By Mark Saldana
The end of the year has arrived, and even though some of 2013’s selections paled in comparison to those of 2012, several of my favorite directors, such as Martin Scorsese, the Coen Brothers, Alexander Payne, and Derek Cianfrance released movies this year. This made me feel like all was mostly right with the world of cinema. Thankfully, the world didn’t end last year and thankfully comedies were made and released about the apocalypse this year (This is the End, The World’s End). 2013 may have been an unlucky number for some people, but for some of our more celebrated filmmakers, it was a great year to rekindle our romances with their brands of movie making. So without any further ado, here are my selections for the best and the worst of this year.
My Top Ten Films of 2013:
- Gravity: Director Alfonso Cuarón not only shows audiences the beauty of space, but also its cold, unforgiving, perilous side. Not only is Gravity a technical marvel, but it is a work of art. Sandra Bullock delivers an inspiring and heartfelt performance. It is the most well rounded motion picture of the year.
- 12 Years a Slave: Perhaps the most important film of the year, director Steve McQueen’s adaptation of Solomon Northrup’s autobiography is the most difficult one to watch. McQueen never filters or sanitizes the cruel and often brutal treatment of slaves in the South. While audiences may be left devastated, the movie’s message of strength and dignity in the face of indignities is empowering material.
- Captain Phillips: This high tension recreation of the 2009 hijacking of a U.S. cargo ship is a superbly filmed and acted thriller that never lets its audience go until the final emotionally charged scene. Tom Hanks, as usual, delivers the chops and first time actor, Barkhad Abdi impresses as he holds his own opposite Hanks.
- Before Midnight: Richard Linklater’s latest installment in the Celine/Jesse romance saga gets starkly real as their relationship begins to show the wear of marriage and the emotional baggage of their past.
- The Place beyond the Pines: Derek Cianfrance’s latest movie, once again, exemplifies his talent as a writer and director. This examination of parents, and the impact their mistakes have on their children, features incredible performances by Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendez, Ben Mendelsohn, and Dane DeHaan.
- Mud: Matthew McConaughey has had another successful year with three excellent performances in three outstanding movies which have all made my top ten list this year. With Mud, though, McConaughey delivers his most compelling turn as a heartbroken fugitive protected by two teen boys. Writer/director Jeff Nichols presents a stunning and beautiful coming of age drama that is definitely unforgettable.
- Dallas Buyers Club: Another amazing performance by McConaughey drives this true story of a desperate man seeking medical treatment for A.I.D.S. during the 1980s. Ron Woodruff (McConaughey), an electrician and bull rider, was not the typical A.I.D.S. patient. A gruff, racist, and homophobic womanizer, Woodruff, through his disease, learns how to treat all people humanely as he shares a common foe with all H.I.V. positive patients. Jared Leto delivers an incredible performance as a transgender A.I.D.S patient named Rayon.
- Nebraska: Alexander Payne’s newest comedic drama makes an awesome third feature with his previous road trip themed films About Schmidt and Sideways. Even though Payne’s work on the screenplay is limited compared to his previous films, new collaborator Bob Nelson knows exactly what makes a Payne film work. The dark humor, satire, and genuinely human characters are all present.
- The Wolf of Wall Street: Even at the age of 71 can director Martin Scorsese make a motion picture that unflinchingly delivers astonishment, thrills, surprises and unadulterated entertainment. This film gets my vote for number one comedy of the year as I laughed to the point of tears. Make no mistake, though, as with most of his films, this movie does have a serious message. Leo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill also get my vote for best comic duo.
- Fruitvale Station: Another sad, but important film, Fruitvale Station recalls the true events leading up to and immediately following a tragic event where Oscar Grant, III was shot and killed by transit police on New Year’s Eve. Director Ryan Cooger presents the incident in an unbiased manner, and develops his characters well. Excellent performances by Michael B. Jordan, Melonie Diaz, and Octavia Spencer really add to the movie’s devastating impact.
Other Honorable Mentions:
Best Animated Feature: Frozen
Best Comedy: The Wolf of Wall Street
Best Actress: Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)
Best Actor: Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave)
Best Supporting Actress: Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave)
Best Supporting Actor: Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave)
Best Director: Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity)
Ten Worst Films of 2013 (I don’t wish to elaborate. Take my word for it.):
- A Haunted House
- Movie 43
- Identity Thief
- The Hangover Part 3
- Grown Ups 2
- Mortal Instruments: City of Bones
- Texas Chainsaw 3D
- A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan
- Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor
- Happy New Year, friends, readers, and Truevies! I’ll see you all at the cinema next year!