UR OSCARS: Our Top Favorite Movies of 2013 Countdown
Written by Josh Di Rocco
There was a certain characteristic to many of the films released in 2013 that really set it apart from recent years in cinema. As a self proclaimed “cinephile” and a “slave for the screen”, I can often be heard criticizing the current state of film and how I long for the glory days of imagination in Hollywood storytelling. However, 2013 saw the return of the most admirable and welcoming quality…boldness. Many of these instances were lead by valiant directors and screenwriters, and brought to life by some exceptionally courageous performances. 2013 saw scores of actors tackling bold roles and truly working every muscle within their acting wheelhouse to full exhaustion. I found it especially challenging to narrow down my annual list of favorite films to the standard ten. My top ten films of the year consist of unique stories, biopics, pages from history, and classic literary works propelled into modern times. These are films that broke the Hollywood mold of originality and offered viewers something of substance, intelligence and style. Through the bold direction, performances, and writing, I was emotionally invested and deeply moved during each screening and that’s what continues to make the theater going experience so addictive. My top ten films of 2013 will remain as some of my all time favorites and before I list my choices, I’d like to congratulate the film industry on a job well done in a landmark year.
10. August: Osage County
Based on the award winning play by Tracy Letts, and adapted for the screen by the author as well, this dark (and I mean DARK) comedy is an acting showcase for the stellar cast. The characters written by Letts thoroughly define dysfunction. The beautiful and painful script delivers mania at is finest with very little resolution. While it doesn’t always work as well on screen as it did on stage, how could you not just be completely engrossed and hypnotized while watching Meryl Streep at work in a role of this magnitude? And Julia Roberts is a worthy opponent to the screen giant as she deglamorizes herself and loses that high wattage smile for her most powerful and dark work to date. Oscar nominations for both of these legends were well deserved and it was a privilege to sit and watch acting at its finest.
This true and heartbreaking story was one that deserved to be told. A lot like real life, this film is tragic and comedic in one breath. Judi Dench does a fantastic job in portraying Philomena Lee, a woman who had spent her life wondering what came of a child she was forced to give up for adoption, and Dench does so with a with an extremely powerful yet subtle performance. This story of undiminished hope and faith in the face of injustice takes its viewers on a realistic ride rid of cliché sentimentality, making room for authenticity.
Visually epic and a sensory overload! This sci-fi masterpiece delivers on almost every level, including a beautiful and level performance from Sandra Bullock and the most outstanding visual effects of our time. It’s true that the plot is quite basic; Sandy is stuck in space and needs to get home, but this tale of survival is shown to us on a scale like no other. Alfonso Cuarón is a genius filmmaker and I don’t want to see the Oscar for Best Direction in the hands of anyone else at this year’s ceremony. The director choreographs an entire ballet of special effects and CGI with one very determined actress, and he utilizes the few pros of 3D cinema to his advantage. Gravity is a cinematic achievement and to experience it on anything less than 50-foot screen accompanied by 3D glasses would do it injustice.
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 (@fourthwallreviews) and Twitter (@fourthwalljosh) for regular updates on the Hollywood scene, film reviews, award season, and commentary on everything cinema.