Archive | February, 2014

Some stuff about 2013 movies and awards

5 Feb

Here is an alphabetical list of all the 2013 movies I have seen.
There are 52. That works out to one a week. Amazing! I saw a lot in theaters, I saw some on Netflix or online through some other means. I saw every movie I wanted to see. I didn’t “miss” anything. If your movie isn’t listed, that means I had no interest in it. Sorry. I think I will probably see fewer movies this year. Most movies prove to be bland and formulaic in most regards. I find myself in the theater rooting for unpredictability. That usually leads to a disappointing movie experience. So I think I’ll cut back. I should note that in addition to these 52 I saw probably a couple hundred older movies. Maybe even a few hundred. I like movies. Also there will probably be spoilers in here somewhere.

12 Years a Slave
The Act of Killing
Afternoon Delight
All is Lost
American Hustle
Before Midnight
The Bling Ring
Blue is the Warmest Color
Blue Jasmine
The Brass Teapot
The Canyons
Closed Circuit
Computer Chess
Concussion
The Counselor
Dallas Buyers Club
Don Jon
Drinking Buddies
The East
Ender’s Game
Enough Said
Frances Ha
Fruitvale Station
Gimme the Loot
Gravity
The Great Gatsby
Her
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
In a World…
In the House
Inside Llewyn Davis
Like Someone in Love
Lore
Lovelace
Much Ado About Nothing
Nebraska
Only God Forgives
The Place Beyond the Pines
Prisoners
Quartet
Room 237
Short Term 12
Side Effects
The Silence
The Spectacular Now
Spring Breakers
Stoker
Stories We Tell
To the Wonder
Upstream Color
What Maisie Knew
The Wolf of Wall Street

Movies I especially liked
All is Lost
American Hustle
Blue is the Warmest Color
Concussion
Drinking Buddies
Frances Ha
The Great Gatsby
Inside Llewyn Davis
Much Ado About Nothing
The Place Beyond the Pines
Spring Breakers
Stoker
What Maisie Knew

I try not to intellectualize this kind of thing. I just picked movies that stuck with me or that I came out of feeling really good about. Inside Llewyn Davis was a borderline pick. It wasn’t always easy or fun to watch. I don’t know if it was supposed to be. I’ll need to see it again. A lot was made of the circular narrative structure thing. I thought that was great. The kind of thing only the Coens could pull off. I’ve made my love of Spring Breakers and Stoker known. Gatsby kind of got forgotten. Too bad. The Place Beyond the Pines was my favorite movie of the year.

Movies I especially disliked
The Bling Ring
The Canyons
Ender’s Game
Her
Quartet
Room 237
The Wolf of Wall Street

I don’t have the energy to trash Her and The Wolf of Wall Street. A lot of people liked them. Fine. I emphatically did not. Not for any reasons that are unique. Read Molly Lambert and Richard Brody on Her, and Dana Stevens on Wolf. It was not my decision to see Ender’s Game. I want that on the record. I think I’ve written previously on this site about the others.

How I would have voted for Oscar nominees in the major categories (obligatory note: the Oscars are a joke and are not to be taken seriously)(winners in bold):

Best Picture
All is Lost
American Hustle
Blue is the Warmest Color
The Place Beyond the Pines
Stoker

Only five movies. More than that is stupid. All is Lost over Gravity. They’re pretty much the same movie. I don’t know what to make of Gravity. That opening scene shot in one take is crazy, but how much credit should Cuarón get for that? How much technology was involved? I don’t know enough about the effects in that movie to really judge. That’s not the basis for my judgment. The dialogue in that scene was so horrifically embarrassingly laughably bad as to disqualify it. Sorry. American Hustle in the Argo slot as a big Hollywood movie that succeeded. Even though I thought it had a kind of glaring script problem at the end. The actors from top to bottom were excellent and the production design was fun and it was funny and was a generally really enjoyable movie to watch. Much more so than I expected. I don’t really have anything to say about any of the various Blue is the Warmest Color debates. I have read enough about them to know that some people think that as a straight white man I shouldn’t be allowed to like it. I think most of the criticisms that have been made are fair, but you know what? I don’t care. I was transfixed by it. I was sad when it was over. I wanted it to be longer. I’d have spent the whole day in the theater watching. Loved it. I’m glad I didn’t know about the prosthetic vaginas beforehand. I think that would have been distracting. That’s a pretty weird thing. I’m disappointed no one has mentioned The Place Beyond the Pines in like eight months. My favorite of the year. I think Bradley Cooper was the weak link. Everything else was near perfect. It’s a pretty complex premise, and I thought Derek Cianfrance nailed it. When a director swings for the fences and hits it might be my favorite thing in movies. And this was the best example this year. I’m looking forward to seeing Stoker again. So many striking small moments/shots/scenes that have stuck with me all year.

