A Most Violent Year: J. C. Chandor presents a taut, thrilling film; while its story is small, specific to a particular time and place, it still succeeds in portraying its spirit in a very engaging and rewarding way. Jessica Chastain and Oscar Isaac are given very interesting characters to play, and do so beautifully; in fact, there is not a single off-note in the whole cast. Alex Ebert’s musical score is eerily beautiful and subdued (as the whole film). Ron Patane’s editing is very effective in raising the tension. Bradford Young’s golden-hued cinematography gives this the air of another time, when films would have complex ideas and characters.
(Note: If I had seen this film before I wrote the list, it would have earned a position in my Top 10 Films of 2014.)