The Oscars and My 10 Best Films of 2013
Some wonderful films get the attention they deserve
Darleen Ortega | 2/26/2014, 11:52 a.m.
This remarkable film is worth viewers' investment of time and presence; to watch it is to participate in a collective deepening of consciousness that we desperately need in order to make sense of our present circumstances. My full review is available at portlandobserver.com/news/2013/nov/06/12-years-slave.
[Rated R for violence/cruelty, some nudity, and brief sexuality; on at least 100 other critics' top ten lists; nominated for and deserves Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (Chiwetel Ejiofor), Best Supporting Actress (Lupita Nyong), Best Film Editing, and Best Adapted Screenplay; also nominated for Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Michael Fassbender), Best Costume Design, and Best Production Design; still in theaters.]
3. American Hustle is the most entertaining film on my list. Here, David O. Russell finally pulls off the right combination of chaos and playfulness and a story that strikes notes that feel true even when the fun wears off. It is a positively rollicking blend of comedy, outrageous characters and fashions, an entertaining sort-of-true crime story, and some very astute observations about what motivates human behavior and about American society. It's one of the few times a film has attained nominations in all the major acting categories and each one is deserved.
Christian Bale is particularly a marvel, and I would give Amy Adams the award for best actress of those who were nominated (though Emma Thompson deserved to win and wasn't nominated). My full review is at portlandobserver.com/news/2013/dec/31/exactly-right.
[Rated R for pervasive language, some sexual content, and brief violence; on at least 52 other critics' top 10 lists; nominated for and deserves Academy Awards for Best Actress (Amy Adams) and Best Costume Design; also nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (Christian Bale), Best Supporting Actor (Bradley Cooper), Best Supporting Actress (Jennifer Lawrence), Best Film Editing, Best Production Design, Best Original Screenplay; still in theaters.]
4. Her, the last of my four best pictures, has the best and most original screenplay. Writer-director Spike Jones takes a science fiction premise that was full of pitfalls (a man falling in love with his operating system), and creates a believable universe that is emotionally challenging and philosophically engaging.
The film offers some perceptive suggestions about where our relationship with technology might well be headed -- but what I loved most was its insights about the nature of intimacy itself, about how and why people connect and what causes relationships to blossom and fade.
I expect that many will find, as I did, that this lovely and heartfelt film manages to hold a mirror up to longings and inner struggles that we mostly keep to ourselves. You can read my full review at portlandobserver.com/news/2014/jan/29/connecting-her.
[Rated R for language, sexual content, and brief graphic nudity; on at least 84 other critics' top ten lists; nominated for, and deserves to win, Academy Awards for Best Original Screenplay, Best Production Design , and Best Original Song; also nominated for Best Picture, and Best Original Score; deserved a nomination for Best Actor (Joaquin Phoenix); still in theaters.]