So many fellow movie bloggers love doing Top 10 lists of their favorite films at the end of each year. I’m no different. I love looking back at the all the movies I saw and putting together my favorites. But I also like throwing out some random accolades for achievements and in some cases underachievements for the 2013 movie year. So now, in no certain order, I give you the 2nd Annual K&M Random Movie Awards for the year 2013 (a very random name for a very random awards special). Enjoy the list and click on the film title if you would like to read that movie’s full review.
BIGGEST SURPRISE OF 2013 – “The Way, Way Back“
Several movies caught me by surprise in 2013. I never expected one of them to be #3 on my Top Films of 2013 list. Such was the case with “The Way, Way Back”. Loaded with humor and heart, this wonderful film managed to take some fairly familiar situations and topics and inject them with an intelligent freshness that I loved. Add a hilarious performance by Sam Rockwell and you have one of my favorite films of the year.
BIGGEST LETDOWN OF 2013 – “Iron Man 3“
When talking about my biggest letdown I’m not referring to the worst movie of the year. I’m speaking of a movie that I had incredibly high hopes for but that ultimately let me down the most. That’s unquestionably “Iron Man 3”. With the wonderful Robert Downey, Jr. and a great supporting cast, I felt this was a sure thing. But the serious warping of a key Iron Man villain and a rather forgettable finale left me frustrated. This should have been much better.
BEST ANIMATED FILM OF 2013 – “Despicable Me 2“
Ok, let me admit this up front. I’m mainly including this category as a joke. I’ve only seen one animated film this year and it was “Despicable Me 2”. I adored the first film and this sequel didn’t measure up to it. But I still thought it was good, wacky fun. Are there better animated features out there this year? It’s very possible. I just haven’t seen them. That doesn’t say much for this award, does it?
BEST FIGHT OF 2013 – Spock vs Kahn
Several fight scenes ran through my mind as I pondered this category. The one that I kept coming back to was the throwdown between Spock and Kahn at the end of “Star Trek: Into Darkness“. After a really cool foot chase the two hook up on a high-speed barge. It’s a pretty spectacular scene as the two use their slightly superhuman abilities to pound each other. It’s a ton of fun.
MOST UNINTENTIONALLY FUNNY FILM OF 2013 – “Only God Forgives”
I know fans of “Drive” were hoping for something special when Ryan Gosling and Nicolas Winding Refn teamed up again for “Only God Forgives”. I can’t imagine this mess was what they envisioned. I found myself laughing several times at the stylish overkill employed by Refn. Gosling’s ever-present poker face apparently infected other characters and the long, slow walks down long, mood-lit hallways grew laughably bad. This thing was a stinker.
BIGGEST SURPRISE PERFORMANCE OF 2013 – Andrew Dice Clay
My pick for the biggest surprise performance of 2013 was a no-brainer. Who on earth saw Andrew Dice Clay coming? The man who made his name being an obnoxious and brash standup comic blew me away as a humble, blue-collar working man. It’s a small role but it was one of the real treats from “Blue Jasmine“. I don’t know what to expect from Dice Clay in the future but this performance should catch some attention.
COOLEST CAR OF 2013 – “The Great Gatsby“
Hollywood loves cool cars and we see a ton of them each year. This year was no different. But while several cars came to mind when considering this award, there was one clear winner for me – Jay Gatsby’s bright yellow 1929 Duesenberg. Man I love that car. They were known as luxury vehicles and they cost a fortune which was right up Gatsby’s alley. I can’t say I blame him.
BEST VILLAIN OF 2013 – Michael Fassbender
Villains, villains, villains. Each movie year we see them in all shapes and forms. None in 2013 were as vicious and unnerving as Michael Fassbender in “12 Years a Slave“. He plays a brutal slave owner without a shred of moral conscience. Fassbender goes all in and fully embodies this truly detestable human being. It’s a great performance and one of the many strengths of this moving film.
