2013 Movie Awards

Favorite Films of 2013

The notion of summarizing a year in movies as “good” or “bad” and trotting out a top 10 list is an arbitrary exercise, but it’s one that I enjoy in partaking. Sure, it’s an attempt to reduce the irreducible, but sometimes good comes of it, and sometimes I just like to share movies I love. I had a slow year in movies, and have not seen as many as I have in previous years, but the great 2013 movie catchup was quite fruitful, and I was able to cobble together this list pretty easily. For reference, previous top 10s: [2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006]

Of the past few years, I feel like this one resembles 2011, a year in which I had no real clear favorite. Indeed, I could not even bring myself to “roughly” rank the films and used alphabetical ordering instead. Truly a copout, and I’ll try to do an ordering this year, even if I don’t have a really clear favorite. As for thematic consistency, I do see some things in 2013. Every one of my top 10 favorite movies this year surprised me with their subtlety, nuance, and complexity. Sometimes this was at least partially the result of poor marketing, but even in those cases, the story itself unfolded in unexpected ways. Another, more minor theme (at least, in terms of consistency), could be summarized as “lost people finding themselves” or perhaps “coming of age stories”. A few of these made it to my top 10 (and some are in Honorable Mention), but many did not (and a few I didn’t like at all).

As of this writing, I have seen 70 movies that would be considered a 2013 release. This is about on par with last year, but less than some previous years. It’s certainly less than most critics (who easily see twice as many movies in a given year), but probably a lot more than your typical moviegoer. Speaking of critics, my list has slowly been morphing away from critical consensus, think “favorite” rather than “best”. This is a disclaimer of sorts, but it’s also what makes my list distinct, right? I certainly have a couple widely praised movies in my list (and many of the critics’ favorites are in my honorable mention), but there are some movies here that rarely show up in anyones list. This is partly my love of genre film coming through, and also a belief that sometimes a movie doesn’t have to be “important” in order to be considered “great”. Alrighty then, enough introduction, let’s get to it:

Top 10 Movies of 2013

* In roughly reverse order

  • Stories We Tell – This is one of those documentaries I kept hearing critics talk about in hushed tones, but it always seemed like it would be pretentious and indulgent. It turned out to be neither. Sarah Polley interviews her family, and what at first seems indulgent quickly goes away as revelations start dropping. It’s a very personal story, obviously, but it’s easily relatable. And there’s a subtext about how stories are told that gets at something more universal, even if that part isn’t as explicitly laid out. An excellent film.

    More Info: [IMDB] [Amazon]

  • Captain Phillips – I don’t think the marketing for this movie did it any favors, but the film itself is a spectacular exercise in tension and unconventional action. There’s a monologue at the beginning that is a bit too on the nose, but once this true story of Somali pirates gets going, it never lets up. It’s a taut thriller with a couple of expertly staged set pieces, a surprisingly even handed portrayal of the Somali pirates (humanizing them without excusing their actions), and good performances all around.

    More Info: [IMDB] [Amazon]

  • In a World… – Charming indie film about an aspiring female voiceover talent and her struggle in a male-dominated industry. It’s a premise you might think would lead to preachiness, but writer/director Lake Bell keeps things light and emphasizes the humor rather than the preachiness (the issues come through naturally nonetheless and the movie is better for that). A lot of people found this movie slight, but it connected with me and made me laugh out loud. One of the most purely enjoyable movies on this list.

    More Info: [IMDB] [Amazon] [Winner of 1 Kaedrin Movie Award]

  • Gravity – Have spacesuit, will travel. A gorgeous spectacle of a movie, and while the story and themes are a bit ham-fisted, the method of delivery more than makes up for any shortcomings in that respect. Alfonso Cuaron manages to wring a huge amount of tension from a seemingly simple premise (astronauts stranded in space by flying space garbage), and that suspense just ratchets up higher and higher as the movie goes on. The backstory might even be unnecessary, though it didn’t bother me nearly as much as it seemed to bother others. Great movie all around.

    More Info: [IMDB] [Amazon] [Winner of 1 Kaedrin Movie Award]

  • The World’s End – Another hilarious entry in the quasi-official Cornetto trilogy, this one channels Doctor Who in a big way and wholly succeeds. In the running for funniest movie of the year, but it’s got a heart too. A winning combination that this particular group of filmmakers excels at.

