Thursday, December 25, 2014

Favorite Films of 2013

2013 was overall an underwhelming year for me, which shows how out of touch I am because the Academy of Motion Pictures and Arts kept extolling it as a great year for films.  Sure, there was warmth but I was drawn to theaters very little, the great years get me out to the theaters consistently and get me movie hopping (many for the price of one at the multiplex).

Amy Adams and Joaquin Phoenix

Her: Amy Adams is radiant here, her messy hair just makes her sexier.  Phoenix also pops in his red shirts and thick-rimmed glasses.  This movie reaffirms flesh and blood physical attraction.  There is some impressionistic music to regale the tense viewer.  I didn't love it but I loved Adams.

Man of Steel Still

Man of Steel: It may be pat and overly sentimental, duh, that's why it's go great!  This seems to be the year of Amy Adams (or at least one of them).  Russel Crowe does a magnificent job living up to the Brando performance, in his own way, as Superman's father.  Kevin Costner also does a great job living up to Glenn Ford's performance as the Earth father.  Diane Lane also shines as the Earth mother.  And, of course, Henry Cavill fills Reeve's shoes and the suit quite remarkably.  Hans Zimmer reinvents the music of this universe from the ground up and I like it almost as much as the Williams music.  This film allows the viewer to soar and that's enough.

Shailene Woodley and Miles Teller

The Spectacular Now: Shailene Woodley is the everywoman (or the everygirl) and she is attractive as much from within as without, her character has a unique level of agency for this kind of film.  Once again, we're talking high school and snark and positive transformation and epiphanies.  I can watch films like this over and over, and I do.  Richard Roeper said the film is like watching real life and, indeed, it is.  Kyle Chandler has a particularly fine appearance in this film, details intentionally left out.  Just watch.

Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin

Labor Day: This has to be my single favorite of the year.  Kate Winslet is a knockout.  Brolin is capable of going toe to toe with Mrs. Winslet, and Gattlin Griffith is remarkable and part of a recent spate of excellent child performances (Hugo, Super 8, Kick-Ass).  Authentic New England locations provide the backdrop.  This is overblown wish-fulfillment in many ways and it's syrupy but the fact remains that I would put this movie on like a piece of clothes to be with Winslet.  I'm only saying that because the flash forward makes prison a cakewalk, but still.  I just bought into it (a great double feature with The Holiday (another Winslet romance).   

Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone

Escape Plan: Stallone is still kicking ass after all these years and Schwarzenegger is kicking a surprising amount of ass as well.  The concept here is actually pretty original and politically relevant.  Where the fuck are the big awards?  This film will instill some tough guy, who gives a shit attitude for a while, if you let it.  This is a great ride.

Noomi Rapace and Rachel McAdams

Passion: Another sensational, heavily stylized thriller from Brian De Palma is always a much welcomed thing to this soul.  Rachel McAdams is sexy and a real bitch here.  Noomi Rapace is highly sympathetic despite her more reserved European qualities.  Really, this film is all about the inky, sexy photography and the mood music that takes it to the next level.

Katie Chang
Hello, Katie Chang!

Emma Watson
You know I want it, Emma Watson!

Taissa Farmiga, Israel Broussard, Emma Watson, Katie Chang, and Claire Julien

Katie Chang, Israel Broussard, and Claire Julien

The Bling Ring:  First, this is a Sofia Coppola film, my favorite female director in the business and one my favorites overall.  Second, Emma Watson is gorgeous and naughty!  Third, Katie Chang: where did you come from?  Fourth, tons of great Hollywood/Southern California atmosphere.  Fifth, I want to break into a celebrity's home now!  This film is a bad and a good influence wrapped into one, and that's not a bad thing. 

Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Chloƫ Grace Moretz

Kick-Ass 2: Despite poor reviews, this is great and I owe my appreciation of this film to Quentin Tarantino, who endorsed it.  Chloe Grace Moretz kicked it up a notch for this film.  It is a satisfying movie without the harder edge of the first.  Wait for it . . . this film just KICKS ASS!

Brad Pitt and Pierfrancesco Favino

World War Z:  Brad Pitt is the shit, to quote As Good As It Gets, maybe it's a misquote.  Who would of thought: Pitt sqaures off against zombies?  Not me.  George Romero (zombie kingpin of the film world) criticizes the sensory assault of the zombies being like army ants.  He's right, it's tiresome on some level.  That said, I was able to get past that and enjoy the struggle of the main characters.  It's hard to go wrong with this one if you like thrills and Brad Pitt.

Teresa Palmer and Nicholas Hoult

Warm Bodies:  Teresa Palmer is likable and Nicholas Hoult is magnetic.  This film reinvents zombies in a refreshing manner (kind of like what Daybreakers did for vampires but funnier).  John Malkovich straddles the lines of audience favor quite adeptly.  This film mixes thrills with sweetness and that makes for warm bodies.  

I also recommend:

Emily Blunt and Colin Firth

Arthur Newman: When is romance not romance?  Colin Firth pulls a fuck it all and leave it behind on his life and everyone in it--the epic block.  Then there are realizations and growths and acceptance and so forth.  Blunt is in so many damned good films and, of course, Firth is on his own streak. 

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