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2013 IN REVIEW: My Top Films of the Year

February 16, 2014 1 comment

Rush - Chris Hemsworth

FINALLY! The moment I’ve been building up to for far too long! It’s been a busy month… and a half… for me, but I’m finally done, and this is my last of my 2013 in Review articles! (Consequently, while none of these are exactly final reviews, many of them may as well be and portions of what is stated here may show up in a future review. For the sake of my sanity and my time, however, I’ve decided to present what I felt the need to write without very many edits!)

The format I’ve chosen for my annual Year in Review articles is a bit insane, I know, but while it’s time consuming, its also quite fun, and it’s just as much about sharing all the films released in the last year (or at least most, as I probably missed some in the sections where I went over films I didn’t get around to seeing) as it is about me locating films that you and I have both overlooked, which is also why a lot of the films I didn’t see this year made repeat appearances, as I couldn’t resist the urge to watch them, and it’s not like I’d be able to do another year in review for them, too, you know? This year, one of those movies I didn’t see at first but did during my writing these articles even made it onto this list, My Top Films of the Year!

The Wolf of Wall Street - Jonah Hill, Marching Band

So why don’t I call it “The Best Films of the Year”? It’s simple, really – it’s subjective, yes, but it’s also because even I switch around the order at times. I guarantee you that at some point in the past and future, I might have ordered these films differently. It took some time and thought, and this is ultimately what I felt comfortable enough with to publish, but I’ll tell you that this was a hard process, particularly in the top 10.

All of this year’s Best Picture Academy Award nominees are on this list. Seriously – I’ve even decided to mark the Oscar nominations this year. They were all very good and justifiably nominated, and while I might have my preferences as to who should win, they’re all remarkable, worthwhile films if you should ever consider watching them. Some of the other movies on this list, however, are also quite awesome, some of which I like better than the films that were nominated, and one of which I’m still very annoyed didn’t at least get the tenth vacant slot in their nominees list, just out of principle for how awesome it was. (I’m just going to tell you now, that movie is Inside Llewyn Davis.) How annoying!

The World's End - Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Eddie Marsan - beer

So what of the rankings? Lists like these tend to demand them, so I include them, and I do think they are helpful in making priorities in our very busy lives as to what to see first and give preference to. Since the rankings are so subjective and sometimes even arbitrary, my main rule is to go with my gut on these things. Seriously. That’s what it boils down to. It’s a mixture of favoritism, enjoyment, entertainment, and, yes, the actual skill behind the scenes and within them. As such, films that were without a doubt brilliant masterpieces that will go on to receive tons of accolades and be remembered forever may be outranked by flash-in-the-pan popcorn films that have very little to say except, “Hey, look at this awesome thing we did!” but were also very skilled at doing so and are films that I will revisit time and time again whenever I want to be entertained. It’s hard to rank films of these sorts against one another, and if I felt that I could be that much more objective about these things and take out the entertainment factor, I would probably top load this list with all the heavyweight dramas and such. But I don’t think I can, so I don’t put up any airs of being able to do so.

But, you know, I think that’s alright. Variety is the spice of life, you know, and to say that dramas should be exalted at all times above the comedies and action films is, I think, false doctrine when it comes to film criticism and lessens the true value of joy and wonderment that isn’t always found in those serious dramas – so long as that joy and wonderment is done very well, of course.

So, with that all in mind, I feel I’ve prepared you for this eclectic list of my picks for not just the best films of the year, but also the ones that are my favorites, the ones I find most enjoyable, and the ones that blew me away with their spectacle. Read more…

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REVIEW: Across the Universe

September 10, 2013 14 comments
Across the UniverseDirected by: Julie Taymor
Produced by: Jennifer Todd, Suzanne Todd, Charles Newirth
Written by: Julie Taymor, Dick Clement, Ian La Frenais
Edited by: Françoise Bonnot
Cinematography by: Bruno Delbonnel
Music by: The Beatles (songs written by John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr), Elliot Goldenthal (original score), T-Bone Burnett (music producer), Matthias Gohl (songs producer)
Starring: Jim Sturgess, Evan Rachel Wood, Joe Anderson, Dana Fuchs, Martin Luther McCoy, T.V. Carpio, James Urbaniak, Bono, Joe Cocker, Eddie Izzard, Lisa Hogg, Robert Clohessy, Salma Hayek
Year: 2007

 

I remember being incredibly excited upon seeing the trailer for Across the Universe for the first time. Coming at a time when it looked like musicals were really and truly going to be the next big thing in Hollywood, here was a musical where I already knew I was going to love the music featured, so the movie already had me halfway. The promise of merging The Beatles’ music with a tale of two star-crossed lovers and friends getting caught up in the Sixties looked to be a promising experiment, if nothing else – some of the more visually engaging moments gave me visions of a Beatles-themed, live-action Fantasia with a narrative. While something of this nature has been attempted before, with the 1978 Peter Frampton/Bee Gees-starring Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band serving as a cautionary tale for just how badly something like this can go, Across the Universe looked to be going in the complete opposite direction with its tone, ditching the ridiculous fantasy world and the campiness by taking its era-spanning narrative seriously and The Beatles’ music with respect. Read more…

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