Last week I counted down my Top 10 films of 2013, but before the Oscar race heats up, I wanted to highlight some of my own favorite individual performances and more from the year that was.
Best Director: David O. Russell (“American Hustle”)
Cuaron’s vision for “Gravity” is undeniable, but the more I rewatch “American Hustle,” the better it gets. Russell wrangles some of the best performances of the year with some crackling storytelling. Go see this movie now.
Honorable mention: Alfonso Cuaron (“Gravity”), Spike Jonze (“Her”)
Best Actor: Chiwetel Ejiofor (“12 Years a Slave”)
While “12 Years a Slave” just missed my Top 10 due to some minor quibbles with the pacing and score, it was undeniably powerful, primarily due to the heartbreaking and nuanced lead performance by Ejiofor.
Honorable mention: Christian Bale (“American Hustle”), Joaquin Phoenix (“Her”)
Best Actress: Brie Larson (“Short Term 12”)
My under-the-radar pick for top movie of 2013 was powered by Larson’s breakout performance as a worker at a foster care facility. More people need to know both the film and the actress.
Honorable mention: Adèle Exarchopoulos (“Blue is the Warmest Color”), Amy Adams (“American Hustle”)
Best Supporting Actor: James Franco (“Spring Breakers”)
Harmony Korine’s hypercolor fever dream was maybe the most bats---crazy/occasionally brilliant movie of the year, but every second that Franco’s grill-wearing rapper thug Alien is on the screen is hypnotic. Also, the best performance of a Britney Spears song this year.
Honorable mention: Jared Leto (“Dallas Buyers Club”), Michael Fassbender (“12 Years a Slave”)
Best Supporting Actress: Jennifer Lawrence (“American Hustle”)
I didn’t think I could love J-Law any more, but her willingness to play unlikable as a conniving and aloof wife was just electric every second she was onscreen.
Honorable mention: Scarlett Johansson’s voice (“Her”), June Squibb (“Nebraska”)
Best Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki (“Gravity”)
I don’t often name-drop cinematographers like this, but Lubezki is a god. He shot both “Children of Men” and “The Tree of Life,” but his journey into space featured camerawork that was pure poetry.
Honorable mention: “Her,” “Upstream Color”
Best Documentary: “The Punk Singer”
I love docs and saw an awful lot of them in 2013, but my personal fave was the story of Bikini Kill frontwoman Kathleen Hanna’s rise to feminist icon status and her recent illness that has left her with new challenges.
Honorable mention: “Stories We Tell,” “Room 237”
Best Comedy: “This Is The End”
Some of the funniest moments of the year came from movies that aren’t really comedies (“American Hustle,” “The Wolf of Wall Street,” “Inside Llewyn Davis”), but the pure comedy that had the most consistent laughs for me was this apocalyptic comedian boys’ club.
Honorable mention: “The Way Way Back,” “Anchorman 2”
Best Action Movie: “Pacific Rim”
The most ridiculously over-the-top action movie of 2013 was also the best. I mean, giant robots battling giant aliens? It’s like a 10-year-old boy’s dream.
Honorable mention: “White House Down”
Best Horror Movie: “You’re Next”
You wouldn’t expect a slasher movie to set itself up as a smart, funny Woody Allen flick, but that’s what “You’re Next” does before the blood starts flowing. Actress Sharni Vinson is the rare kick-ass female lead in a horror flick.
Honorable mention: “Evil Dead”
Best Performance by Hair: Christian Bale’s combover (“American Hustle”)
The opening shot of one of the year’s best films involves the elaborate production of a combover. It’s a metaphor for the deceit that runs throughout the film. It’s also a testament to Hollywood male fantasy that Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence fight over this dude.
Honorable mention: James Franco’s cornrows (“Spring Breakers”)