MOST UNFAIRLY MALIGNED FILM OF 2013 – “To the Wonder“
Whenever you get a Terrence Malick film you are destined to get a wide range of thoughts and reactions. Such was case with “To the Wonder”. But many went into the film seeking to compare it to his previous gem “The Tree of Life”. While stylistically the two films take the same approach, “To the Wonder” is its own story and I found it to be very effective. Tender, romantic, brutal, and heartbreaking – all set to Malick’s gorgeous visual style. This is film deserving of more attention and respect than it received.
MOST OVERLY EXALTED FILM OF 2013 – “Her“
Please don’t pull on the stones just yet! I really liked many things in Spike Jonze’s original tech-romance “Her”. Unfortunately there were several things within the film that kept me from praising it as most have. The snails pacing in the second half along with some tone-killing “comedy” choices and a few throw-away scenes really hurt the film for me. It’s not a bad movie. I just don’t think it capitalizes on its strengths.
BEST SPECIAL EFFECTS OF 2013 – “Gravity“
In this day and age of spectacular special effects it’s an accomplishment to be praised as the best of the year. “Gravity” is certainly deserving of that high praise. Alfonso Cuaron’s visual masterpiece is one of the most incredible cinematic experiences I had all year. The special effects sucked me in from the opening scene and I was immersed in this symphony of sight and senses. What a beautiful film.
BEST HAIR OF 2013 – “American Hustle“
Clearly one of the most important and prestigious awards of 2013. Yet how could I narrow it down to just one person? I mean look at the cast of David O. Russell’s “American Hustle”. Christian Bale has the most dynamic comb-over in movie history. Bradley Cooper’s super-tight curls are unmatched. Jennifer Lawrence’s hair flops all over the place. And I have no idea what you call Jeremy Renner’s do. All of these take home an award for their brilliant follicle contributions to the 2013 movie year. Call it a hair ensemble.
STUPIDEST SCRIPT OF 2013 – “Getaway”
My gosh, if this dopey script can get made into a feature film surely I can write something and make it big! I don’t know if there was a more stupid or amateurish script in 2013 than “Getaway”. Ethan Hawke what were you thinking? This is some of the lamest writing I’ve seen in a long time. The characters are terrible, the action is repetitive, and the plot is almost nonexistent. If you haven’t seen “Getaway”, consider yourself blessed!
BEST CAR CHASE OF 2013 – “Snitch“
“Snitch” was an action thriller starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson that fell through the cracks. It’s actually a decent movie with some good action and a nice supporting cast. It also features a fantastic chase scene. It features Johnson driving an 18-wheeler down a busy interstate with members of a drug cartel hot on his heals. We get high speeds, big crashes, and some great camera work. It’s a lot of fun.
BEST CHILD PERFORMANCE OF 2013 – Sophie Nélisse
As much as I loved Tye Sheridan’s performance in “Mud”, the child acting standout of the year was Sophie Nélisse in “The Book Thief“. This is an underappreciated film which is unfortunate. To miss it is to miss an incredible performance by young Nélisse (12-years old at the time of filming). She’s playful, emotional, and mature beyond her years. It’s such great work and I can’t wait to see what she does next.
WORST ENDING OF 2013 – “The Call”
I’m not going to go into full spoiler mode here but let me just say that the ending of the Halle Berry thriller “The Call” is one of the dumbest things I have seen. I suppose this revenge-fueled ending is meant to be empowering to women. The problem is they never considered how the finale co-exists with common sense. I’m trying to be vague but let me just say it’s one of the most poorly thought out endings I’ve seen in a while.
CREEPIEST CHARACTER OF 2013 – Uncle Charlie (“Stoker“)
I really like Matthew Goode as an actor and his turn as the creepy Uncle Charlie in Park Chan-wook’s “Stoker” is so much fun. The story is clearly influenced by Hitchcock’s brilliant “Shadow of a Doubt” with Goode handling the character first played by Joseph Cotten. I wouldn’t say “Stoker” matches Hitchcock’s gem but it’s still a good film and Goode captures that unsettling creepiness that I loved.
