2013 in Review: The End of the Year Cram
The end of the year is stressful enough if you aren’t a movie fan. Whether it is figuring out what to buy for your in-laws or…well, spending time with your in-laws…there is always a little bit of dread to mix with the joy.
For us movie fans, the stress of new movies strategically placed in November and December only add to the load. Sure, you could count the Academy Awards as your deadline for seeing all of 2014’s movies (giving you an extra two months), but to be on the up-and-up, it becomes a very tedious task to a) figure out which movies to see and b) actually find a showing of that movie.
Part B is what this post will focus on because we all have access to the wide releases, but it is often the limited releases that dominate “End of Year” lists and awards shows.
Here are the top 10 movies you should try to see that have released in limited theaters or are about to release:
Although Dallas Buyers Club released way back in early November, it has finally expanded to wider theaters. With the influx of new movies, your window to see this movie is shrinking fast. I have actually seen this movie and can promise the two main actors (Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto) should be considered major contenders.
Although I haven’t seen Alexander Payne’s Nebraska yet, it is definitely on the top of my wish list. Unfortunately, the film’s expanded release is moving at what seems like a snail’s pace. I’m hopeful I can catch the movie before the new year because Bruce Dern’s (Coming Home) performance is all the rave.
Philomena could be a strong contender in acting awards because both Judi Dench (Skyfall) and Steve Coogan (The Trip) have apparently put forth great performances. Full disclosure: I still haven’t seen this movie, but like Dallas Buyers Club, the window is shrinking to catch this movie before it gets passed up for movies releasing in the coming weeks (especially since The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug will be contending with huge releases like Frozen and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire).
I’ll be honest, reviews for Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom haven’t been lights-out great. However, it is a topical film given the unfortunate passing of Nelson Mandela last week. Idris Elba (Pacific Rim) also has transformed his image, which always is a plus for voters. Honestly, it’s probably #10 on the list of these movies but it’s there nonetheless.
After Nebraska, I’m most anticipating the wider release of Inside Llewyn Davis. The good news is Inside Llewyn Davis has an expansion date on December 20th (alongside two other movies coming up), so you should be able to squeeze it in before all the Christmas Day releases.
David O. Russell’s (Silver Linings Playbook) American Hustle barely belongs on this list because it will only be in limited theaters for one week before it goes wide. But again, with so many movies coming out already on December 25th, that leaves a five-day span to cram in last minute shopping and some Jennifer Lawrence. I know my priorities.
Complicating American Hustle’s release is the Walt Disney autobiographical film Saving Mr. Banks, which also opens in limited release on the 13th before expanding on the 20th. You better see The Hobbit while you wait for Tom Hanks and company.
Sadly, Spike Jonze’s (Adaptation) critically-lauded drama Her will likely be on the outside looking in when I compile my “End of Year” list. With a December 18th limited release date, I was hopeful I could see it before the end of the year. However, the expanding date isn’t until January 10th. The silver lining is it’ll be more easily accessible by Oscar time.
August: Osage County unfortunately gets a limited Christmas Day release date. With a cast that includes Meryl Streep, Ewan McGregor, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Julia Roberts, it has the talent that rivals ensembles like Out of the Furnace and the aforementioned American Hustle. Too bad we’ll have to wait awhile to actually see the film if you aren’t in L.A. or N.Y.
Like Her, Peter Berg’s (Friday Night Lights) Lone Survivor will hit nationwide theaters on January 10th but technically releases in 2013. Lone Survivor probably won’t be a huge Oscar contender (if I had to guess), but it still qualifies as one of those pesky movies you’ll have to wait to see (kind of like Zero Dark Thirty last year).
There you go. If you are trying to decide on limited releases as a whole, may I also suggest Before Midnight, The Way, Way Back, The Spectacular Now, Prince Avalanche, 12 Years a Slave, and All is Lost. Any others I missed you should sound off with below.
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