Movie Reviews & Interviews from Washington

DC Film Girl’s Year In Review: The Best & Worst of 2013

It’s been two years since I launched I feel so lucky to have seen as many movies as I have over the past two years and to have interviewed the incredible talent that has come to Washington, DC on press tours. 2013 was truly an incredible year for movies! Last year with films like Les MisérablesDjango Unchained and The Cabin in the Woods, I wasn’t sure how 2013 was going to stand up. Thankfully I only saw a handful of bad films this year, but I will say they were really really terrible. After seeing over 150 movies and compiling over 90 written reviews, its that time again for my Year In Review!
As always, thank you for reading and I’ll be seeing you at the movies in 2014!

The Best Performances of 2013

Best Actor
Leonardo DiCaprio – The Wolf of Wall Street
Tom Hanks – Captain Phillips
Leonardo DiCaprio – The Great Gatsby
Joaquin Phoenix – Her
Christian Bale – American Hustle
Bruce Dern – Nebraska
Michael B. Jordan – Fruitvale Station
Chiwetel Ejiofor – 12 Years A Slave
Matthew McConaughey – Dallas Buyers Club
Christian Bale – Out of the Furnace
Hugh Jackman – Prisoners
Oscar Isaac – Inside Llewyn Davis
Ethan Hawke – Before Midnight
Domnhall Gleeson – About Time
Asa Butterfield – Ender’s Game
Joseph Gordon Levitt – Don Jon
Idris Elba – Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
Mads Mikkelson – The Hunt
Nicholas Hoult – Warm Bodies
Miles Teller – The Spectacular Now
Israel Broussard – The Bling Ring
Henry Cavill – Man of Steel
James McAvoy – Trance
Michael Fassbender – The Counselor
Chris Hemsworth – Rush
Tobey Maguire – The Great Gatsby
Mark Wahlberg – Lone Survivor
Ben Stiller – The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Best Actress
Cate Blanchett – Blue Jasmine
Sandra Bullock – Gravity
Emma Thompson – Saving Mr. Banks
Amy Adams – American Hustle
Shailene Woodley – The Spectacular Now
Meryl Streep – August Osage County
Olivia Wilde – Drinking Buddies
Jennifer Lawrence – The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Adele Exarchopoulos – Blue is the Warmest Color
Lea Seydoux – Blue is the Warmest Color
Vanessa Hudgens – Spring Breakers
Julie Delpy – Before Midnight
Greta Gerwig – Frances Ha
Chloe Grace Moretz – Carrie
Sharni Vinson – You’re Next
Amanda Seyfried – Lovelace
Teresa Palmer – Warm Bodies
Amy Acker – Much Ado About Nothing
Brie Larson – Short Term 12
Best Supporting Actor
James Franco – Spring Breakers
Michael Fassbender – 12 Years A Slave
Jared Leto – Dallas Buyers Club
Tom Hanks – Saving Mr. Banks
Daniel Bruhl – Rush
Jonah Hill – The Wolf of Wall Street
Sam Rockwell – The Way Way Back
Bradley Cooper – American Hustle
Ryan Gosling – The Place Beyond the Pines
Benedict Cumberbatch – Star Trek Into Darkness
Jake Johnson – Drinking Buddies
Jake Gyllenhaal – Prisoners
Josh Hutcherson – The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
James Gandolfini – Enough Said
Fran Kranz – Much Ado About Nothing
Dave Franco – Now You See Me
Bradley Cooper – The Place Beyond the Pines
Peter Sarsgaard – Lovelace
Bill Nighy – About Time
Barkhad Abdi – Captain Phillips
Kevin Costner – Man of Steel
Joel Edgerton – The Great Gatsby
Paul Dano – Prisoners
Casey Affleck – Out of the Furnace
Colin Farrell – Saving Mr. Banks
Best Supporting Actress
Jennifer Lawrence American Hustle
Scarlett Johansson – Her
Julia Roberts – August Osage County
Oprah Winfrey – Lee Daniels’ The Butler
Selena Gomez – Spring Breakers
Margot Robbie – The Wolf of Wall Street
Carey Mulligan – The Great Gatsby
Kristin Scott Thomas – Only God Forgives
Cameron Diaz – The Counselor
Lupita Nyong’o – 12 Years A Slave
Scarlett Johansson – Don Jon
Claire Julien – The Bling Ring
Lindsay Lohan – The Canyons
Sally Hawkins – Blue Jasmine
Rosario Dawson – Trance
Elizabeth Debicki – The Great Gatsby
Nicole Kidman – Stoker
Margo Martindale – August Osage County
Jena Malone – The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Kristen Wiig – The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Andrea Riseborough – Oblivion
Octavia Spencer – Fruitvale Station

