UR OSCARS: Our Top 10 Movie Picks- The Finale
Written by Josh Di Rocco
4. Captain Phillips
The most intense, riveting, and thrilling film I’ve seen in a long time. The director and star of this movie allows you to not only witness post-traumatic stress on screen, but also experience it for yourself. The entire film is a vehicle for Hanks and his onscreen prowess as he weathers the seas of actual events this film is based on. However, the last five minutes of screen time push the actor to new limits of extremes and Hanks truly delivers what I would say is one of the top three roles of the legend’s career. Captain Phillips is a white-knuckle ride that left me breathless and on the verge of an anxiety attack! Well done!
3. American Hustle
David O. Russell has very quickly found himself included in the list of my all-time favorite directors. Many of his key players often describe him as an “actor’s director”, and that statement couldn’t be further from the truth when discussing American Hustle; a film that is bursting at the seams with talent. The director compiles an A-List cast of past collaborators in what I believe to be the best-assembled cast of the year. Impeccable performances, smooth and stylish directing, and a great script have garnered critical acclaim from around the world as well as ten Oscar nominations, including a rare case of a nomination in each acting category. Christian Bale disappears into his role and somehow forces the audience to completely ignore his sleazy con-man exterior and embrace the character. Amy Adams is nothing short of electrifying. Bradley Cooper is wildly funny. Jennifer Lawrence is a Grade A scene-stealer like no other! All together, American Hustle’s combination of wit and style resulted in some of the most fun I’ve had at the theaters during 2013.
Her is a modern masterpiece. Spike Jonze somehow creates a genuine love story out of this anomalous tale of a lonely man trying to move on from a collapsed marriage, who then forms a relationship and eventually falls in love with his computer’s operating system. Through the stylistic method of directing, Jonze holds a mirror to our society’s current obsession of living life via technology and provides a commentary on modern human relationships, or lack thereof. He allows us to experience this beautiful and tender story as if it were our own life, leaving much room for self-reflection. I was very surprised at just how much I was able to relate to this film and how much I was moved. Joaquin Phoenix is masterful and Scarlett Johansson’s vocal performance is oddly a career best and caps off a great year for the actress. I love and applaud the ambition brought forth by this tiny film and the scope of the story it tried to tell.
1. The Great Gatsby
Baz Luhrmann’s take on the American classic wasn’t embraced by everyone. In fact, the film currently sits a mixed 49% on Rotten Tomatoes. However, maybe it’s because I’m an enormous of fan of Baz’s futuristic and eccentric vision, but I thought this to be the best of the best in summer entertainment. A spectacle of spectacles; dripping in style and visual excess. 2013’s updated version of The Great Gatsby was a dazzling, mesmerizing, and intoxicating re-telling of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel. DiCaprio gives another stellar performance as the charismatic, yet mysterious Gatsby. While other actors would drown into the set of a Baz Luhrmann film, Leo stands out as a prized centerpiece and he often provides the occasional emotional grounding the film requires. The supporting cast does an outstanding job as well, including Carey Mulligan and a well-placed Elizabeth Debicki. And while some inevitably criticized Baz Luhrmann’s overt use of style in this film, I welcome it with open arms as its excess only adds to a wildly beautiful hyperbolized view the post-war era. The soundtrack and Luhrmann’s trademark use of modern music in this period piece is outstanding, as well as his use of 3D technology. Not to mention the dazzling costume and creative design. This was a bold move for the director and it paid off greatly. I was absolutely entranced by the look, feel, and sound of this astonishing production.
And there you have it fellow cinephiles, my top ten films of 2013. Now what are your thoughts? I’m sure many of you would like to contest my choice of Gatsby as the year’s absolute best. If so, I invite you to share your comments and your own personal picks for 2013’s best of the best. There were many quality films to choose from. 2014 has much to live up to.
Josh Di Rocco regularly reviews and comments on the world of cinema from his perspective from the fourth wall (The “Fourth Wall” is a stage term that defines the space that separates a performer or performance from an audience). He is currently an active member of the arts scene in Toronto, Ontario. He regularly attends the Toronto International Film Festival and spends much of his spare time at the TIFF Bell Lightbox viewing new releases and admiring the classics. His other passions include travel, style, music, and the theatre. Follow Josh on both Instagram (@fourthwalljosh) and Twitter (@fourthwalljosh) for regular updates on the Hollywood scene, film reviews, award season, and commentary on everything cinema.