Parnella Picks! 2013 Favorite Films!


IT’S HEEERRREEEE!!!!

Once again, it’s that time of the year; to share my cinematic favorites!!! 

I have to say, like always, at the end of the year a couple of gems showed their faces.  But even after that, it still felt like 2013 wasn’t too much of a year formovies.  2011 was similar, but the gems of that year made up for it. I still had 20 good films for that year and still talk about them.  This year, and how I know this feeling to be true for myself, is that I JUST BARELY made my 20 count and not a handful that didn't make the cut like it normally is each year.  I don’t feel like the “big boys”, the films that The Academy praises as this year’s absolute best, will be talked about in years to come starting with next year. 

Of course, this could and maybe is just me and how I feel.  There were a couple films that EVERYONE praised (including The Academy) this year and I personally didn’t care much for and vice versa.  So a good friend of mine pointed out and reminded me that this is what The Academy does themselves anyways, that I shouldn’t worry about making 20 and just honor what’s worthy (GREAT advice!).  So that’s what I did and am about to share.  I didn't make my quota at first, at the VERY last minute it happened which is more proof in my book about how I feel about the overall status of 2013.  However, wtih that said, the few good films that did make my list, I’m VERY happy with!  If only I talk about them in years to come, I’m completely happy with that.

So without further ado, my favorite films of 2013!!!! ...

20. Blue Is The Warmest Color
19. All Is Lost
18. August: Osage County
17. Short Term 12
16. Nebraska
15. The Croods
14. Captain Phillips
13. This Is The End
12. Prisoners
11. Enough Said
10. A Teacher
9. Philomena
8. The Hunt
7. Fruitvale Station
6. Don Jon
5. The Wolf of Wall Street
4. The Place Beyond the Pines
3. Her
2. Before Midnight
1. Spring Breakers 

... ... ... ... ...

... ... OH COME ON BEN, REALLY, [insert movie title]???!!! …

[12 YEARS A SLAVE]

Yup, that’s right, EVERYONE’S pick for the “textbook/technical answer” to this year’s best movie, didn’t make my statement as this year’s best.  I don’t think it was terrible, don’t get me wrong, but let’s delve into this a little further and maybe you can see where I’m coming from. 

Director Steve McQueen, is a blunt director, very much in your face with it as they say.  I like this aspect, other directors have this same style of directing.  Quentin Tarantino comes to mind off the top of my head.  I would even take it a step further and say McQueen is WAY MORE in your face with it than Tarantino. Yeah, really.  By gosh, Steve McQueen IS HARSH (and I like that, it’s his own individuality)!!!  So, with that said, with his latest film, 12 Year A Slave, it’s no different than his other films ... IT'S HEAVY!  His last film, Shame, was about sex.  I mean harsh, blunt, uncomfortable and SO. MUCH. SEX!!  To the point where a young, horny male, such as myself felt uncomfortable towards the end whenever sex was displayed (yeah, that has to be A LOT of sex ... and there was!); and that was the point.  To get you to see that the main character had a problem, he was addicted to sex, and whenever it was shown towards the end of the movie, you should’ve realized that it wasn’t a slight turn on like we all would shamefully admit to whenever we witness sex on the movie screen.  But we were uncomfortable with it and realized the problem that the protagonist was going through. For Shame, the harshness worked.  So with McQueen’s next film, 12 Years A Slave, it’s no different, harshness with a new topic. This time, that topic is slavery. It’s slavery in your face; as realistic and authentic as it could possibly be to the living generations of today.  It’s some of THEE MOST GRUELING IMAGES and MOST UNCOMFORTABLE feelings you could EVER experience at the movies!  It’s CONSTANT. HORRIFIC. REMINDERS. of what my ancestors went through.  When they were whipped, YOU WERE WHIPPED!  You saw it, and you went through it as well.  Over and over and over and over and over! ... Scene after scene after scene ... , of degrading, cruel, and some of the most DISTURBING feelings one could have.  As if someone is figuratively beating you over the head and shoulders with a heavy weight of some kind and constantly wearing and tearing on your emotions, over and over and over and over.  No exaggerations here, over and over and over again.  I didn’t feel the same after I saw the film.  I told my mother not to see it as she couldn’t handle it, it’s not for everyone.  It's just a different kind of
film ... IT’S A LOT! 

