2013 Silver Screen Riot Awards

With the majority of 2013 awards winding down and the Oscars gearing up for next month, it’s time for me to reflect on the best parts about last year’s films. I’ve already published my top ten list alongside the absolute worst movies of the year but with these awards, I focus on the performances, direction, music, scene work and artistry of 2013.

At first, I tried to pigeonhole five nominees into each category but found that didn’t give me enough leeway to recognize all the talent I wanted to. When I then expanded to ten, it felt like there were times where I would be putting names down to fill up spots and didn’t really work for me either. So, instead of making an arbitrary number of nominees for each category, I opted to just recognize as many people as I saw fit in each category. So while the best actor category has 11 names of note, best foreign film only had 6 nominees and so forth. I know a lot of these may see overlap with other award nominations but I tried to recognize talent from all walks,  the old to the new, and award what stood out as my personal favorites.

Look out for a short breakdown in the actors and directors sections but the other categories speak for themselves.

Best Actor:


WINNER: Leonardo DiCaprio ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’
Runner Up: Christian Bale ‘Out of the Furance’ & ‘American Hustle’
Honorable Mention: Ethan Hawke ‘Before Midnight’

Matthew McConaughey ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ & ‘Mud’
Joaquin Phoenix ‘Her’
Mads Mikkelsen ‘The Hunt’
Chiwetel Elijofor ’12 Years a Slave’
Bruce Dern ‘Nebraska’
Tom Hanks ‘Captain Phillips’
Michael B. Jordan ‘Fruitvale Station’

It’s no secret that I’m a big Leonardo DiCaprio fan and it’s performances like his in The Wolf of Wall Street that earns him such a high ranking amongst my favorite working actors. With manic physicality, hypnotizing stage presence and wonderfully potent comedic timing, his take on amoral but lovin’ it Jordan Belfort is a role to remember. Christian Bale did wonders in Out of the Furnace and, even though I wasn’t head over heels for American Hustle, his performance there was nothing to balk at and one of the strongest features of the film. The most underrated performance of the year is Ethan Hawke who embodied humanity and boyish charm in my favorite film of the year Before Midnight. The film rests squarely on his and Julie Delpy‘s compotent shoulders and had their performances been any less, the impact wouldn’t have been nearly what it was. 

Best Supporting Actor:


WINNER: Jared Leto ‘Dallas Buyers Club’
Runner Up: Jonah Hill ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’

Honorable Mention:  Geoffrey Rush ‘The Book Thief’

Woody Harrelson ‘Out of the Furnace’
Michael Fassbender ’12 Years a Slave’
Barkhad Abdi ‘Captain Phillips’
Ben Foster ‘Lone Survivor’
Daniel Bruhl ‘Rush’
Matthew McConaughey ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’
Alexander Skaarsgard ‘What Maisie Knew’

Another crowded category, I had to go with a somewhat calculated choice, a man more than likely to win at the Academy Awards this year, Jared Leto. His performance, almost moreso than Matthew McConaughey‘s, grounds the heartbreaking tale of Dallas Buyers Club and brings humanity to those that are too often dehumanized. On the other side of the coin, Jonah Hill was a riot in The Wolf of Wall Street and between his introductory scene and subsequent cousin soliloquy and the unhinged energy he brings to the Lemmons scene, his is one of the most unforgettable performances of the year. Another under-appreciated role takes my honorable mention slot with Geoffrey Rush‘s lovely performance in the otherwise forgettable The Book Thief. Rush is an acting giant and watching him effortlessly capture our sympathy just goes to show his monumental range.

Best Actress:


WINNER: Meryl Streep ‘August: Osage County’
Runner Up: Julie Delpy ‘Before Midnight’
Honorable Mention: Scarlett Johansson ‘Her’

Cate Blanchett ‘Blue Jasmine’
Brie Larson ‘Short Term 12’
Judi Dench ‘Philomena’
Adele Exarchopoulos ‘Blue is the Warmest Color’
Shailene Woodley ‘The Spectacular Now’
Greta Gerwig ‘Frances Ha’
Emma Thompson ‘Saving Mr. Banks’

I know Cate Blanchett is the name on everyone’s lips right now and there’s no denying that her performance is a showstopper but, for me, was not quite the most impressive of the year. Speaking of cinematic giants, I just couldn’t help but give my top award to Meryl Streep for her poisonous performance in the ensemble drama August: Osage County. Streep is a chameleon and we’re used to seeing her, for the most part, play loveable roles so seeing her transform into an utterly despicable train wreck of a pill popper showcases why she is the monolithic actress she is. Watching Julie Delpy embody the role of Celine for the third (or fourth if you consider Waking Life) time, you can see how much she has sank into this role and it’s simply a beauty to behold. Although deemed ineligible for the Oscars, Scarlett Johansson is able to achieve wonders with just her voice and deserves a pile of praise for that.

