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15 Best Performances of 2013 So Far

We’ve compiled a list of the finest film performances delivered by actors this year, at least until this point.

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Cate Blanchett
Photo: Sony Pictures Classics

Today, Cate Blanchett makes a vibrant return to capital-A acting in Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine, a zeitgeist-y star vehicle the Oscar winner expertly pilots. To mark the occasion, and to acknowledge that more than half of 2013 is behind us, I’ve compiled a list of the finest film performances delivered by actors this year, at least until this point. For me, the 15-wide roster grew into something eclectic and surprising, and here’s hoping you share the feeling. Ace turns that came close to making the cut include Gael García Bernal in No, Carey Mulligan in The Great Gatsby, Greta Gerwig in Frances Ha, and Miles Teller in The Spectacular Now, while Mud’s Matthew McConaughey and Berberian Sound Studio’s Toby Jones are among the possible contenders whose work I didn’t see before publication (and, yes, I saw Fruitvale Station). What remains is a mix of triumphs both male and female, lead and supporting, all of which set the bar high for the performances still to come this year.


15 Best Performances of 2013 So Far

15. James Franco in Spring Breakers

James Franco is deep in the business of self-parody these days, playing James Franco in This Is the End, and doing some variation of the same with cheeky guest spots in everything from The Iceman to the upcoming Lovelace. But, as proven by his grill-rocking, cornrow-sporting turn in Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers, the actor is at his best when burying his ubiquitous persona. However indelible the lines of Franco’s Scarface-loving Alien (at least one of you has a friend with a “Look at my sheeee-it!” T-shirt), Spring Breakers is Korine’s show, and that Franco seamlessly blends into the film’s neon fabric initially dulls his impact. In retrospect, though, the disappearing act is quite an achievement, proving Franco was in perfect step with his friend and helmer, and warranting that tired, oft-hyperbolic praise of a performer “vanishing” into his role.


15 Best Performances of 2013 So Far

14. Elizabeth Debicki in The Great Gatsby

In The Great Gatsby, Australian newbie Elizabeth Debicki may look like she’s doing her best imitation of Blanchett in The Aviator (right down to the golfing and the Hepburn accent), but, in fact, she’s making a splendid breakthrough as a soon-to-be-meteoric star. As Nick Carraway’s (Tobey Maguire) would-be lover, Jordan Baker, a not-that-innocent bystander to the story’s central triangle, and a statuesque embodiment of the hollowness of status, Debicki is grand, chic, and altogether riveting, the key revelation in a deftly selected cast that gives breath and life to Fitzgerald’s classic figures.


15 Best Performances of 2013 So Far

13. Keith Stanfield in Short Term 12

Something’s wrong in the photo above. Critical darling Brie Larson (left) is grabbing all the kudos for her gritty work in Short Term 12, but she, not her co-star Keith Stanfield, should be the one out of focus here, as Stanfield is your top reason to catch this SXSW favorite. A first-time actor, the plausibly tough, yet sad-eyed, young standout stars as Marcus, a senior resident of the film’s teenage foster care facility, whose abuse from his mother has left devastating emotional scars. As of this writing, Stanfield’s rendition of Marcus’s soul-baring personal rap, and his handling of a scene that sees Marcus receive a symbolic, cathartic haircut, are two of the tear-jerkiest filmic moments of 2013. If justice prevails, Stanfield, like Marcus, will walk away from Short Term 12 with a glistening future.


15 Best Performances of 2013 So Far

12. Kate Lyn Sheil in Sun Don’t Shine

It’s not easy to describe precisely what Kate Lyn Sheil is doing in Amy Seimetz’s Sun Don’t Shine, a modest thriller that casts the busy fringe actress as the morally bankrupt Bonnie to Kentucker Audley’s wildly upstaged Clyde. By turns ingratiating, horrifying, unbound, and restrained, Sheil’s performance has equal airs of inexperience and professionalism, which only end up serving her character, the childlike, yet cunning, half of a couple with a deadly secret. With her wide, searing eyes and passionate fits of fear and jealousy, Sheil occasionally recalls Isabelle Adjani’s mad turn in Possession, or, at least, suggests a woman possessed.


