The 2014 Oscars and I had a lot to agree on, but also a few minor disagreements. The winners were all unquestionably worthy of their awards, and the acceptance speeches were some of the best I’ve seen in recent history (motivational speeches over name-blasting goes far y’all!). My only qualms with this year were a few omissions in directing, acting and best picture, but I’ll hold my tongue on movie politics.
While this was not my favorite year for movies, 2013 relied heavily on exposing the culture we live in, a culture we could potentially live in and a look at one of our country’s darkest cultures in history. Movies like The Bling Ring and Spring Breakers offer an unflinching, realistic look at the corruption and superficiality of 21st century youth, while the movie Her takes us to a not-so-distant future where relationships of any kind have the power to produce as much joy as they do sorrow.
2014 also pushed an emphasis on relationships; how we treat people and how others treat us. Nebraska gave us a look at the humorous lengths we take for our family, while magnifying the destruction of aging. Movies like Fruitvale Station offer a story of hope, reinvention and the importance to empathize with people who we may not know. Whatever the relationship may be, compassion for the human spirit is a necessity for survival.
Here’s my list of my top 10 favorites of 2013–some are obvious choices, while some are obvious curve balls.
“Days ago I was with my family in my home. Now you tell me all is lost, tell no one who I am and that’s the way to survive. I don’t want to survive. I want to live.”
12 Years a Slave has only been in theaters a couple weeks, but critics who applaud or shun the film are both left with a common reaction when the credits rolled—stunned.
Since winning the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival, the positive response to the film has since been met with criticism and dissatisfaction toward the gruesomely realistic glimpse at the antebellum South. The film tells the true story of Solomon Northup (British actor Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free black man living in New York, who is kidnapped in 1841 and sold down the river to the owner of a cotton plantation in Louisiana. Many people are asking if we really need another slave movie?
But that’s exactly what it’s not. Director Steve McQueen’s 12 Years is not intended to re-expose the weakness of black culture’s roots nor is it intended to re-slap America on the hand bestowing another moral hangover. The argument “haven’t I seen this before?” is surfacing across the Internet, but the gravity of McQueen’s exposure of slavery as an economic necessity and the concept of slaves as property resonates far greater than any pre-Civil War period piece.
Considered by many as the kick-off to Oscar season premiering some of the biggest films of fall, the Toronto International Film Festival will feature 146 world premieres over it’s 11-day run.
Although TIFF always has an impressive lineup, I’ve narrowed it down to what I’m most eager to see this year.