Sunday, February 19, 2017

2013--The Year in Review

2013 was a fantastic year for movies. Its prime entry was the eventual winner of the Best Picture Oscar, British director Steve McQueen's 12 Years a Slave--a film like no other and one completely of today, since this crime of humanity has hardly been vanquished, and particularly original because it dissects the miserable lives lived by both the enslaved and slavers. Unflinching and highly emotional, to the point of sheer hopelessness and then to miraculous release, and beautifully acted by a peerless cast (headed by the remarkable Chewitel Ejiofor and Lupita Nyong'o), it's a stunning display of bravery and wisdom in the face of insistent pain. That it has been so controversial is a sure sign that we still have a lot to get over in this country, and in the world (hell, most of civilization has been built on the backs of slaves). McQueen's movie--adapted by John Ridley from Solomon Northup's memoir--deserves to be a key part of that necessary discussion, as well as of a desperately needed confrontation of history, and an equal healing. There may have been other movies from this year I'd want to watch again, but there is no other 2013 film I'm more glad to have seen or seen made12 Year a Slave is absolutely required viewing.

This was an astounding year for the sci-fi genre, though. Spike Jonze's astounding Her believably presupposed a world in which humans fall deeply in love with their computer helpers, while Ari Folman's The Congress vividly visualized a future in which humans squander their lives away in completely fabricated realities. Andrew Bujalski's Computer Chess, meanwhile, delved deep into the digital past, dramatizing with great wit the initial adoration pioneering nerds had for this new world (Bujalski wisely chose to shoot this convention between such devotees on black-and-white, '80s-era videotape, and did so with tremendous creativity). The big winner at the Oscars, Alfonso Cueron's sensational tale of survival Gravity, stunned everyone with its immersion in the dangers of space travel (its 3D and big-screen IMAXness justly convinced everyone of its greatness--once you've seen it, you feel you've a veteran astronaut). Meanwhile, films like Under The Skin (Jonathan Glazer's splendid account of an alien taking a female form in order to study male humans, with Scarlet Johannson in the lead, and Mica Levi's ravishing debut as a film composer), Shane Carruth's dazzling Upstream Color, Bong Joon Ho's barreling actioner Snowpiercer, Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen's jovial apocalyptic scenario This is the End, and Mark Forster's enthralling adaptation of Max Brooks' zombie killfest World War Z all ratcheted up the genre's cinematic reputation.

But then there are earthbound movies like Martin Scorsese's breathless damnation of modern money-making The Wolf of Wall Street, commanded by Leonardo DiCaprio's astounding lead as a vicious, drug-addicted economic parasite feeding on the greed inherent in the American economy, turned out to be the director's most dynamic movie since The Age of Innocence nearly two decades earlier. UK filmmaker Clio Bernard burst onto the scene with her unflinching look at poor British kids trying to make a buck in The Selfish Giant. And France's Abdellatif Kechiche won the Palme D'Or (along with his two lead actresses, Adele Exarchopolis and Lea Seydoux, in an unusual Cannes joint commendation) for his depiction of a naive lesbian love affair in Blue is the Warmest Color. There's Paul Greengrass' exciting Captain Phillips, with the terrific Tom Hanks in the lead, but also generous enough to cast the unknown Barkhad Abdi as the incredibly dynamic head pirate. And then there are the Coen Brothers, offering one of their most morally challenging movies (and that's really saying something) with Inside Llewyn Davis, an account of a '60s-era folk musician seriously disconnected from the concepts of right and wrong. In the end, there's no question that 2013 stands as the finest movie year of recent memory. NOTE: These are MY choices for each category, and are only occasionally reflective of the selections made by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (aka The Oscars). When available, the nominee that actually won the Oscar will be highlighted in bold.

