Cary, N.C. — 2013 was a great year for movies. The Wolf of Wall Street, Captain Phillips, 12 Years A Slave and Gravity are just a few examples of the great films we got last year. Not coincidentally, all those movies were just nominated for Best Picture Oscars. The Oscar telecast airs Sunday March 2nd, and I’ll be doing a piece closer to airtime going over my picks and preferences based on this years nominees.
For now, I’d like to draw your attention to a few of the smaller profile nominees, as well as a few movies that weren’t nominated for whatever reason, but in my opinion are just as good.
First up is Nebraska, directed by Alexander Payne ( Sideways, The Descendants, About Schmidt).
A Best Picture nominee, Nebraska stars Bruce Dern and Will Forte ( best known from his SNL character MacGruber) as estranged father and son who take a road trip to Nebraska when Dern receives a letter in the mail claiming he won $1 million in a Mega Sweepstakes Marketing prize.
Following the same comedic melancholy tone he achieved with his previous films, director Payne gets a career best performance from Dern, and a surprisingly effective one from comedian Forte. It’s a simple tale, but one well worth the trip.
Next, is another Best Picture nominee. Her, starring Joaquin Phoenix as a letter writer in the near future who falls in love with his artificially intelligent operation system, voiced by Scarlett Johansson.
OK, so that plot sounds weird, right? Well, it was written and directed by Spike Jonze, who previously gave us such weird gems like Being John Malkovich and Adaptation if that tells you anything.
Still not sold? The good news is that Her is actually Jonze’s most human and down to earth film to date. Stripped to its core, its main theme is about accepting the love you’ve had and using that to move forward in life.
It’s a really unique love story that features another great performance from Phoenix and an even more impressive one from Johansson, who somehow does a lot with very little.
3. Inside Llewyn Davis
It’s my belief that 2014 is the year that will be remembered as the year Inside Llewyn Davis was robbed. It managed to get two nominations for its cinematography and sound, but this is absolutely one of the years best.
Written and directed by the Coen Brothers ( Fargo, True Grit, The Big Lebowski, too many others to name), Davis tells the tale of Llewyn Davis, a down-on-his-luck folk singer in the early 60s. Honestly, it’s hard to sum this movie up with only a paragraph, but just know that the Coens have made a movie filled with rich and entertaining characters as only they can do, with Oscar Isaac standing out as the titular musician, Llewyn Davis. Not to mention it features some of the best music in a Coen brothers film since O Brother Where Art Thou?
If you like the Coens, then you will love Inside Llewyn Davis.
Mud, which features the other great Matthew McConaughey performance of 2013. In it, Matt stars as a fugitive named Mud who is hiding out on an island on the Mississippi river when he encounters two young boys who form a pact with him to protect him from bounty hunters on his trail.
Honestly, if someone had told me that the academy couldn’t make up their minds on what movie to nominate McConaughey for and were forced to flip a coin, I would not be surprised. He’s been nominated for his role in Dallas Buyers Club, which makes sense because it’s a much more of an “actor showcase” role. But in Mud, he is much more subdued, but no less confident.
5. Five More Movies
It’s hard to come up with just a few movies that might have been missed this year. There are so many more I could talk about, like the epic tale of fathers and sons in The Place Beyond the Pines starring Bradley Cooper and Ryan Gosling. Or The World’s End, a fantastic comedy from the makers of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. Oh, and the great coming of age flick The Way, Way Back starring Sam Rockwell and Steve Carell in a rare dramatic role.
Indeed, it’s been a good year for movies, and there are still quite a few I haven’t seen myself, something I plan to rectify in the immediate future.
What Are Your Favorites?
What about you? What were some of your favorite movies from 2013?
CaryCitizen movie reviews are written by Jordan Hunt. For more movie reviews, check out our Movie Review Category.