The Most Overrated Film of 2013

All Is Lost – What Tom Hanks did in Cast Away and Sandra Bullock did in Gravity can’t even compare to what Robert Redford did in All Is Lost: absolutely nothing. I really like Robert Redford, but he didn’t give anything to this character except for deep sighs and one overdramatic scream. I thought it was unrealistic that his character said as little as he did. With the exception of the final moment in the film, there wasn’t much at all to look at in All Is Lost. It’s practically a given he will be up for an Academy Award, but it will not be solely for this one performance, but more of a career nomination.
Overrated Runner-Ups: Elysium, Lee Daniels’ The Butler

The Most Underrated Film of 2013

Spring Breakers – Easily the most misunderstood and underrated film of the year! Critics either loved it or hated it and I feel like the ones who hated it completely misunderstood its purpose. This is not a movie glorifying underage drinking or drug use, but a cautionary tale that is a perfect modern-day film noir. James Franco gives one of the best performances of the year from any actor, while Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens kiss their Disney fame goodbye with these roles. This is a film you need to walk into with no expectations and just experience the genius that is director/writer Harmony Korine.
Underrated Runner-Ups: Carrie, Drinking Buddies, The Great Gatsby, The Place Beyond the PinesPrisonersThe Way Way BackYou’re Next
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The 15 Best Films of 2013

Honorable Mentions: 12 Years A Slave, Blackfish, Captain Phillips, Don JonHer, Monsters University, Nebraska, The Place Beyond the Pines, Trance, The Way Way Back, We’re the Millers, You’re Next
15. The Bling Ring – Sofia Coppola’s film about fame obsessed youth is beautifully shot, expertly told for viewers who didn’t know the story and led by fantastic newcomer Israel Broussard. The soundtrack is incredibly addicting, featuring Sleigh Bell’s “Crown on the Ground” and M.I.A.’s “Bad Girls.”
14. Blue Jasmine – Cate Blanchett’s show-stopping performance is what makes Woody Allen’s film. I loved how the screenplay flipped back and forth between her past life as a diva to the present where she lost everything. Sally Hawkins is also lovely as her sister.
13. Man of Steel – This is the one film that I’m sure will shock a lot of people that it made my list because so many people hated this movie! I loved it. Everything from Henry Cavill, Michael Shannon and Kevin Costner’s performances, Hans Zimmer’s memorable score and the emotional element that is usually buried in a superhero story is shown greatly here.
12. American Hustle – Every single actor is wonderful and makes this film one of David O. Russell’s best. Two of my favorite scenes in film all year are in this one: Bradley Cooper and Amy Adams dancing at the disco club and Jennifer Lawrence singing “Live and Let Die” around the house. Classic!
11. Saving Mr. Banks – I love movies about movies and Saving Mr. Banks is this year’s Hitchcock. Emma Thompson is one of the years best as the author of Mary Poppins and Tom Hanks is amazing as Walt Disney.
10. Fruitvale Station – I can’t remember the last time I ugly cried in a movie theater, like I did at the end of Fruitvale Station. I’m shocked that this film is being so overlooked this awards season. Michael B. Jordan gives one of the best and most emotional performances of the year, just thinking about the final scene makes me teary eyed.
9. The Spectacular Now – James Ponsoldt (2012’s Smashed) directs one of the best unconventional romances I’ve ever seen. Shailene Woodley’s performance is Top 5 for me. What could have been a stereotypical love interest, she makes into a strong noteworthy character. The scene where she and Miles Teller are walking away from the party is a five-minute long take and my personal favorite scene I’ve seen all year.
8. Drinking Buddies – If this film doesn’t make you want to grab a beer with your friends immediately after, I don’t know what will. The more I thought about this unpredictable comedy, the more I loved it and have watched is several times since. Most of the dialogue was all improve and the actors had such natural chemistry. It also features Olivia Wilde’s best performance to date.
7. Much Ado About Nothing – The best and most charming romantic comedy of the year. Joss Whedon shot the film in beautiful black and white over the course of 12 days in his gorgeous Santa Monica home. What Whedon aficionado couldn’t love a modern-day Shakespeare adaptation that includes actors from Angel, Buffy, Firefly, The Cabin in the Woods and The Avengers? Everyone should see this movie.
6. Warm Bodies – Jonathan Levine’s film was the first great film I saw in 2013. I must’ve watched my Blu-ray over 15 times already and find something new to love about the movie every time. Nicholas Hoult and Teresa Palmer have perfect chemistry as the soft-spoken zombie and the badass heroine. I also adore Dave Franco’s small, but vital supporting role here.
5. Gravity – A genre-busting film and an extraordinary technical achievement in filmmaking. Alfonso Cuaron’s direction and Sandra Bullock’s truly physical performance are some of the years best. The 3D was exquisite in theatres and it’s the first space film I’ve seen where I really felt like I was in space. Gravity is a pure masterpiece on every level.
4. The Wolf of Wall Street – My favorite Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio collaboration to date. It’s three hours of insanity and I loved every minute of it. DiCaprio has never been better and is supported by a talented cast of actors including Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie, Matthew McConaughey and Kyle Chandler. The scene where DiCaprio’s character takes the Qualudes is the single funniest scene of the year. Who knew DiCaprio would be so genius at physical comedy?
3. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire – I saw this film three times in theatres ad fangirled the entire way through all three times. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire may actually be my favorite movie of the year because the film adaptation lived up to my expectations in every way. Jennifer Lawrence was born to play the role of Katniss and to see her and Peeta’s (Josh Hutcherson) relationship blossom in this film was better than the books. When the film can evoke the same emotion the reader has when experiencing the book that is something to be recognized.
2. Spring Breakers – Certainly the most controversial film on this list and maybe of the entire year. Several moviegoers walked into this film expecting a teen comedy or to maybe just to see Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens in a bikini…either way those were not the basic plot points of the film. It features some of the year’s best photography and my personal favorite score from Cliff Martinez and Skrillex. James Franco gives one of the best performances of the year from any actor as the rapper/drug dealer Alien. One of the most chilling and fascinating scenes of the year is when Alien sings Britney Spears’ classic song “Everytime,” and fades into a montage of he and the girls violently robbing a group of people. 