15 Best Performances of 2013 So Far

11. Melissa McCarthy in Identity Thief

Like her new film, The Heat, if Melissa McCarthy’s Identity Thief proves anything, it’s that the Bridesmaids breakout’s talent is neither fluke nor fad, and that her shuffle from bit parts to major roles has been richly deserved indeed. As Diana, a conwoman in everywoman’s clothing, McCarthy gives a performance leagues better than anything to be expected in a mainstream, early-in-the-year release, padding a typically sketched character with layers of hilarity and pathos. Continuing to straddle the line between the knowing and the offensive in regard to her weight, McCarthy is terrific in simply penned moments of remorse and confession, adding tearful depth to her ace timing and formidable physical comedy. She owns Identity Thief with a turn of limitless surprise, making an otherwise adequate comedy soar as a star vehicle.

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Watch: The Long-Awaited Deadwood Movie Gets Teaser Trailer and Premiere Date

Welcome to fucking Deadwood!

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Deadwood
Photo: HBO

At long last, we’re finally going to see more of Deadwood. Very soon after the HBO series’s cancellation in 2006, creator David Milch announced that he agreed to produce a pair of two-hour films to tie up the loose ends left after the third season. It’s been a long road since, and after many false starts over the years, production on one standalone film started in fall 2018. And today we have a glorious teaser for the film, which releases on HBO on May 31. Below is the official description of the film:

The Deadwood film follows the indelible characters of the series, who are reunited after ten years to celebrate South Dakota’s statehood. Former rivalries are reignited, alliances are tested and old wounds are reopened, as all are left to navigate the inevitable changes that modernity and time have wrought.

And below is the teaser trailer:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tAcftIUE6MQ

Deadwood: The Movie airs on HBO on May 31.

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Watch: Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood Gets Teaser Trailer

When it rains, it pours.

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Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Photo: Columbia Pictures

When it rains, it pours. Four days after Quentin Tarantino once more laid into John Ford in a piece written for his Beverly Cinema website that saw the filmmaker referring to Ford’s She Wore a Yellow Ribbon as Tie a Yellow Ribbon, and two days after Columbia Pictures released poster art for QT’s ninth feature that wasn’t exactly of the highest order, the studio has released a teaser for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. The film was announced early last year, with Tarantino describing it as “a story that takes place in Los Angeles in 1969, at the height of hippy Hollywood.”

Set on the eve of the Manson family murders, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood tells the story of TV actor Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his stunt double, Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt), as they try to get involved in the film industry. The film also stars Margot Robbie (as Sharon Tate), Al Pacino, the late Luke Perry, Damian Lewis, Dakota Fanning, Emile Hirsch, Timothy Olyphant, Kurt Russell, and Bruce Dern in a part originally intended for the late Burt Reynolds.

See the teaser below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Scf8nIJCvs4

Columbia Pictures will release Once Upon a Time in Hollywood on July 26.

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Watch the Stranger Things 3 Trailer, and to the Tune of Mötley Crüe and the Who

A wise woman once said that there’s no such thing as a coincidence.

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Stranger Things 3
Photo: Netflix

A wise woman once said that there’s no such thing as a coincidence. On Friday, Jeff Tremaine’s The Dirt, a biopic about Mötley Crüe’s rise to fame, drops on Netflix. Today, the streaming service has released the trailer for the third season of Stranger Things. The clip opens with the strains of Mötley Crüe’s “Home Sweet Home,” all the better to underline that the peace and quiet that returned to the fictional rural town of Hawkins, Indiana at the end of the show’s second season is just waiting to be upset again.

Little is known about the plot of the new season, and the trailer keeps things pretty vague, though the Duffer Brothers have suggested that the storyline will take place a year after the events of the last season—duh, we know when “Home Sweet Home” came out—and focus on the main characters’ puberty pangs. That said, according to Reddit sleuths who’ve obsessed over such details as the nuances of the new season’s poster art, it looks like Max and company are going to have to contend with demon rats no doubt released from the Upside Down.

See below for the new season’s trailer:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YEG3bmU_WaI

Stranger Things 3 premieres globally on July 4.

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