Best Actor (Jesse Eisenberg)
Best Supporting Actress (Mia Wasikowska)
Best Adapted Screenplay
Best Production Design
Hayao Miyazaki has set his own standard so high that even he might doubt his ability to meet it–and, at 72, he perhaps sensibly has announced that this will be his last film (though he’s made such claims before). If this is indeed the note he is to go out on, it’s not the highest in his filmography, but it’s a beautiful, admirable film nonetheless. I give him credit for choosing a somewhat unusual subject for his last work: the life of aeronautical engineer Jiro Horikoshi, best known for designing the Mitsubishi Zero–the principal Japanese fighter of World War II. Horikoshi’s biography might not in of itself compel much interest outside of Japan (or even inside it, since his actual life story seems relatively unremarkable), but Miyazaki makes the film as much an ode to the exhilaration of flight and the thrill of invention as a biography, and the results are, as with so much of Miyazaki’s work, tender, warm, and magical.
Non-Stop is about as good a February-release thriller as you could ask for (Side Effects is much better, but an anomaly in that regard); it’s brisk, it holds your attention, it doesn’t make too many leaps of logic–a few, yes, but I was never taken out of the story by them. Liam Neeson anchors it with a smoothly professional performance, Jaume Collet-Serra directs it well, and in most respects it quite lives up to the modest promise of the trailer.
Well, let’s look and see what went down, shall we?
Best Picture – 12 Years a Slave
Absolutely spot-on. The best of the nominees, basically the best film of the year, an important milestone in Academy history…there was some speculation that Gravity might take this at the last minute, and reports of Academy members who found the film too painful to watch gave cause for concern, but really…doesn’t this feel like the best choice? It does to me. It did to them. Plus, I got to see Steve McQueen literally jump with joy. Perfection.
I wasn’t originally going to do this–I figured I’d said enough about these films over the last few weeks–but what the hell? This and my post-Oscar article will round the year off nicely (he said in March).
My Top 10:
1. Spring Breakers
Because this is 2013. This is how we live now. Is it an exaggerated view of our world? Yes, but does anyone think Easy Rider wasn’t a little romanticized itself? I mention Easy Rider because I think of this as a film that captures the 2010s like that film captured the late 60s. So later generations may not quite see what I see in it. And that’s fine. But it’s more than just a generationally significant film. It’s hugely entertaining, thought-provoking (when Alien says “This the fucking American Dream, y’all”, he’s more right than he might have guessed), funny, shocking, and all too true. When Faith (Selena Gomez) tries to encourage her friends to leave Florida and return to their safe, dull hometown rather than associate with Alien, and they opt to stay as though it were an obvious choice…let’s just say that moment resonated with me quite deeply. The performances (and not just James Franco’s mad tour-de-force) are great (Vanessa Hudgens, Gomez, Ashley Benson, and Rachel Korine make an eminently believable quartet), Harmony Korine’s writing and directing are just about perfect–as are the editing and Benoît Debie’s cinematography. It even uses Skrillex music to good effect. It’s one of those films that’s so good it makes me almost giddy.
Sprang break. Sprang break. Sprang break forevah.
5 **** films in one lineup. That’s pretty damn good. And really, as long as American Hustle doesn’t win (or Dallas Buyers Club, but that’s incredibly unlikely), I could live with any outcome. But they really should take 12 Years.
“Is there some sort of law that any new landmark moviemaking technological achievement must be done in service of a script written by a fucking 14-year-old? I bet it’s called Cameron’s Law. “Hey guys, let’s spend a few years literally inventing a spaceship so that we can film a movie inside a spaceship. Oh, a script? Let the fucking coffee boy go write it. Stick a girl in there somewhere, and put her in a tank top. We’ve got thrusters to engineer from scratch!”"