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Examiner.com's 2013 Year in Film - 20 Questions Part III

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11) Biggest Waste of Talent:

Tim Hall: Ashton Kutcher in Jobs. He was great but the film let him down. With a different script, we'd be looking at Kutcher Oscar noms.

David Wangberg: Only Zack Snyder can take an A-list cast, an A-list director/producer, and create one of the biggest disappointments of the year. That film was Man of Steel. And with that, Jason Roestel will most likely not allow me to do this list again.

Tom Santilli: How do you screw up a film starring Brad Pitt, Michael Fassbender, Penelope Cruz, Cameron Diaz and Javier Bardem? The answer is go watch The Counselor.

Chris Sawin: Last Vegas. All four of the main cast members have done projects everyone loves and enjoys, but this just wasn't the same. This was catered to an elderly crowd and rightfully so, I suppose, but if you're in your late 20s and you're witnessing Kevin Kline beg females to ride his wrinkly trouser pole because his wife gave him permission to use a condom in Vegas and THAT is the most enjoyable part of your film...then you have a serious issue.

Brian Zitzelman: Star Trek Into Darkness had the chance to be special, with all of the characters established and a pretty excellent cast. Oh well, what we got was a rehash of a tale told better decades ago and said excellent cast going to waste.

Jason Roestel: The Great Gatsby. In this case the actors, (DiCaprio, Clarke, Edgerton, Maguire, Mulligan) and not the schlock-tart responsible for making the film.

Glenn Percival: Don Jon - I know that Joseph Gordon Levitt wrote and directed this, and after seeing the movie, maybe he should not do that again. I really saw nothing that I cared about in this movie, and the amount of talented individuals that were completely misused and wasted in this one were many. Swing and a miss!

Jorge Carreon: Lee Daniels pulled the wool over our eyes, again, to deliver a true travesty of a film with The Butler. Brands are not actors (sorry, Oprah) and actors who are being paid to act should be compelled to give a performance and not grandstand in this hateful iPod shuffle of cliches and costumes in search of a purpose.

Nick Tiffany: A lot of people really like Iron Man 3 for some reason and especially, they loved Ben Kingsley. As The Mandarin, Kingsley would have been the perfect terrorist and all would have been well with the world. Instead, they decided to make him a joke and it was really stupid. It made me laugh the first time because it was so unexpected, but every other time it pissed me off. He's such a talented actor and him playing a ruthless terrorist should have been awesome. Nope, just a cruel joke. What a waste.

Erik Samdahl: It wasn’t even a bad movie, but The Company You Keep totally fails to live up to its potential given the cast involved.

Ruben Rosario: Let's give Woody Allen some credit. He knows how to put an enviable cast together. And on paper, Blue Jasmine seems like the no-holds-barred, ruthless social satire its defenders are making it out to be. That wasn't the mean-spirited, mechanically plotted, and disturbingly condescending character study I saw, one that unleashes an overly studied Cate Blanchett in a performance so technical and mannered that she made it impossible for me to lose myself in the story Allen is (hamfistedly) trying to tell. But he doesn't just take Galadriel down with him. Let's see here: Sally Hawkins, Bobby Cannavale, Andrew Dice Clay, Alec Baldwin, Louis C.K. and Peter Sarsgaard. Way to go, Woody.

12) Favorite Performance of 2013:

Tim Hall: Michael B Jordan in Fruitvale Station. That guy is a star and this performance proves it.

David Wangberg: After being a great character actor for so many years, Chiwetel Ejiofor showed that he can lead a film in 12 Years a Slave. He definitely deserves the Oscar.

Tom Santilli: For a man with a stellar filmography already, it’s pretty amazing that Leonardo DiCaprio does the best work of his career in The Wolf of Wall Street. He is out of control and given no restraints and there are few who would have been able to pull of the role of Jordan Belfort. When a drug-overdose leaves him limp, he must crawl to his car. It’s a hilarious scene and shows off a physical side of DiCaprio we’ve never quite seen. Who knew that he had this range in him?

Chris Sawin: The performances in Dallas Buyers Club really floored me. Matthew McConaughey continues his amazing streak of absorbing performances, but Jared Leto was the most surprising here; a man ripped in half by his desire to eventually become a woman but is currently overcome and stricken with AIDS. Leto is mesmerizing and heartbreaking as Rayon.