PICTURE: 12 YEARS A SLAVE (US, Steve McQueen) (2nd: Her (US, Spike Jonze), followed by: Blue is the Warmest Color (France/Belgium/Spain, Abdellatif Kechiche); The Congress (Israel/Germany/France, Ari Folman); Computer Chess (US, Andrew Bujalski); The Wolf of Wall Street (US, Martin Scorsese); Gravity (US, Alfonso Cuarón); The Selfish Giant (UK, Clio Barnard); Under the Skin (US, Jonathan Glazer); Inside Llewyn Davis (US, Joel Coen and Ethan Coen); Gloria (Chile, Sebastian Lelio); Nebraska (US, Alexander Payne); The Lords of Salem (US, Rob Zombie); All is Lost (US, J.C. Chandor); A Teacher (US, Hannah Fidell); Beyond the Hills (Romania, Cristian Mungiu); Behind the Candleabra (US, Steven Soderburgh); Blue Jasmine (US, Woody Allen); The Spectacular Now (US, James Ponsoldt); Short Term 12 (US, Dustin Daniel Cretton); Ida (Poland, Pawel Pawlikowski); This is The End (US, Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen); The Crash Reel (US, Lucy Walker); Enough Said (US, Nicole Holofcener); 56 Up (UK, Michael Apted); Joe (US, David Gordon Green); Tim's Vermeer (US, Teller); Blackfish (US, Gabriela Coperthwaite); Sarah Prefers to Run (Canada, Chloé Robichaud); Captain Phillips (US, Paul Greengrass); Upstream Color (US, Shane Carruth); Prince Avalanche (US, David Gordon Green); Snowpiercer (South Korea/Czech Republic/US/France, Bong Joon Ho); The Grandmaster (Hong Kong/China, Wong Kar Wei); Begin Again (US/Ireland, John Carney); Only Lovers Left Alive (US/Germany/UK.France, Jim Jarmusch); Blue Ruin (US, Jeremy Saulnier); The Great Chicken Wing Hunt (US, Matt Reynolds); Side Effects (US, Steven Soderburgh); World War Z (US, Marc Forster); Night Moves (US, Kelly Reichardt); Afternoon Delight (US, Jill Soloway); August: Osage County (US, John Wells); The Bling Ring (US, Sofia Coppola); Touchy Feely (US, Lynn Shelton); Forev (US, Molly Green and James Leffler); The Tale of Princess Kaguya (Japan, Isao Takahata); Good Ol’ Freda (US/UK, Ryan White); Metalhead (Iceland, Ragnar Bragason); The Great Beauty (Italy, Paolo Sorrentino); Ain't Them Bodies Saints (US, David Lowery); The Wind Rises (Japan, Hayao Miyazaki); The Great Gatsby (US/Australia, Baz Luhrmann); Like Father Like Son (Japan, Hirokazu Koreeda); A Touch of Sin (China/Japan/France, Zhangke Jia); Fruitvale Station (US, Ryan Coogler); Mud (US, Jeff Nichols); Dallas Buyers Club (US, Jean-Marc Vallee); The To Do List (US, Maggie Carey); The Trials of Muhammad Ali (US, Bill Siegel); Zipper: Coney Island's Last Wild Ride (US, Amy Nicholson); The Institute (US, Spencer McCall); Casting By (US, Tom Donahue); The Way Way Back (US, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash); We're the Millers (US, Rawson Marshall Thurber); 20 Feet From Stardom (US, Morgan Neville); Our Nixon (US, Penny Lane); Before Midnight (US, Richard Linklater); Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight (US, Stephen Frears); This is Martin Bonner (US, Chad Hartigan); American Hustle (US, David O. Russell); The English Teacher (US, Craig Zisk); Belle (UK, Amma Asante); The Lunchbox (India/US/France, Ritesh Batra); Words and Pictures (US/Australia/Canada, Fred Schepisi); Inequality for All (US, Jacob Kornbluth); Iron Man 3 (US, Shane Black); Last Love (US/France, Sandra Nettelbeck); Prisoners (US, Denis Villeneuve); Frozen (US, Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee); Now You See Me (US, Louis Leterrier); Alan Partridge (UK, Declan Lowney); Philomena (UK, Stephen Frears); Dealin’ With Idiots (US, Jeff Garlin); HazMat (US, Lou Simon); Only God Forgives (Denmark/France/US, Nicolas Winding Refn); Saving Mr. Banks (US, John Lee Hancock); The Zero Theorem (UK/US, Terry Gilliam); Escape Plan (US, Mikael Håfström); Escape from Tomorrow (US, Randy Moore); Sharknado (US, Anthony C. Ferrante)) 


ACTOR: Leonardo DiCaprio, THE WOLF OF WALL STREET (2nd: Robert Redford, All is Lost; followed by: Chewitel Ejiofor, 12 Years A Slave; Joaquin Phoenix, Her; Tom Hanks, Captain Phillips; Oscar Isaac, Inside Llewyn Davis; Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club; Bruce Dern, Nebraska)

ACTRESS: Adele Exarchopoulos, BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR (2nd: Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine, followed by: Paulina Garcia, Gloria; Brie Larson, Short Term 12; Sandra Bullock, Gravity; Meryl Streep, August: Osage County; Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Enough Said; Lindsay Burge, A Teacher)

SUPPORTING ACTOR: Barkhad Abdi, CAPTAIN PHILLIPS (2nd: Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club, followed by: Jonah Hill, The Wolf of Wall Street; Gary Poulter, Joe; James Gandolfini, Enough Said; Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave; Will Forte, Nebraska)

SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Lupita Nyong'o, 12 YEARS A SLAVE (2nd: Lea Seydoux, Blue is the Warmest Color, followed by: Tilda Swinton, Snowpiercer; Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine; Julia Roberts, August: Osage County; June Squibb, Nebraska; Margot Robbie, The Wolf of Wall Street; Scarlett Johansson, Her)

DIRECTOR: Steve McQueen, 12 YEARS A SLAVE (2nd: Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity, followed by: Spike Jonze, Her; Martin Scorsese, The Wolf of Wall Street; Abdellatif Kechiche, Blue is the Warmest Color; Jonathan Glazer, Under the Skin; Andrew Bujalski, Computer Chess; Ari Folman, The Congress)

