List: Top Fives of 2013 (in which I dole out a boatload of superlatives)


Welcome to the 3rd annual Cinema Enthusiast Awards! I started this, and the personal remembrance post to go up tomorrow, in an effort to encapsulate the odds and ends of a year in film. The purpose is to pay tribute and recognize the rankable elements of films great, decent and unfortunate in a given year. Each year I seem to be adding more and more categories because, well, why not! It’s my blog! Normally I have an individual song usage post as well as a posters post. This year I’m condensing them and throwing them in here. Next year I’ll get back to extrapolated posts for them, especially because people seem to enjoy them. It’s just that they are particularly difficult to do after the fact.

The Conjuring

Use of Title Card/Opening Credit Sequence:
1. The Conjuring (title card)
2. Top of the Lake (opening credits)
3. Stoker (opening credits)
4. The Spectacular Now (title card)
5. The Bling Ring (opening credits)

Bastards Creton

Beginnings: 
1. Bastards (Creton haunting the streets)
2. Laurence Anwyays 
3. Spring Breakers
4. The World’s End
5. Inside Llewyn Davis 
Honorable Mention: It’s a Disaster

Bastards

Endings: 
1. Bastards 
2. 12 Years a Slave 
3. Before Midnight 
4. It’s a Disaster
5. Prince Avalanche 
Honorable Mention: Her

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Ensemble Cast:
1. The Wolf of Wall Street 
2. Top of the Lake 
3. The Spectacular Now 
4. The World’s End 
5. Blue Jasmine 
Honorable Mention: This Is the End 

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Underappreciated Films:
1. In the House 
2. It’s a Disaster
3. Byzantium 
4. New World
5. The Pirogue
Honorable Mention: Monsters University (well known, but unfairly catches abundant amounts of slack within cinephile circles. It’s one of my favorites this year)

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Films That Started Strong But…:
1. Magic Magic (blunt and distancing climax that undoes everything that came before)
2. This Is the End (unfortunately settles into spectacle mode for last third)
3. Stories We Tell (runs out of steam and Polley neglects to place herself within her own story)
4. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (once again, the games are not nearly as interesting as the rest)
5. The World’s End (those last 20 minutes are pretty rough and yet it’s still got a high spot on my  year-end list) 
Honorable Mention: Side Effects (that twist…)

Gravity

Disappointments: 
1. Gravity
2. The Place Beyond the Pines
3. You’re Next 
4. Much Ado About Nothing 
5. From Up on Poppy Hill
Honorable MentionLeviathan 

Patsey

Newcomers: 
1. Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave)
2. Adele Exarchopoulos (Blue is the Warmest Color)
3. Saskia Rosendahl (Lore)
4. Ernst Umhauer (In the House)
5. Miles Teller (The Spectacular Now) (he’s been around for a while but this is a breakout role for sure so I’m putting him in)
Honorable Mentions: Cosmina Stratan (Beyond the Hills), Conner Chapman (The Selfish Giant), Macarena Garcia (Blancanieves)

New world
Underappreciated Performances:
1. Hwang Jeong-min – New World
2. Gemma Arterton – Byzantium 
3. Michael Cera – Magic Magic 
4. Elizabeth Debicki – The Great Gatsby 
5. Katharine Isabelle – American Mary 
Honorable Mention: Caleb Landry Jones – Antiviral, David Cross – It’s a Disaster, Jane Levy – Evil Dead

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Bit Parts/Smaller Roles: (goes up to minor supporting parts) 
1. Kyle Chandler – The Wolf of Wall Street
2. Matthew McConaughey – The Wolf of Wall Street 
3. Lola Creton – Bastards (integral to film, 5th billing, but very little screen time)
4. Michael Cera – This is the End
5. Adeporo Oduye – 12 Years a Slave
Honorable Mentions: Nathan Fillion – Much Ado About Nothing, Tom Hollander – Byzantium

PrinceAvalanche-Photo

Scores: 
1. Prince Avalanche – Explosions in the Sky and David Wingo
2. Only God Forgives – Cliff Martinez
3. Spring Breakers – Cliff Martinez and Skrillex
4. Bastards – Tindersticks
5. Stoker – Clint Mansell
Honorable Mention: Prisoners – Johann Johannsson
Note: Even though I haven’t seen Nebraska, I’m addicted to Mark Orton’s “New West” track which is featured the trailer.