Brian Zitzelman: Oy, how does one pick this. Mine would be Ethan Hawke in Before Midnight, a performance that seems to be overlooked, even as the movie is loved by most. Hawke has never been better, presenting a man facing a severe, real conflict; his heart is pulled in two directions. As he ponders how to figure out a way to have his son and his wife in his life at once, I ached for him and the painfully human touches he gave to the part.

Jason Roestel: For the guys I'll go with Michael Fassbender in 12 Years a Slave and Toni Servillo in The Great Beauty. There just isn't a mug more custom made for film than Toni's in my opinion. For the ladies I really liked Sandra Bullock in Gravity and Jane Levy in Evil Dead. Levy's character arc would throw any actor out of the saddle. Jane hangs on and delivers one of the horror genre's more memorable performances.

Glenn Percival: Chadwick Boseman in 42 - I should include Harrison Ford in this as well. This movie hit on some very touchy subjects and handled them all the way they should have been. Playing Jackie Robinson was a huge responsibility, but Mr. Boseman handled it flawlessly. I didn't know what to expect from 42, especially since we were subjected to Jay-Z in the trailers, but I was quite pleased with how this film turned-out.

Jorge Carreon: Cate Blanchett in Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine was a master class in acting, all the way to the devastating final image of madness on a park bench in Chanel. Runner-up: Sandra Bullock in Gravity. It’s almost unfair to have to choose, darn it.

Nick Tiffany: Is it really a surprise that I think Leonardo DiCaprio gave the best performance of 2013? Leonardo DiCaprio is by far and away the most talented working actor in the business and this film only proves that further. He completely loses himself in the role as Jordan Belfort, a drug and money obsessed pig, who can barely function half the time. DiCaprio always has to get people to forget that he is Leonardo DiCaprio and he does the best job of that in The Wolf of Wall Street. His sexual antics and drug trips are among the most disturbing and funniest things I’ve ever seen in a film. For three short hours, he carries the film to the finish in spectacular fashion. He breaks the fourth wall, provides hilarious narration, and does some things that will leave you howling. His talent is unparalleled and this is a side of DiCaprio that we’ve never seen before. You hate him at times, but also cheer for him at other times. No one should miss this performance, as it is a spectacle that everyone needs to see.

Erik Samdahl: Meryl Streep, August: Osage County. I don’t want to give Meryl Streep such an honor because she has been honored so many times, but no one plays a bitch better.

Ruben Rosario: Leonardo DiCaprio for the win. Please, Academy. His time has come. Just look at him go – and go some more – in The Wolf of Wall Street, showcasing heretofore untapped comedic chops. He's this hilariously profane corporate epic's pulsating black heart. Runner up: Toni Servillo in The Great Beauty. Servillo's got swag. He's got swag big time.

13) The Film I Have the Most Mixed Feelings About:

Tim Hall: Man of Steel. I loved it but I know why people have problems with it.

David Wangberg: I loved the acting in Dallas Buyers Club, but the film just felt so generic. I still recommend it, but it’s mainly for the performances.

Tom Santilli: Short Term 12 had the look and feel of a great movie, but when I took a step back from it, I realized that it was a bit sappy and contrived, not unlike an After School Special. But then I think about Brie Larson’s performance in it and how great she was. Anyways. The more praise this film got from others, the more it made me question my initial take on the film. But I still feel that some of the stuff in it was just emotional manipulation.

Chris Sawin: Out of the Furnace had a great cast, memorable performances (especially from a surprisingly evil Woody Harrelson), and breathtaking cinematography, but it didn't pay off. The film has this thick, impending atmosphere that makes you feel like it's building towards something big and heavy but that moment never comes. The ending leaves you with a lot of questions and mixed emotions to what was otherwise a very promising two hours.

Brian Zitzelman: There a lot of films that could fit here. 2013 was packed with interesting failures; ambitious movies whose reach, well, you know. The Spectacular Now is my pick. It’s core performances soar, as Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley spark and glow in each other’s presence. It’s a shame then the narratives keep getting in the way, yanking melodrama into an otherwise stirring story.

Jason Roestel: The Wolf of Wall Street. Too much Scorsese can never be a bad thing right? I used to think so. Now I'm not so sure. Somewhere in this three hour cocaine binge is one of the best films of the year, it's just too bad nobody took some shears to the movie and kept trimming the fat away till it was revealed.