BEST OPENING SCENE OF 2013 – “World War Z“
The first 15 minutes of the zombie action film “World War Z” still stands as my favorite opening scene in 2013 (barely beating out “Gravity”). We aren’t given a back story or origin of the zombie outbreak. Instead we are thrown into the first moments of the outbreak just as the main character and his family are. I thought it worked wonderfully and it set the movie up in a way I found to be very effective.
BEST FINAL 10 MINUTES OF 2013 – “Captain Phillips“
Paul Greengrass and Tom Hanks collaborated to make one of the years most thrilling films. “Captain Phillips” is filled with fantastic intensity, great performances, and a final 10 minutes that was unforgettable. Within those final minutes lies the gripping climax to the film along with one of the most emotional scenes of the year. Tom Hanks gives what may be 2013’s best 10 minutes of acting in a sequence than cut me to the bone. This was such a sensational ending.
BEST ACTION SEQUENCE OF 2013 – “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug“
There were many great action sequences to consider but only one could be the winner. After a lot of back-and-forth I finally settled on the thrilling barrel escape in Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug”. This wild and frantic scene features the dwarves escaping the wood elves via empty barrels down a raging river. Orcs, elves, and violent waters add to this incredible and action-packed sequence.
BEST FILMMAKING DEBUT OF 2013 – Ryan Coogler
While the docudrama “Fruitvale Station” did have a few issues that seasoned filmmakers would have avoided, it is still an amazing piece of work. Most surprising is that it comes from a first time filmmaker. Ryan Coogler wrote and directed this film based on the 2009 killing of 22-year old Oscar Grant in Oakland, California. It’s raw and intense, but it’s also a well shot and well conceived film that has gathered some much deserved attention.
BEST HORROR MOVIE OF 2013 – “The Conjuring“
Horror movies are all over the place and it’s rare to find a really good and satisfying one. Perhaps that’s why I was so happy to find “The Conjuring”. The movie is a more traditional 1970s style horror picture that stays away from the gore and plays with your senses. It’s well directed by James Wan and it features two great lead performances from Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga. It’s horror done right.
BEST ROMANTIC COMEDY OF 2013 – “Much Ado About Nothing“
I’m not what you would call a Joss Whedon acolyte but movies like this could change that altogether. I loved this sharp, witty, and original take on Shakespeare and Whedon deserves a ton of credit. He directed the film, co-produced it, wrote the screenplay, edited it, and even handled the score. Amy Acker is just wonderful as is Alexis Denisof and the fun assortment of side characters. “Much Ado” was a delightful surprise.
WORST SEQUEL OF 2013 – “A Good Day to Die Hard“
How could this be allowed to happen? One of the most celebrated action franchises shouldn’t go out like this. The “Die Hard” films started back in 1988. Two fantastic sequels and another pretty good one followed. But this thing is terrible. The action is numbing and the storyline never kept my attention. It’s corny and dumb and it doesn’t have one memorable scene or line. That’s something every other “Die Hard” film had. What a disappointment.
BEST SMALL PERFORMANCE YOU MAY HAVE MISSED – Ray McKinnon (“Mud“)
“Mud” was one of my favorite films of the year and it featured a fantastic cast. One underrated actor who I always love seeing on screen is Ray McKinnon. Here he plays the father of young Ellis (Tye Sheridan). It’s a wonderful performance. McKinnon does such a great job giving us a fallible but well-intentioned man who really resonated with me. McKinnon is great and deserves more notice.
FUNNIEST PERFORMANCE OF 2013 – Sam Rockwell (“The Way Way Back“)
I’m fairly picky when it comes to comedy, but that certainly didn’t effect my love for Sam Rockwell in “The Way, Way Back”. He is hilarious and he had me laughing every time he would show up. There is a touch of classic Bill Murray is his delivery that I loved. He also shows a wonderful comedic timing that so many “comedians” lack. As I mentioned earlier, this film was a huge surprise for me as was Rockwell’s hysterical performance.
