Monday, March 17, 2014

A review of the top-nominated films of 2013

We still have about a month to go for your final opportunity to vote to see who wins for the 2013 Cosmique Movie Awards. The deadline is midnight of Friday, April 18, 2014, and you can vote online.

As voters consider their favorites, some are still trying to get caught up on some of the top nominees. A total of 88 different films received one or more nominations this year, more than any other year. But voters shouldn't feel they cannot vote if they don't manage to see everything. We've always maintained that the awards are as much about what we're drawn to watch as they are about what we liked that we saw. If you simply don't want to see it, that says as much as seeing a film and not liking it.

Here, then, are my musings of the top-nominated films of 2013. In some cases, I've also written a more complete review, and in those instances I link to the fuller review. Take it for what you will. You've absolutely free and encouraged to make up your own minds about how to vote. And if you have a contrary opinion, or want to reinforce anything I've said, please weigh in by adding a comment below.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Total Nominations: 12
Highlights: Best Film, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor (Ian McKellen)

Desolation’s greatest fans will probably still be those who loved the books as a child and revel in every excessive, lingering moment of the films. I would be one. But Peter Jackson’s changes, however bloated, overall improve the book’s deficiencies. I'm a huge fan of Jackson's take on Middle Earth, but even I was surprised that it was the top-nominated film of 2013, and even more surprised that it squeaked out a Best Film nomination, which gave it enough points to earn another Best Director nod for Jackson. Read my full review for more.

My Rating: 4 1/2 stars

American Hustle

Total Nominations: 11
Highlights: Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor (Christian Bale), Best Supporting Actress (Jennifer Lawrence), Best Supporting Actor (Bradley Cooper)

I rather enjoyed David O. Russell's semi-historical film inspired by the Abscam scandal of the 1970s. Amy Adams is well-loved by Cosmo voters, but it was a competitive year for actresses, and in the end she was edged out for a Best Actress nod by Brie Larson for Short Term 12. It comes out on DVD tomorrow, and if you have't already seen it, I encourage you to do so.

My Rating: 4 stars

12 Years a Slave

Total Nominations: 10
Highlights: Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor (Chiwetel Ejiofor), Best Supporting Actress: (Adepero Oduye, Lupita Oyong'o, Sarah Paulson), Best Supporting Actor (Michael Fassbender)

12 Years a Slave is devastating in its autobiographical indictment of a tragic chapter of American history. It won the Oscar for Best Film and Best Supporting Actress (Lupita Oyong'o), and in my opinion, both awards are very well deserved. In a terrific year for films, this one stands out and I believe will stand the test of time.

My Rating: 5 stars


Total Nominations: 9
Highlights: Best Film, Best Director, Best Actress (Sandra Bullock)

I lauded praise on Gravity when I first saw it, and I stand by those words. (See my original review.) It takes a talented actor to hold your attention on screen all alone on screen for most of a film, but Sandra Bullock pulls it off with an absolutely riveting performance. In a rare split, the Academy awarded the Oscar for Best Director to Alfonso Cuaron while giving the Best Picture award to 12 Years a Slave. I agree with both decisions. We can quibble about some of the scientific flaws, but overall, Cuaron pulled off a technically impressive feat.

My Rating: 5 stars

Star Trek Into Darkness

Total Nominations: 9
Highlights: Best Science Fiction Film, Best Cinematography, Best Visual Effects

One of the fun elements of the Cosmique Movie Awards is the broad spectrum of categories. We recognize the top Oscar heavyweights like 12 Years a Slave and Gravity, but we also make room for the fun summer blockbusters. In that vein comes the latest Star Trek film, which achieved nominations in a range of genre and technical categories as well as other fan-favorite categories like Sexiest Ensemble and Best Male Villain. I enjoyed it.

My Rating: 3 1/2 stars

Man of Steel

Total Nominations: 8
Highlights: Best Fantasy Film, Best Science Fiction Film

As with Star Trek Into Darkness, Cosmo voters have many fun categories to reward the summer blockbusters. But they seemed split on Man of Steel's genres, nominating it in both the Best Fantasy and Best Science Fiction categories. Superman's powers of flight and superhuman strength seem to lie more in the realm of magic, but they're given a thin veneer of a scientific pretext, so the confusion is understandable. It will be interesting to see if that split hurts it in the final round.

My Rating: 3 stars

That's it for my mini-reviews of the top six Cosmo-nominated films. I'll do another set of mini-reviews later this week.

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