Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Reel-life adventures in Hollywood this year


A look back at tinsel town’s ups and downs in 2013 – what made this year memorable

* Marvel’s Avengers continued to rule the movie universe. The adequately entertaining Iron Man 3 conquered the global box office and became the world’s highest grossing movie of 2013, while the passable Thor: The Dark World followed suit, becoming the eighth biggest movie of the year. And The Wolverine won Hugh Jackman more praise and also performed well financially. Not to be outdone, DC Comics’ Superman reboot Man of Steel soared to the sixth place in the year’s highest earning list.
* Half of Hollywood got together to make one of the worst movies of the year. Its title, Movie 43, was one of the many things about it that made no sense.
* Before we could even properly rejoice about the fact that there would be no more Twilight movies, Hollywood hurled the adaptation of Stephenie Meyer’s The Host at us; it was exactly as bad as we suspected. Other new franchises that failed to take off included The Mortal Instruments and Caster Chronicles, when their respective first installments, City of Bones and Beautiful Creatures, proved to be financial disappointments.
* Scary Movie 5 happened. We wish it hadn’t.
* Our will to live went down as the plans for the 50 Shades of Grey movie picked up. Charlie Hunnam signed on to play Christian Grey, then had a “wait, I did what?!!” moment and promptly left the project; he was replaced by Jamie Dornan. And Dakota Johnson was cast as Anastasia Steele to the excitement of absolutely no one.
* Ben Affleck decided to follow last year’s acclaimed Argo with the abysmal Runner, Runner this year in order to restore equilibrium in his career. Then, in a casting choice that made the world collectively lose its mind, it was announced that Affleck would be donning the Batsuit vacated by Christian Bale for 2015’s Man of Steel sequel, as memories of Gigli flooded many a weary mind.
* The Entourage movie was finally, officially a go.
* Jim Carrey withdrew his support for his new film, the ultra-violent Kick-Ass 2, weeks before its release, saying that he “cannot support that level of violence”. If only he had instead realized what a mess the whole project was when he read the script…
* Former Disney princesses Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens joined their friends to become provocative Spring Breakers, but James Franco stole the spotlight. The ubiquitous actor also appeared in a number of other movies, including Oz the Great and Powerful and…
* … This Is The End, which fittingly became the last movie ever rented from the last Blockbuster store. The film offered some of the funniest moments of the year, as did the somewhat similarly themed but very different The World’s End, which wrapped up Edgar Wright’s Cornetto trilogy.
* The Great Gatsby wasn’t very great. The Incredible Burt Wonderstone wasn’t incredible.
* Fast & Furious 6 made a fast and furious sprint to the top of the box office, before Paul Walker’s tragic, untimely death in a car crash brought the franchise to a temporary halt.
* Action also offered a lot of other variety. Pacific Rim entertained. Elysium underwhelmed. Rush impressed. Prisoners had us riveted. Oblivion borrowed brazenly from sci-fi past. Riddick made a fiery return. Red 2 seemed unnecessary. R.I.P.D. ripped off M.I.B. A Good Day to Die Hard wasn’t very good. And G.I. Joe: Retaliation was thwarted by Pakistani censors.
* The Hangover Part III ended the trilogy, which was also pretty much its only redeeming quality.
* Will Smith’s vanity project After Earth, and his continued effort to pass his son Jaden Smith off as an actor, went awfully awry. Either that or he tried to make a terrible movie on purpose to show us just how bad films can be so that we could appreciate other movies in comparison.
* Films that also landed with a thud included the big screen version of The Lone Ranger; the adaptation of The Reluctant Fundamentalist; the Linda Boreman biopic Lovelace; Sylvester Stallone’s action flick Bullet to the Head; the Machete sequel Machete Kills; and Ethan Hawke and Selena Gomez’s widely slammed Getaway.
* Angelina Jolie’s preventive mastectomy to minimize her risk of breast cancer and her decision to go public about it made headlines, as the actress was applauded for her bravery and for raising awareness about genetic testing.
