Every year, there are plenty of great films, but some fall through the cracks and others are overshadowed. While we’ll have our Top 10 of the year lists near the end of 2013, we wanted to share with you some movies that may have slipped past your attention. There are films like these on our Top 10 lists as well, but we didn’t want to be redundant, and we wanted to bring attention to more films. These movies either had too limited of a release or they were dismissed because they looked bad or the premise was deemed too cheesy. Whatever the reason, they have the potential to be a cult classic in the making or at least a movie you’ll probably be sharing with your friends.
Hit the jump for Matt, Dave, Adam, and Brendan’s choices for great movies you may have missed this year.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has unveiled the list of 114 original scores that are eligible for the Best Original Score Oscar. Though John Williams has worked almost exclusively with Steven Spielberg for the past few years, he’s eligible this year for scoring director Brian Percival’s Holocaust film The Book Thief. Prolific composer Hans Zimmer has three scores in the running with Rush, Man of Steel, and 12 Years a Slave, and other notable scores include Steven Price’s excellent Gravity, David Wingo’s work on Mud, Ramin Djawadi’s rocking Pacific Rim score, Michael Giacchino’s Star Trek Into Darkness, and the collaboration between Arcade Fire’s William Butler and musician Owen Pallett on Her. Frustratingly, though, Steven Price’s The World’s End score appears to have been deemed ineligible, presumably due to the abundance of pre-existing tracks.
Hit the jump to see the full list of eligible scores and for my thoughts on the early Oscar favorites. The 86th Academy Award nominations will be announced January 16th.
The critics awards are off and running after the New York Film Critics Circle announced its picks for the best of the year yesterday, and today the National Board of Review has named Her the best picture of 2013. Spike Jonze was also named Best Director for the film, while the acting honors went to Bruce Dern (Nebraska), Emma Thompson (Saving Mr. Banks), Will Forte (Nebraska), and Octavia Spencer (Fruitvale Station). Always an eclectic list, the NBR’s Top 10 includes The Wolf of Wall Street, Gravity, Lone Survivor, and Prisoners. Wholly absent from the Top 10 is the NYFCC’s pick for Best Film, American Hustle.
The NBR winner for Best Picture has failed to match up with Oscar since 2008’s Slumdog Millionaire, as last year’s award went to Zero Dark Thirty, but for the past 13 years every NBR winner has landed a Best Picture nomination, so this bodes well for Her‘s Oscar prospects. Read the full list of NBR winners after the jump.
The 2014 Independent Spirit Awards nominations have been announced, and director Steve McQueen’s excellent drama 12 Years a Slave tops the nominees with seven nods, including Best Feature, Best Director, and Best Actor. Nebraska is not far behind with six nominations, and the Robert Redford drama All Is Lost also did well with four nods. The much-beloved Short Term 12 failed to land a Best Feature nomination, but Primer director Shane Carruth’s twisty second feature Upstream Color landed nods for Best Director and Best Editing. The Best Actor category is a strong mirror of the very tight Oscar race in the same category, and the wonderful Shailene Woodley and Brie Larson nabbed Best Actress nominations for The Spectacular Now and Short Term 12, respectively.
Hit the jump for the full list of nominations and additional commentary. The Independent Spirit Awards will be hosted on March 1, 2014.
Writer/director Jeff Nichols has been a burgeoning talent in the filmmaking world for a few years now following his one-two punch of Shotgun Stories and Take Shelter, but his latest release is proving to be his most successful yet. Not only has Mud caught on with general audiences (to the tune of $26.8 million and counting), but the film provides a unique, enthralling, and almost mythic take on the coming-of-age genre that boasts a magnetic performance by Matthew McConaughey and truly stunning breakthrough work from the young Tye Sheridan. The result is one of the best films of the year, and it’s now available on home video. Hit the jump for my review of Mud on Blu-ray.
Quite a few worthwhile titles are hitting Blu-ray this week. Here’s a look at the new releases:
It’s never too early to start talking Oscar, right? We’re officially at the midway point of 2013, and while the bulk of awards season is normally concentrated towards the latter third of the year, there have been some strong contenders in the past that were released closer to the beginning of the year—Silence of the Lambs is probably the most famous example, having won Best Picture after being released in February of 1991. The first half of 2013 has seen at least a couple of potential Best Picture contenders, and in addition to more than a handful of standout performances in smaller indie fare, we may very well have already seen the release of the film that will go on to take home the Oscar in technical categories like Best Visual Effects or even Best Production Design.
Hit the jump to read on as we examine the possible Oscar contenders from the first half of 2013.
After leading the biggest Memorial Day box office of all time, Fast & Furious 6 remained on top for a second weekend with an estimated $34.5 million. The film’s 65% drop left plenty of room for a new release to take over top honors – provided that new release wasn’t Sony’s After Earth. The sci-fi adventure was aiming for a $35-$40 million debut. Instead, the combined star-power of Will and Jaden Smith was only good enough for third place behind Now You See Me… a genuine upset for a film from the supposedly ‘cursed’ genre of magic.
|| Fast & Furious 6
|| Now You See Me
|| After Earth
|| Star Trek Into Darkness
|| The Hangover Part III
|| Iron Man 3
|| The Great Gatsby
At the very least, the 2013 Atlanta Film Festival will open strong and close great. The festival has announced that their opening night film will be Jeff Nichols‘ Mud. It’s a deeply southern film that some have compared to a lost Mark Twain novel, and it’s a fitting opener to this year’s AFF. Furthermore, the festival will close out with one of the best films I’ve seen so far this year, The Spectacular Now from Athens, Georgia native James Ponsoldt, who previously won the Atlanta Film Festival’s 2008 Screenwriting Competition and the 2003 Perfect Pitch Award. I don’t know what films will be in between, but I can say without hesitation that you should rush out to get tickets for these two movies.
