Best Films of 2013

top-10-films-2013I wish I’d seen all of them – all the foreign films, documentaries, independents, even the poorly rated blockbusters. But I’m just an arm chair critic and seeing over 70 films in 2013 is a heck of lot anyway.

Another very good, but not outstanding year. Few of these films will be classics in a decade, but they were plenty enjoyable to watch. Of my top 10, 7 were based on real life stories. My tastes also seem to match up to the Academy more and more. Of the 9 best picture nominees, 7 are in my top 10 and the other 2 in my Top 20.  I chalk this up to not seeing enough independent and foreign films.

I’ll share Oscar predictions closer to the show.

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Best Actor – Oscars 2014

academy-awards-actorI haven’t written in a while. But 2014 is all new. January, however, is a lost month since I’ll be away most of it. Therefore, I have been racing to see films in theaters in anticipation of the Oscar Nominations (January 16).

For the last bunch of years, I have successfully seen all the nominees for the big 8 awards before Oscar night. I have usually been nearly done by the nomination announcement because of good anticipation and because most of the big award nominees come from a cluster of films.

This year, if you can see just 15 films, you’ll cover nearly all of the contenders for the “big” (picture, director, 4 actors, 2 screenwriting) awards. There is always the outlier, but most of these awards come from a cluster of films.

The best picture nominees will almost certainly come from this group (order from Gold Derby)

  • 12 Years a Slave
  • Gravity
  • American Hustle
  • Captain Phillips
  • The Wolf of Wall Street
  • Inside Llewyn Davis
  • Nebraska
  • Saving Mr. Banks
  • Her
  • The Butler
  • Dallas Buyers Club
  • Philomena
  • Blue Jasmine
  • Fruitvale Station
  • August: Osage County

Seeing these 15 will also help take care of most acting awards. In Best Actor, the only legitimate exception is Robert Redford in All Is Lost. (To be totally honest, I must mention also, Idris Elba in Mandela, but that’s not really going to happen – the film has no traction)

For Best Actress, the actual nominees all come from these films. This is unusual as Best Actress usually pulls from a not otherwise nominated film (think Meryl Street in The Iron Lady). But if you want to see all touted candidates, you’d also need to see Blue Is the Warmest Color, Short Term 12, and Enough Said. If you want to use the top candidates at GoldDerby as a benchmark, you’d also need Labor Day, The Past, and Before Midnight, but that’s never never going to happen. No chance.

Supporting actors would need 4 more films for legit contenders (Rush, Spring Breakers, 42, Enough Said). Supporting Actress, this year, very unusually, is covered in the 15 above.

This post is about the Best Actors. Who is going to be nominated and who do I think were the best performances.

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The Oscar Red Carpet Experience – Star Search

Sally FieldSo I saw a lot of celebrities on the Red Carpet from the bleachers. It wasn’t always easy. Some were in a big ole hurry. And the carpet was jammed with people, so it easy to miss someone – especially a man in a regular tux. So when Aaron Tveit walked by on the carpet, I’m sad I missed him, but I can see how he was overlooked by everyone. (Just as his amazing performance in Les Misérables wasn’t given its due)

Of the 25 nominees for director and acting, we saw 21 of them. The only ones we never saw apparently did not walk the carpet: Denzel Washington, Emmanuelle Riva (no surprise), Michael Haneke, and Philip Seymour Hoffman. There is a side door off of Hollywood Blvd. for people to come and go without touching the press or the crowds.

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The Master

What to make of The Master? I had been so looking forward to this (NOT) based Scientology (well, sort of) drama from a great director and some of the best actors in the game. Here’s what I walked away with:

Paul Thomas Anderson is a challenging director. He doesn’t take an easy path to his films, pushes you as a viewer, gets incredible performances out of everyone, and has no desire to make anything comfortable or ordinary.

The film has a compact story. Very little happens – and what happens isn’t of much substance. This isn’t a movie to find out how it ends. It essentially comes to a conclusion of little surprise and then the credits roll. Paul Thomas Anderson films dn’t typically stick to standard film arc or character development. If it wasn’t for the acting in some of these dialogue driven scenes, the film could easily have lost me. Film will surely be nominated for the Oscar in Picture, Writing, and Director. But The Master isn’t a masterpiece. It is about its parts. And the acting is chief among them.

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