No offense 2013, but 2012 is kinda kicking your ass.
Check out my top 12 films of 2012. Guess what? 11 out of 12 of those movies were truly released in 2012. One of those movies, "Your Sister's Sister," premiered at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival before making its official US premiere in 2012. See, that's how people generally count things. Movie makes a festival run in 2011, but does not get released in theaters/VOD until 2012? Then it counts as a 2012 movie. Usually, movies that premiere at Sundance and Cannes tend to make their US theatrical premiere later that same year. But a lot of movies that make festival premieres late in the year don't get a theatrical release until the next year.
So that's usually how that works. Now look at my top 10 movies of 2013 so far. FOUR of the top six movies on my list had their festival premieres in 2012. "Place Beyond the Pines" and "Frances Ha" premiered at Toronto last year. "No" and "Mud" premiered at last year's Cannes. So, in that case, "Upstream Color" would be my number one 100% pure 2013 movie on the list. Take out the 2012 festival premiere movies and what do we have left? Color, Pac Rim, Before Midnight, This is the End, Side Effects, and Trance. Only two of those films are big studio films: Pac Rim and This is the End. 2013, thus far, has been the year of the indie, in my view.
What I'm trying to say, basically, is that 2012 was such an awesome year that four of my favorite films of 2013 are really just leftovers from last year. What was most surprising about 2012 is that more than half the movies on my year-end list where big studio films. Five of them were released between September-December. So far, 2013 is starting to resemble 2011, but could it actually wind up being weaker than that year? Yes and no. 2011 didn't exactly bring the house down, indie-wise. There were a few decent indie/arthouse films that year: Tree of Life, Shame, Beginners... I wouldn't really count "The Descendants" or "Drive" in that category though "Drive" has an arthouse feel to it. Therefore, 2013 definitely looks stronger in that regard so far.
What I'm getting tired of are big studios clustering their "serious" films for the end of the year, I mean, it's getting ridiculous. But let's look at the upcoming serious films for 2013. The fall of 2013, that is.
September: Prisoners, Don Jon
October: Gravity, Captain Phillips, The Fifth Estate, 12 Years a Slave, The Counselor, Oldboy
November: The Wolf of Wall Street, Her, Nebraska, Grace of Monaco, Out of the Furnace, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
December: Dallas Buyers Club, Inside Llewyn Davis, American Hustle, Saving Mr. Banks, Monuments Men, August: Osage County, Labor Day
Ok that's pretty much a full list. Not bad too. You got Alfonso Cuaron's first film in six years. Steve McQueen is back. Scorsese, Alexander Payne, The Coens, Paul Greengrass, Jason Reitman, and David O. Russell are gonna try to put their best feet forward too. You also got the rare Spike Jonze movie. Before "Her," the man's made one movie in 11 years.
2013 is an interesting year in that there's a lot of question marks, but not many sure things. We have no idea what American Hustle, Her, Monuments Men, or Labor Day will look like yet. It's exciting to see what the fall will bring us, but who knows what we'll actually get? Then again, what made 2012 so strong was so many pleasant surprises. Who knew Rian Johnson would explode with "Looper"? Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln" was just as big of a question mark at this point last year. Heck, "Zero Dark Thirty" wasn't high on my anticipation list last year, and yet it stole my heart.
That said, couldn't we get some of those films released earlier? Look at November and December. I named 13 films. There's about 8-9 weeks in those months, why do we have to make those months such clusterfucks?
Moving on.... a brief Oscar talk
It was sad seeing 2010 and 2011 end with such "so-so" films winning best picture. I'm talking about "The King's Speech" and "The Artist." Tom Hooper, who won the Oscar for Best Director in 2010, has since gone on to show how limited he is as a filmmaker. As for Michel Hazanavicius? Are any of us really that excited about the next movie he's making?
For me, "Argo" was a solid choice for Best Picture. A choice I can't really complain about. But those two years, 2010 and 2011, really feel like odd years. Two years where we had really solid American films released, but the Academy went with a UK film and a French film instead. Two inoffensive, easy-to-swallow films nonetheless that don't really display a strong sense of craftsmanship. Films centered on strong performances and, in one case, a gimmick. The Oscars really seem to be losing touch.
See, I'm wondering if The Oscars would ever eventually go the way of the Grammys. For the longest time, The Grammys would award their highest accolades to albums/records that, frankly, nobody cared about. They didn't award great albums or popular albums, they awarded albums nobody cared about. Lately, they've been trying to go the popular route and it's been getting them higher ratings, but it's made them even more of a joke than before.
The Oscars aren't perfect of course, we know that. But every year people complain about the Oscars choices and every year they look for ways to go the "more appealing" route. They keep trying to get exciting hosts to come aboard, but that hasn't exactly made them the ratings juggernaut they used to be. Is the solution be to reward more popular films though? Looking at what 2013 has brought us so far? I fucking hope not.