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Favorite Characters:
1. Llewyn Davis – Oscar Isaac – Inside Llewyn Davis 
2. Johanna Mason – Jena Malone – The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
3. Gong Er – Zhang Ziyi – The Grandmaster
4. Amy – Amy Adams – Her
5. Mako Mori – Rinko Kikuchi – Pacific Rim 
Honorable Mentions: Clara – Gemma Arterton – Byzantium, Andy Knightley – Nick Frost – The World’s End, Aimee – Shailene Woodley – The Spectacular Now, Samantha – Scarlett Johansson – Her

Brad Pitt 12 Years
The ‘Why Are You Even Here’ Award:
1. Brad Pitt – 12 Years a Slave (OK, we all know why he’s there but ugh)
2. Countless Celebrity Cameos in the climax of Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues
3. Justin Timberlake – Inside Llewyn Davis 
4. Sasha Grey – Would You Rather? (also pick for worst performanc of the year)
5. Isla Fisher – The Great Gatsby 
Honorable Mentions: Paul Dano – 12 Years a Slave, Philip Seymour Hoffman – The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

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This Performance Isn’t Working For Me: (miscastings/performances that didn’t work for me; must be at least strong supporting parts)
1. George Clooney – Gravity 
2. Ryan Gosling – Only God Forgives
3. Ryan Gosling – The Place Beyond the Pines
4. Carey Mulligan – Inside Llewyn Davis 
5. Hugh Jackman – Prisoners
Honorable Mention: Everyone in Oz the Great and Powerful, Jennifer Lawrence – American Hustle

Antiviral
Great Performances in Not-So-Great Films:
1. Caleb Landry Jones – Antiviral 
2. Jane Levy – Evil Dead
3. Sam Rockwell – The Way Way Back
4. Steve Carrell – The Way Way Back
5. Isaiah Washington – Blue Caprice
Honorable Mention: Fiona Dourif – Curse of Chucky 

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Worst Films:
1. Pieta (Kim)
2. Escape from Tomorrow (Moore)
3. The English Teacher (Zisk)
4. Phil Spector (Mamet)
5. The Truth About Emmanuel (Gregorini)

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Character Dynamics:
1. Gary King and the Gang (Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Paddy Considine, Eddie Marsan, Martin Freeman) – The World’s End
2. Anne and Johann (Mary Margaret O’Hara and Bobby Sommer) – Museum Hours 
3. Alvin and Lance (Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch) – Prince Avalanche 
4. Theodore and Amy (Joaquin Phoenix and Amy Adams) – Her
5. Ashburn and Mullins  (Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy) – The Heat 
Honorable Mentions: India and Charlie (Mia Wasikowska and Matthew Goode) – Stoker, Takashi Watanabe and Akiko (Tadashi Okuno and Rin Takanashi) – Like Someone in Love

before-midnight-ethan-hawke-julie-delpy
Romances/Couples:
1. Jesse and Celine (Ethan Hawke and Julie Deply) – Before Midnight
2. Sutter and Aimee (Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley) – The Spectacular Now
3. Theodore and Samantha (Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson) – Her
4. Adele and Emma (Adele Exarchopoulos and Lea Seydoux) – Blue is the Warmest Color
5. Eva and Frank (Julia Louis-Dreyfuss and James Gandolfini) – Enough Said
Honorable Mentions: Liberace and Scott Thorson (Michael Douglas and Matt Damon) – Behind the Candelabra, Laurence and Fred (Melvil Poupaud and Suzanne Clement) – Laurence Anyways

blanca3
Villains: 
1. Encarna/La Madrastra – Meribel Verdú – Blancanieves
2. Jordan Belfort – Leonardo DiCaprio – The Wolf of Wall Street
3. Uncle Charlie – Matthew Goode – Stoker
4. Kristen Scott Thomas – Crystal – Only God Forgives
5. Danny McBride – Danny McBride – This is The End
Honorable Mention: Edwin Epps – Michael Fassbender – 12 Years a Slave

The Selfish Giant

Welcome to Sob-Fest 2013: (Films I had the biggest emotional response to in regards to tears shed, because yes, films make me cry a lot)
1. The Selfish Giant
2. 12 Years a Slave 
3. The Grandmaster
4. Blackfish 
5. Her
Honorable Mention: Before Midnight 