NON-ENGLISH LANGUAGE FILM: BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR (France, Abdellatif Kechiche) (2nd: Gloria (Chile, Sebastian Lelio), followed by: Beyond the Hills (Romania, Cristian Mungiu); Ida (Poland, Pawel Pawlikowski) (won in 2014); Sarah Prefers to Run (Canada, Chloé Robichaud); The Grandmaster (Hong Kong, Wong Kar Wei); The Wind Rises (Japan, Hayao Miyazaki); Metalhead (Iceland, Ragnar Bragason); The Great Beauty (Italy, Paolo Sorrentino); The Tale of Princess Kaguya (Japan, Isao Takahata); Like Father Like Son (Japan, Hirokazu Koreeda); A Touch of Sin (China/Japan/France, Zhangke Jia)) 


DOCUMENTARY FEATURE: THE CRASH REEL (US, Lucy Walker) (2nd: 56 Up (UK, Michael Apted), followed by: Tim's Vermeer (US, Teller); Blackfish (US, Gabriela Coperthwaite); The Great Chicken Wing Hunt (US, Matt Reynolds); Good Ol’ Freda (US/UK, Ryan White); The Trials of Muhammad Ali (US, Bill Siegel); Zipper: Coney Island's Last Wild Ride (US, Amy Nicholson); The Institute (US, Spencer McCall); Casting By (US, Tom Donahue); 20 Feet From Stardom (US, Morgan Neville); Our Nixon (US, Penny Lane); Inequality for All (US, Jacob Kornbluth)

ANIMATED FEATURE: THE TALE OF PRINCESS KAGUYA (Japan, Isao Takahata) (2nd: The Wind Rises (Japan, Hayao Miyazaki), followed by: Frozen (US, Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee)

ANIMATED SHORT: GLORIA VICTORIA (Canada, Theodore Yushev) (2nd: Subconscious Password (Canada, Chris Landreth), followed by: The Missing Scarf (Ireland, Eoin Duffy); Hollow Land (Canada/Denmark/France,  Michelle Kranot and Uri Kranot); Mr. Hublot (Luxembourg/France, Alexandre Espigares and Laurent Witz))


LIVE ACTION SHORT: JUST BEFORE LOSING EVERYTHING (France, Xavier Legrand) (2nd: Silence (Iran, Pegah Arzi), followed by: Cavedigger (US, Jeffrey Karoff); Winter Hill (US, Melissa Bruno); Comic Book Palace (US, Felipe Jorge))

(2nd: Nicole Holofcener, Enough Said, followed by: Bob Nelson, Nebraska; Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, Inside Llewyn Davis; Clio Bernhard, The Selfish Giant))

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: John Ridley, 12 YEARS A SLAVE (2nd: Abdellatif Kechiche and Ghalia Lacroix, Blue is the Warmest Color, followed by: Terence Winter, The Wolf of Wall Street; Walter Campbell and Jonathan Glazer, Under the Skin; Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, The Spectacular Now))

CINEMATOGRAPHY: Bruno Dubonnel, INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS (2nd: Benoit Dobie, Spring Breakers, followed by: Emmanuel Lubezki, Gravity; Phillipe Le Sourd, The Grandmaster; Brandon Troust, The Lords of Salem)

PRODUCTION DESIGN: THE GREAT GATSBY, Her, Gravity, 12 Years a Slave, Inside Llewyn Davis

COSTUME DESIGN: THE GREAT GATSBY, American Hustle, Her, 12 Years a Slave, Dallas Buyers Club


FILM EDITING: 12 YEARS A SLAVE, Gravity, The Wolf of Wall Street, Inside Llewyn Davis, Her


SOUND: GRAVITY, All is Lost, Captain Phillips, World War Z, Inside Llewyn Davis 

SOUND EFFECTS: ALL IS LOST, Gravity, Iron Man 3 

ORIGINAL SCORE: Steven Price, GRAVITY (2nd: Mica Levi, Under the Skin, followed by: William Butler and Owen Pallett, Her; Alex Ebert, All is Lost; Mark Orton, Nebraska)

ORIGINAL SONG: "Please Mr. Kennedy" from INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS (Music and lyrics by Ed Rush, George Cromarty, T Bone Burnett, Justin Timberlake, Joel Coen, and Ethan Coen) (2nd: "For The Time Being" from The Way Way Back (Music and lyrics by Edie Brickell), followed by: "Young and Beautiful" from The Great Gatsby (Music and lyrics by Elizabeth Grant and Rick Howels); "Let It Go" from Frozen (Music by Robert Lopez, lyrics by Kristen Anderson-Lopez); "The Moon Song" from Her (Music by Karen O, lyrics by Karen O and Spike Jonze); "Atlas" from The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (Music and lyrics by Chris Martin, Guy Berrymkan, Jonny Buckland and Will Champion); "Ordinary Love" from Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom (Music and lyrics by Paul Hewson, David Evans, Adam Clayton, Larry Mullen Jr., and Brian Burton); "In Summer" from Frozen (Music by Robert Lopez, lyrics by Kristen Anderson-Lopez); "Get Used to Me" from The Sapphires (Music and lyrics by Diane Warren))

SPECIAL EFFECTS: GRAVITY, World War Z, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Pacific Rim, Iron Man 3


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