Glenn Percival: The Lone Ranger - I’m a huge fan of the character, from the radio dramas to the TV show in reruns, and even when Clayton Moore came to my town to thank us all for supporting him when he wasn’t allowed to wear the mask any more. The movie got a lot of negative press, even months before its release, and even with all of that, I still wanted to see it. Sure, it’s not perfect, and funny enough, I was more bothered with how they handled the main character’s backstory more than anything else. The movie though, I actually enjoyed quite a bit. It’s pretty obvious that Gore Verbinski is a fan of John Ford with some incredibly beautiful vistas and even the inclusion of the hymn “Go Tell It on the Mountain” (a favorite hymn of John Ford’s). Unlike the Pirates movies, there’s a lot less in the “tongue-in-cheek” category, as it plays out a lot more like a serious western, well, most of the time. Thing is, I liked it. I’d even watch it again. The story is formulaic at times, and it’s a long movie, but I enjoyed what was there.

Jorge Carreon: This is a tough one, but August: Osage County is one I keep grappling with days after viewing. Tracey Letts’ script is a real gem, but in the hands of director John Wells, the “fun” in “dysfunction” doesn’t sting the way it should. It didn’t help that the cast was so erratic in terms of tone and delivery, particularly Meryl Streep. Yet, I can’t stop thinking about what could been. Wasn’t Mike Nichols’ available?

Nick Tiffany: I'm still not completely sold on The Bling Ring yet. I've seen it pop up on a lot of people's lists and it's a perplexing issue for me. I really liked Emma Waston's performance in the film, along with everyone else's. The acting is great, but the film gets way too repetitive for my liking. Despite that, I still enjoy watching all the break-ins and I find myself enjoying the film. I'm not sure why I'm on the fence about this movie, but I know there's a good story within it.

Erik Samdahl: There is a part of me that thoroughly enjoyed Spring Breakers, but I have no urge to ever watch it again. Except girls running around in bikinis sticking pistols in James Franco’s mouth.

Ruben Rosario: As I wrote in my going-against-consensus critique, "Gravity stands as a notable accomplishment in the way it uses the latest bells and whistles in the moviemaking toolbox to establish a sustained sense of dread and uncertainty, but I … kept experiencing a nagging disparity between the film’s aesthetic splendors and its perfunctory, thinly conceived survival-tale trappings.” I haven't changed my mind since then.

14) I Have No Mixed Feelings About This Movie, I Totally Hated It:

Tim Hall: The Host. That movie is totally unwatchable.

David Wangberg: A Good Day to Die Hard felt like one big middle finger to not just fans of the Die Hard franchise, but to moviegoers in general. Yeah, let’s take one of the most loved action film icons and turn him into a cartoon. Oh, let’s show him having issues with his son, whom he just met. Gag!

Tom Santilli: Worst film of all time perhaps, is Movie 43. Worst. Movie. Ever. I can’t prove it, but I believe that seeing this film was a contributing factor to Roger Ebert’s death. It was one of the last films he ever reviewed and it sickened him to unprecedented proportions. I usually don’t judge others for their beliefs, but if you liked this movie in any way, you are a douche-bag.

Chris Sawin: A Good Day to Die Hard really made me dislike John McClane. It did make me appreciate the first few films and even ignited the urge to purchase the Blu-ray set of the first four films, but hearing Bruce Willis gripe about it being his vacation the entire film and feeling no chemistry between what is supposed to be a father and son was just awful. Die Hard is supposed to be fun, vulgar, and explosive. This had lackluster action and an old man bitching about his age. It's like the franchises of Die Hard and Red have rolled into one at this point. Bruce Willis' being a total uncooperative dick and wearing robes in interviews has become more entertaining than the films he chooses to be a part of these days.

Brian Zitzelman: Epic can go away forever and never being mentioned again please.

Jason Roestel: I try to avoid bad movies if I can. I'm not a towny, so driving forty miles to see something like This Is The End really burns me up. And it did. The really disappointing thing about this movie is that This Is The End was built from good raw materials. It had every reason to be the comedy vessel of 2013. But these idiots wrecked the ship into the reef with improv's lowest hanging fruit - the rotten, pitted, worm-ridden dick and fart jokes so popular among this crew of scallywags.

Glenn Percival: Elysium - Sigh, I was really hyped for this one, and it started great, but the movie quickly devolved into a hot mess, with the same class warfare theme that we saw in District 9. There were a few things that I enjoyed, but not much really. Biggest disappointment of the year for me.

Jorge Carreon: Without question, Lee Daniels’ The Butler. I literally punched a wall on the way out of a screening. That’s hate. Runner-up: Tyler Perry’s Temptation. I also hit the wall on the way out. What an ignorant and vicious morality tale by someone who has no grip on reality.

