A SIFTER and TVJerry first!

A SIFTER and TVJerry first!
A SIFTER and TVJerry first!
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In the 30+ years I’ve reviewed movies (WTVR, Style Weekly, Tales from the Grips) I’ve never done a year-end review. So, here are my favorite films of 2013. They’re not in any order and you can read the full reviews by clicking on the movie title. (Warning: some of these are not traditional arty fare…just good fun.)

 

Any Day Now

It’s 1979 and Alan Cumming’s character is making his meager living as a drag performer. He quickly meets a shy closeted hunk and they end up fighting for custody of an abandoned teen with Down syndrome. The acting and direction combine to create an appealing experience.

 

The Call

Halle Berry plays a 911 operator who gets a call from a girl trapped in the trunk by a kidnapper. Not only is this a nail-biting rescue, it becomes a police procedural. A well-crafted, gripping ride.

 

Iron Man 3

Cool gadgets and flashy effects. Big action sequences. Enjoyable characters. Genuinely funny interactions. It snaps along with great skill and lots of fun! Everything a comic book flick should be.

 

This Is the End

A posse of self-involved, insult-spewing actors deals with the apocalypse and provides lots of quick-fire laffs. Much of the humor is absurd, wacky and raunchy, which makes it even more hilarious.

 

Now You See Me

4 magicians are assembled into a super magic act that showers its audiences with money. Meanwhile, the FBI and a magic debunker are out to bust them. The tricks are cool, the look is glossy, the pace never lags and the writing keeps it tight.

 

Fruitvale Station

This film (based on a real incident) follows Oscar Grant on the last day of his life. Nothing’s overplayed. It effectively sets up the man and his life, then powerfully crashes it down.

 

Kings of Summer

Three teenage boys decide to build a house and live in the woods. The genuinely funny moments overshadow the trite plot. Accept this for a lighthearted romp in adolescent escape and you’ll find yourself laffing.

 

The Butler

Forest Whitaker plays a man who grew up in Southern cotton fields and ended up working in the White House for 34 years. While the civil rights recreations are told with frank and relentless pain, the personal story is simplistic, yet moving. A heavy-handed, yet powerful history lesson.

 

Gravity

Sandra Bullock is an astronaut who struggles for her life, when the space walk is shattered. This film packs a colossal wallop. Even with the amazing spectacle of outer space, director Alfonso Cuarón and Bullock create an intimate, emotional roller coaster ride. This is a filmmaking at its best.

 

How I Live Now

An American teenager is sent to rural England to spend the summer. While adjusting, a terrorist takeover rocks the country. What starts as a transplanted teen drama takes a forceful shift into a tense fight for survival. A surprisingly affecting and sometimes frightening film.

 

12 Years a Slave

Chiwetel Ejiofor delivers a stunning performance as a free black man, who’s abducted into pre-Civil-War slavery. Director Steve McQueen has incredible skills for observation and visual artistry. This is a masterpiece of cinematic skill and a story that’s all the more incredible because it’s true.

 

The Wolf of Wall Street

Leonardo DiCaprio plays a man who made a lot of money hustling illegal financial deals. This film is chocked full of greed, excess and amazing directorial touches. Scorsese at the top of his game.

 

American Hustle

It’s really about the characters and the brilliant actors who made the bold choices. Every actor has created memorable, enjoyable individuals and their performances are potent. David O. Russell has crafted a richly observed, compellingly complex and sometimes funny vehicle for them to hustle.

 

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