The word to describe movies in the year 2013 is- Competitive. This is by far one of the hardest years to pick just one winner from every category. Not to mention the Top 10 Best of the year could truly be ANY 10 of the great movies from this excellent year of movies. With movies such as Mia Wasikowska's creepy performance in Stoker, Sarah Polley's soul searching Documentary- Stories We Tell, or coming of age films such as The Way, Way Back or The Spectacular Now, movies have been good from the beginning to end. As the year comes to a close it is topped off with Oscar contenders American Hustle, Her, or The Wolf of Wall Street, ending one of the best years of movies this critic has witnessed. Awards are given to the performances and movies that stood higher above all the rest. It is a daunting task with this years competition, but here are the winners (and losers) for the 2013 Movie Awards:
BEST MOVIE OF THE YEAR:
12 YEARS A SLAVE: Steve McQueen's 12 Years a Slave moved me as a film critic and as a viewer of cinema. Here is a film that projects on the screen and tells the people of America to look. Look at your history. Look at the way African Americans were treated. It is not comfortable to see, but it is something that must be discussed if we are to move past it. That is what Steve McQueen achieves from this film. The story of Solomon Northup is a story of survival and triumph. The fact that this man who was wrongly put into slavery, was able to make it out alive is bittersweet. And yet as the film comes to a close we can only feel heartbreak. In the middle of all these emotions are shinning performances from all the major actors and actresses. Lead by Chiwetel Ejiofor as Solomon and supported by Lupita Nyong'o and Michael Fassbender. Not to mention the whose who of great actors that appear such as Paul Giamatti, Benedict Cumberbatch, Sarah Paulson, Alfre Woodard, Paul Dano, and Brad Pitt. This is a film that will be remembered as putting McQueen at the top of art directing today! Read AMovieGuy.com's 4 Star Review HERE
AMERICAN HUSTLE: Christian Bale's character Irving Rosenfeld asks “Who is the master? The artist? Or the forger?” David O. Russell has used the look and style of Director Martin Scorsese, but is he copying Scorsese or is Russell the artist? That is the question you will ask yourself after watching his excellent film- American Hustle. The Abscam story is about a con-artist who was caught by the Feds and used in order to entrap some local Politicians. What sticks out in this film is four top of the line performances from actors who are on a winning streak. Lead by Christian Bale, who underwent some serious transformation to make himself look like an out of shape con-artist butter ball. Amy Adams throws herself in the middle of the leading men wearing the sexiest clothing of the 70's while Bradley Cooper plays a misguided detective looking for his big bust. Oh and Jennifer Lawrence, yeah she is better than all of them! She may be miscast for her age, but she outplays Bale making her look like another Oscar front runner. Russell may have stolen a lot of Scorsese's skills, but he certainly made it all look so good, so real.
THE WOLF OF WALL STREET: Marty has done it again. This time he really riled up the masses. The Wolf of Wall Street is Martin Scorsese's newest film about Jordan Balfort, a young pup on Wall Street who got his start turning penny stocks into millions of dollars in commission. Not to mention turning all that into a major stock firm empire. This guy was greedy, addicted to pills, lived life in the fast lane, and did not care about anyone he hurt along the way. This was the most controversial film of 2013 and it opened at the end of the year. Not bad for a Director who is 71 years old. "Wolf" is everything that people who loved it and hated it are talking about. It is sexist, lewd, funny, long, and will infuriate you. That is all lead by one of Leonardo DiCaprio's greatest performances. A movie like Wolf of Wall Street is the perfect example of why Cinema is the greatest form of art. Whether you love it or hate it, it moves you and provokes you to think. This movie does all of that. Scorsese is a master
AND THE WINNER IS…12 YEARS A SLAVE
AMOVIEGUY.COM'S TOP 10- BEST MOVIES OF THE YEAR!
1) 12 Years a Slave
2) The Wolf of Wall Street
3) American Hustle
4) Inside Llewyn Davis
6) Frances Ha
7) Blue Jasmine
10) Blue is the Warmest Color
HONERABLE MENTION: Mud; Stories We Tell; Drug War; Stoker; The World's End; The Great Beauty; Don Jon; Captain Phillips; The Way, Way Back; Rush; Le Week-end; Concussion; The Spectacular Now; Dallas Buyers Club; The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug; Star Trek: Into Darkness; Prisoners; In a World...; What Maisie Knew; World War Z; The Hunger Games: Catching Fire; The Wolverine; Prince Avalanche; Monsters University; Pacific Rim
MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY (DALLAS BUYERS CLUB): Usually during every award season there is one actor who does some drastic commitment to his or her role. That actor this year is Matthew McConaughey. The “McCona-ssance” just keeps going and going! It is safe to say that McConaughey has had the best overall acting year with Oscar worthy performances in Mud and with his role as Ron Woodroof in Dallas Buyers Club. For this role, McConaughey lost at least 30 pounds to look like Ron Woodroof who died from contracting the AIDS virus. Woodroof became a pioneer against the FDA prescribing the drug AZT which was hurting more than helping. He took it upon himself to get the proper medicine and created the title of the film- The Dallas Buyers Club. In a year where the Best Actor category is by far the most competitive, McConaughey should be a lock for an Oscar nomination. His commitment and work in film is too good to go unnoticed.
