Best of 2013

(This is an absolutely incredible video that my sister made that I urge you all to check out)

Tomorrow, it’s film Christmas, the day where we all love to hate but get insanely excited about anyway (look out for some conversation on next years awards this week), the Oscars. And, like Christmas, there’s anticipation and hope leading up, with the inevitable arguing as no one gets what they want. I posted my predictions a month ago and not much has changed since then, so in lieu of repeating myself, and even though I still have a few films left on my watchlist (The Act of Killing being one of them) here are my personal awards for 2013.

Best Casting

12 Years a Slave

Dallas Buyers Club

Inside Llewyn Davis

Short Term 12

The Wolf of Wall Street

Honorable Mentions: Before Midnight (whoever got Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke in the same room 20 years ago needs some serious kudos), What Maisie Knew (I hope Joanna Vanderham is getting bombarded with work, and that Onata Aprile continues to wow audiences in the future), Mud.

Starting off with an award I’ve created myself, because there needs to be recognition in this field. Big budget or made on a shoestring, casting directors placed actors in iconic roles that will forever be associated with 2013, from Matthew McConaughey continuing his career comeback as Ron Woodroof, breakout performers Oscar Isaac – who has been astounding in supporting roles for years- and Margot Robbie, to Leonardo DiCaprio turning a new corner in his career. There’s Short Term 12, which assembles one of the most eclectic, memorable and exciting casts of newcomers in years; and 12 Years a Slave, which overcame a modest budget for the scale of the story to pull together an all-star cast who knock it out of the park, introducing the world to the stunning Lupita Nyong’o.

Winner: 12 Years a Slave

Best Cinematography

Sean Bobbitt, 12 Years a Slave

Bruno Delbonnel, Inside Llewyn Davis

Anthony Dod Mantle, Rush

Chung Hoon-Chung, Stoker

Iris Ng, Stories We Tell

Honorable Mentions: Short Term 12, Frances Ha, What Maisie Knew, Her, Blue is the Warmest Colour.

2013 was another incredible year for cinematography, whether it was the minimal perfection of Short Term 12 or What Maisie Knew, the highly intricate and technical work achieved in Rush, further proof of Sean Bobbitt’s incredible talent in 12 Years a Slave, the monochrome of Inside Llewyn Davis that unleashes a sort of fantasy in certain scenes, or the breathtaking beauty of the chilling Stoker.

But nothing this year is more awe-inspiring than the masterful work done by Iris Ng in Sarah Polley’s Stories We Tell, faced with the impossible task of matching film stock and cameras to archival footage and recreations, melding the two mediums and time periods seamlessly. Without it, this highly unconventional documentary wouldn’t have been nearly as effective.

Winner: Iris Ng, Stories We Tell

Best Original Song

‘Happy’ from Despicable Me 2

‘The Moon Song’ from Her

‘Please Mr. Kennedy’ from Inside Llewyn Davis

‘So You Know What It’s Like’ from Short Term 12

‘For the Time Being’ from The Way, Way Back

Creating some of the most memorable moments in cinema this year, from a wild party at the height of the Roaring Twenties, or a laid back ride to the seaside, to a simple song strummed on a ukulele, the best songs of 2013 acted almost as another character, creating showstopping scenes, from the raw emotion of Short Term 12, to the playful, hilarious jam session in Inside Llewyn Davis.

Winner: ‘Please Mr. Kennedy’, Inside Llewyn Davis

Best Original Score

Arcade Fire, Her

Hans Zimmer, Rush

Joel P. West, Short Term 12

Clint Mansell, Stoker

Nick Urata, What Maisie Knew

From the subtly electronic but calm and colourful futurism of Her; the pounding, mechanical heartbeat of Rush; the eerie, ominous southern gothic of Stoker; to the gorgeously understated but incredible sounds of Short Term 12, the scores of 2013 created incredible atmospheres for their stories, forever evoking memories of the film if heard. It’s the soft beauty of What Maisie Knew that will always bring the strongest emotions though, because as I hear the title track I can feel the bright sun streaming in through the windows, and I can see Maisie walking down a New York street with Margo and Lincoln.

Winner: Nick Urata, What Maisie Knew

Best Soundtrack

American Hustle

The Great Beauty

The Great Gatsby

Inside Llewyn Davis

The Way, Way Back

Another category I wished the Academy honored, because some film’s most memorable moments were created with an incredible, lovingly crafted collection of songs. These films cover almost a century in terms of time period, whisking us from the lavish Long Island in the 1920s, to the slick and ‘groovy’ 70s in New Jersey, a party on a roof in front of one of the world’s most recognisable buildings that you just wish you were at, to a life-changing summer beach holiday that will make you desperately want to go to a water park. When it comes down to picking a soundtrack that I have had on repeat since it’s release though, I can’t go past Inside Llewyn Davis, which is just the icing on the cake of an exceptional film. Where is that soundtrack category?

Winner: Inside Llewyn Davis

Best Documentary

20 Feet From Stardom

The Armstrong Lie

Cutie and the Boxer

Stories We Tell

Of all the excellent real-life stories brought to the screen in 2013, from the uplifting 20 Feet From Stardom and Cutie and the Boxer, to the riveting The Armstrong Lie, none is more remarkable than that behind Stories We Tell, one of the best films, let alone documentaries, in years. If you follow me on Twitter or Letterboxd, you’d know how much I’ve raved about this for a long time. Sarah Polley is one of the most exciting new directors of the last 10 years, and Stories We Tell, an incredibly transformative and groundbreaking third act of one of the most enthralling and coincidental trilogies of all time

Winner: Stories We Tell

Best Foreign Language Film

The Past

Blue is the Warmest Colour

The Great Beauty

The Hunt

I’m hotly anticipating Like Father, Like Son, which doesn’t get a release here for another couple of months and had a very big chance of making it onto this list if I had seen it in time.

