editing Ron Patane Nominated
Indiana Film Journalists Association December 15, 2014 Top 10 Films Won [36]
Best Supporting Actress Jessica Chastain Won
Iowa Film Critics January 7, 2015 Best Movie Yet to Open in Iowa A Most Violent Year (tied with American Sniper) Tied [37]
London Film Critics' Circle January 18, 2015 Best Supporting Actress Jessica Chastain Nominated [38]
Technical Achievement Award Kasia Walicka-Maimone (costumes) Nominated
National Board of Review December 2, 2014 Best Film Neal Dodson, Anna Gerb, J. C. Chandor Won [39]
Best Actor Oscar Isaac (tied with Michael Keaton for Birdman) Tied
Best Supporting Actress Jessica Chastain Won
New York Film Critics Online December 7, 2014 Top Ten Films Won [40]
Oklahoma Film Critics Circle January 5, 2015 Best Picture 9th Place [41]
Online Film Critics Society December 15, 2014 Best Supporting Actress Jessica Chastain Nominated [42]
Phoenix Film Critics Society December 16, 2014 Best Film Nominated [43][44]
Top 10 Films Won
Best Supporting Actress Jessica Chastain Nominated
Best Original Screenplay J. C. Chandor Nominated
Best Cinematography Bradford Young Nominated
San Francisco Film Critics Circle Awards December 14, 2014 Best Supporting Actress Jessica Chastain Nominated [45]
Best Original Screenplay J. C. Chandor Nominated
St. Louis Gateway Film Critics Association December 15, 2014 Best Supporting Actress Jessica Chastain Nominated [31]
Utah Film Critics Association December 17, 2014 Best Supporting Actress Jessica Chastain Won
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association February 21, 2015 Best Supporting Actress Jessica Chastain Nominated [46]
Best Actor Oscar Isaac Nominated

References[edit]

