J.C. Chandor's been killing it since he burst onto the scene back in 2011 with Margin Call. A Most Violent Year is his next film of quality.
A Most Violent Year is an interesting take on the mafia mentality... or rather a completely new perspective. Because this isn't a mob movie. This is an anti-mob movie. Abel Morales (Oscar Isaac) is a power-hungry opportunist building an oil empire throughout the burrows of New York. But every step of the way he seems intent on staying fair and honest. Though the rest of the world seems to assume him a crook... and even his own wife Anna (Jessica Chastain) may not be a trustworthy partner in his attempts to keep things clean.
The cast is excellent. Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain both give exceptional performances worthy of any awards season. And while I feel like Albert Brooks gave one of his hammier performances in recent memory, his character seems well written enough to keep him on track throughout the film's run-time. David Oyelowo shows up once again this year. And I have to say, I'm becoming more interested in his career with each day. Between this and Selma he can mark 2014 down as a real victory.
But what J.C. Chandor has accomplished with this film goes far beyond the acting performances. He has proven that he can make a period piece in the style of old Hollywood, but still manages to bring modern sensibilities to the table... rather, he has proven that no one can box him into a corner and label him as just a "this kind" of director. And while last year's All Is Lost didn't really do it for me, I still can't say he's made a bad film. There's just too much good stuff to be taken from the three he's got... and between this and Margin Call, the other could be forgotten regardless.
A Most Violent Year is certainly on par with the best films of 2014 and well worth your time and money.