Best Supporting Actress:


WINNER: Julia Roberts “August: Osage County”
Runner Up: Margot Robbie “The Wolf of Wall Street”
Honorable Mention: Kristen Scott Thomas ‘Only God Forgives’

Octavia Spenser ‘Fruitvale Station’
Jennifer Lawrence ‘American Hustle’
June Squibb ‘Nebraska’
Lupita Nyong’o ’12 Years a Slave’
Emily Watson ‘The Book Thief’
Melissa Leo ‘Prisoners’

Easily the least impressive of the four acting categories, the best supporting actress category just didn’t have quite as much to offer as the rest did this year. Going through my nominees, it was hard to choose a top spot because all were commendable but none were absolutely unforgettable. I would hardly consider Julia Roberts as someone whose films I anticipate so was caught offguard by her fantastic work in August: Osage County. She holds her own against Streep and at times even shows her up. Color me impressed. I gave the second slot to Margot Robbie of The Wolf of Wall Street because of an unforgettable scene she shares with DiCaprio that’s sexy, tortuous and hysterical all at once and would have been nothing without the presence she brings to the scene. And for all the flak Only God Forgives caught for lacking dialogue, Kristen Scott Thomas stood out as the only character with true personality and she absolutely chewed through her deluded sanctimony. She’s menacing, repulsive and commanding and totally owns every scene she’s in. And just to preempt those offended by my lack of pedastalizing Academy darling Jennifer Lawrence, I enjoyed what she did in American Hustle but could never really take her character seriously. It was fun but not near worthy the level of praise being heaped on. And Lupita Nyong’o was certainly stunning in her 12 Years a Slave scenes but remember, this is my favorites and her performance is nothing less than a chore to watch.

Best Director


WINNER: Spike Jonze ‘Her’
Runner Up: Richard Linklater ‘Before Midnight’
Honorable Mention: Steve McQueen ’12 Years a Slave’

Martin Scorsese ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’
Jean-Marc Valee ‘Dallas Buyers Club’
Alexander Payne ‘Nebraska’
Denis Villeneuve ‘Prisoners’
Alfonso Cuaron ‘Gravity’
Destin Cretton ’12 Years a Slave’
Coen Bros ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’

I have to give a leg up to the director/writer combos so it’s no surprise that Spike Jonze has secured the top position. The humanity he brings to this technological world and the insight he’s able to provide is simply stunning, aided by his sharp visual style and realistic futurism. Richard Linklater may not be the world’ most hands on director but the palpably freedom he affords his actors gives them the capacity to create the caliber of tender moments we see in Before Midnight. He’s no bleeding heart but he’s not quite a cynic either and I love watching the way he sees the world. On the more difficult side of things, I’ve seen all three of Steve McQueen‘s films and, though this comment may be hotly debated, think 12 Years a Slave is actually his least tortuous. At least to watch. It’s an amazing effort that drags us through hell and yet there is a string of hope that runs throughout the story. I guess that only someone from outside of the states could bring such honesty and power to a distinctly American story.

Best Ensemble:


WINNER: American Hustle
Runner Up: The Wolf of Wall Street
Honorable Mention: August: Osage County

12 Years a Slave
This is the End
The Counselor

Best Cinematography


WINNER: Sean Bobbitt ’12 Years A Slave’
Runner Up: Emmanuel Lubezki ‘Gravity’
Honorable Mention: Roger Deakins ‘Prisoners’

Phedon Papamichael ‘Nebraska’
Hoyte Van Hoytema ‘Her’
Bruno Delbonnel ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’
John R. Leonetti ‘The Conjuring’
Yves Bélanger ‘Lawrence Anyways’

Best Foreign Film


WINNER: The Hunt
Runner Up: Laurence Anyways
Honorable Mention: Populaire

Blue is the Warmest Color
Crystal Fairy and the Magical Cactus

Best Documentary:


WINNER: The Act of Killing
Runner Up: Cutie and the Boxer
Honorable Mention: Dirty Wars