1. The Great Gatsby – What can I say? I can’t resist a Leonardo DiCaprio flick or more importantly a Baz Luhrmann and Leonardo DiCaprio collaboration! DiCaprio’s performance as Gatsby is on point with the novel, Tobey Maguire’s portrayal of the innocent Nick Carraway is perfection and Carey Mulligan’s refreshingly humanized portrayal of Daisy Buchanan is lovely. The art direction and costume design were everything one could have hoped for and the use of the modern-day music by Jay-Z and the especially beautiful ballad “Young and Beautiful” by Lana Del Ray give the film a rejuvenated twist. Critics walked out of Gatsby either loving it or hating it. I saw it three times in theatres and have watched my Blu-ray several times since and still haven’t tired of it. The Great Gatsby is a must-see for any film buff.

The 10 Worst Films of 2013

10. Bullet to the Head – Besides the idiotic title being one of the worst of the year, Sylvester Stallone and Sung Kang’s buddy-buddy chemistry felt forced and lame compared to other action movie duos. Even Christian Slater’s small role couldn’t lift this film enough for me.
9. Baggage Claim – Definitely the cheesiest and most predictable romantic “comedy” of the year, Paula Patton plays a woman who at the flip of a nickel jet-sets across the country trying to run in to ex-boyfriends to find a date to her sister’s wedding. If that doesn’t scream a good message to women everywhere, I just don’t know what will!
8. The Big Wedding – This is one of those films where producers think that a mediocre screenplay can be lifted by the major talent in the cast (Robert De Niro, Diane Keaton, Robin Williams, Susan Sarandon, etc.). But unfortunately for director/writer Justin Zackham (2007’s The Bucket List) it made him look like a bad screenwriter and our stars just asking for a paycheck.
7. A Haunted House – I really enjoy Marlon Wayans, especially when his talent shines through in a little film called Requiem for a Dream. But here in this Paranormal Activity spoof, which he both wrote and produced, he just cheapens his acting ability. We’ve been there and done that.
6. R.I.P.D. – This film didn’t screen to critics and after paying to see it opening weekend, I could see why. It’s a major knockoff of the Men in Black and the special effects are so poor that it looked like a bad video game. I didn’t bother writing a full review, because I honestly didn’t believe many people would see it.
5.  Admission – This is a film that made the lovely and talented Tina Fey look miserable. A major twist happens midway through the film that feels intrusive and unbelievable. I was very bored throughout this movie, which is never a good thing, and especially shameful when Tina Fey and Paul Rudd are on the screen.
4. Texas Chainsaw 3D – This film was a pure cash grab. Release a horror film in January and everyone just flocks to the theatres to see it. It did the horrifyingly creative franchise no justice. Also Trey Songz’s character actually listens to his real-life song “2 Reasons” during a scene in the film. It was so cheesy that I laughed out loud.
3. Movie 43 – This film actually started out pretty funny with the scene starring Hugh Jackman and Kate Winslet, but with each following scene from there, the film just became worse and eventually gut-wrenching dreadful. Relativity Media released the film in January, barely promoted it and when opening weekend came and went, everyone gave a sigh of relief that the picture was truly over with.
2. Identity Thief – Any film that makes the talented and sweet Melissa McCarthy appear annoying, selfish and hateful is one that I will not be seeing again. Her and Jason Bateman’s characters were both awful people and had absolutely no redeeming qualities about them. I remember counting down the minutes until this film was over in the theatre.
1. Getaway – Not only the worst movie of the year, but one of the worst movies I have ever seen. I can deal (and sometimes even enjoy) a cheesy action, car chase plot, but what I couldn’t deal with in this film is the shaky-camera use and the terrible terrible editing. This film is about a Shelby Mustang and I don’t even remember there being one good shot of the car! What’s more, it made Selena Gomez look like a horrible actress. For her to be one of the year’s best performances in Spring Breakers to crappy Getaway is horrendous. Stay away from this film or if you must, take some Dramamine beforehand.

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