Top 15 Films of the Year – Honorable Mentions (16-20)

This Is The End

Now that the Oscars season is officially back into action, I have once again compiled a list of my favorite fifteen films from the previous year.  Over the next few weeks, I will be revealing each of the movies on my “Top 15 Films of 2013” list, but today I am announcing the five “Honorable Mention” films that were nearly worthy enough for inclusion of my year-end list.  Now, I present you with the five films that just missed cracking my Top 15 list:

No. 16 – This Is The End

This Is The End is a comedy film written and directed by Seth Rogen and long-time collaborator Evan Goldberg.  The film features a number of Rogen’s film buddies, includingThis Is The End 2 James Franco, Jonah Hill, Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride, and Craig Robinson, playing fictional versions of themselves as the disastrous apocalypse takes place.  The movie was based on a short film called Jay and Seth versus the Apocalypse (2007), and its feature-length adaptation was most definitely one of my favorites from 2013.  It was such a simple concept with a pretty distinctive plotline, and the performances by the actors were ridiculously humorous, keeping me entertained the entire time.  A vast amount of celebrities make hilarious cameos in the film, such as Rihanna and Channing Tatum, but my favorite was Emma Watson—but then again, I will support anything she is in!!  If you have not seen this movie yet, do society a favor and get to your nearest Redbox ASAP!!!  Okay, maybe that is extreme, but still, you will not want to miss this one.

No. 17 – August: Osage County

August: Osage County is a film directed by John Wells with a screenplay by Tracy Letts.  Letts adapted this film, a tale about an Oklahoma family reuniting after the passing of a August Osage Countyrelative, from his very own award-winning Broadway play by the same name.  My viewing of the film was a case of first impression because I had never seen the play, but I greatly enjoyed the dark, twisted storyline of the dysfunctional Weston family.  The film featured some scenes that will most definitely live in my memory for a long time, particularly the family dinner scene and the scene where Julia Roberts cusses out her sister and mother over a plate of fish.  Speaking of Roberts, she did an absolutely phenomenal job in her role as Barbara, and that performance was one of the highlights for me; furthermore, Meryl Streep, the greatest living silver screen actress, lit the film on fire with her wildly erratic behavior as Violet, the pill-popping matriarch of the Weston family.  The combination of a dark, but amusing script and some fantastic acting performances is the reason this was one of the better films of 2013.

No. 18 – Rush

Rush is a film directed by Ron Howard with a screenplay written by Peter Morgan about the infamous Formula 1 rivalry between racers James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and NikiRush Lauda (Daniel Brühl) during the 1976 racing season.  As a sports fan, I am always on board to watch a sports-related film, but rarely do I come across one that is made with such an intricate filmmaking style as Howard’s Rush.  The sound was amazing, the cinematography was wildly intense, and the acting was top-notch.  I have rapidly become a big fan of Chris Hemsworth, and in this movie, he truly spreads his wings and establishes himself as a rising dramatic talent in Hollywood as the real-life James Hunt.  But my favorite performance from the film was Daniel Brühl’s role as Niki Lauda.  If you watch any interviews with the real-life Lauda on YouTube, you will see that Brühl absolutely nailed the accent.  His portrayal of the Formula 1 driver was spot-on and award-worthy, and I was relatively disappointed that he was snubbed for a Best Supporting Actor nomination.  I bought into everything on the screen when I watched Rush, and I would highly recommend this film.

No. 19 – Mud

Mud is a coming-of-age drama written and directed by established indie-filmmaker Jeff Nichols.  The movie is about Mud (Matthew McConaughey), a criminal on the run, and hisMUD-13103-PS.JPG friendship with a couple of 14-year-old boys (Tye Sheridan and Jacob Lofland) who happen upon Mud’s hideout on a small island in the Mississippi River.  Matthew McConaughey had probably the best acting year of any performer in Hollywood, and although he is receiving widespread acclaim for his role in Dallas Buyers Club, his outstanding performance as the mysterious Mud is definitely not one to overlook.  Even with solid performances from McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, and Sam Shepard, Mud is highlighted by a breakout performance from Tye Sheridan.  Although he was just 14-years-old during production, Sheridan gave an exceptionally mature performance in his role as Ellis.  Even though Sheridan did not receive any major award nominations, his performance was the best part of Mud, and I expect great things from him in the future.