The Crash Reel
The Square

Best Song


WINNER: “Fare Thee Well” – Inside Llewyn Davis
Runner Up: “Young and Beautiful” – Great Gatsby
Honorable Mention: “Doby” – Anchorman 2: The Journey Continues

“Please Mr. Kennedy – Inside Llewy6n Davis
“The Moon Song – Inside Llewyn Davis
“In Summer – Frozen
“Oblivion” – Oblivion

Best Scene:


WINNER: Her ‘When it All Goes Dark’
Runner Up: The Wolf of Wall Street “Lemmons 714”
Honorable Mention: Before Midnight ‘Letter from the Future’

Captain Phillips “Check Up”
August: Osage “Family Dinner”
Nebraska “Mt. Rushmore”
This is the End “Backstreets Back”
Gravity ‘Opening Sequence’
Out of the Furnace ‘Hot Dog’
Inside Llewyn Davis ‘Please Mr. Kennedy’
The Conjuring “Basement Exorcism”
Lawrence Anyways “It’s Raining Clothes”

I’d love to hear where you guys agree and disagree and would encourage you to share your own lists in the comments section below.

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10 Best Movies on Netflix Instant (You Probably Haven’t Seen)

Obviously Netflix is choke full of classics like Pulp Fiction, comedy gold like Zoolander and my favorite movie of all time Apocolypse Now. Also Once Upon a Time in The West, The Avengers, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, Y Tu Mama También, Bottle Rocket, Midnight Cowboy, Being John Malkovich, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Braveheart, Memento, Punch Drunk Love. But we’re not here to talk movies that you’ve already seen or know. However if you’ve missed any of them, I implore you to get on the saddle and get to queuing because none of those films are to be missed.

But for every movie that you know you should have seen, there are two that you’ve never even heard of. This list covers those diamonds in the rough scattered throughout Netflix Instant. So do yourself a favor, grab a bag of popcorn and settle in for some hidden gems of the film world.




An absolute knockout, Bellflower opens like a cheaply made indie romcom and evolves into one of the darkest looks at a relationship ever to grace the silver screen. Beyond the absolutely devastating third act, Bellflower amazes with its paltry budget and DIY filmmaking approach. Made for a figure shy of $17,000, Bellflower squeezes more bang for its buck than any other movie I can think of. If you’ve got a strong stomach and want to experience a film that will rip your heart out, throw it on the floor and set it on fire with a flamethrower, be sure to pop on Bellflower immediately. But don’t be deceived by the first flowery half-hour or so, once you peel back the shades, Bellflower is one of the most grim and bluntly devastating films ever made.

Add Bellflower to “Your List”


Everyone seems to know that this movie scored an Oscar for Three6 Mafia but much fewer have seen the actual movie. If you had, you’d understand exactly why that Oscar was earned. And you would helplessly start chanting, “Whoop that trick (get ’em)” in your head. A powerhouse film that showcased a host of America’s “underbelly”, Hustle and Flow made us care about a pimp and his hoes. Like Terrence Howard‘s Djay we awaited the American Dream and were just as crushed and uplifted by his uphill journey to a mystical pot of gold.

Add Hustle and Flow to “Your List”


Darren Aronofsky‘s first film is also his least seen, but there’s no good reason for it. Filmed entirely in black-and-white (not for artistic purposes but for budgetary reasons), Pi follows a troubled mathematician coming to head with his own fleeting sanity. Lean in scope but full of challenging intellectual hurdles, Pi set the table for Aronofsky’s career tailor made of mental deterioration and bleak cinematic landscapes. Pretty much everyone has seen Black Swan by now (or at least the beloved Portman on Kunis scene) but most have overlooked this early gem in the true auteur’s career. If you’ve been putting it off, now is the time to delve in. Just make sure you don’t have any power tools on hand.

Add Pi to “Your List”



Nothing cinches a movie like a great ending and Bullhead is perfect evidence of that fact – it’s filmmaking 101 on how to stick your ending. It may be Belgian and may not feature any actors you’re familiar with but this story of corruption and crime packs an unforgettable punch that’ll linger long after it’s rock hard finale. Chartering the nature of violence and the inescapable shadow of childhood, Bullhead explores the dire notion that we do not control our destiny. Instead, it is irrevocably pieced together from our experiences – the tide of nurture overtaking nature. Though it is often hard to watch, it is eerily sincere in its frankness and surprisingly affecting.