  1. ^ "A MOST VIOLENT YEAR (15)". British Board of Film Classification. November 21, 2014. Retrieved November 21, 2014. 
  2. ^ Cieply, Michael (November 5, 2014). "One Star, 2 Films and Conflict". The New York Times. Retrieved November 7, 2014. 
  3. ^ "A Most Violent Year (2014)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved March 12, 2016. 
  4. ^ a b Siegel, Tatiana (December 3, 2013). "Oscar Isaac, J.C. Chandor Team Up for 'A Most Violent Year'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 29, 2014. 
  5. ^ a b Kroll, Justin (July 16, 2013). "Jessica Chastain Eyes 'A Most Violent Year'". Variety. Retrieved January 29, 2014. 
  6. ^ a b Busch, Anita (February 21, 2014). "'American Hustle's Alessandro Nivola Joins J.C. Chandor's 'A Most Violent Year'". deadline.com. Retrieved February 22, 2014. 
  7. ^ a b c McClintock, Pamela (January 29, 2014). "David Oyelowo Joins Cast of 'A Most Violent Year'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 29, 2014. 
  8. ^ a b c Fleming Jr, Mike (January 27, 2014). "Albert Brooks Joins 'A Most Violent Year'". deadline.com. Retrieved January 29, 2014. 
  9. ^ a b Sneider, Jeff (January 27, 2014). "Catalina Sandino Moreno Joins Oscar Isaac, Jessica Chastain in 'A Most Violent Year'". thewrap.com. Retrieved January 29, 2014. 
  10. ^ a b c d "A Most Violent Year – cast: Oscar Isaac, Jessica Chastain, Ashley Williams, Elyes Gabel and others". onenewspage.com. Retrieved January 29, 2014. 
  11. ^ a b Tartaglione, Nancy (May 23, 2013). "J.C. Chandor Sets Next Project 'A Most Violent Year'". deadline.com. Retrieved January 29, 2014. 
  12. ^ Sneider, Jeff (January 22, 2014). "A24 Acquires Oscar Isaac, Jessica Chastain Drama 'A Most Violent Year'". thewrap.com. Retrieved January 29, 2014. 
  13. ^ Fleming Jr, Mike (June 5, 2013). "Javier Bardem Pacts Pair: He'll Star In J.C. Chandor's 'A Most Violent Year' And Opposite Sean Penn In 'The Gunman'". deadline.com. Retrieved January 29, 2014. 
  14. ^ "'A Most Violent Year' begins filming in New York City with Albert Brooks, Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain". onlocationvacations.com. January 28, 2014. Retrieved January 29, 2014. 
  15. ^ "Alex Ebert to Score J.C. Chandor's 'A Most Violent Year'". Film Music Reporter. September 18, 2014. Retrieved October 31, 2014. 
  16. ^ Lattanzio, Ryan (December 11, 2014). "How Composer Alex Ebert Tuned Into 'A Most Violent Year,' J.C. Chandor, "Celestial Archaeology"". Indiewire. SnagFilms. Retrieved January 4, 2015. 
  17. ^ Calia, Michael (December 30, 2014). "Alex Ebert Helps 'A Most Violent Year' Get in Tune With the American Dream". The Wall Street Journal. News Corp. Retrieved January 4, 2015. 
  18. ^ "'A Most Violent Year' Soundtrack Details". Film Music Reporter. November 26, 2014. Retrieved January 4, 2015. 
  19. ^ "J.C. Chandor Pic 'A Most Violent Year' Gets New Year's Eve Release: Video". deadline.com. September 18, 2014. Retrieved September 19, 2014. 
  20. ^ "A Most Violent Year". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved March 10, 2016. 
  21. ^ "A Most Violent Year". Metacritic. Retrieved February 3, 2015. 
  22. ^ Arnold, Brett (November 14, 2014). "'A Most Violent Year' Is A Gripping Take On The American Dream". Business Insider. Retrieved December 19, 2014. 
  23. ^ Foundas, Scott (November 6, 2014). "Film Review: 'A Most Violent Year'". Variety. Retrieved December 19, 2014. 
  24. ^ Duralde, Alonso (November 6, 2014). "'A Most Violent Year' Review: Jessica Chastain, Oscar Isaac Chase the American Dream, by Hook or by Crook". TheWrap. Retrieved December 19, 2014. 
  25. ^ "Film Critic Top 10 Lists – Best Movies of 2014". Metacritic. Retrieved May 16, 2015. 
  26. ^ "'Birdman' strong with Central Ohio film critics nominations". January 5, 2015. Retrieved January 5, 2015. 
  27. ^ http://www.cofca.org/awards.php
  28. ^ "Golden Globes: 2015 nominations". BBC News. December 11, 2014. Retrieved December 19, 2014. 
  29. ^ Di Nunzio, Miriam (December 12, 2014). "'Birdman' garners nine Chicago Film Critics Association nominations". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved December 19, 2014. 
  30. ^ Thompson, Anne (December 15, 2014). "Critics Choice Award Nominations Led by 'Birdman,' "Budapest,' 'Boyhood'". Indiewire. Retrieved December 19, 2014. 
  31. ^ a b c Dietz, Jason (December 1, 2014). "Best of 2014: Film Awards & Nominations Scorecard". Metacritic. Retrieved December 20, 2014. 
  32. ^ "'Birdman,' 'Boyhood,' 'Grand Budapest' and 'Selma' lead Georgia critics nominations". Hitfix. January 5, 2015. Retrieved January 5, 2015. 
  33. ^ "Jake Gyllenhaal, Tilda Swinton among Georgia Critics' 2014 winners". Hitfix. January 9, 2015. Retrieved January 9, 2015. 
  34. ^ "Gotham Independent Film Awards 2014 Nominations". Rotten Tomatoes. October 23, 2014. Archived from the original on October 27, 2014. Retrieved October 24, 2014. 
  35. ^ "Independent Spirit Award Nominations 2015:Full List of Nominees". Deadline.com. November 25, 2014. Retrieved November 25, 2014. 
  36. ^ "Boyhood tops Indiana film critic awards". AwardsDaily. December 15, 2014. Retrieved December 15, 2014. 
  37. ^ "'Boyhood' is Iowa Critics' Best Picture of 2014". Hitfix. January 7, 2015. Retrieved January 9, 2015. 
  38. ^ Lodge, Guy (December 16, 2014). "'Mr. Turner,' 'Birdman' Top London Critics' Nominations". Variety. Retrieved December 19, 2014. 
  39. ^ "National Board of Review Announces 2014 Winners". nationalboardofreview.org. December 2, 2014. Retrieved December 2, 2014. 
  40. ^ Kilday, Gregg (December 7, 2014). "New York Film Critics Online Name 'Boyhood' Best Picture". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 19, 2014. 
  41. ^ "OFCC Awards BOYHOOD Best Picture and Director; Rosamund Pike Wins Best Actress". Collider.com. January 5, 2015. Retrieved January 6, 2015. 
  42. ^ Tapley, Kristopher (December 8, 2014). "'Boyhood,' 'Grand Budapest' lead with 2014 online film critics nominations". HitFix. Retrieved December 19, 2014. 
  43. ^ Tapley, Kristopher (December 9, 2014). "'Birdman' leads 2014 Phoenix Film Critics Society nominations". HitFix. Retrieved December 19, 2014. 
  44. ^ Tapley, Kristopher (December 16, 2014). "'Birdman' comes away with six Phoenix film critics awards including Best Picture". HitFix. Retrieved December 19, 2014. 
  45. ^ "2014 SAN FRANCISCO FILM CRITICS AWARDS:Full List of Nominees". San Francisco Film Critics Circle. 2014. Retrieved December 14, 2014. 
  46. ^ Patches, Matt (December 7, 2014). "'Birdman,' 'Boyhood' lead Washington DC critics awards nominations". HitFix. Retrieved December 19, 2014. 

External links[edit]