Ever since its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, Blue is the Warmest Colour has been preceded by the controversy surrounding it. Elevated by two remarkable leads though, it is a unique film of incredible power and passion that still sticks with me, remembering scenes from time-to-time.

Winner: Blue is the Warmest Colour

Best Adapted Screenplay

12 Years a Slave

Before Midnight

Short Term 12

What Maisie Knew

The Wolf of Wall Street

Spanning from Wall Street in the 1990s to the South in the 1840s, a day in a group home in present day California, to a custody battle in New York City, the adapted screenplays of 2013 were derived from everything from an autobiography written in the 1800s, an incredibly modern themed novel written in 1895, to a short film made by the same person. The unbelieveable work of the past 18 years is without a doubt continued in Before Midnight, a film that is just perfectly crafted and executed (more on that later).

Winner: Before Midnight

Best Original Screenplay

Frances Ha

Her

Inside Llewyn Davis

Mud

The Past

The time and space-hopping continues into the original category, transporting us from Arkansas to Paris to futuristic Los Angeles. The two stand outs come in the form of films both set in New York City, with characters that are almost kindred spirits, both realising that whatever they dream of might not ever arrive, and trying to find themselves in one of the busiest cities on earth. When push comes to shove though, one can’t go past the misadventures of Llewyn Davis, which are captured in startling humour and tragedy with the staple Coen Brothers intelligence and wit.

(The scenes of Jean [Carey Mulligan] ranting are the best)

Winner: Inside Llewyn Davis

Best Supporting Actress

Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave

Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle

Scarlett Johansson, Her

Carey Mulligan, Inside Llewyn Davis

June Squibb, Nebraska

Pauline Berlet, The Past

Kaitlyn Dever, Short Term 12

Joanna Vanderham, What Maisie Knew

Margot Robbie, The Wolf of Wall Street

2013 was an amazing year for supporting roles, so instead of narrowing it down to just 5, here’s a list of nine incredible performances that left a lasting impression on their film. When picking a winner though, it’s hard to go past Lupita Nyong’o, who just steals every scene.

Winner: Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave

Best Supporting Actor

Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave

Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club

Matthew McConaughey, Mud

Daniel Bruhl, Rush

Keith Stanfield, Short Term 12

Sam Rockwell, The Way, Way Back

Everyone, The Wolf of Wall Street

Michael Fassbender is again literally so good it’s terrifying, but Jared Leto is the real surprise of the year in his first acting role in four years (I really need to see Mr. Nobody), absolutely frighteningly different and confrontingly astounding as Rayon. You can just tell how much he got into the role.

Winner: Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club

Best Actress

Amy Adams, American Hustle

Julie Delpy, Before Midnight

Adele Exarchopoulos, Blue is the Warmest Colour

Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine

Greta Gerwig, Frances Ha

Sandra Bullock, Gravity

Brie Larson, Short Term 12

Onata Aprile, What Maisie Knew

It’s been Cate Blanchett’s year basically, and rightly so. She’s absolutely exceptional in Blue Jasmine, making a roaring comeback, along with Sandra Bullock. However, it was the year of breakouts basically, with the likes of Exarchopoulos, Gerwig, Larson, and Aprile commanding the screen. I wish that Short Term 12 and What Maisie Knew had been picked up by ‘awards’ distributors, because they would have definitely been serious threats (if Quvenzhane Wallis can be nominated, why couldn’t Onata Aprile?). Julie Delpy delivers another exceptional performance in Before Midnight, I wish her acting work in those films got more attention, as she brings it home, time after time.

Winner(s): Cate Blanchett, Julie Delpy, and Brie Larson

Best Actor

Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave

Robert Redford, All is Lost

Ethan Hawke, Before Midnight

Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club

Toni Servillo, The Great Beauty

Joaquin Phoenix, Her

Mads Mikkelsen, The Hunt

Oscar Isaac, Inside Llewyn Davis

Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street

The McConissance continued in 2013, with another excellent performance in Dallas Buyers Club (“alright, alright, alright”). Across the board, there was an incredible mix of eclectic performances that all were remarkably different and masterful, from the high-octane energy of The Wolf of Wall Street to the domestic drama of The Hunt. Oscar Isaac delivers another exceptional performance though as Llewyn Davis, a character whose doormat-tendencies and free spirited nature are played to perfection. Here’s to another big year for Oscar Isaac!

Winner(s): Matthew McConaughey, Oscar Isaac

Best Director

Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave

Richard Linklater, Before Midnight

Spike Jonze, Her

The Coen Brothers, Inside Llewyn Davis

Sarah Polley, Stories We Tell

Seasoned talents McQueen, Linklater, Jonze, and the Coens prove once again why they are the best, but it’s Sarah Polley that really proves to be at the top of her game with Stories We Tell, a stunning, thought-provoking documentary that I could talk for hours about (and probably have already talked enough about here)…

Winner: Sarah Polley, Stories We Tell

Best Picture

12 Years a Slave

Before Midnight

Frances Ha

Her

Inside Llewyn Davis

Mud

Short Term 12

Stories We Tell

What Maisie Knew

The Wolf of Wall Street

An incredibly hard field to narrow, due to the stunning nature of so many films from 2013, from low budget to $100 million blockbuster, fiction and non-fiction. The high point of the year though comes in the form of Before Midnight, which marks the 18th year of a continuously incredible film series that hasn’t gotten nearly enough attention. The work of Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke and Richard Linklater never ceases to amaze, and if this turns out to be our final catch up with Celine and Jesse, as sad as that thought is, what a great send off it was.

Winner: Before Midnight

-Ella

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