* Pixar continued to struggle with its creative slump, releasing the middling but successful Monsters University, a sequel to 2001’s Monsters Inc. Its parent company Disney, meanwhile, picked up the slack and received acclaim for its fairytale musical Frozen.
* Elsewhere in animationland, Despicable Me 2 might not have been as novel as its predecessor but it still became the most successful animated movie of the year; The Croods took an amusing prehistoric trip; Turbo and Planes took us to the races; Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 offered some more silly fun; while Epic wasn’t very epic.
* Clearly not content with how awful 2011’s The Smurfs was, the filmmakers took it as a challenge to prove that they can do worse. The result was The Smurfs 2. They succeeded.
* World War Z made us zzZZzzz.
* First Melissa McCarthy lowered our expectations with Identity Theft, then won us over again by teaming up with the lovely Sandra Bullock for the amusing The Heat.
* Sandra Bullock also had us at the edge of our seats with the captivating George Clooney costarring Gravity, although even the film’s awesomeness couldn’t stand in the way of Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s nitpicking.
* Horror movie The Conjuring scared us by being based on the scariest thing of all: real life.
* Inside Llewyn Davis was a great combination of a dark, affecting story, good acting, and some fitting music.
* Tyler Perry made yet another Madea movie because he clearly enjoys torturing us.
* The Counselor somehow managed to get Brad Pitt, Cameron Diaz, Javier Bardem, Penélope Cruz, and Michael Fassbender on board, and then somehow managed to stuff the whole thing up.
* Robert Redford captivated with his solo performance in the gripping survival adventure All Is Lost.
* Joaquin Phoenix fell for a computer generated voice in the soulful Her.
* Ron Burgundy returned after almost a decade in the comedy Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.
* James Gandolfini passed away, only a few months before the release of the much praised Enough Said.
* Despite (or perhaps because of) her lack of filters, Jennifer Lawrence became someone we wish we were friends with. Her Oscar win and appearances in the lauded The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and American Hustle made 2013 a great year for the young actress.
* Anne Hathaway, on the other hand, may have won a handful of awards but faced the wrath of the Hathahaters, particularly for her prolonged, overly rehearsed acceptance speeches during the award season. But even all that hate couldn’t dethrone Gwyneth Paltrow as the most hated celebrity in Hollywood.
* Adam Sandler continued to win Razzies, and, undeterred, generated even more Razzie-worthy material, this time in the form of the universally criticized Grown Ups 2.
* Katherine Heigl continued to have a movie career for some reason. Even more confusingly, so did Rob Schneider.
* Joseph Gordon-Levitt made his directorial debut in the well-received Don Jon.
* Famed film critic Roger Ebert passed away at the age of 70.
* Biopics of varying quality – from the panned Diana, Winnie Mandela, Jobs, and The Fifth Estate, to the middling Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, and the praised The Butler – came out throughout the year.
* Matthew McConaughey made a remarkable comeback with the very impressive Mud, Dallas Buyers Club, and The Wolf of Wall Street, and was followed by unrelenting Oscar buzz wherever he went.
* Also having an impressive year was the great Tom Hanks, who starred in two excellent films, portraying the titular character in the hostage thriller Captain Phillips, and Walt Disney in the touching Saving Mr. Banks, the story of bringing Mary Poppins to the big screen.
* But more than anything, it was a great year to be a fan of Benedict Cumberbatch, who seemed to magically be everywhere all at the same time. From playing the villain in Star Trek Into Darkness and Julian Assange in The Fifth Estate, to his roles in award contending movies like August: Osage County and 12 Years a Slave, the actor was on a roll. He even made a fierce dragon, bringing Smaug to majestic life in the second part of The Hobbit trilogy. And of course he effortlessly raised the popularity of otters everywhere, because he is just that awesome.

- Sameen Amer

Instep Today, The News - 31st December, 2013 *

1 comment:

Mubashir Noor said...

Hey Sam. This is Moby. If possible, I would really love to reconnect with you. Sent a follow request on Twitter since I can't get a hold of your email. I hope you accept.