Nick Tiffany: Passion. Never see this movie, as it will cause you to rip your hair out, gouge your eyes out, and cut your ears off. Brian De Palma WAS a great director once. Now, he's using recycled crap to make this stupid movie that will make you want to die. I love Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace, but they absolutely suck in this film. Their dialog is crappy, their chemistry sucks, and the film sucks as a whole. People told me that I "didn't understand the art of the film", but I'm calling bullsh*t on that one. There is no reason that this film should exist and no one should ever have to endure watching it.

Erik Samdahl: Identity Thief was truly terrible, as if the filmmakers were experimenting to see if they could make lots of money (which they did) by giving us a comedy so devoid of comedy the only people who were laughing were them… on their way to the bank.

Ruben Rosario: Someday, hopefully in the not-too-distant future, film scholars and moviegoers will look back on Michael Bay's body of work and be horrified at its prehistoric, obscenely insensitive gay-panic gags. For a thoroughly unfiltered sampling of such tendencies, look no further than Pain & Gain, which bungles a hell of a true story via tone-deaf attempts at gallows humor and satire. Then there's that endearing scene in which Dwayne Johnson's bumbling ex-con clocks the pastor who's giving him shelter when he marvels at his pecs and cops a feel. Because, you know, it's funny to put sex-starved homos in their place … with your iron fist. Cue the laugh track.

15) My Favorite Movie of 2013:

Tim Hall: Her. One of the most fascinating films in years. We need more movies like it.

David Wangberg: It is an Oscar contender, and it deserves to be one. 12 Years a Slave is a powerful, haunting, and incredibly well done film.

Tom Santilli: I preface my response to this by saying that 2013 was an under-whelming year for me. Many movies that grace my Top 10 list were good, or even great, but I would name exactly zero of them as “instant classics” or films that will be remembered for decades. But my Top 3 are interchangeable: Mud, The Spectacular Now and The Wolf of Wall Street. The first two are coming-of-age stories done perfectly and the latter, one of the craziest, excessive films you’ll ever see.

Chris Sawin: Nothing made an impact quite like 12 Years a Slave. That film affects you in a way that no film this year could even touch. Inside Llewyn Davis is slowly climbing up my favorites list though. The story of a struggling artist trying to make it on his own really hit home and the score is just superb.

Brian Zitzelman: I have been extra flaky on this subject this year, flipping between a trio of movies. Right now, I am giving my pick to Inside Llewyn Davis; a truly haunting effort that hasn’t left my head for an hour since seeing it.

Jason Roestel: Inside Llewyn Davis is the best thing I saw in 2013. Rarely do I know that I'm watching the best movie of the year while I'm watching the best movie of the year - usually I need a gestation period to make that declaration. In this case... I knew it. Right from the start in fact. Can't wait to see it again.

Glenn Percival: Iron Man 3 - I was excited as soon as I heard that Shane Black was taking the helm, and I wasn’t disappointed. Iron Man 3 was a deeper superhero movie than I’ve seen in a long time, and the balance between character depth and all-out action was superb. Plus, how they handled The Mandarin, and especially Ben Kingsley’s performance culminated in a truly wonderful experience.

Jorge Carreon: Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity was that perfect piece of film art, a personal statement that was also entertaining and soul stirring. More, he validated why film must be seen on the big screen and not in the palm of your hand.

Nick Tiffany: Without a doubt, The Wolf of Wall Street is my favorite film of 2013. Five minutes into this movie, I knew that this was the best film of 2013. The nearly three-hour runtime may frighten some, but the film goes by in what seems like an hour-and-a-half. I was left at the end asking “there has to be over an hour of footage left, right?” It was most likely due to the year's best performances from Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill, that the film went by so fast. There is no shortage of drugs, sex, foul language, and touchy subject matter in this film and I loved that. Martin Scorsese makes this film so alive and his direction beckons that of decades ago. There is never a dull moment in this film and it's the most wild ride of the year. I loved every second of it and will be seeing it many, many more times in the near future.

Erik Samdahl: Gravity. This offered one of the most intense experiences of the year, and I rarely call films an “experience.”

Ruben Rosario: A staggering tour-de-force that's alternately savage, hysterical and deeply moving, The Great Beauty evokes the work of Fellini and Antonioni while still charting its own path to capture a dispiritingly decadent society where the party never ends. As your tour guide, Toni Servillo hits it out of the park as the aging lothario who reexamines his life and strives to experience the titular state of bliss. Director Paolo Sorrentino takes you there.

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