    More Info: [IMDB] [Amazon] [Winner of 1 Kaedrin Movie Award]

  • You’re Next – It puts the “fun” back in home invasion movies. I was quite worried at the start of the film, as it initially focused on grating dysfunctional family tropes, but it quickly picks up, especially as twists are revealed, and it ends strong. It’s suspenseful and very tense, but also funny and entertaining. Indeed, it might be the most fun I had at a movie theater all year.

    More Info: [IMDB] [Amazon] [Winner of 1 Kaedrin Movie Award] [Capsule Review]

  • Room 237 – Ostensibly a documentary about three theories on Kubrick’s The Shining, the movie is actually a meditation on obsession and conspiracy theory, and the people who engage with them. Director Rodney Ascher does a remarkable job letting these theories play out, splicing in footage and visuals as needed (sometimes slyly commenting on the ridiculousness of the more challenging claims). While Kubrick fans will no doubt enjoy it, this film is elevated by its unflinching look at obsession and conspiracy theorists.

    More Info: [IMDB] [Amazon]

  • Side Effects – Steven Soderbergh channels Hitchcock’s scheming films with this tense, twisty thriller. There was a moment early on when I thought this would be a preachy film about the ills of the pharmaceutical industry, but instead, it engaged with genre architecture as a way to make the critique more broad. Everyone has an angle, everyone is scheming, and it’s great fun to watch that play out.

    More Info: [IMDB] [Amazon] [Winner of 1 Kaedrin Movie Award]

  • Short Term 12 – Another critical darling that didn’t sound like my cup of tea, this is nonetheless one of the most affecting movies of the year, and I really connected with this story centering on a foster-care facility. It’s certainly not for the faint of heart and will put you through the ringer, but it’s a masterfully executed film, and while it doesn’t ignore the tragedies of life, it also finds ways to celebrate and laugh at it.

    More Info: [IMDB] [Amazon]

  • Upstream Color – I don’t normally fall for tone poems or fever dreams in film, but this one hooked me and never let go. Even after months, I’m haunted by some of the imagery and thought provoking ideas and themes. A challenging, obtuse, but worthwhile movie. It’s certainly not for everyone, but it’s challenging, adventurous filmmaking at its best.

    More Info: [IMDB] [Amazon] [Winner of 1 Kaedrin Movie Award]

Honorable Mention

* In alphabetical order

  • 12 Years a Slave – A harrowing one-timer of a movie that is undeniably well made and tells an interesting story (one which I’d not heard of before). I can’t take the full bore contrarian view on this movie and call it torture porn, but it is a movie meant to make you feel miserable and depressed (it succeeds) and that’s really not my thing. The most fascinating thing about this movie was the Benedict Cumberbatch character, but that segment was also among the shorter parts of the movie. I can appreciate the film for what it is and what it’s doing, but there’s something here that held me back.

    More Info: [IMDB] [Amazon]

  • All the Boys Love Mandy Lane – The seven year wait as this film sat on shelves perhaps built up expectations a bit too much for me, but it’s a fine horror film that goes in interesting directions and puts some twists on standard genre tropes. Definitely worth seeking out for fans of the genre, but it’s probably got some broader appeal as well. I really liked this film and it was one of many films vying for the last couple of slots on the top 10.

    More Info: [IMDB] [Amazon] [Capsule Review]

  • American Hustle – A rock solid con man (and woman) story, even if there is a bit too much emphasis on the cartoonish histrionics of some of the characters. Still, it’s a pleasure to watch, and the exaggerated tone does work, perhaps because the actors involved were so fantastic (particularly Christian Bale and Amy Adams, though everyone is great in this). This is another film that was really close to nabbing that last slot in the top 10.

    More Info: [IMDB] [Amazon]

  • Drug War – Kaedrin favorite Johnny To is extremely prolific, and I’d put this one down as somewhere in the middle of the pack (which is still pretty good overall). It’s got a police procedural backbone, with some undercover work for flavor, and a couple of Johnny To’s expertly staged, chess-like action sequences (including a spectacular shootout at the end). A solid film, if not quite a top tier effot.