CHIWETEL EJIOFOR (12 YEARS A SLAVE): Chiwetel Ejiofor is a name for everyone to get used to hearing. This man is everything and more when it comes to the hype of his performance in Steve McQueen's 12 Years a Slave. He becomes the man Solomon Northup and gives one of the best performances of they year. We feel the passion in Ejiofor's voice. As he delivers his lines he has a will and courage of a champion. "I will Survive" he says with force! I cannot express enough how good 12 Years a Slave is as a movie. And Ejiofor is the driving performance of this vehicle. Where the performances comes from best is Ejiofor's eyes. What is always constant is fear, possible tears, and the disbelief that he has been taken hostage and put into slavery. Ejiofor will be the front runner for the Oscar!
LEONARDO DICAPRIO (THE WOLF OF WALL STREET): In a year full of actors that could be considered for Best Actor the third and final choice was the toughest. It could have been Bruce Dern for Nebraska, or Robert Redford for All is Lost, Christian Bale for American Hustle, or Oscar Isaac for Inside Llewyn Davis, or especially Tom Hanks for Captain Phillips. But the actor who clearly put his heart, soul, money, effort, and life on the line for his film was Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street. DiCaprio's performance as Jordan Balfort, the man who created his own Wall Street empire selling garbage stocks and making millions on it, is a tour de force! DiCaprio is in almost every scene of a 3 hour film that involves some of the craziest lewd and crewed acts ever put on screen. If you wonder what is the main reason for DiCaprio's nomination here than look no further than his continuous solo monologues pumping up his crowd of followers like a dictator. Or his quaalude induced struggle to drag his body from the door to his Lamborghini. This performance is in DiCaprio's top 5 performances and is more than worthy of him winning the Academy Award!
AND THE WINNER IS...LEONARDO DICAPRIO- THE WOLF OF WALL STREET
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR:
MICHAEL FASSBENDER (12 YEARS A SLAVE): Actor Michael Fassbender has put together a resume of acting performances that put you in line to be one of the greatest. The man is a risk taker in all the sense of the term. He loves good material and he respects great Directors. Fassbender won the Gold Reel two years ago for his role in Shame as a Sex addicted loner. His performance as Edwin Epps in 12 Years a Slave is a vile and disgusting portrayal of a man who is manipulative and controlling. Epps is the Louisianan slave owner who psychologically and physically abuses the slaves on his plantation. Fassbender never pulls punches. He goes to a place that can be quite scary for an actor, playing a character that is so disgusting that you are playing a character that you cannot stand to be. I applaud him for such an excellent performance.
DANIEL BRUHL (RUSH): In Ron Howard's film Rush you have a Formula 1 racing film about a rivalry between two racers. What emerges is a superb performance from Actor Daniel Bruhl as Niki Lauda. Bruhl portrays the character as a stubborn and determined man who battles a giant in James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth). He quickly accepts the “bad guy” role and continues his pursuit of being the best. What Bruhl does an excellent job of portraying is Lauda's blinding determination, almost an obsession which leads to the car crash that nearly steals Lauda's life. The after crash moments is when Bruhl earns his nomination. As he lies on a surgical bed and has tubes put into his throat. It looks uncomfortable and real. It is a performance that overshadows everything else about Rush. Bruhl is going to be around a long time!
JONAH HILL (THE WOLF OF WALL STREET): Never in this film critics life did I ever think I would be praising Jonah Hill of all people for his acting! And yet, here I am to let you know that this young man, who we watched get his start in bro-comedies like Superbad and Knocked Up, has become a serious actor. In fact, after watching his performance in Wolf of Wall Street, I would suggest that Jonah limit his comedies and continue to focus on dramatic roles. His portrayal in “Wolf” as Donnie Azoff is loud, funny, improvisational, and serious. Hill wears his pearly white chompers as a shield of false character. As Hill experiences his Quaalude induced highs he almost steals scenes from his co-star Leonardo DiCaprio which is impressive enough. Jonah Hill is going to be one of those actors that we will always be scratching our heads asking, “This guy? That Jonah Hill? Oscar Winner?” It could happen. He is getting better and better!
