Best of 2013 (so far)

December 31, 2013
As the clock ticks closer to ringing in the spankin' new 2014 in a few days, it's that time of the year to look back on what made 2013 great. Honestly, I say great because I didn't catch enough movies released this year to compare the best and worst - not even enough to scale the good from the bad to the downright ugly. Most of the contenders I haven't been able to catch up on (everything from Blue Jasmine to 12 Years A Slave), so my choices will definitely not fall in line with what the Academy has going for it.

Subsequently, I'm going to focus more on what stood out for me in the best ways. Not only am I not particularly good at picking at what I least like, usually in the next year I find myself changing perspective on things I once hated. From most popular posts and Favorite On-Screen Couple to and Best Movie, here is my 2013 in review.

Heartbreaking Confession - Mud

Matthew McConaughey dramatic turn passed shirtless roles fired off with two "breakout performances" in 2012; Magic Mike as an untrustworthy club owner, and Mud. Though not particularly horrible in the former, as a longtime fan of his he really caught my eye in the latter. As a criminal taking up refuge on a deserted island, two boys find Mud living in an abandoned boat. When Mud finally reveals who he is and how he ended up on this island, it's one of the best confessional scenes I've seen in a long time; simple but  heartbreaking and raw.

Favorite On Screen Couple - Jackie & Rachel Robinson

The silver screen seemed to suffer from a lack of on-screen romance this year. Very few couples caught my eye. One of them being Jackie and Rachel Robinson. An entertaining and enlightening biopic of how Jackie was the first African American player to break the color barrier in baseball. Portrayed by Chadwick Boseman and Nicole Beharie, the relationship between Jackie and Rachel was a simple refreshing romance - one that would be worthy of its own biopic.

Fandom That Failed Me
Having marathoned the first two seasons of Scandal prior to the third season in October, I thought by now I would've written I've Been Scandalized Part 9. That turned out not to be the case. Gone away with the addictive monologues and crazy cliff hangers that made me so hung over to watch the next episode immediately, this season took a tamer - may I say - confusing and almost infuriating turn. What I realized is: the relationship between Olivia and President Fitz is nothing short of emotionally abusive, the First Lady's past has to be a complete joke (I love you Bellamy Young!!!), and Scott Foley is very attractive - so there is that latter to maybe watch how this season ends....

The "Please Watch This Show Because Jonathan Rhys Meyers is Shirtless Every Week" Show

I'm not sure how else it can be said. Dracula. NBC. 10 PM est. We can't get canceled. Jonathan Rhys Meyers is shirtless - every week. And, NO I don't really know what else happens on this show.

Manliest Tears - Star Trek: Into Darkness

Even though Starfleet operates in space, I didn't expect this sequel be so emotionally heavy. Lifting off where the prequel ended, the new Enterprise crew helmed by Captain Kirk begins with an adventure sequence on an indigenous planet to an emotional disaster where we lose Captain Pike, and both Spock and Kirk are mere inches from death's door. A bevy of tears this movie springs up could drown a whole planet. It's a three-way tie of who had the manliest tears: Bones, Spock, or Kirk.

Favorite Moment
Tom Hiddleston is one entire moment that I love 2013. It seems Robert Downey Jr earns a zillion cool points for being so much like Tony Stark in real life we can barely tell the difference who is who. But truthfully, Hiddleston outshown all of his Avengers costars appearing at Comic Con dressed as his Loki. If I had to rank a specific moment - that one is it. He also does an Owen Wilson impersonaion AS Loki. COME ON. BE MY HUSBAND ALREADY.

Most Popular Posts
72 Reasons to see Star Trek: Into Darkness - Looking back on this anticipatory post, I'm wholly shocked that I actually came up with 72 reasons to actually see this film. Re-watching it months later, the time and mindboggling it took to create was quite worth it.

A Gif Guide to Movie Reviews This post was a therapeutic way of expressing the odd nonsense of bloggers' block while writing movie reviews. I'm not sure if this post sparked 391 blogs, but I'm happy that perhaps some bloggers left the page feeling they weren't alone. Movie reviews are a funny business.

The Bling Ring. Most stunningly, my post The Bling Ring is at the highest viewing for a pure movie review so far - 906 hits. Not a top favorite here on my list for the year, but the Sofia Coppola film about a ring of teenagers that stole from Hollywood elite was definitely entertaining and enlightening about the changing views of celebritydom.

Rising Star - Shailene Woodley
This girl once starred in the much-laughed ABC Family show The Secret Life of an American Teenager, where the storylines played out worse than a soap opera. She started turning heads with her acting chops, captivating audiences and critics in the 2011 film The Descendants as George Clooney's rebel teenage daughter. Having watched her in films since, I think she is a force to reckon with. Landing the next big book-to-movie phenomenon Divergent, her career is also gaining stride with smaller indie flicks like The Spectacular Now and The Fault in Our Stars.

Off- screen, she doesn't seem to be a star who renounces their loathing for Hollywood only to be plastic cut-out of its glitz and glam in interviews. Shailene's twitter profile is "gaia. aloha. rewilding. sacralizing the feminine. gratitude" and she tweets about self-worth and empowerment. Speaking out against the food industry, materialism, and magazine photoshopping, her personality is refreshingly "anti-superficiality". She's not everywhere all the time yet manages to stand out in the most illuminating ways possible.