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Song Usages: 
1. “Fade to Grey” – Visage – Laurence Anyways 
2. “Please Mr. Kennedy” – Oscar Isaac, Justin Timberlake, Adam Driver – Inside Llewyn Davis
3. “Put Your Love in Me” – Tindersticks – Bastards
4. “Every 1’s a Winner” – Hot Chocolate – Frances Ha 
5. “Looking for the Magic” – Dwight Twilley Band – You’re Next
Honorable Mentions: “Everytime” – Spring Breakers, “Shiloh” – Neil Diamond – Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, “Live and Let Die” – American Hustle 

Blue-is-the-Warmest-Color

Scenes: 
1. Restaurant Heartache – Blue is the Warmest Color (picture above is not from the scene listed)
2. Parking Garage/Elevator Ambush – New World
3. Lemmons – The Wolf of Wall Street 
4. Piano Duet – Stoker
5. Ball Entrance (“Fade to Grey”) – Laurence Anyways 
Honorable Mentions: House Party Fire – Something in the Air, Church – The Hunt, Train Fight Scene – The Grandmaster, At the Club – The Heat, Split-Screen Self-Homage – Passion, Pre-Apocalypse Party – This Is the End

Posters: (pictures features below) 
1. Laurence Anyways
2. Kiss of the Damned
3. Stoker
4. Frances Ha
5. Spring Breakers
Lots of honorable mentions, however it’s hard to signify which poster I speak of per film so I’m letting it lie.

laurence_anyways_ver210257878_gal stoker-poster francesha SpringBreakersContentsPosterwhbig4

 

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Films Seen in 2013 Round-Up: #131-137


Hello everyone! Sorry it has been quite a while since I last posted. I go through spurts of writing a lot and then corresponding ebbs. I’ve shifted my focus a bit to reading and trying to learn some German so films have taken a backseat as of late. Plus, in effort to save some money I’ve cut back on certain monthly expenses. Meaning no more Hulu Plus and only Netflix streaming for me. But I’ll certainly keep up with some viewings and posting output. For one thing, I plan on participating in next week’s Hit Me With Your Best Shot for Mary Poppins.

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#131. Berberian Sound Studio (2013, Strickland)

A meticulous tribute to giallo and the inextricable subconscious effect that sound contributes to the moving image. It’s made for a very narrow but appreciative audience and is more of a fascinating academic-like exercise that I primarily admired. I’ve gotten much more interested in the role of sound in film this past year so it is a treat to see something that uses this crucial but often underappreciated and little understood aspect of filmmaking as its almost essay-like focus. Isolation and cultural dislocation lead the way with Toby Jones as Gilderoy. He might as well be trapped in the sound studio.. The setting plays like a psychological prison and Strickland explores the power of sound through its surrounding inescapable nature. Visuals are something we can look away from. Sound has the capacity to drown us, drive us into dismantling states.

We never see the film Gilderoy is working on, titled The Equestrian Vortex, but we hear a great deal of it. As everyday objects are used to fill in our imaginative aural gaps, the film builds up a jarringly uncomfortable atmosphere. No blood is shed, no violence seen. But watermelons and the like suddenly have squeamish associative power, made all the more complex through its effect on Gilderoy who becomes uncomfortably complicit in helping create horror by indirectly taking part in it. The film-within-a-film seems to be an extension of how the beautiful but mistreated women in the studio inhibit the space. It may not seem like a lot happens in Berberian Sound Studio, because to be sure this is true, and yet its purpose is clearly multi-layered.

Random Observations:
Interesting that we the audience get an advantage over Gilderoy re: subtitles for spoken Italian while Gilderoy has an additional disadvantage over us re: he is seeing both the footage and the sound of The Equestrian Vortex while we only hear the audio.

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#132. Antonio Gaudi (1985, Teshigahara)

Putting another layer of artistic endeavor between us and the fantastical undulating work of Antonio Gaudi, Teshigahara’s near-wordless documentary is like a poetic context; the gift of heightened consideration. The way his work is shot runs the gamut, from close-ups where detail is abstracted to far away in order to place his creations within the context of Barcelona. What about this angle; or this angle? How to best extrapolate the ever-changing notions of his shapes and constructs? The camera considers his work from every angle, caresses the curves and even considers the world outside as his buildings would hypothetically see them as sentient beings, thereby treating them as such. This film was also a big influence on my decision to save up and travel to Barcelona for a week this November.

