NOTE: I’m speaking the the Philippine context. So everything included on this list are films released or already seen in the Philippines, or in Manila more particularly. 2013 has been quite a juicy year for the motion picture industry, both Hollywood and locally. By far, the best of the year has been Alfonso Cuaron’s “Gravity”, which has made millions and millions worldwide thanks to the eye-popping visual effects and the magnificent work of Academy Award winner Sandra Bullock. Of course, I’m not speaking too early. There are till a handful of films yet to be released as Oscar season begins to heat up. Being that we’re in the Philippines, we’re getting it later then others but we make do with what we’ve gotten. Here is a short feature looking at the pass films of 2013.
THE GOOD – Some are surprises, some are sure fire critical hits. We kicked off the great movies of the year with Richard Linklater’s “Before Midnight”, the anticipated romantic drama that the director gave us in the span of 20 year. The film delivered a great screenplay and obviously wonderful performance by Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. We then got to see Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal with the splendid “Prisoners”, which surprised me so much. If you get a chance to see it, it’s most definitely worth a watch. It’s gripping, daring and so well acted. By the time “Gravity” rolled around, we could smell Oscar season in the air. The visual feast by Alfonso Cuaron stands as the best film of the year (so far). Honourable mention to Paul Greengrass for his drama “Captain Phillips” which was so gripping, and featured a marvel performance by Hollywood legend Tom Hanks.
THE BAD – With no surprise at all Ryan Gosling romp “Only God Forgives” gave us one of the most snooze fest films of the year. I didn’t even bother seeing his other film “The Place Beyond the Pines” because of my bad reception for the film. But that’s kind of unfair, so I’ll get to it, eventually. I still don’t know how a film with four Oscar winners (De Niro, Keaton, Sarandon & Robin Williams) was just so, so bad but “The Big Wedding” was almost too difficult to watch. Lindsay Lohan returned on screen with porn star James Deen with the excruciating “The Canyons” (which some enjoy, I bet I know why…boobs). “Movie 43″ wasn’t trying to be good, but they probably weren’t trying to be bad either. James Franco tried to being back the Wonderful Wizard of Oz with his film “Oz the Great and Powerful” but it turned out to be a big joke, especially the ridiculous notions that Mila Kunis had in playing the Wicked Witch of the West which probably should win Worst Supporting Actress of the Year at the Razzies.
THE DISAPPOINTMENTS – As excited and hyped I were for these films (some had the right cast, director, everything) these films failed to make any special mark on me in 2013. The most disappointing would be Australian drama “Adore” featuring such wonderful actresses like Naomi Watts (fresh from an Oscar nomination last year) and Robin Wright. The film had the right stuff: good actors, provocative subject matter, but it fell flat on it’s face. Not bad, but flat. “Stocker” with the masterful Nicole Kidman was style over substance times infinity. James McAvoy isn’t doing much with his career with the terribly mediocre “Trance”. I had a lot of high hopes with Sophia Coppola’s “The Bling Ring” but it turned out to be her most disappointing feature, in exemption with Emma Watson (who I don’t usually like with her post-Potter roles) but was perfectly casted in the film. The saddest film disappointment of the year so far would have to be Disney/Pixar’s “Monster’s University” which was so highly anticipated by everyone in my generation. It became a cheap, sequel romp that sent out the wrong message to kids, in my opinion.
THE PLEASANT SURPRISES – some films I resented in seeing but I had to for pop culture purposes. These movies were fairly decent. Some were actually pretty good and proved that you really shouldn’t base a film by its cover (but it’s really, really hard I tell you). “The Way, Way Back” was a little comedy that could. Sam Rockwell, Toni Collette and Allison Janney were perfect for their roles and provided us with a sweet narrative that is completely underrated. Check it out ASAP. “Side Effects” was a great effort by director Steven Soderbergh. Apart from Channing Tatum, the film was entertaining and worth every minute of viewing. “The Conjuring” was scary enough and revitalised my belief in modern day horror. I was getting scared for the genre since 2001. The biggest surprise however would be “Now You See Me”, the magician con-artist themed blockbuster that didn’t only prove to be wildly entertaining but incredibly smart too. This makes me excited for a sequel (which is in the works) just for a few more good times with a fun ensemble cast.
