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Short Term 12 (#110 of 6)

Oscar 2014 Nomination Predictions: Supporting Actor

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Oscar 2014 Nomination Predictions: Supporting Actor
Oscar 2014 Nomination Predictions: Supporting Actor

Let’s pretend, for a second, that Jared Leto, a vain campaigner who can’t even be bothered to remember the names of critics groups that honor him, won’t be the Supporting Actor strutting to the podium on Oscar night, and making some jokey, offensive gesture like daintily tossing his hair back. Who, then, is next in line to overtake Leto for his turn as a trans woman—or, as Katie Couric would call her, a “transgender”—in Dallas Buyers Club? Methinks it won’t be fellow lock Michael Fassbender from 12 Years a Slave, who’s fine but unexciting as a pathetic slave owner, but one of two damn-near-locks who represent foreign underdogs: Daniel Brühl in Rush and Barkhad Abdi in Captain Phillips.

The 10 Worst Films of 2013

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The 10 Worst Films of 2013
The 10 Worst Films of 2013

Contrary to the curious, outspoken beliefs of some, we prefer to celebrate movies around these parts, culminating each December with our collaborative list of the 25 best films of the year. But while nearly all films deserve careful consideration, there are plenty that deserve a proper, vitriolic takedown, maybe even a warning label. Scraping the very bottoms of our moviegoing barrels, Slant’s Ed Gonzalez and I winced as we remembered our worst film experiences of 2013. The five we each loathed most were compiled into a list of 10, and they’re counted down here in our personal, descending orders of deplorableness. From the bloated egos of Ben Stiller and Tom Cruise to the masochistic horrors of military violence and high-end shopping, click on to see what almost drove us both out of the theater. R. Kurt Osenlund

On the Rise Brie Larson

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On the Rise: Brie Larson

Cinedigm

On the Rise: Brie Larson

If nothing else, 23-year-old Brie Larson exemplifies a trend within her generation of rising stars, who weave in and out of each other’s projects like they’re breathlessly party-hopping. In The Spectacular Now, Larson plays Cassidy, the ex-girlfriend of a reluctant hero played by 26-year-old Miles Teller, who’ll soon star in Divergent with 21-year-old Shailene Woodley, who’s also in The Spectacular Now, and is shooting The Fault in Our Stars (written by—what?—the guys who wrote The Spectacular Now). The new teen romance also features 28-year-old Mary Elizabeth Winstead, who played opposite Larson in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, and 16-year-old Kaitlyn Dever, who’ll soon be seen with Larson in the forthcoming Short Term 12. Additionally, Short Term 12 features 29-year-old John Gallagher Jr., who stars on The Newsroom with 27-year-old Allison Pill, who’s also a Scott Pilgrim vs. The World alum. It’s all enough to spin the head of six-degrees king Kevin Bacon, who, come to think of it, just saw his signature movie, Footloose, remade with—wait for it—Miles Teller.

15 Best Performances of 2013 So Far

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15 Best Performances of 2013 So Far

Sony Pictures Classics

15 Best Performances of 2013 So Far

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.

SXSW 2013: Cheap Thrills and Short Term 12

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SXSW 2013: <em>Cheap Thrills</em> and <em>Short Term 12</em>
SXSW 2013: <em>Cheap Thrills</em> and <em>Short Term 12</em>

According to the SXSW audience awards announced earlier today, E.L. Katz’s Cheap Thrills was the popular pick of this year’s midnight-movie crop, and it lives up to its title in its nihilistic view of humanity—or at least males—as fundamentally beholden to such urges as money and pride. Through this violent, black-comic tale of the increasingly over-the-top challenges a rich couple, Colin (David Koechner) and Violet (Sara Paxton), offers to two desperate men (Pat Healy’s Craig, a recently laid-off aspiring writer, and Ethan Embry’s Vince, a childhood friend of Craig’s who hasn’t exactly been swimming in dough himself), Katz and screenwriters David Chirchirillo and Trent Haaga appear to believe they’re exposing the dark depths of humanity when pushed to desperate extremes. But after a first act that effectively elicits viewer sympathy for these two soon-to-be-victims of the rich couple’s perverse games, the filmmakers gradually strip away those sympathies. By the time—spoiler alert!—we’re treated to the oh-so-edifying spectacle of our loser protagonists eating a cooked dog (and the challenges get even more grotesque after that), it’s hard to tell where the critique of such cruelty ends and the celebration of it begins. Or rather, more accurately, the whole film is a critique, but one in which we’re put in the above-it-all position of the two Satan figures, looking down at these pitiful specimens and laughing at them.