Best Actress
Sandra Bullock, Gravity
Julie Delpy, Before Midnight
Adèle Exarchopoulos, Blue is the Warmest Color
Brie Larson, Short Term 12
Robin Weigert, Concussion

Michelle Williams, I missed you this year. This is a stacked category even without her. Tough omissions: Greta Gerwig in Frances Ha, Kathryn Hahn in Afternoon Delight, Amy Adams in American Hustle, Julia Louis-Dreyfus in Enough Said, and Shailene Woodley in The Spectacular Now. Apparently Cate Blanchett is the lock of all locks to win the real Oscar. Whatever. Concussion is a great movie. It’s on Netflix and everyone should watch it. Robin Weigert out of nowhere carried the whole thing. I love all the Before movies, and Julie Delpy is the best part of them. Short Term 12 wasn’t a very good movie, but it sort of falls into the same category as Her and Wolf. Larson was magnetic whenever she was on screen. She was also magnetic without saying anything in Don Jon. I like her. I thought Adèle Exarchopoulos was incredible. Screen presence etc. I’m not good at describing actors/acting. Note: Some of these performances involve considerable sex appeal. I really try not to think about that. But it’s a part of those movies and it’s complicated and I don’t know. I think this is something that male critics like to pretend doesn’t exist but it does so I’m mentioning it.

Best Actor
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street
Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave
Jake Gyllenhaal, Prisoners
Joaquin Phoenix, Her
Robert Redford, All is Lost

As much as I disliked Her and Wolf, it’s hard to deny the quality of the acting involved. DiCaprio and Phoenix are both always good, they should be in good movies. Like The Great Gatsby, which was a better DiCaprio movie, even though I don’t think he did much acting there. He certainly didn’t extend himself like he did in Wolf. I love Gyllenhaal. I think I might be the only one. I truly don’t understand why he isn’t taken more seriously. One of my favorites. There are a lot of reasons I’m not in love with 12 Years a Slave, but Ejiofor was better than I expected, mostly because the role was more complicated than I expected. I’ve seen him in a couple other things, but I don’t remember his performances in them, to be honest. I’ll be on the lookout for more from him. Redford was incredible. The comparison is, again, Sandra Bullock in Gravity. He’s better than Bullock. More peaceful, subdued. And he’s still able to convey desperation within that. I think it’s just age and experience. Maybe they should remake All is Lost with Sandra in 30 years and we can see how she does.

Best Supporting Actress
Kaitlyn Dever, Short Term 12
Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine
Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave
Léa Seydoux, Blue is the Warmest Color
Octavia Spencer, Fruitvale Station

I don’t feel as strongly about this category as I do about Best Actress. Nyong’o had a tough task because there’s not a lot to her character on the page. I wouldn’t presume to know what makes for effectively portraying a slave, but I was affected by her performance. Did you see what I did with effect and affect there? I hope you liked it. I thought about throwing in Selena Gomez from Spring Breakers, but I don’t think she was quite there. Sally Hawkins should be more famous. Happy-Go-Lucky is a good performance of hers to see.

Best Supporting Actor
Dane DeHaan, The Place Beyond the Pines
Nathan Fillion, Much Ado About Nothing
Will Forte, Nebraska
Ryan Gosling, The Place Beyond the Pines
Jonah Hill, The Wolf of Wall Street

Ryan Gosling is the best thing going in Hollywood. Pines gets hurt in the acting categories because of the way its set up. I almost put in Ben Mendelsohn too but that seemed like overkill. I hate to keep bringing up Wolf, but Jonah Hill might be a good actor. I didn’t get the fuss over him for Moneyball, but I was impressed with him here. I did not expect Will Forte to be good at playing sad, but he was the best part of Nebraska for me. And good job to Nathan Fillion, who managed to be funny while delivering 400-year-old malapropisms. The overt comedy stuff is always the hardest part of Shakespeare to pull off.

Best Director
Derek Cianfrance, The Place Beyond the Pines
Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity
Harmony Korine, Spring Breakers
Baz Luhrmann, The Great Gatsby
Chan-wook Park, Stoker

There’s no accounting for taste. That’s mostly what this list is. None of the big name guys is doing anything innovative or unexpected these days. Cuarón is the guy who was most obviously pushing the envelope in terms of camera stuff. I mentioned earlier that I don’t know enough about the details there. I don’t know a lot of the details about directing in general, frankly.

Best Screenplay*
*I’m only doing one screenplay because I can’t keep track of which ones are original or not and I don’t care whether they are or not.
Noah Baumbach/Greta Gerwig, Frances Ha
Shane Carruth, Upstream Color
Derek Cianfrance, The Place Beyond the Pines
Joel Coen/Ethan Coen, Inside Llewyn Davis
Nicole Holofcener, Enough Said

I should probably see Upstream Color again. Based on a first viewing and a reading of the plot summary on Wikipedia afterward I was amazed. This is sort of like the director category. I like what I like and I make no apologies.

So those are my thoughts about movies. I didn’t do a movie-by-movie capsule recap. Too much work. I’ll try to get back into that this year.