No. 20 – Prisoners

Prisoners is a thriller directed by Denis Villeneuve and written by Aaron Guzikowski about the search to find two young girls that are abducted from their neighborhood in PrisonersPennsylvania.  Guzikowski’s script is dark and menacing, and each actor makes the most of the mystifying plot.  There are some first-rate supporting performances from Terrence Howard, Jake Gyllenhaal, Maria Bello, Melissa Leo, and Paul Dano, but Hugh Jackman steals the show with an extraordinary performance as a father willing to go to all lengths to find his daughter.  Last year, I voted for Jackman as Best Actor for his role in Les Misérables, and once again this year, he gave a performance that I truly felt was worthy of acclaim.  Even though he was ultimately not nominated for any major awards, he still gave a brilliant performance, and Prisoners is a frightening film you do not want to miss.


Welcome Back: It’s OSCAR TIME!


Hello, movie fans! And welcome back to my 2nd annual “Countdown to the Oscars” blog!  After a very successful campaign last year, I am more than excited to get back to work on commenting about the many wonderful films and performances from 2013.  This past year was a fantastic year for movies, and it is clearly evidenced in the fact that some of my favorite movies and acting performances were snubbed this year for the Oscars—this just means that we have a really, really competitive field this year in nearly every category, and each race is sure to be a showdown.

Starting today and continuing right up until the big day, I will once again be posting regularly about the Oscars.  These posts will include both my “Top 15 Films of the Year” list and my own personal Oscars ballot for this year’s major categories.  I will also be posting a review about the actual ceremony in March, and this year, I will follow that up with a preview of the films that are sure to make a big splash in 2014.  I am including a new feature on many of my posts this year—there will be a poll for all of my viewers to participate in, so make sure to take advantage of this to get involved this Oscars season.

Ellen DeGeneres will be hosting this year, and I could not be more excited.  Her daytime show is universally loved, and I look for her to translate that success to the Oscars from the moment she takes the stage.  This is Ellen’s second time hosting the Oscars, as she previously hosted the 79th Academy Awards in February 2007.  This year, the Oscars will be broadcasted live from the Dolby Theater in Hollywood on March 2nd, 2014—that is just 23 days away!!

Thank you to all of you that are back again this year, and I look forward to any new viewers—I really do appreciate the support.  So sit back, relax, and enjoy the show—it’s OSCAR TIME!

Fall Preview 2013: Honorable Mentions

Welcome back, movie fans!  Even though we are still 188 days away from the 86th Academy Awards ceremony, it is not too early to start getting prepared.  So far in 2013, a great batch of films have been released, but we all know that the bulk of the films that are nominated each year usually come out during the Fall Movie Season—September 1 through the end of the year.  To get everyone excited for the slew of award-quality films scheduled to hit your local theater very soon, I have compiled a list of my most anticipated movies of the season, and this list has manifested itself as my Fall Preview 2013.  Over the next couple of days, I will be releasing my Top 10 list, starting with films 10-6 and concluding with 5-1.  But for an introduction to my Fall Preview 2013, I am beginning with five films that just missed out on cracking my Top 10, so make sure to be on the lookout for these movies in the coming months.

About Time

In About Time, a young man, Tim Lake (Domhnall Gleeson), receives a life-changing revelation from his father (Bill Nighy): the men in their family can travel through time.  Throughout the film, Tim must use this newfound ability to figure out what really matters in his life, especially love.  Before you start thinking this movie will be just another time-travel film, the director, Richard Curtis, actually states the opposite: “It’s actually an anti-time-travel time-travel movie.”  The movie appears to have chick-flick elements, but after watching the trailer, it looks like it has a lot more to offer than your everyday, run-of-the-mill romantic dramedy, and with Rachel McAdams starring alongside Gleeson and Nighy, it is sure to be a great movie.  About Time is set for a US theatrical release on November 1, 2013.

