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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#BlogElul via the Movies 7 – The Shofar, The Whistleblower

Today’s theme is the Shofar. It’s too obvious to just use a film with a shofar such as The Ten Commendments. So let’s take a moment to talk about the shofar. Rambam (Moses Maimonides) explains its meaning best: “Awaken, you sleepers! Arise, you slumberers! Examine your deeds, do teshuvah and remember your Creator! …Improve their ways and rectify their deeds!” The shofar is an alarm clock to action. It is a signal to change our ways.

There is a genre of movie that fits this perfectly. A human alarm that warns the rest of us – sometimes in vain – to a fraud, deception, corruption and evil-doing. This person challenges us to make a change despite incredible odds. And though they sometimes fail, the movies celebrate their courage to speak out. This is the whistleblower.

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