2012’s year end list was topped by Oslo, 31st August– a movie about packing up and leaving in the face of despair. This year’s list is headed by two films which are all about hanging on and willing to fight that one more time. One takes place in space, the other on water. One can be seen as a representation of the evolution of human life on Earth against all odds and the other can be seen as a take on the financial crisis, or not.
I am unabashedly placing Gravity on the top simply for reminding us all what theatres and big screens and surround systems are there for. JC Chandor’s All is Lost is the other film alluded to above. Jessica Chastain is doing a film with JC Chandor and I am more excited about that than her film with Christopher Nolan and Matt Damon.
Following that survival duo are a couple of films we should be thanking the Somali pirates for. One’s a Norwegian film called Kapringen (A Hijacking) and the other’s Captain Phillips. One shows how life isn’t all fun and games and how there are serious issues to be dealt with over the course, and the other’s a neat introduction to the American way of doing business.
Next up are a couple of charming indies, one more indie than the other- in that one has recognisable stars and the other doesn’t. The one with the familiar faces is Enough Said, a movie about second marriages, and children leaving for colleges, and coincidences. The indie indie is This is Martin Bonner, a film that follows the reintegration of a convict into the everyday life of Reno, Nevada.
There was a reason for coupling a few films together but I am now going to push my luck a little. Bear with me.
The next duo bundled together are two films dealing with racial discrimination. They are 12 Years a Slave, and 42. I happened to read the book ’12 years a slave’ just a few days ahead of watching the film, and because of that I believe I would have seen the film completely different from the way you saw it. I felt there were more powerful scenes that could have been brought forth but weren’t. I am talking about scenes like ‘lashing of Patsy’. I also had an issue with the scene preceding the titles- that was just Steve McQueen reminding us that he made Shame. I had no issue whatsoever however with Michael Fassbender radiating evil. Love me some Fassbender. The movie also felt unnecessarily crisp, it should have been longer. Scorsese’s editor and McQueen’s editor should have switched 😉
As for 42, I love movies based on baseball and I also like the scene where the captain goes up and puts his arm around the black man’s shoulder much to the consternation of the racist home crowd, and not to mention the heckling scene.
No worthy self-respecting round-up of a year in movies can be complete without mentioning the oeuvre of Rooney Mara. Three movies of hers came out in 2013- I couldn’t see Her, but I did manage to see Side Effects and Ain’t Them Bodies Saints. Both of them are worth your time of course.
Best Sam Rockwell movie of the year – The Way Way Back. It’s that one coming-of-age film that manages to steal your heart each year. Written and directed by the scribes who penned the supremely entertaining The Descendants. Seek it out.
In the battle between This Is The End and The World’s End, my vote goes to The World’s End. Rogen’s film had great trailers but the final product could have done with some editing. The climax of The World’s End is a bit of a whimper but the movie has some extremely well choreographed action sequences for a comedy.
And in between Bling Ring and Spring Breakers, I choose the less popular option of Bling Ring. Ryan Gosling’s Only God Forgives, Brad Pitt’s World War Z, and Tom Cruise’s Oblivion were my other guilty pleasures of the year.
Two films worth watching for their technical proficiency: Upstream Color and Stoker. Upstream Color has been making a lot of top 10 lists; I myself am a bit scared of Shane Carruth’s films because of their complexity. While I was wary of Upstream Color, I was eagerly looking forward to Stoker. It didn’t live up to my expectations mainly due to the conventional plot but you can watch it for the technical proficiency (you will know what I mean by that once you watch the movies).
Movies starring charismatic leads: Frances Ha and Drinking Buddies. Frances Ha has a lot going for it (being shot in black and white, one of them), none more than the performance of Greta Gerwig. Drinking Buddies doesn’t have as much going for it as Frances Ha, but it gives Olivia Wilde a chance to perform.
My two favorite French actors are Lea Seydoux and Tahar Rahim. Both of them had movies playing at the Mumbai film festival. Seydoux’s Blue Is The Warmest Color won the biggest prize at Cannes and features the best acting performance of the year in Adele Exarchopoulos. Rahim’s Le Passe is the new film by Asghar Farhadi and is as tight as to make you want to stop breathing.
Speaking of great performances, check out Cate Blanchett in Woody’s Blue Jasmine.
Francois Ozon released two films this year. The supremely acclaimed In The House and the less heralded Young and Beautiful. The former overplays its hand a little by the end, but is very entertaining. The latter is about a young woman who resorts to prostitution on the side.
Movie with the best soundtrack of the year: Simon Killer. As a bonus, it’s completely set in Paris.
Jeff Nichols is a personal favorite. He, like me, thinks Michael Shannon is the best actor around. He released a movie this year called Mud, starring Matthew McConaughey and a couple of charming kids. Do see.
There’s also this film called Prince Avalanche in which Paul Rudd sports a great moustache.
I delayed writing this post with an eye on shortening my ‘to be seen’ section, and even though I made considerable progress as a consequence, I couldn’t still reel them all in. The ones that escaped the net include: Inside Llewyn Davis, Her, The Selfish Giant, Nebraska, In a World, and Bastards.
Conspicuous omissions: Wolf of Wall Street (funniest film of the year?), American Hustle, Before Midnight, Rush, Prisoners (even though it features the best cinematographic shot of the year), most of the summer releases.
Reading assignment: Count the number of films I mentioned and leave it as a comment.