I'm throwing the Top 10 format out the window and listing my Favorite Forty Films of 2013. These were my favorites of the year, not necessarily the best. They all gave me pleasure and I smile every time I read through this list. Click on the titles to see what I thought when I saw them.
The Stories We Tell
The Way Way Back
12 Years a Slave
Inside Llewyn Davis
The World's End
A Band Called Death
Dallas Buyers Club
August: Osage County
Saving Mr. Banks
Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa
What Maisie Knew
This is the End
Much Ado About Nothing
The Wolf of Wall Street
All is Lost
The Place Beyond the Pines
A Single Shot
Thursday, January 30, 2014
Tuesday, January 28, 2014
I feel like I keep saying that I liked a lot of movies more than I expected this year. None surprised me more than Bad Grandpa. I watched it because of an Oscar nomination for makeup & hairstyles. The Jackass crew delivers a very funny, very inappropriate, very raunchy, very sweet movie. Johnny Knoxville straps on old man makeup and takes off on a road trip from Nebraska to North Carolina with a 9 year old posing as his grandson. They play out uncomfortable situations in a hidden camera style to the unsuspecting people they encounter. Watch the credits for the reveals. I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. Color me surprised.
Sunday, January 26, 2014
Watching young soldiers fight for their lives is a popular theme in film. In Lone Survivor, watching four soldiers battle Taliban soldiers in Afghanistan is brutal. We are endeared to the soldiers early in the film, then they go on their mission. The fight is graphic and bloody. When you buy your ticket, you know the outcome of the story, so suspense is not a factor. The how is almost unbelievable. This film is Oscar nominated for sound and sound mixing, and I'll say that the sound was one of the more dramatic aspects of this film. I came away from this film once again marveling at the bravery of young men in the military and the dangerous situation in the middle east.
Saturday, January 25, 2014
Not only is the story of artists Ushio and Noriko Shinohara an interesting ride, but the structure of this film draws the viewer in. In the documentary Cutie and The Boxer we see the evolution and survival of artists who met, fell in love and have lived their art for many years. The story is interesting and the film is put together well. The end credits are priceless. If I ever run into them in DUMBO I'll say hey!
I was excited to see The Book Thief based on the Oscar nomination for John Williams' score. The score was sparse and subtle, so I don't really understand the nomination. The story itself was fine. A young girl finds her comfort in books and friends in Nazi Germany. The performances were good, but this film would have benefited from a 15-20 minute edit. An ok movie at best.
Friday, January 24, 2014
Prisoners has an Oscar nomination for cinematography. Roger Deakins puts a light on this dark film so well. There is a sequence in a car near the end that is especially notable. The story of a kidnapping takes several complicated turns, and left a few things hanging at the end. I would have liked some resolution. A decent rental.
Thursday, January 23, 2014
I saw The Lone Ranger because it has Oscar nominations for visual effects and makeup & hairstyles. Aside from that, this film is a huge waste of time. The visuals are impressive, but every time a character opens their mouth it is regrettable. What a mess.
Wednesday, January 22, 2014
If you are looking for a good rental, I recommend Lake Bell's latest film In a World... The daughter of a successful voice actor follows in her father's footsteps. He is both proud and threatened. Good performances and an entertaining story make this worth a look.
Wednesday, January 15, 2014
Something about the way Short Term 12 is shot and acted is so genuine and intimate. This film is impressive in depicting a woman who works at a Short Term foster care facility. We see her at work, we see her at home. She is not perfect, but her flaws are what makes her so real. There is a heart to this film that is very endearing. I liked this film a lot. Worth a look.
Sunday, January 12, 2014
Dynamic dialogue and amazing performances make August: Osage County a dramatic powerhouse. I can't imagine what it was like to see this play live. An emotionally damaged family comes together in a family crisis and all their dirty laundry comes out in explosive fashion. Not nice, but what a ride!
Saturday, January 11, 2014
Her is an interesting examination of relationships. Set in the future, Theodore takes up a relationship with the OS on his computer. Not unusual in this time. Very human emotions are explored. The cast turns in outstanding performances in this unusual love story. Wonderful film.
Wednesday, January 08, 2014
Despicable Me 2 starts out strong. The kids are still adorable, the animation is stunning, and oh those Minions!! When the bad guys move in I lost interest, but the minions rescue the end of the movie. The fireman scene is hilarious. The grownups are a bit tedious but the kids and Minions keep the tone light. Not horrible, not great.
Sunday, January 05, 2014
Peter Jackson has a knack for making beautiful films. He's done it again with The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug . The outdoor shots in New Zeland are breathtaking and the special effects are dramatic. The story continues the journey of Bilbo Baggins and the dwarves to reclaim the dwarves' gold from Smaug. Several chase scenes are dramatic, but I do find the fight scenes too long and tedious. All in all I enjoyed this and am ready for the conclusion.....next year.
Saturday, January 04, 2014
With a busy holiday schedule, it has taken me a while to see the film Frozen. The day after a northeast snowstorm, and waking up to a temperature of zero degrees, it seemed appropriate that today was the day. I was treated to a visual delight. It is a simple story told with heart and humor. Delightful and playful with just enough menace. The music made me think, "this one's going to Broadway." I especially liked the ending. I think we may have a classic here.
Thursday, January 02, 2014
RI is a small state and a small film market. At the end of the film year I find myself searching theaters in nearby Connecticut and Massachusetts for those indie gems that are only released in limited markets. The AMC Framingham 16 is only an hour away, and this time of year, is a gold mine of these films. An easy drive, huge parking lot and comfy theaters, I'm always happy when my search for that elusive film brings me there.
Wednesday, January 01, 2014
Listening to interviews and reading reviews about Inside Llewyn Davis has had me chomping at the bit to see the film. The film will not play in RI for 2 more weeks, so I took the drive to Massachusetts to satisfy my desire. A 70 mile drive rewarded me with a film that takes us into the life of a struggling musician. It becomes apparent early on that he is a jerk. He is struggling against himself, trying to make a living in the early folk music world of Greenwich Village in the early 60s. His relationships with friends and family are strained, and he makes bad decisions regularly. The part of his life that holds his redemption is his music. Oscar Isaac delivers song after song, as Llewyn Davis, that I found gorgeous and mesmerizing. (When I got home I bought the soundtrack) Every aspect of this film is wonderful, and it is obvious why it is on so many "best of" lists. It will certainly be on mine.