In the lead-up to the unveiling of our definitive Top 50 Movies of 2013 list, we’ve asked some friends of Paste to tell us their favorites of the year. Tune in for a different list each day. Today’s contributor is actor Beth Grant, who has portrayed memorable characters in three Best Picture Oscar winners — Rain Man, No Country for Old Men, and Rango — as well as this year’s As I Lay Dying (pictured).
It was a perfect film — the most accurate, loving, funny, personal story of a marriage I have seen. I left the theatre thrilled and inspired.
Julia Louis Dreyfus was the perfect person to take us on the joyful, painful, journey of this flawed but oh so loveable woman. When she and her ex-husband (always spot on Toby Huss) watch their daughter riding up the escalator, leaving for college, I burst into tears. I’ve long had a crush on James Gandolfini and am so grateful we have this beautiful portrait of a real man to remember him always.
Sandra Bullock’s journey as an actor and as a human being is evident in this beautiful film. Her simplicity and belief in the circumstances, her use of her imagination, allowed us to have this extraordinary experience in outer space through her eyes, without telling us how to feel. Her performance is both a dance and a dramatic tour de force. I have to mention that last shot of her as the strongest woman on earth. She is the hero we all wish we could be.
Star Trek Into Darkness
Inside Llewyn Davis
What a tricky role for Oscar Isaac, being asked to carry a picture yet playing a guy who is talented but not a star. The Coens have done it again, daring to have a hero who really isn’t one. It was exquisitely painful to watch as I kept hoping Llewyn would breakthrough. But that wouldn’t be the truth of MacDougal and Bleecker Streets and it certainly wouldn’t be our beloved geniuses, the Coen Brothers.
Every actor I know, none more than me, would give our eye teeth to have David O. Russell yell lines at us while the camera rolls. How he can get these wildly intimate performances and still sculpt a dramatic, suspenseful story is nothing but divine. God I love close-ups.
Octavia Spencer’s lively personality completely disappeared into her character in this film. Michael B. Jordan is terrific and this “day in the life” tragic story was told simply, without blame.
It was a hellish film for me as the mother of a daughter, but gotta say James Franco tore it up, creating a character that scared the beejezus out of me but whose charm and innate sweetness made him the ultimate bad boy. A bold, dynamic, unforgettable performance.
Even though this is a dramatized story, it is true to my experience of the era and people I knew. Examining how far we’ve come and how we got here is an important part of our journey. Every performance is excellent. I’m grateful to Lee Daniels for making this film.
And last but absolutely not least…
Saving Mr. Banks
Much to my surprise, this is my favorite film of the year. As a character actor who has played a LOT of unlikeable characters, I identified deeply with Emma Thompson’s Mrs. Travers. I thank her from the bottom of my heart for creating a complex, vulnerable human being, a writer suffering the creative process of letting someone else develop her characters. Ultimately Travers made Mary Poppins a much better film than it ever could have been because she fought for the truth of the characters she had created. The film shows how important it is for us artists to be strong and unafraid of things getting a little messy or difficult in the creative process. I am so impressed that Disney Studios would make a film giving credit to Travers and her bravery to withhold the rights from Walt Disney to secure her vision. And I’ve never loved Walt Disney more than to learn how he found a way to collaborate with her. This is the only way I know to create something worthwhile and ironically, these filmmakers have done so here as well. I absolutely love this movie. What a gift.
Lists from other friends of Paste:
Director Lynn Shelton
Director Megan Griffiths
Producer Natasha Giliberti
Author Kayli Stollak
Actor Josh Radnor
Author Anna Goldfarb
Director Dan Mirvish
Director Paul Rachman
Director Karin Hayes
Producer Anne Hubbell
Director Stacie Passon
Actor Sophia Takal
Actor Tallie Medel
Director Adam Leon