AND THE WINNER IS...MICHAEL FASSBENDER- 12 YEARS A SLAVE
SANDRA BULLOCK (GRAVITY): Now this is a performance from Bullock that I believe the actress would be worthy of winning the Academy Award for. The individual struggle that Bullock had to endure in making Alfonso Curon's space journey was the performance of legends. When we think of individual performances where the actor is alone and isolated many think of Tom Hanks in Castaway or James Franco in 127 Hours, now we have a film where a female lead is given the chance to prove that this is a woman's world in acting and Bullock dominates! The character that she creates in a small amount of time and space is where the real achievement is. Not to mention the physical aspect of her floating around, spinning and turning her body in different ways, make her efforts a total mind and body effort. This is Sandra Bullocks greatest performance of her entire career! Read AMovieGuy.com's 4 Star Review of Gravity HERE!
GRETA GERWIG (FRANCES HA): Actress Greta Gerwig has already been in one Woody Allen film in her career, but after her performance in Frances Ha, I have a feeling the actress may become one of Allen's typical muses. And if not, she has certainly played the Woody Allen style character in her performance as Frances. I cannot say that I thought Frances Ha was the greatest movie this year but Gerwig's performance was certainly one of the most memorable. The character of Frances is memorable like Ferris Bueller or even Allen himself. She is floating in the wind from apartment to apartment. Always trying to make ends meet and at the same time filled with excitement. Gerwig does an excellent job of making this character come to life. Always rambling and losing her train of thought. I know people like Frances and Gerwig is excellent.
CATE BLANCHETT (BLUE JASMINE): If Blanchett had not been in Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine than someone like Greta Gerwig or Amy Adams may have had a chance to win an Oscar this year. Unfortunately, even with all the other great female performances this year they seem futile with Blanchett's full mind and body performance as Jasmine. She is a martini and prescription pill concoction of a woman who displays her dreams with her dialogue and her emotions with her eyes in every scene. She is forced to move in with her half sister and her working class grease monkey of a boyfriend and it seems like the recipe for disaster and it is. When Jasmines life comes crashing down all around her Blanchett begins her dissension into madness. Blanchett is the poster for what acting is all about. Her performance is going to be the perfect example of taking on a role and becoming the character that we see on the screen.
AND THE WINNER IS…CATE BLANCHETT- BLUE JASMINE
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:
JENNIFER LAWRENCE (AMERICAN HUSTLE): Do not get sick of Jennifer Lawrence just yet. The 23 year old actress continues to surprise more and more. She may be a little to young to play the passive aggressive Rosalyn Rosenfeld, but boy does she play it strong. When she is introduced in the film she is aggressive and memorable. In a film with excellent actors like Amy Adams and Christian Bale, it is Lawrence who holds her own throughout the entire film. When Rosalyn and Irving (Bale) get into a heated argument because Rosalyn has narked on Irving, it is Lawrence who steals the scene. The beautiful blonde has become a household name and is continuing to impress. The second installment of The Hunger Games was a great watch and she is even better in American Hustle. She could be getting a second Oscar this year!
LUPITA NYONG'O (12 YEARS A SLAVE): Nyong'o was an unknown until Director Steve McQueen found the beautiful graduate from Yale University. Her performance in the groundbreaking 12 Years a Slave is heartbreaking and passionate. She is the abused and used slave owned by Edwin Epps (Michael Fassbender) who becomes the eye of his affection and his mistreatment. Nyong'o performs with such passion that it pours from her very soul. She is a rising star of actresses in the world. Every word she speaks as her character Patsey is filled with reason, regret, and a will to survive. McQueen does not take the camera off her because we must see the brutality, but it is Nyong'o who becomes the apple of all of our eyes. She is amazing in this film!
JUNE SQUIBB (NEBRASKA): The 84-year old Squibb is the funniest character in the midwest road trip film Nebraska. Her portrayal as the bickering mother Kate Grant is a scene stealer throughout the entire film. She is a gossiping know it all who is sticking her nose in other peoples business, but never showing mercy for her own families issues. When she delivers a monologue of pointing out all the problems with those that are dead in their families cemetery plot, it is uncomfortable and brilliant. It is the type of scene that makes you want to scream at her to stop, but this is who she is. I could feel the authenticity of her character. She is just like midwest mothers that gossip in small towns. For the veteran Squibb a nomination is a long time coming and her performance is one of the most memorable of the year.
AND THE WINNER IS...LUPITA NYONG'O- 12 YEARS A SLAVE