TV Show that is Oscar Worthy
Andrew Lincoln from The Walking Dead
It's an absolute shame to the television medium that this show is never nominated for Emmys based on performances and writing, let alone Oscars. Yes, I believe if there is a show worthy enough of the highest honors given to film it's Andrew Lincoln and The Walking Dead. How the series compares to the graphic novels eludes me but what I know is that we needed an actor who played Rick Grimes as a protagonist leader we question, doubt, root for, sympathize, and even hurl disagreements at. Andrew Lincoln gives all that and more.

For as franchise happy as AMC has made this show out to be, and the growing popularity it seems to gain every season, this show doesn't feel like a franchise player in the trendy zombie genre. For its fourth season, the writing - though agonizingly slow some episodes are - keeps me hooked every year to see how this tight knit group of survivors are tested through their tragedies and humanity. (I honestly love it so much - I could cry.)

Best Ensemble: The Kings of Summer
Runner Ups: This Is The End

I guess it could be said that I was trying to just put this movie anywhere because I think it needs to be shouted from the rooftops: this movie would not have worked without the young adult cast. I'm even inviting you to just skip my review. And just see this.

Best Supporting Actress: Elizabeth Banks
Catching Fire
Runner Up: Emma Watson in The Bling Ring, Lea Seydoux in Blue Is The Warmest Color

All eyes are on the trio of The Hunger Games like Jennifer Lawrence, John Hutcherson, and Liam Hemsworth who portray more popular characters. For me, there was one gal that stole the entire show from the latest sequel Catching Fire: Elizabeth Banks. From a trailer to any non-reader she may just look like an adult that somehow wandered outside the whimsical Willy Wonka Factory but she is truly a victim of the Capitol's misdirection and corruption. Facing the inevitably of losing everyone around her, Banks as Effie Trinket was gifted with a storyline to prove there was a real person underneath her fake eyelashes and plastic smile. And, she did no wrong.

Best Supporting Actor: Jared Leto
The Dallas Buyers Club
Runner Up: George Clooney in Gravity

It's a verbal - or writing - hurdle to describe Leto's performance in The Dallas Buyers Club as anything more or anything less than authentic. As Rayon - a transgendered woman - who becomes friends with a homophobe selling unapproved drugs for AIDS, Leto is Southern sweet, heartbreaking, stunning, heavenly, heartbreaking, and again and again: authentic.

Best Actress: Greta Gerwig
Frances Ha
Runner Ups: Shailene Woodley (The Spetacular Now) and Sandra Bullock (Gravity)

Something I came to realize this year is that perhaps the most simplest "boring" films are perhaps the most unique and have more to express than the obvious. And, maybe most importantly Oscar performances don't have to be the most transformative in terms of an "emotional journey", "story of triumph or tragedy", or hidden under impressive historical-era make-up and prosthetics. My pick for Best Actress - even my top three picks - don't fall into any of those categories.

Greta Gerwig in Frances Ha is one of those performances. She's an aspiring dancer who laddens around New York City trying to make it on friend's couches, dealing with the growing separation of her very best friend Sophie, and looks at life rather optimistically if not with supreme naivete. If it wasn't for Gerwig's seemingly spontaneity as Frances, I'm not sure the film would be as a joyful watch as it was. Funny, not too complex, but filled with heart - simple.

Best Actor - Matthew McConaughey
The Dallas Buyers Club
Runner Up: Christian Bale (American Hustle), Miles Teller (The Spectacular Now)

In The Dallas Buyers Club, McConaughey portrays Ron Woodroof, a homphobic electrician who is diagnosed with AIDS. Playing someone who in his heart of hearts believes strictly in that being man is to be heterosexual, it's hard to believe that by the films' end his heart does a complete 180 to defend and try to cure those he condemned most. Swinging from hotheaded Texan backed into a corner to a regretful soul confessing he missed out the most on life by drugs and countless unprotected encounters with women, McConaughey is utterly brilliant. And, nothing but one of the best actors in Hollywood. Holy **** I love this guy.

Best Picture - Gravity
Directed by Alfonso Cuaron
Runner Up: The Dallas Buyers Club

Life-affirming films can come in all kinds of packages, but for my money,  most of the time I'm not sure the singular genre of science-fiction thriller drama comes to mind. This changed when Cuaron began his journey to make Gravity.

What stood out for me the most significantly with this film was the blogging community's reaction. Being my first official year of blogging - where I didn't quit halfway through for personal reasons or boredom - this newly released film was the first one I saw really catch waves with all different perspectives, praise, and ho-hum reviews. I'll remember the summer of 2013 as watching some of the most interesting debates of why this film was brilliant for some and bland yet cinematically ambitious for others.

As more people in the future watch the triumphant survival of Ryan (Sandra Bullock) stranded in space with all the terrifying odds against her, it's a spectacular moment and memory to have in the future of how we all came together in awe of one film. Cuaron's float and fight back to Earth was terrifying, suspenseful, and beautiful - and if I may "go there" the absolute best of 2013.

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