2013 may be so last year, but that doesn’t mean we have to stop reflecting on what transpired in the year in cinema. Since we’ve already done the Top 10 thing, this article is my own reflections about films that just missed my personal list, those that were overlooked by audiences and a special countdown to some of the best trailers of 2013.
As far as honorable mentions, Jeff Nichols’ Mud is a film I first saw at SXSW and it remained on my top 10 list for a long portion of the year. Nichols’ follow up to Take Shelter, which did make my personal top 10 the year of its release, is an intriguing Southern gothic tale with another strong turn my Matthew McConaughey in a supporting role. Tye Sheridan, who gained attention in Tree of Life, does the lion’s share of work here as a modern day Tom Sawyer, though his actions in helping a convict would bear similarities to Pip from Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations.
Other festival favorites of mine include the documentary Medora (also seen at SXSW), about the small Indiana town, or more directly about the town’s 70-students high school basketball team that is unable to compete against the larger surrounding schools. While it may not have garnered the amount of attention like a 20 Feet From Stardom or Stories We Tell, this doc is a slice of bitter Americana, where economic woes serve as the backdrop for a film about high schoolers struggling with poverty and who use the hardwood as an outlet to persevere. Great genre titles that I enjoyed were Cheap Thrills, the Drafthouse Films pick-up that proves that the “Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase was right when he exclaimed that everyone has a price. Plus you get to see David Koechner in a change-of-pace role along with Ethan Embry, who the older generation remembers from such films as Empire Records and Can’t Hardly Wait. And then there’s Blue Ruin, which played at Fantastic Fest. You can revisit my thoughts with my official review from the fest. Who knows – when it has an official release in 2014, it may make an appearance on my top 10 for 2014.
Also worthy of honorable mention are Michael Bay’s Pain & Gain and Nicolas Winding Refn’s Only God Forgives. I was so close to include P&G with my top 10. It pairs favorably with Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street in terms of being so insanely crazy with their perceptions of achieving the American Dream. Refn’s Only God Forgives is one of those films that’s tough to recommend to people. Maybe that’s why it was so poorly received when it dropped at Cannes and got booed in the process. In terms of marketing the perception is that it is like the previous Refn/Ryan Gosling collaboration, Drive. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. It’s a hypnotic film that is beautiful to watch yet also frustrating with its subject. And while it took me several attempts to finish it all the way through, I respect what Refn was looking to achieve. The same also goes to Shane Carruth and his film Upstream Color. His first film since 2004’s Primer, UC probably needs a couple of viewings to let the story sink in. Having seen it at SXSW, I stand my notion in saying it has some of the best sound design I’ve heard in a feature film.
With the honorable mentions out of the way, I turn my attention to the overlooked. For all that’s been written about the decline of Hollywood, it’s as profitable as ever. 2013 was once again a record-breaking year in terms of earnings, but the success of films like Iron Man Three, Fast & Furious 6, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire can’t overshadow the fact that a number of gems and quality films were overlooked. James Wan’s The Conjuring was a monster success and another personal favorite, yet audiences didn’t gravitate to Park Chan-wook’s English-language debut Stoker. Surely it wasn’t on account that it was penned by Prison Break star Wentworth Miller. Plus, if you missed it, you missed seeing the best use of Nicole Kidman’s ice-cold facial demeanor. J.J. Abrams’ post-Avengers respite Much Ado About Nothing would get the Kenneth Branagh seal of approval, since the Thor director is the preeminent William Shakespeare adaptor. Michael Shannon delivered one of my favorite performances in the little-seen film The Iceman, a drama about contract killer Richard Kulsinski.
More mainstream-esque titles that were avoided in mass included Richard Curtis’s About Time. It may not be the second coming of Love Actually, but I think in time audiences will be more approving to this time-traveling romance. And the ending scene is a fitting conclusion in a story that’s as much about fathers and sons as it is about falling in love. Ron Howard still can’t find a break when it comes to sports dramas, as his Formula One racer flick Rush failed to ignite much excitement from audiences, even with the rising stock of Chris Hemsworth as a leading man. Finally for mainstream there’s Warm Bodies. It actually did pretty well in terms of earnings, but considering the mass of appeal of zombies you’d think it would have done better. But that’s what happens when you can watch The Walking Dead on the small screen, I guess. Shame. It has one of the better movie soundtracks I’ve heard.
Warm Bodies may have had zombies, but it wasn’t meant to be a scarefest. In a year that saw people make big hits out of The Conjuring and The Purge, it’s disappointing that You’re Next didn’t meet a similar fate. Sure, it may have only cost $1 million to produce, but this festival favorite must have missed its window when it came to distribution to get noticed by a majority of audiences. Nevertheless, this home-invasion thriller meets family reunion drama brought laughs along with elaborate twists.
Okay, the last batch of honorable mentions is The Kings of Summer (great coming of age flick), Zero Charisma (low-fi comedy about geekdom with a lot going for it – you don’t even have to know Dungeons & Dragons to enjoy it!), and Short Term 12 (Brie Larson delivers a strong performance as a twenty-something supervisor at a facility for at-risk teenagers). Her performance paired with the writing and direction of Destin Cretton make this drama one to seek out.
My honorable mentions and notable overlooked titles of the last year acknowledged, it’s time to treat yourself to what I consider the 20 best trailers of 2013. They say a picture is worth a thousand words so I’m going to let these trailers do it for me.
In no specific order:
Gravity – Official Teaser
The Kings of Summer – Official Trailer
Man of Steel – Official Trailer #3
Her – Official Trailer #1
The Wolf of Wall Street – Official Trailer #1
The Place Beyond the Pines
The Conjuring – Official Teaser Trailer
The World’s End – Official Trailer #1
Prisoners – Official Trailer #1
Don Jon- Official Trailer #1
Nebraska – Official Trailer
Inside Llewyn Davis – Red Band Trailer
American Hustle – Official International Trailer
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty – Official Trailer #1
Star Trek Into Darkness – Official Teaser Trailer
The Purge – Official Trailer
Escape From Tomorrow
Upstream Color – Theatrical Trailer
Pacific Rim – Official Trailer #1
Only God Forgives – Official Trailer #2
Tags: Mud, Trailers