Some people are reading this and just eagerly awaing this rant to finish so they can regurgitate with, “yeah Ben and that was all necessary and why the film is SO powerful and the absolute BEST picture of the year!  The seriousness and heaviness you're putting down was ALL necessary, helping it's powerfulness all the more.” 

To that I say, well after feeling like I had just carried the weight of the world on my back for 2 and a half hours, or 12 years really, with no break, no kind temporary release to ease my emotions and not put them through WAY TOO MUCH (a tactic The Curious Case of Benjamin Button does brilliantly!), this film is no longer an enjoyable experience at the movies to be deep and learn and such but also have a good time.  AFTER ALL THAT SERIOUSNESS it’s no longer a movie, but a historic rendition to help us learn about this serious subject that’s detrimental to our nation’s survival, and get behind the subject matter to help inform others and make a positive impact on our communities to make a difference, etc.  It’s no longer a movie to enjoy to some degree and compare with others about the best quality movie of that year, etc.  Steven Speilberg’s Lincoln fell into this category last year.  I feel this is a great kind of teaching tool a teacher can show his or her students to inform about that particular subject … but it’s no “movie to go spend money on popcorn for to sit back and enjoy and still learn about the issue, yada yada.” 

See what I’m getting at?


I can watch Quentin Tarantino’s harsh movie about slavery again, but not this one; “it was REALLY good, but I couldn't ever watch it again” is a strike against it and not something that puts it above all others as the year's best. 12 Years A Slave crossed over to the “learning” side and away from the “enjoyment” side as it was just WAAAYYY TOO heavy, TOO blunt, TOOOOOOOOOOOOO MUCH!!  ... To the point where it should be used as a teaching tool for educational purposes, just like Lincoln should have been.  However, at least I could follow along and invest in 12 Years A Slave andLincoln simply almost put me to sleep. That’s also how I know it belonged in a class or HBO documentary informative special (where Lincoln almost ended up at but at the very last moment the studio gave it a theatrical distribution run), etc.  You can do this with any movie with of an informative nature, yeah I get that; but I can’t put 12 Years A Slave in that same category of a movie to enjoy and compare amongst other films to enjoy and figure out what was the best and what made us feel the best emotions, etc.  Oh, and if you're ACTUALLY reading this blog, like most people don't, I WANT you to write "Krautgasser" in the comments section.  Just so I know you're one of the special few ;-)  When we go to the movies, we go to escape.  When we escape to feel sad, we don’t want to “just about get to that breaking point” that we reach when we our spouse of 10 years tells us it's over or when we find out our child has just been murdered.  If we get sad at the movies, in the back of our minds, we know we’re not about to reach the point of loosing our complete wits and our sanity.  By the end of 12 Years A Slave, you feel uneasy, beyond the acceptable amount of leigh way that we give ourselves when we watch a sad movie.  We get sad WAY BEYOND THE ACCEPTABLE POINT, and more towards the “finding out my child was just murdered” point.

Stop thinking “yeah, that was all necessary and why the film is amazing.”  I’m talking BEYOND the acceptable amount that we all give ourselves when we go to “enjoy” a sad movie.  The feelings you feel in this film are close to the "bad sad" we don’t want to feel and not all within the good realm of feelings we want to stay within all while watching a movie of any sorts.  That doesn’t put 12 Years A Slave in the cloud of greatness; it’s a hindrance in that aspect and I can’t put it on my list of best films of the year.  The fact that "it's really good but you can't watch it a second time", takes it an octave down and not up, a hindrance not a help.  It belongs more in the educational realm and not the enjoyment one.  Now that I’ve found a problem with it, all I could think about was the little things that I would’ve EASILY overlooked had I been on the bandwagon.  Things like I would’ve preferred to see Idris Elba as Solomon Northup and Chiwetel Ejiofor as Nelson Mandela.  When I think “slave” I think “BLACK”, the dark skin complexion of Idris Elba.  When I think Nelson Mandela, I think of the skin complexion of Chiwetel Ejiofor. Regardless of how AMAZING these actors both did in their respective roles.  Looks go a long way, but I’ve argued this argument a million times before, with Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe.  

