With Oscar Season over and the MTV Movie Awards fast approaching, I decided it was the perfect time to create a list of the top ten films that weren't nominated for best picture in any category at the Academy Awards. Now before I begin, I would like to put a preface that these aren't necessarily my favorite films; but rather what I considered the best. The best meaning films that were artistically portrayed well, were original, great storyline, great acting, achieved what they were going for, etc. I would also like to state that I haven't seen all the movies in the world that came out in 2013 (duh). Furthermore, the number 3 spot on this list was a tie and I tried to make this as SPOILER FREE as possible. So, without further ado, here's the list. Honorable Mentions:
Blue Is The Warmest Color (aka. La Vie D'Adèle Chapitre 1 et 2): Personal views aside on the merits of sexuality, this film could have been really high on my list with mind-blowingly great acting, but I am too confused about whether the length of the film and its duration of erotic scenes are the picture's strength or weakness.
Rush: A sleek looking film, with fine acting and great character study.
Lone Survivor: Gut-wrenching and pure vision of modern warfare with solid performances from all the actors.
The Conjuring: While it may be a bit formulaic and not quite as clever as it makes itself out to be, the Conjuring is nevertheless a completely compelling and terrifying film with great acting and as good of direction as you could want from a picture of this genre.
The Past (aka.Le Passé): It does run borderline soap opera, but no soap opera I've ever seen was ever acted this well and was more well crafted with cinematography and direction.
Prisoners: Hard to watch, but the movie has a well thought out plot and an Oscar worthy performance from Hugh Jackman.
10. Don Jon: Not close to being on my favorites list, but this picture is exactly what it strives to be which is a contrarian romcom while shedding light on the human condition and everyday struggles.
9. Mud: Superb acting, particularly from the young Tye Sheridan with a Stand By Me-esque emotional core.
8. The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug: Not a perfect film with the excess of conveniences at the end, but it's pacing is near perfect as well as hosting beautiful cinematography and great performances from all the actors.
7. Fruitvale Station: An exacting balance of creating a root-able protagonist, yet showcasing the problems which a person can have and get into that can lead to such a horrific event.
6. Spectacular Now: So Anti-Hollywood with its intimate look into high school life of layered and emotionally complex characters and their everyday problems.
5. Star Trek Into Darkness: Loving this film doesn't make it great; but the exceptional visuals, dialogue, story, plot twists, and acting do.
3. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire: Granted, I am biased because this was my favorite film of 2013, but who gives a crap. Everything about this film is exactly what it means to be. The pacing is beautiful. Watching this story unravel is close to watching a gift being unwrapped at Christmas. And let's take a second to talk about Jennifer Lawrence. I am hard pressed to find a better portrayal of a multi layered, flawed, sympathetic female “hero” in the history of film (Sigourney Weaver from Alien/Aliens comes close). Not only that, but every actor steps up to being borderline phenomenal (except Liam Hensworth, but the guy doesn't need to be). Visually, this film also is shot so intimately and beautifully, and opens up exactly when it needs to. But more importantly, this film superbly handles the greater concepts of Revolution, Influence of Media, Poverty, Hope, Survival, Sacrifice and Love.
3.Saving Mr. Banks: (I can't speak to historical inaccuracy, only my thoughts on how well a film is portrayed. If you want something historically accurate, watch a documentary)
I'm not sure if it's because I watched it just on the right day or what, but tears came to my eyes during this film...more than once. This film strikes a chord so close to home on the difficulty, tenderness and impact that comes from parenting that it is hard to ignore. That wouldn't have been accomplished without the exceptional writing, direction and tone this film brought. These things coupled with the touching performances from Emma Thompson, Tom Hanks, Colin Farrell and many others bring a great story to life. Without them, the character arc and emotional impact of the damaged P.L. Travers wouldn't have felt as authentic. Sure the film might feel a little languid and frustrating at times, but so does life. In the end, Saving Mr. Banks is a heartwarming story that knows when to use its sentimentalism to great effect while striking a balance of the harshness of reality and the impact that can have on someone's life.
2. Mr. Nobody: (Ok, so this film could be classified as coming out in 2009 with its début at the Venice International Film Festival. That being said, it was released theatrically in the United States in 2013 so I decided to give it a slot.)
The film Nobody (pun intended) knows about, and many never will. . . A movie so unique and thought provoking it had to be made independently on about 50 million dollar budget. Some may call this film long-winded and gratuitously artistic. While I won't argue against the first statement, this movie would not have the same flavor nor impact without it's brilliant color schemes and masterful editing. When a film gets a viewer to notice the beauty of editing techniques, then it is safe to say something was done right. While Jared Leto's performance isn't quite “Oscar worthy”, it was dang near close. Portraying himself in old age is mind boggling and beautiful to watch. But more importantly, whether you like Mr. Nobody or not, it is hard to disagree that this film deals with the theme of human choice and conflict of existence exactly the way it means to.
1. Short Term 12: This picture is a small masterpiece in its own right. One would be hard pressed to find a more fragile and raw subject matter, foster care, and bring it to life in a more real and sympathetic way. The up and coming Brie Larson is absolutely phenomenal in this film. Let me repeat myself for full effect - absolutely phenomenal. The other actors are also really great, but she makes this film truly special. If I could find words to emphasize how authentic and genuine this film is, I would put them down. Until then, I'm going to leave you with the desire to find those words by seeing the film yourself.