    More Info: [IMDB] [Amazon]

  • Her – Perhaps because of my love of Science Fiction literature, I almost always find myself disappointed by filmic takes on SFnal themes. This film is certainly much better than its premise (a man falls in love with his sentient computer) would have you believe, but it also doesn’t fully explore the implications of its SFnal ideas and its world never really approaches the depth or complexity of novels covering similar ground. That may be unfair, but that’s where I’m at, though I will say that I enjoyed this movie quite a bit nonetheless. It has fantastic performances (in particular, Scarlett Johansson’s voice acting is amazing) and a visual flare. Still, I found myself wanting more exploration and depth in the end.

    More Info: [IMDB] [Amazon]

  • Much Ado About Nothing – The best complement I can give this movie is that it really made me want to go and read more Shakespeare. I was really quite taken with this movie, though I can’t help but think that my enthusiasm was primarily based on the source material rather than this particular iteration. Not that it’s bad or anything. The performances are great and there are some nice visual flourishes too. And I like the story behind the movie as well (basically Joss Whedon and his friends made the movie at his house over the course of a week or so, right after The Avengers). Indeed, I very nearly placed this at #10 on the list above, and perhaps on another day, I would have. In the meantime, I’ve got to dig out that collected works of Shakespeare book I’ve got buried in a box somewhere.

    More Info: [IMDB] [Amazon]

  • Mud – A solid mixture of crime, thriller, and coming of age film with an artistic bent. It’s a little on the nose at times, and maybe a bit too long, but it’s a well made film, and it’s got yet another in a long string of interesting performances from Matthew McConaughey, not to mention some fine child acting.

    More Info: [IMDB] [Amazon]

  • Pacific Rim – So it’s a movie where giant robots and water monsters beat the hell out of each other. It’s not a perfect film, but it is a tremendous amount of fun, and there’s enough weight to the characters that it doesn’t devolve into mindless action. It is particularly good at worldbuilding, and its world has a terrifically lived-in quality that you don’t normally get in big summer action blockbusters. So yes, a ton of fun.

    More Info: [IMDB] [Amazon] [Full Review]

  • The Angels’ Share – An interesting film with some sharp edges, but enough round corners that it doesn’t matter. Some tonal oddness, but it works well enough for me and really sorta snuck up on me while I was watching it. Definitely worth watching, and I’m sure whiskey (er, whisky) nerds will enjoy.

    More Info: [IMDB] [Amazon]

  • The Conjuring – Fantastic old school horror, a slow burn with actual likable characters and a minimum of cynicism. It’s not perfect, but it is very effective, one of the scariest movies of the year, and it’s something that stuck with me after it was over. Impressive and creepy, it was another candidate for that final top 10 slot.

    More Info: [IMDB] [Amazon]

  • The Wolf of Wall Street – Surprisingly vulgar and yet full of vitality and energy, with an excellent lead performance by Leonardo DiCaprio and as always, masterful work from Martin Scorsese. The one strike against it is that it sorta begs comparison to Goodfellas, which is a tough act to follow. Wolf hits a lot of the same notes, but it never quite hits them as well as Scorsese’s previous masterwork. Nevertheless, this makes an interesting addition to the unofficial Goodfellas/Casino series where theft and corruption gradually becomes more and more legal. Just narrowly missed out on the top 10 here.

    More Info: [IMDB] [Amazon]

  • This Is the End – In the running for funniest film of the year, great ensemble, tons of fantastic cameos, and lots of raunchy laughs. Not for everyone, but certainly for me. Another film I considered for the top 10, but left out in favor of The World’s End

    More Info: [IMDB] [Amazon]

  • Thor: The Dark World – For some reason, I tend to gravitate towards these Thor movies moreso than the other individual Marvel heroes (like Iron Man or Captain America). Perhaps its those Shakespearean undertones, or the fish out of water elements, or the just plain comedy (of Thor riding the subway or getting into a small car or hanging his hammer up on a coat rack), or the inclusion of Loki and Tom Hiddleston’s scene-stealing performance (though Chris Hemsworth manages an admirable charisma as well). Whatever the case, I enjoyed this more than any of the other Superhero movies this year, and am still greatly looking forward to the Marvel phase 2 stuff.