Click here to go to Atlanta Film Festival’s website, and you can follow them on Twitter and Facebook. The 2013 Atlanta Film Festival runs from March 15 – 24th.
We’ve got a few new posters to share this afternoon. Briefly:
- Mud – The first poster for director Jeff Nichols’ excellent follow-up to Take Shelter highlight’s Matthew McConaughey’s titular character front and center. Read Matt’s review from Sundance here. The film opens in limited release on April 26th.
- A Teacher – Another poster debut for a Sundance film. The story centers on a high school teacher in Austin who has an affair with one of her students.
- G.I. Joe Retaliation – A couple of recruitment propaganda posters for the upcoming sequel pose a serious question. The film opens on March 29th.
- The Call – A debut poster for this thriller that stars Halle Berry as an emergency operator who takes things into her own hands when a repeat offender kidnaps a young girl (Abigail Breslin). The film opens on March 15th.
Hit the jump to check out the posters.
This year, I was lucky enough to attend the Sundance Film Festival for the very first time. There are countless fests throughout the year, but Sundance has always been regarded as one of the best since most of the films screen there without any pre-buzz or context whatsoever. Audiences go in knowing next to nothing about the films they’re getting ready to watch, and 10 days later, buzz has materialized for previously unknown titles that just may become hits like Beasts of the Southern Wild, Little Miss Sunshine, or even Saw. Sundance has served as the launching pad for a number of filmmakers including Quentin Tarantino, Kevin Smith, David O. Russell, and Steven Soderbergh, and it’s a joy to see what kind of fresh talent is on the horizon.
After a little recuperation from my time in Park City, I’ve written up a few thoughts on my impressions of the festival as a first-timer and my favorite films. Hit the jump to read on.
Earlier this month, we reported on the first wave of SXSW 2013 films, which includes The Incredible Burt Wonderstone and Evil Dead. Today, the full line-up has been announced, and it feels like Sundance all over again when it comes to plenty of unknown films. The chance of discovering a gem is high, and I look forward to hearing the buzz that arises from some these movies. There’s also a second chance at festival films I missed like The Act of Killing (from TIFF) and Pit Stop (from Sundance). I thought Toy’s House would make it in to SXSW, but I’ll see it eventually since it picked up distribution.
Hit the jump for the full line-up. The 2013 SXSW Film Festival runs from March 8 – 17th.
Jeff Nichols‘ Mud almost has it all. It’s a sweet coming-of-age story, an adventure, a crime-thriller, and a romance. Lead actors Tye Sheridan and Matthew McConaughey give outstanding performances as a boy and a man, respectively, who bristle when the world won’t conform to the mythic journey they’ve envisioned. Nichols gives the movie a sweet, soft, and loving tone that takes the best of identity of the Deep South (i.e. avoids racism), and uses it as a rich backdrop for a captivating tale. The film’s only flaw comes from implicitly agreeing with the main characters’ immature belief that women are not to be trusted. To the film’s minor detriment, Nichols doesn’t examine how his characters can grow up when the script embraces such a facile and childish notion.
We saw the first two clips from writer/director Jeff Nichols’ Mud back in May of last year, but now the first trailer has been made available. Starring Matthew McConaughey (Magic Mike) as a fugitive drifter who finds safe harbor on an island in the Mississippi River, but is discovered and befriended by two teenage boys (Tye Sheridan and Jacob Lofland). The trailer gives a great sense of the tension that builds over the course of the picture and hints at the dangerous situation the boys unwittingly become involved in. Also starring Reese Witherspoon, Sam Shepherd, Michael Shannon and Sarah Paulson, Mud opens in limited release on April 26th. Hit the jump to watch the trailer.
The Sundance Film Festival recently announced the first round of programming, and we have the first images from a few of the movies playing in the Spotlight category:
- Fill the Void – Written and directed by Rama Burshtein, starring Hadas Yaron, Yiftach Klein, Irit Sheleg, and Chaim Sharir.
- Gangs of Wasseypur – Directed and co-written by Anurag Kashyap, co-written by Zeishan Quadri, starring Manoj Bajpai, Nawazuddin Siddique, Richa Chadda, and Huma Qureshi.
- Mud – Written and directed by Jeff Nichols, starring Matthew McConaughey, Tye Sheridan, Jacob Lofland, and Reese Witherspoon.
- No – Directed by Pablo Larraín, written by Pedro Peirano, starring Gael García Bernal, Alfredo Castro, Antonia Zegers, and Luis Gnecco.
Hit the jump for the images and synopses. The 2013 Sundance Film Festival runs January 17 – 27.