Add Bullhead to “Your List”



A criminally underseen tale of two estranged brothers who meet in the Ultimate Fighter arena, Warrior only pulled $13 million on a $25 million budget, making it all but a financial failure for distributor Lionsgate. But for however unsuccessful Warrior was monetarily, it garnished near universal praise from critics and for good reason. With showstopping performances from stars Tom Hardy, Joel Edgerton, and Nick Nolte, Warrior continued the streak of movies centered on men in the ring striking gold (for further evidence of this fact look to The Wrestler and The Fighter). However borrowed some of the story elements may have been, Gavin O’Connor‘s film does them the right way, proving the continuing power of the sports epic.

Add Warrior to “Your List”




When I reviewed Blue Valentine in 2010 to the tune of an A, I called it a “taxing but worthwhile study of the ups-and-downs of a rocky relationship.” Having seen it a number of times now, I can stand by that statement wholeheartedly. One of the most powerful and intimate looks at a relationship I can remember seeing on the screen, Blue Valentine unleashes the acting prowess of Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling as they tear up each and every scene. Falling in and out of love with each other on a dime, their relationship is a train wreck that we can’t help but stare at. But don’t think of this as a “date movie”, the hard-hitting conclusion probably won’t leave anyone into lovey dovey mode.

Add Blue Valentine to “Your List”


A frothy French rom-com that’s sure to delight even the surliest of humbuggers, Popularie turns typewriting into sport and transcriptions into an allegory for women’s rights. Starring a bunch of people from France that you’ve never heard of, Populaire is insta-artistry and you’ll be that much more likeable for having seen it. Next time you’re at a dinner party and are trying to impress a lady fella, mention that you saw and loved Populaire. Mission accomplished. Netflix has a great tendency to scoop up little independent gems like these barely after they’ve hit theaters and Populaire is a great example of this media giant helping out the little guy and bringing something that otherwise wouldn’t reach a huge audience to the legion of at home viewers. Now do yourself a favor and pop it on your list.

Add Populaire to “Your List”



A jet black comedy that gently reminds you to love Colin Farrell, In Bruge has heart, wit and tension in spades. Following the exploits of two bumbling hit men hiding out in a quiet Belgian village, Farrell and co-star Brendan Gleeson are certainly an onscreen odd couple but their pitch perfect chemistry works wonders. Whether they’re bickering or sharing heartfelt moments of manlove, this mismatched duo speaks to the broken dreams in all of us. From unforgettable one-liners (“You’re just the rudest man, the rudest man”) to the shockingly gruesome showdowns – all of this plus a dour midget whacked out on hallucinatories – In Bruges is full of unexpected surprises. Director Martin McDonagh went on to make Seven Psychopaths but it failed to reach the crazy highs of In Bruge.

Add In Bruges to “Your List



Forgive me if you’ve already seen Cabin in the Woods but considering how new it is, I felt it demanded an inclusion on this list. If you have seen it, you most likely already love it though so won’t mind seeing it recommended to others. As a send up to the genre, Cabin in the Woods is a witty deconstruction of horror tropes, lambasted through the lens of comedy. While the first half of the film tries to convince you that it’s just the same old cabin in the woods story you’ve seen a million times before, the last bombastic act flips the genre on its head, offering heady satire in spades. Joss Whedon of The Avengers co-wrote the script with director Drew Goddard and by the end of the writing process liked it so much that he wanted to direct it himself. Even though Whedon got shut down, Goddard managed to handle the material with wily perfection. Cabin in the Woods reminds us of all the reasons why we love and hate horror, doubling as a love letter and a reminder to shake things up every once in a while. Top all that off with a merman with a blood blowhole and you have yourself a truly delightful experience.

Add The Cabin in the Woods to “Your List”



Before Looper, director Rian Johnson debuted to the film world with a hard-boiled high school noir the likes of no other. Before becoming a household name, Joseph Gordon-Levitt rocked shaggy hair and spectacles as he saunters through a silky script that perpetually tipped its hat to Chinatown. Tactile, greasy, and totally compelling, Brick is imagination gone wild – the unicorn of independent cinema. For every hundred movies made, there is only one like Brick and appreciating its eccentricity is half the fun. Combining elements of 50s noir with a high school setting sounds unnatural but the result is a thing to behold. A film that challenges the intellect and keeps you on your toes to keep up, Brick is something of a stunner. Whether you like your detective yarns fresh squeezed or not, this one’s spilling over with extra pulp.

Add Brick to “Your List”

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