    More Info: [IMDB] [Amazon] [Winner of 1 Kaedrin Movie Award]

  • Trance – An engaging and energizing film with a raucous mashup of cliches that starts off plausible enough, then saunters into ludicrous territory, which would be bad if it didn’t rocket past that phase and into some next-level bonkers stuff towards the end. It’s an outlandish thriller with preposterous twists and turns, and I enjoyed the hell out of it.

    More Info: [IMDB] [Amazon] [Full Review]

  • We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks – This documentary covers a lot of ground and unearths a lot of interesting ideas and philosophical debates, though perhaps it gets a bit sidetracked by Julian Assange’s antics a bit towards the end… but then, so did the entire world, so it’s hard to fault the movie for that! Definitely worth watching, especially considering more recent events and NSA snooping and whatnot. Another contender for a top 10 slot.

    More Info: [IMDB] [Amazon]

Just Missed the Cut:

But still worthwhile, in their own way. Presented without comment and in no particular order:

Should Have Seen:

Despite the fact that I’ve seen 72 of this year’s movies (and that this post features 30+ of my favorites), there were a few that got away… mostly because I’m lazy! Or something wasn’t available yet. Take your pick. I may or may not catch up with some of these…

And that just about wraps up my 2013 movie recap. Stay tuned next Sunday for the usual Oscar Liveblogging – previous installments here: [2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004]

2013 Kaedrin Movie Awards: The Arbitrary Awards

Kaedrin Movie Awards season is in full swing. We’ve already handed out the formal awards, but sometimes there are movies that don’t fit well into our format, but we still want to recognize them. Indeed, the whole point of these awards are to give exposure to odd little movies or movies that have flaws, but excellent bits nonetheless. A few of these have become an annual tradition, but most are just random and, well, arbitrary. Let’s get this party started:

  • The “You know what happens when a toad gets struck by lightning? The same thing that happens to everything else” Award for Worst Dialogue: Parker. This award often goes to a movie I don’t like very much, but if you look at the origin of the award name, it’s a movie I like a lot, and so is this year’s award. Parker is not a particularly accomplished movie, but it’s a boatload of fun, and it has the absolute best exchange of dialogue in any movie this year. In a so bad it’s good kinda way, but I laughed out loud for about 5 minutes when I saw it happen. In the movie, Parker is a thief who’s on a mission to kill his backstabbing partners. J Lo gets wind of his plan, and asks “How do you sleep at night?” Parker’s response, delivered expertly by Jason Statham (Are you sitting down? You might want to sit down. And be careful not to fall out of your seat…), is “I don’t drink coffee after 7.” Holy shit. That is so terrible/brilliant that it takes home this arbitrary award all by itself.
  • The Proximity to Jason Vorhees Award for Heroic Stupidity: Evil Dead. Oh, this book is made of human flesh, buried, and wrapped in barbed wire. I guess they want us to open it up and read the creepy Latin (that’s written in blood) out loud, right? Sounds like a plan.
  • The Park Chan-Wook Award for Most Elaborate Vengeance Scheme: Now You See Me. This was a fun movie that sorta goes way off the rails towards the end, and that makes it hard to recommend (amongst a couple other things), but the first hour or so is good fun.
  • Best Hero/Badass (Non-Human Edition): Jaegers from Pacific Rim. This movie was so much damn fun, I can’t get over it. Plus, the names for Jaegers are awesome: Gipsy Danger, Cherno Alpha, Crimson Typhoon, Striker Eureka, the list goes on (special shout out to fake Irish Jaeger: Whiskey Ginger). And their home base is called the “Shatterdome” which is also awesome.
  • Best Villain/Badass (Non-Human Edition): Kaiju from Pacific Rim. No explanation needed.
  • Achievement in the Field of Shelf Sitting: All the Boys Love Mandy Lane and You’re Next (tie). You guys, Mandy Lane was made in 2006. That’s 7 years before it actually came out. You’re Next only sat for about 2 years before being unceremoniously dumped in August, but that’s still a long time (especially for such a crowd pleasing movie). Both are well worth seeking out, especially for horror fans.
  • Best Use of Watsoning: Man of Steel. You know that scene where Lois Lane is escaping with the help of Jor El, who keeps teleporting around weirdly? That’s called Watsoning, and I seriously want to watch a movie that is all Lois Lane and Jor El engaging in wacky escapades.
  • Most Disturbing Segment of the Year: “L is for Libido” from The ABCs of Death. Shudder.
  • Best Beer Reference: Drinking Buddies. The movie is overall kinda meh Mumblecore stuff, but it takes place at Revolution Brewing in Chicago, which is awesome. I also spied some Half Acre and Three Floyds beers throughout, because I’m a huge beer nerd.
  • Best Long Take/Tracking Shot: Gravity. I believe it’s the opening shot of the movie, so this could also pull best opening shot too.

