Fans of film can agree that 2013 has been a stellar year. It has become a tradition in my family to spend the Holiday season somewhere warm, and we always make sure to catch a few movies; this year, our list is so extensive that I fear we will run out of nights. As the New Year approaches, allow me to take a look back, before casting my gaze forward.
Every year, a few actors stand out due to popularity and prowess, and 2013 was no exception. Young Jennifer Lawrence proved herself to be a force to be reckoned with on the ladies’ side. First, she won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her turn as a psychologically complex dancer in the excellent Silver Linings Playbook. In November, she starred in one of the biggest blockbusters of the year, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, and recently, she has been receiving buzz for her role in the critically acclaimed Oscar contender American Hustle. In 2014, Lawrence will be appearing in two massive films, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, and X-Men: Days of Future Past, and her promising career is certainly one to watch.
Instead of a start-up, a huge career comeback occurred this year for older actor Matthew McConaughey, and nobody was more surprised – or pleased – by this turn of events than was I. Beginning with surprise hit Magic Mike in 2012, McConaughey continued his streak into 2013 with the charming powerhouse Mud before a stunning turn as AIDS activist Ron Woodroof in one of my favourite films of the year, Dallas Buyers Club. He also appears in the buzzy Scorsese film The Wolf of Wall Street in what promises to be an electric role. In 2014, watch for McConaughey on the Oscar stage, as well as in the mysterious new space movie Interstellar.
Unfortunately, while many film careers were begun or revived, a few were ended as well. 2013 marked the sad deaths of screen legends Peter O’Toole and James Gandolfini, as well as hugely influential and popular film critic Roger Ebert. A particularly sore loss was the death of young Canadian Cory Monteith. With his two final films, the excellent McCanick and quirky All the Wrong Reasons, Monteith demonstrated great talent and potential, and it truly is tragic that we will be unable to see where his career could have led. Our hearts go out to all of those that we lost this year, as well as their families.
2013 was chock full of incredible film, much of which I had the pleasure of reviewing. On the large scale, the space film Gravity broke boundaries in the special-effects department, yet still presented an emotional and arresting story. 12 Years a Slave also stands out as one of the year’s best, as a heart wrenching yet ultimately uplifting and masterfully crafted tale of slavery in the deep South. Smaller, independent films shone this year as well; one of my favourites was the unfailingly charming comedy In A World, directed, written by, and starring newcomer Lake Bell, who proved herself to be one to watch. Another personal favourite was the tiny Canadian feature Old Stock, a film that opened my eyes to the potential of small scale and little seen film. On the international circuit, the wonderful Indian film starring Irrfan Khan, The Lunchbox, stole hearts and opened minds.
Gazing into the New Year, there are many films to eagerly anticipate. Films I cannot wait to see include the non traditional WWII film The Monuments Men, directed by George Clooney and starring himself along with Matt Damon, Bill Murray, and John Goodman as a platoon of Americans intent on saving art of historical importance from Nazi thieves. The story of Noah is to be reimagined by the incredible creative mind of director Darren Aronofsky, and Wes Anderson will present what promises to be yet another characteristically quirky and off-beat masterpiece in The Grand Budapest Hotel. Of course, this aficionado cannot help but mention the conclusion of The Hobbit trilogy with There and Back Again, a film that is sure to offer a fun finale to the franchise. 2013 was undoubtedly a wonderful year for film, and I eagerly anticipate the upcoming awards season with pen in hand, but I also cannot wait to see what 2014 has in store.