Don't get me wrong, I’m really happy for Brad Pitt and his team.  Chiwetel did an AMAZING job!  Lupita Nyong'o is truly this year's best supporting actress (and is REALLY pretty!).  It’s the frontrunner for best picture and most likely will win this year, at which point I will be happy, truly happy, for Pitt, McQueen, and everyone involved for making us all aware of this serious subject in the world's history. This movie definitely needed to be made.  But I can’t personally exalt it in my world and declare it one of the year's best.  

[GRAVITY]



[AMERICAN HUSTLE]

It’s an overly complicated story that doesn’t know where to put its focus.  Director David O’Russell wants to make an intricate plot, that weaves in a lot of proper misdirection, intrigue and suspense. Some characters become good in the end that you thought were bad initially, lovers become enemies, and vice versa; all mixed into one, complex, intriguing script … NOT!!  It’s a confusing story, where you see what’s being attempted, but don’t support it because you’re still trying to figure out what’s what, what happened, and wish O’Russell would’ve made a more linear story, with less head scratching, less questions when it's all over and stirred the pot another way without confusing you ... with questions after the end credits.  This is one of the films we most definitely WILL NOT be talking about for years to come, not starting with next year but the week after The Oscars.

[MUD]

Everyone’s other golden child of the year, but not mine.  The first time put me to sleep, in the middle of the day after sleeping in that morning.  The second time, because EVERYONE kept saying how AMAZING it was, I didn’t get what all the hype was about, and I still don’t.  I don’t see why it’s SOOOOOOOOO INCREDIBLE.  Why people keep exalting it as one of the greatest stories to EVER display on the silver screen in the almost century history of the art of cinema.  Yeah, that kind of talk, as if watching it will cure blindness and give you the insight to disprove gravity.  “You just HAVE to watch this film!  You’ll learn how to fly and cure cancer if you do!  YOU HAVE TO WATCH IT!!!” 


NOO!! I don't!  It’s an average movie that will come and go (like American Hustle) and nothing to break your back over because it’s good and average, but nothing to WORSHIP!  I’ll give you 12 Years A Slave, but please, stop telling me how AMAZING Mud is!  The Academy’s not talking about it, the critics aren't talking about it when summing up the year and gearing up for awards season, it’s not a frontrunner for the Oscar, it's not a major threat for the Oscar, it's not a POSSIBILITY for the Oscar ... IT'S A LONG SHOT!  That's taken from film critics, not me, and that's the few mentions the film does get, and they're not what worshpers expect.  Everyone outside of your circle that worships it isn’t even talking about it now that awards season in in full swing because it came out at the beginning of the year and the average person forgets about a movie 2 weeks after its release anyways and only movie geeks like me thrashing it a year later are what make the average person remember that they liked it in the first place!

STOP TELLING ME HOW AMAZING THIS MOVIE IS!!

It isn’t. 

[BLUE JASMINE]

Woody Allen is by far one of my TOP TWO or three ALL TIME FAVORITE DIRECTORS ... EVER.  Yeah, I LOOOOOOOOOVVVVVVEEE his work!  So please try to remember that when reading what I'm about to say. 

Cate Blanchett is the best actress of the year (Let's please stop acting like Sandra Bullock is actually giving her a run for her money!).  I thought her performance was just breathtaking.  To see someone completely LOOSE. THEIR. SHXT!!! ... and have a nervous breakdown, all in a realistic yet fabricated manner.  I don't even know where to begin to analyze this as an actor, a writer, director, producer, etc.  To try to BEGIN to critique and understand Blanchett's approach and method to the madness she relived is ... beyond fathoms (stop comparing this to Sandra Bullock)!