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#133. The Emperor’s Naked Army Marches On (1987, Hara)

From the moment a wedding celebration becomes an awkward self-indulgent confessional moment of radicalism as Kenzo Okuzaki denigrates the concept of family and drops reference to his committed murder and jail time you know this is going to be a bonkers documentary. And it is. There are no easy answers; Okuzaki’s tenacity is something to behold but his methods, which yield some result, are fidget-inducing. It’s the most excruciatingly uncomfortable film I’ve seen in some time. You kind of feel like you’ve crossed into another dimension once Okuzaki hires his wife and friend to impersonate the brotherless siblings who rightly jump ship on their journey towards truth. His interrogation methods are so relentless and so narrow that the film is a dive into one man’s post-war psyche just as much as the partial truths of specific WWII atrocities dug up. And then there’s the role of documentarian in all this. Truly a bizarre trailblazing documentary of dangerous and volatile investigative parts and you’ll never forget Kenzo Okuzaki. Not something I ever want to see again but that’s okay because it’s burned into my brain.

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#134. Before Midnight (2013, Linklater)
Review in separate post.

lovemarilyn
#135. Love, Marilyn (2013, Garbus)

A really informative cliffnotes info dump about her life. Considering how loaded and complex her life was, it is impressive how much ground is covered. Having a chunk of her written material be the context for the documentary was lovely, centralizing her voice. If only it had been presented differently. Most of the male actors got the job done. The women on the other hand are often forced, over-emotive and theatrical. It was like being at an unfortunate casting session. It didn’t help that the fake backgrounds and constant camera movement further distracted from the reading sessions. But overall well worth watching if someone wants a sense of the basic puzzle pieces of her life as well as an introductory sense of her mindset.

Bling Ring
#136. The Bling Ring (2013, Coppola)

Like a vapid anthropological study, Coppola ponders the mindset of these entitled criminals as they nonchalantly rob the houses of the rich and famous. What drew me to The Bling Ring is the way Coppola focuses on the entitlement of the entitled. That is to say, these teenagers act as if they are merely going to a friends house while they are away. There is never a sense of doing something wrong. No worrying about implications and consequences. They shared the same space as celebrities at various clubs and bars. Tabloids and gossip blogs allow people to track their every movement so anyone can know where a celebrity is on any given day. So it’s like they feel naturally entitled to break into their homes and take their things. It’s treated as blase, and the materialism brings them superficially closer to fame. Coppola is more interested in the frame of mind, specifically the lack of it, that would make one do such things. Being that close to fame, allowing one’s life to be made up entirely out of superficial concerns. And taking the next step.

We might not be like the characters in the film, but it’s indicative of larger fact that many of us obsess over and talk about famous people with a inordinate level of familiarity. And this is something that has certainly blown up with the advent of internet culture. These girls are on the farthest end of the spectrum but the fact of the matter is that a lot of people invest too much time and energy and thoughts into what their favorite famous people are doing or wearing or fucking day in and day out.  Between tabloid culture and real-life shipping within fandom, which I personally find uncomfortable, there are may facets of becoming far too involved with famous people. I see it every day on tumblr and pretty much everywhere else within fan culture. The broader implications aren’t addressed in The Bling Ring, but they certainly exist and the film depicts one extreme example of unwarranted attachment.

These characters are wildly privileged and clearly have zero sense of the concept of earning, of private space or of remorse. Coppola took an interesting approach that I largely admired, staying true to her initial fascination, sacrificing the development of ideas for mere contemplation. It doesn’t make for as great film, but it certainly makes for a good one.

Watching several episodes of ‘Pretty Wild’, the short-lived Alexis Neiers reality show to prep for the film added a wonderfully horrifying layer of context to everything. As a result, Emma Watson saying ‘kitten heels’ had both of us cackling.

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#137. Monsters University (2013, Scanlon)

A riff on the college buddy comedy, Monsters University might not pack the kind of next-level emotional wallop of some of Pixar’s output or have the kind of ambition we crave from them, but this is flat-out the most entertaining film I’ve seen this year. That anyone could have walked out of this unsatisfied boggles my mind. As much as I want to accept and be open to all responses people may have to any given film, ‘soulless snob’ automatically springs to mind in regards to anyone who was impervious to its considerable charms. It’s heartfelt, hilarious and carries a wonderful message on its back. It hits every note it tries to, every joke lands on-target (anyone who lived on a college campus will appreciate a lot of the humor) and Crystal and Goodman lend their top-notch voice work in reviving their Mike and Sully characters. Far exceeded my expectations.