Every December and January, we are inundated with them. Critics compile their annual bests and worsts and then the arguments begin. Favorites fail to find their way into mainstream awards season contention while outsider choices are chiding for being too fringe or foreign. Before long, a consensus builds, creating bookends to a film year where, for the most part, most movies were just mediocre. As a professional, I always tell people that my job is not some sort of gift from the Fates. Instead, it’s about 20 fantastic films, an equal number of nauseating pieces of junk, and about 200-plus examples of motion picture patchiness. Imagine if your career had such clear cut highs, deep level lows, and examples of unending everyday drudgery. Suddenly, we’re no longer looking at a dream, but a nightmare, a never-ending cycle of subpar or should-have-been titles that, for some reason, couldn’t drag themselves out of their own aesthetic ennui long enough to be anything other than average.
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Each year, we critics struggle through the endless awards season push, trying to decipher the hype from the hysterics, the last minute entries from the long considered best. It’s a tough slog, and at any given moment, the process can create wildly different results. I myself have found figuring out the number one movie of the year to be a desperate bid between our horrific intolerant past (12 Years a Slave) and our equally offensive, “Greed is God” present (The Wolf of Wall Street). So instead of a traditional listing of the artform’s greatest hits, I’ve decided to provide some perspective. For me, movies are about impact, about resonance and reasons to remember. In that regard, here are the top 25 Movie Moments 2013. Each and every one of these will remain with me long after the Oscar glitter is gone and the winners stash their gold statues away for safe keeping. So, in no particular order, we begin with:
Sometimes, a villain is easily vanquished. Their master plan is thwarted, their defenses undermined and their offenses tried and convicted. They are then locked away in asylums, frozen in ice, left to die on a desert planet or simply shown the door to the great hereafter. Of course, those who don’t die know no end. They seem to play the proverbial bad penny, turning up whenever our hero and his or her half-baked R&R appear ripe for unrest. It’s in these moment, in these time where our terror gets a second chance at thwarting the protagonist that his or her true mantle is shown. Sometimes, all they manage is another miserable defeat. In other instances, the rewards are swift and satisfying… if again, only temporary.
It’s that time of the year again. Eleven months have magically flown by and we are at the end of another date on the calendar, another number in our aging life, and for us film critics, another over hyped and amplified awards season. The films are flying by at a rate so rapid that only the most skilled of journalists can keep up. It’s a whirlwind of promises and passes, of the highly anticipated and the shouldn’t-have-bothered. Among the many movies vying for our attention right now is the latest from Joel and Ethan Coen, Inside Llewyn Davis. An amazing work of playful period piece commentary, the brothers’ focus on the Greenwich Village scene pre-Bob Dylan remains a delightfully demented puzzle box. Even the finale, which finds our hero being brought back to the point where we first met him, reminds us that, in the world of these Oscar winner auteurs, the last word is just as important as the first.
We told you not to scream that. We were always planning to come back to this topic and address the need to showcase fantastic mothers and evil dads. Besides, isn’t that the way we typically envision these adult archetypes? It’s rare when a Mom does something awful, and Fathers are typically given over to rants, raves, discipline, and disgusted looks when you come home past curfew, not understanding and sympathy. So last time around, our focus on virtuous men and wicked women had to be a bit of a shocker. Indeed, when you consider the long lineage of good/bad movie characters, there are far more wicked stepmothers and brave and noble male role models than the other way around, right?
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