And that concludes the Arbitrary Awards. Stay tuned for the top 10 of 2013 and Oscar Live blogging/tweeting.

2013 Kaedrin Movie Award Winners!

The nominations for the 2013 Kaedrin Movie Awards were announced last week. Today, I’ll be announcing the winners of said awards. Next week, I’ll cover less traditional categories in what we like to call the Arbitrary Awards, and in the following week, I’ll post my top 10 of 2012. A week after that is the Oscars, so we’ve got a full month of (late) 2013 movie recaps. Let’s do this thing:

  • Best Villain/Badass: The Mandarin, played by Ben Kingsley in Iron Man 3. Man, what a bad year for villainy. Even the winner isn’t really the villain we believe him to be, and quite frankly, that’s why I picked him. I don’t want to start a holy war with the comic book nerds (who I gather were not entirely onboard with this portrayal of the Mandarin), but I really like where this movie went with him. Of course, as a villain, he sucks, but the alternatives were little better. I did seriously consider Michael Fassbender as the slave owner in 12 Years a Slave, but this category isn’t for “Most Evil” villain (honestly, the word villain doesn’t even do this character justice). Alas, the amount of villainy that was fun/badass was distinctly lacking this year. One thing I’ve noticed doing these awards from year to year is that the hero/villain categories tend to be unbalanced. One category is always way more stacked than the other, and this year, the Heroes were better. Speaking of which:
  • Best Hero/Badass: Erin, played by Sharni Vinson in You’re Next. A much better year for heroism, and this winner was super easy to pick, too, because that character was totally badass and far above the competition. To be honest, without her, I’m not sure who would get the runners up.

    Sharni Vinson, kicking ass

    Fortunately, that doesn’t matter, and if you haven’t seen You’re Next, it’s well worth seeking out.

  • Best Comedic Performance: Simon Pegg in The World’s End. This is a category that is sometimes very hard to pick because a lot of great comedic performances come as part of a larger ensemble. This is the case with The World’s End too, though Pegg is clearly leading the charge here and definitely deserves this one. This Is the End is a prime example of the ensemble problem, as I could have nominated a pretty large proportion of the cast (Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, and Emma Watson were all strong contenders, but I settled on Danny McBride because of that entrance scene). The runner up would be Lake Bell, who was fantastic in In a World…, but she’ll get some love elsewhere… like now:
  • Breakthrough Performance: Lake Bell in In a World… This quickly became one of my favorite movies of the year. Bell’s clearly got some comedic chops, not to mention that she also wrote and directed the movie, and she gives a great performance here.

    Lake Bell

    Lots of great competition for this category this year, with folks like Brie Larson and Miles Teller doing some dramatic heavy lifting, while Sharni Vinson kicked some ass (and thus won the hero/badass award above).