WORST SCENE IN AN OTHERWISE GOOD MOVIE – “Fruitvale Station“
I’m a fan of Ryan Coogler’s “Fruitvale Station”. The first-time director really impresses with this powerful and relevant docudrama. But there is one scene that stands out, not for its brilliance, but for its terrible, heavy-handed bit of foreshadowing. Let’s just call it ‘the dog scene’. It just doesn’t work and a more seasoned director would have probably avoided it altogether. It may slightly blemish the film but it certainly doesn’t dull it’s power.
BEST USE OF MUSIC FOR 2013 – “Inside Llewyn Davis“
Joel and Ethan Coen do a lot of things right when making movies. One of those things is their use of music and this is on display in “Inside Llewyn Davis”. Set during the early 1960s New York City folk music scene, music obviously plays a big part in the film. But the numbers are just perfect and add to the incredible sense of time and place. Each was filmed live (no post-scene dubbing) which made them all the better. These are great tunes and there is a great use of them in the film.
BEST FILM TITLE OF 2013 – “Upstream Color”
Shane Carruth’s complex and inventive mind trip “Upstream Color” was so much fun to watch and dissect. It also has what I think is an incredible cool title. It sounds cool on its own but after you see the film once or twice the title takes on an even better meaning. This certainly isn’t an award that the Oscars will soon consider adopting, but I had to throw it out there. I just love that title.
WORST FILM TITLE OF 2013 – “White House Down”
As if the movie wasn’t bad enough, “White House Down” is also burdened with one of the worst movie names period. I remember when I first heard about the film I assumed it was a spoof. I expected it to be a dopey parody of some sort but to my surprise they were being serious. It just sound ridiculous and I’m sure no one would relate it to “Black Hawk Down”. I just wish this was the only bad thing about this dreadful film.
BEST 3D OF 2013 – “Gravity“
I’m a pretty vocal critic of 3D. I’ve voiced my frustration at this obvious gimmick to increase theater ticket prices which usually visually hurts a film instead of help it. But sometimes we get movies that remind us that the technology can be great. In 2013 “Gravity” was that movie. Talk about an incredible immersive experience. The 3D was brilliantly utilized and never hurt the movie. It made it better and that’s a rare feat these days.
BEST ENSEMBLE CAST OF 2013 – “Mud“
It would be easy to give this award to a movie like “American Hustle”, but for me “Mud” was the best ensemble cast of the year. While it may not feature a laundry list of top-tier names, it features a cast that perfectly fits with what the story needs, and I mean perfectly. Matthew McConaughey, Tye Sheridan, Reese Witherspoon, Sam Shepard, Michael Shannon, Sarah Paulson, Ray McKinnon, and Joe Don Baker are all tremendous and they are a big reason that “Mud” is so good.
WORST PERFORMANCE BY A BIG STAR – Will Smith (“After Earth“)
Ryan Gosling fought hard for this award but ultimately Will Smith proved too good..err bad for him. Smith has always been a bit overrated in my eyes and this performance does nothing to change that opinion. He grunts and grumbles through the entire picture supposedly portraying a stern military type. But he is so flat and so bad. Jaden got a Razzie nomination and rightfully so, but his dad should have been right there with him.
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY OF 2013 – “Nebraska“
“Gravity” could easily have won this category. The cinematography was dynamic and made the film an unbelievable experience. But there is such a beauty and artistry to Phedon Papamichael’s work in “Nebraska”. The black-and-white tracking shots, the amazing atmospheric still shots – there are so many gorgeous scenes that bring this midwestern setting to life. I absolutely loved it and it added so much to the film.
That does if for the 2nd annual K&M Random Movie Awards. How you had some fun with it. Please take time to share any of your picks for these totally random categories. See you next year!