THE SUPER AND THE SUPER FAIL – A world post Christopher Nolan Batman is a depressing one. Though there are a lot of supporters and lovers, “Man of Steel” did nothing to impress me. Except, Amy Adams, of course. The film hardly had a narrative and was just explosion and crumbling city for hours and hours. “Iron Man 3” and “Thor 2” wasn’t exactly amazing and can be written off. Let’s hope that next year, we are smoothened in better super hero flicks. Because everyone enjoys Superhero flicks. But, it was an uneventful year in that department. Come to me, “X-Men: Days of Future Past”, come to me.
THE BLOCKBUSTERS – One of the first films I saw this year was Baz Luhrmann’s “The Great Gatsby” which I obviously thought was exquisite. To think it’s made in blockbuster format! Leonardo DiCaprio (despite some haters out there, not me though) proves his movie star. The film made millions of dollars, rightfully ensuring his name of the list of one of the highest paid actors in Hollywood. He’s the only one on that list that didn’t appear in a franchise film. “Star Trek Into Darkness” was a decent sequel to a superb original film. Hollywood had lots of plans for Benedict Cumberbatch this year, and sadly this is the only one that worked out well enough. Brad Pitt proved that he could still arouse an audience with zombie-apocalytic film “World War Z” which was a lot of fun to watch, despite its predictability and minor problems.
THE COMEDIES WE’LL PROBABLY FORGET – Comedies always make money. And are probably the most talked about the films all year. But this years crop of comedies failed to measure up to “Superbad” (2007) or “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” (2008) which are two films I tend to compare modern day comedies to. “This is the End” made a splash with audiences, making it probably the most popular comedy of the year. However, it was overhyped. By the time I got to see it, it lost it’s humour. Good effort, though. Jennifer Aniston had the chance to play Jennifer Anniston as a Stripper in “We’re the Millers”, which gave a good laugh but nothing too hilarious. “The Internship” and “21 and Over” was popular but lost its steam when it left theatres.
THE GREATS OF FILIPINO CINEMA – This was a DAMN good year for Filipino cinema. Let me say that again, A DAMN GOOD YEAR. Probably my favourite year in Cinemalaya too. Some of the films left me more inspired to trying and make it in the industry. My favourite film of the year from local cinema, and easily will make my top 10 of year is Jerrold Tarog’s “Sana Dati” starring the very lovely Lovi Poe (which I’ve been fanboying on). The film is sweet, touching, heartbreaking and stays with you for a long time. It still stays with me today. DVD release, please. Philippine Oscar hopeful “Transit” was superb. Director Hannah Espia’s first feature is being recognized fairly well around the world. The Philippines had never been selected for a Foreign Film Oscar nomination, but it’s the closest we’ve ever been in quite a while. Though it’ll be extremely tough, I’ll keep my fingers crossed. “On the Job” lived up to its hype with its Scorsese-like filmmaking. They should make more films like that.
THE WORLD OF TELEVISION – I don’t watch a lot of TV. I actually only watch the two Ryan Murphy shows. The TV year (for me) started so badly with the loss of TV star Cory Monteith who plays Finn Hudson on “Glee”. That was depressing for someone who has kept up the show. Glee is back though, bigger and better (so far), hopefully they keep handing everything with style. Though “Asylum” is still my favourite of the three seasons, “American Horror Story” comes back mega strong with “Coven”, which features an impressively young cast this time. I’ll always love the work of Supreme Witch Jessica Lange and tv-daughter Sarah Paulson, but I’m really impressed with the addition of Emma Roberts. 2013 television also said goodbye to mega hit “Breaking Bad” which caused a pop culture frenzy around the world.
THE UPCOMING – So there you have it. 2013 in Film (So Far). We’ve still got a long way to go, in movie terms. Awards season is just around the corner, and we’ve got a handful of hopefuls and non hopefuls paving the rest of the way. The Philippines gets “The Counsellor” this week, which really bombed critically, but I’m still going to see it. “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” is also out on November 21, which I’m dying to see. Also, Martin Scorsese’s new Leonardo DiCaprio starring film “The Wolf of Wall Street” finally shut down its disquieting rumours by letting us know that we should all except Christmas Day release date.
MOST ANTICIPATED FILMS OF THE YEAR:
1. The Wolf of Wall Street
2. American Hustle
3. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
4. Blue Jasmine
5. 12 Years a Slave
6. Saving Mr. Banks
7. Blue is the Warmest Colour
8. Inside Llewyn Davis
9. Dallas Buyer’s Club
10. Fruitvale Station