This has absolutely nothing to do with her performance.  One thing that people seem to always do is mix a great performance witih a not so great story.  This is how attoricities like The King's Speech (2010) winning the Oscar over The Social Network happen.  The journey that Colin Firth (coincidentally the star of Woody's next film Magic in the Moonlight) experienced doesn't make up for a story less powerful than the BRILLIANCE of The Social Network, one of the smartest movies you'll ever watch.  Okay, it's all subjective, this is just my point of view, I get it.  My point is, that year I kept hearing, "The King's Speech was soooo good because Colin Firth Did a great job!"  "The King's Speech was the best picture of the year, Colin Firth was amazing!"  "The King's Speech because of Colin Firth"  "The King's Speech because Colin Firth did this ..."  "The King's Speech because Colin Firth did that ..."
NOTHING ABOUT THE MOVIE AS A WHOLE!!  Just how amazing of a performance Colin Firth did.

THIS DOES NOT MAKE A GREAT MOVIE, just a great performance! 

So, with that said, Cate Blanchett was AMAZING!  She's the absolute BEST performance this season!  But the movie is no AMAZINGLY BRILLIANT AND WONDERFUL GREATEST thing since the invention of the camera.  It's no Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008), a movie of pretty much the exact story structure.  Unlike Vicky Cristina it doesn't leave you with a feeling of completion, even though we ended up where we started at the beginning.  by far one of THEE HARDEST STUCTURES to write as a writer, and why Vicky Cristina is one of my TOP TEN ALL TIME FAVORITE MOVIES ... ever.  I walked out during the end credits of Blue Jasmine feeling cheated.  As if I went through that entire AMAZING build up and fleshing of the characters, and colorfully done animated like tale that was told to me, to be disappointed that I didn't get the proper pay off that I was set up for.  I know it's hard to end up where you started and still leave the audience happy with what they've received, but I love Woody and after I calmed down I updated my Facebook status with, "Hopefully on the next one."  It was definitely WAY better than his last one. 

Maybe The King's Speech was good because of how it brilliantly informs us of an issue that most of us, espeically us Americans, aren't that well aware of and it was kind of neat to see someone in power have a more human-like/less God-like flaw.

Not because the lead actor gave a good performance (it was nothing in comparison to the informing that The Social Network does).

Or maybe Blue Jasmine was great because of how well the characters are fleshed out with objectives and themes clearly defined; to take one on an amazing journey because of such. 

Not because the lead actor gave a good performance (don't foreget how thoroughtly let down at the end of that journey).

YOU:  Well yeah Ben, I LOVED IT because of the performance of the lead actor!  THAT'S what makes up most of the movie anyways!!!  THAT'S why it won the Oscar/is a great film!!

ME:  OKAY!  Well, let's give the lead actor an Oscar for his great performance and NOT get wrapped up in the "The Lead Actor Show" that we give an award for OVERALL (best picture) to a movie that's more about ACTOR!!

STOP TELLING ME HOW AMAZING BLUE JASMINE IS BECAUSE OF HOW GOOD OF A JOB CATE BLANCHETT DID!!

MOVIES I’M LOOKING FORWARD TO FOR 2014
  1. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
  2. The Grand Budapest Hotel
  3. 22 Jump Street
  4. The Monuments Men
  5. Noah
  6. Interstellar
  7. X-Men: Days of Future Past
  8. Exodus
  9. Godzilla
  10. Foxcatcher
DISAPPOINTMENTS

Man of Steel
The Bling Ring
Man of Steel
Man of Steel

and Man of Steel


Well, that about does it with my movies for 2013!  The Oscar nominations will be announced bright and early tomorrow morning, January 16th, at 8:30am EST.

Thank you so much for reading! 


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