  • Most Visually Stunning: Gravity. The word most frequently used to describe this movie is “Spectacle” and a spectacle it truly is. The important thing to note here is that despite all the special effects, it’s all done for a reason. It’s not spectacle for spectacle’s sake, which would fall flat. And the effects aren’t the only thing that makes the movie look great either, as director Alfonso Cuaron knows how to move the camera and do long takes, etc… In fact, I couldn’t really find a good image to put here because so much of what works in the movie is movement on the screen, not still images. The interesting thing to note about most of the other nominees is how great they look despite relatively low budgets. A couple were surely expensive, but stuff like Upstream Color and Wrong were tiny little films that looked great.
  • Best Sci-Fi or Horror Film: Upstream Color. It was tempting to make this a three way tie between Upstream Color, Gravity, and You’re Next, but since the latter two already took awards, I’ll give it to Upstream Color. It’s certainly an obtuse movie and not for everyone, but it connected with me in an interesting way and I find it’s a movie that’s really stuck with me as well. Of the other nominees, special mention to The Conjuring and Pacific Rim, both of which I really enjoyed.
  • Best Sequel/Reboot: Thor: The Dark World. Something about these Thor movies just works for me, and I’m having a hard time putting my finger on it. Perhaps it’s the comedic aspects, or the Shakespearean tint, or maybe it’s just the characters of Thor and Loki. Of the other nominees, I really enjoyed Fast 6 (though not as much as Fast 5) and V/H/S/2, which was a dramatic improvement over the first movie. I also enjoyed The Hunger Games: Catching Fire much more than the first movie, though the whole series still frustrates me with its worldbuilding and lame villainy.
  • Biggest Disappointment: Kick-Ass 2. I loved the first Kick-Ass so much that I put it in a top 10, but this sequel is seriously among the worst movies of the past few years. There are things that could have worked here, but nothing really delivers. Even the action sequences are poorly set up and executed. Of the other nominees, I should note that Frances Ha and Inside Llewyn Davis aren’t really bad movies, but they’d been built up a bit too much by critics I respect, so I found them very disappointing once I finally caught up with them. Closed Circuit was disappointing because it was so good at the outset that when it devolved later in the film, it really left me feeling sour towards it. Computer Chess is just not my kinda movie (despite it feeling like it might be), and perhaps because I wasn’t as on board with District 9 as everyone else, I wasn’t expecting Elysium to be very good.
  • Best Action Sequences: Fast & Furious 6. While I still don’t rate it as high as Fast 5, this installment still delivered the goods when it comes to action. The racecar sequence towards the beginning is the sort of action scene that most films would reserve for a finale, and there are plenty of other great scenes throughout the movie. Ludicrous action scenes, sure, but a whole boatload of fun. Special recognition goes out to Pacific Rim for the best sequences of robots and monsters beating the hell out of each other, and while Drug War has an excellent shootout towards the end of the movie, the rest is less action packed than I would have liked. Captain Phillips was also on solid ground when it came to action sequences that were filled with a lot more tension than the other nominees.
  • Best Plot Twist/Surprise: Side Effects. Always a tough category to discuss, as I don’t really want to give it away, but I do love Side Effects so very much. I’ll also give honorable mention to Trance, which ventures into some next-level bonkers territory by the end… and there’s nothing wrong with the other nominees either, but again, I don’t want to give anything away…
  • Best High Concept Film: Bad Milo. It’s a movie about a demon living in some dude’s butt, how much more high concept can you get? The other nominees are all fine in their way, but just can’t compete with butt demons. I will mention that Warm Bodies was a movie that made me care about Zombie movies again, which is no small feat.
  • 2013’s 2012 Movie of the Year: Robot & Frank. A touching tale of cat burgler and his assistant robot. Or something like that. Surely would have been a high concept nominee if I saw it last year. I enjoyed the other nominees, though none really stood out for me. This is another category that’s always weird to populate, though there’ve been one or two years where it’s been a good one to have…

So there you have it. Stay tuned for some arbitrary awards, coming next week.

2013 Kaedrin Movie Awards

Over a month late at this point, but that’s just the joys of being an amateur movie lover. As of this point, I’ve seen 68 movies that could be considered a 2013 release. This continues a slight downward trend over the past few years (I usually get to the 70s at this point of the year and am publishing a top 10 by now), though the lateness of these awards puts me on par with last year at least. Still, I’ve done a lot of catching up in January, and now that no one cares anymore (on the one hand, I’m generally using the same timeline as the Oscars, on the other hand, everyone is sick of this sort of thing once the Oscars hit), am ready to commence my end of the year recap. [Previous Installments here: 2006 | 2007 | 2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012] I’ll post the nominations now, and like last year, I’ll post all the winners next weekend.