Director: Richard Curtis (Love Actually, Notting Hill)

Starring: Domhnall Gleeson (Anna Karenina), Rachel McAdams (The Notebook), and Bill Nighy (Love Actually)

Captain Phillips

Captain Phillips is the true story of the hijacking of the Maersk Alabama cargo ship by Somali pirates in April 2009.  The crew of the ship is held for ransom, and an unlikely hero emerges in Captain Richard Phillips (Tom Hanks).  In preparation for the role, Tom Hanks consulted the actual Captain Phillips, and according to Phillips, he hopes the release of this movie will show everyone that “[people] are truly stronger than we know.  We can do more than what we think we can do.”  Another interesting point to draw about the film is in regards to the director, Paul Greengrass.  Greengrass is no stranger to films about real-life hijackings, as he directed the 2006 movie United 93, a film about the 9/11 attacks.  This story is sure to an intense experience on the screen, and given that Tom Hanks is the lead, it will definitely be a movie with award-winning implications.  Captain Phillips is set for a theatrical release on October 11, 2013.

Director: Paul Greengrass (United 93, The Bourne Supremacy)

Starring: Tom Hanks (Forrest Gump, Saving Private Ryan)

Don Jon

Don Jon follows Jon (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a Jersey Shore-like, guido-esque bodybuilder from New Jersey.  According to the trailer, all he cares about in life are his body, his pad, his ride, his family, his church, his boys, his girls, and his porn!  His love for that last item, however, is called into question when he meets the girl of his dreams, Barbara (Scarlett Johansson), who is obsessed with the love stories in modern rom-coms.  The film features a stellar cast that is bound to put on an incredible show, and the film is written and directed by its lead, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who is rapidly becoming one of today’s biggest stars in Hollywood.  The trailer is fantastic, and anytime Marky Mark Wahlberg’s “Good Vibrations” can be included somehow, I know the movie is about to be a lot of fun.  Don Jon is set for a theatrical release on September 27, 2013.

Director: Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Don Jon is his full-length feature film directorial debut)

Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt (500 Days of Summer, Looper), Scarlett Johansson (Vicky Cristina Barcelona, The Avengers), Tony Danza (Angels in the Outfield), and Julianne Moore (The Kids Are All Right, Crazy, Stupid, Love)

The Fifth Estate 

The Fifth Estate is a biopic about WikiLeaks, a controversial online site that publishes classified information and secret documents by anonymous sources.  The film follows the founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange (Benedict Cumberbatch), and his partner and friend, Daniel Domscheit-Berg (Daniel Brühl).  Although the production of the film has received significant criticism from Julian Assange himself, director Bill Condon disagrees with Assange on his outrage, stating, “this is not remotely an attack on him.  In its own strange, dark, journalistic-thriller kind of way, this is a buddy movie.”  Like most people in this generation, I remember everything surrounding the WikiLeaks controversy and how the government reacted to the scandal; recently, the site found itself back in the news after former US soldier Bradley Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison for his disclosure of nearly 700,000 classified government documents to WikiLeaks.  With the real-life story so relevant today, this film should captivate audiences all across the world, and I look forward to seeing everything play out on the silver screen.  The Fifth Estate is set for a theatrical release on October 18, 2013.

Director: Bill Condon (Dreamgirls, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Parts 1&2)

Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), Daniel Brühl (Inglourious Basterds, Rush)


Gravity is a techno-thriller film set in outer space.  The film follows two astronauts: Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock), taking part in her very first Space Shuttle mission, and Matt Kowalsky (George Clooney), a seasoned veteran conducting his final mission.  When debris from a satellite destructively collides into their space shuttle, the two astronauts become stranded in space with no communications with Earth.  From the very first time I saw this trailer in theaters, my interest was instantaneously piqued.  The movie looks like a wild and crazy adventure that will undoubtedly leave every viewer on the edge of his or her seat for the duration of the film.  The sophisticated special effects and astonishing cinematography are already creating a massive wave of Oscar buzz, but with big players like Alfonso Cuarón, George Clooney, and Sandra Bullock involved in the project, there is bound to be significant attention paid to the intricate skills of the movie’s directing and acting efforts.  Gravity is set for a theatrical release on October 4, 2013.

Director: Alfonso Cuarón (Y Tu Mamá También, Children of Men, Pan’s Labyrinth)

Starring: Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side, The Heat), George Clooney (The Descendants, The Ides of March)