2013 has been a good year for movies, though I suspect that ordering my top 10 (once I finally get there) will be extremely difficult. It’s usually very easy to find 5 or so movies that I love throughout the year, with 1 or 2 that really stand out and strike a personal nerve with me. This year, I feel like I’ll be able to narrow down to 10 very easily, but have an impossible time ranking them. There are still a few things I want to catch up with before I post that list, but the awards can start now. One of the points of these awards is that they allow me to give some love to films that I like, but which aren’t necessarily great or are otherwise flawed (and thus the categories may seem a bit eclectic). Some of these movies will end up on my top 10, but the grand majority of them will not.

The rules for this are the same as last year: Nominated movies must have been released in 2013 (in the US) and I have to have seen the movie (and while I have seen a lot of movies, I don’t pretend to have seen a comprehensive selection – don’t let that stop you from suggesting something though).I suppose I should mention the requisite disclaimer that these sorts of lists are inherently subjective and personal. But then, the world would be an awfully boring place if we all liked the same stuff for the same reasons, right? So here are the nominees for this year’s awards:

Best Villain/Badass

A terrible, or at least, odd year for villainy. I ended up nominating a bunch of movies I didn’t particularly like, or I ended up nominating people that don’t quite fit the category. I have no idea how I’m going to pick a winner on this one. As with previous years, my picks in this category are limited to individuals, not groups (i.e. no vampires or zombies or pod people robots as a group, etc…).

Best Hero/Badass

A better year for heroism, certainly an overmatch for the weak villainy, but far from the best slate of nominees here. Still, there is at least one standout that fits perfectly for the category here, so that will be an easy decision. Again limited to individuals and not groups.

Best Comedic Performance

This category seems to get tougher every year. The problem is that I instituted it because of a string of great individual performances… but now I keep trying to find the right person in an ensemble to nominate (or justify folks in movies that aren’t really all that funny). Some solid choices this year, but it’s a weird one…

Breakthrough Performance

Always an interesting category, and lots to choose from this year. As with previous years, my main criteria for this category was if I watched a movie, then immediately looking up the actor/actress on IMDB to see what else they’ve done (or where they came from). This can sometimes even happen for a long established actor, though I’m lighter on that front this year (even if it’s been a pretty great year for breakthroughs). Yes, the criteria is vague, but the fun of these awards is that they’re supposed to be idiosyncratic and weird.

Most Visually Stunning

Sometimes even bad movies can look really great…

Best Sci-Fi or Horror Film

In case it’s not obvious, I’m a total genre hound, and these are movies that don’t tend to get a lot of attention, so I like to shine a light on them.

Best Sequel/Reboot

Typically a difficult category to populate, and this year was no exception, so I was a little liberal with the nominations.

Biggest Disappointment

Always a difficult award to figure out, as there are different ways in which a movie can disappoint. Usually, expectations play just as big a part of this as the actual quality of the film, and it’s possible that a good movie can win the award because of high expectations.

Best Action Sequences

This award isn’t for individual action sequences, but rather an overall estimation of each film.

Best Plot Twist/Surprise

Well, I suppose even listing nominees here constitutes something of a spoiler, but it’s a risk we’ll have to take, right?

Best High Concept Film

This is always a strange category to populate because the concept is a bit nebulous, but nevertheless, there are always a few interesting choices…

2013’s 2012 Movie of the Year

I instituted this category a few years ago because I was always discovering movies from the previous year after the fact. Of course, since then, I’ve had difficulty populating this category. This is going to be a tough choice, as I have to say, I wasn’t really blown away by any of the nominees…

There’s no clear leader in nominations, with a whopping 5 films tied for the lead with 4 nominations each (Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, Fast & Furious 6, You’re Next, and Upstream Color). Her has 3 nominations. Inside Llewyn Davis has 3 as well, though one is a negative category, so that doesn’t quite count. And, of course, lots of movies have 1 or 2 noms. 44 different films nominated total, though 4 are 2012 movies. So I’m going to let these nominations stew for a week, then announce the winners next Sunday, followed by the traditional Arbitrary Awards and eventually culminating in my top 10 of 2012 list (which should come in before The Oscars)…