Unfortunately, I’m not a part of any fancy critics circle or a voting member of the Academy. Let’s just say I’m not their cup of tea. But what I do have is a web column that has been syndicated in seven other markets and I’m on TV. So I figured if those other guys can make up their own exclusive groups and declare winners, why can’t I make up my own awards? Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the 2013 Golden Potato Awards.
Best Villain: Michael Fassbender (12 Years A Slave)
Chiwetel Ejiofor may have found the role of his career as Solomon Northup, but the strongest display of acting in 12 Years a Slave comes from Michael Fassbender. Fassbender portrays Solomon’s final and most sadistic master, Edwin Epps. Epps treats his slaves as pieces of meat to torment in the fields and in the bedroom for some of the unlucky female slaves he has acquired. The only thing that may keep Fassbender from walking away with numerous best supporting actor awards is that his role may be too evil. You hate his despicable character in every way possible. You want him dead just as much as Solomon does. My theory is if you can nominate Ralph Fiennes as a sniper, kid-killing Nazi in Schindler’s List, Fassbender should have his name in the ring for best performance of the year.
Best Movie You Didn’t See: The Way, Way Back
I still can’t believe how many people haven’t seen this movie and why there is zero Oscar buzz for this film. The Way, Way Back has a familiar vibe where you could see yourself in the characters shoes. The ending doesn’t have the nice bow on top where everything is tied together perfectly, but you still feel good about the conclusion by the time the credits roll… even if your heart does break a little from the actors’ performances. Without a doubt, the highlight of The Way, Way Back is the performance of Sam Rockwell as Owen. Owen is a townie and the Manager of Water Wizz who befriends the lonely Duncan. Again, it’s shameful that Rockwell is getting zero Oscar buzz for his role in The Way, Way Back.
Breakthrough Performance: Will Forte (Nebraska)
You can add this to the list of things I never thought I would say: the guy from MacGruber deserves to be nominated for an Oscar. Will Forte is the real deal in Nebraska as Woody’s under-achieving son, David. David is a sweet guy who always gives his boozy father a pass at the end of each day, no matter how much it hurts his growth as a man. Forte showed off his dramatic chops in Nebraska and proved he’s much more than just a bit player in his old SNL cast members’ hit shows.
Best Comeback: Man of Steel
The most famous superhero of all time needed a makeover and Zack Snyder’s visual directing style and sense of action made Man of Steel the most exciting and visually pleasing Superman movie ever filmed. Man of Steel is the familiar story of Clark Kent that gives a fresh take on the story without ruffling the capes of Superman purists. Man of Steel mixed the best parts of Superman and Superman II and combined them into a new experience. The original Superman ideology is present with changes that provided the audience with a new perspective on the story of Earth’s foster-alien Kal-El. Man of Steel is a great start to kicking off the new franchise that will hopefully lead us into a long-awaited Justice League movie. It seems Cavill, Snyder and a little mentoring from Christopher Nolan have the DC Universe moving in the right direction on the big screen.
Biggest Disappointment: Lee Daniels’ The Butler
How could a movie about such an interesting time in American History with such a star-studded cast be such a snooze fest? The phrase “too much of a good thing” definitely applies to Lee Daniels’ The Butler. There’s just way too much going on in the film with multiple story lines that are not given enough time to develop. The casting isn’t much better. Also, when it comes to age, Forest Whitaker can’t pull off looking like a young man. He looked like he was 40 when he played a high schooler in Fast Times at Ridgemont High. The early scenes with Whitaker are almost distracting considering his aged appearance. Oprah’s performance in Lee Daniels’ The Butler is underwhelming at best. Alan Rickman looks way too young in the role as President Reagan and John Cusack’s prosthetic performance is ridiculous as Nixon. I kid you not, he’s Lloyd Dobler with a rubber nose. Lee Daniels’ The Butler had potential, but it gets bogged down with meaningless subplots (I’m pointing at you Terrence Howard) and poor casting choices.
Best Comedy: This is the End
I love a good genre buster and This is the End was a gift from genre busters heaven. This Is The End had all of your favorite stars from the ACC (Apatow Comedy Clique) playing heightened versions of themselves partying down at James Franco’s new mansion in Hollywood just as the Biblical apocalypse decides to break out. What’s great about This Is The End is it took the apocalypse as a serious event that created a ton of big laughs. Rogen and Evan Goldberg gave the audience surprisingly well done special effects and action sequences that took This Is The End to the next level. The tense moments in This Is The End induced coughing fits of laughter throughout. The one standout in the film would be Danny McBride. His over the top, brash persona takes over every time he is involved in a scene whether it’s wasting food, discussions of masturbation or his fellow cast mates acting prowess. McBride’s role definitely generated some of the big laughs of This Is The End and steals the show.
Best Movie: Dallas Buyers Club
There were many great films this year including 12 Years A Slave, Captain Phillips, and American Hustle just to name of few. But the story line and performances from Dallas Buyers Club have stuck with me the most. McConaughey gives the performance of his career in Dallas Buyers Club as Ron Woodroof, a rather narrow-minded 1980s Texan carrying a AIDS death sentence who decides to fight the FDA. As great as McConaughey’s performance is in Dallas Buyers Club, it wouldn’t have worked if it weren’t for Jared Leto stealing the show as Ron’s unlikely business partner Rayon. The Ron and Rayon alliance makes the movie as the odd couple help the HIV and AIDS patients of their membership only club that uses alternative treatment outside FDA restrictions. Leto’s Rayon is the heart of the movie and his friendship with Ron turns the hateful Woodruff into a man who cares about the people he once ridiculed. Dallas Buyers Club is a unique and true story of a man who refused to live by the assumption: it’s not about what works, it’s about what the FDA wants. McConaughey and Leto both give Oscar worthy performances and have already heard their names called for nominations during award season.
Best Weapon: Mjolnir (Thor: The Dark World)
The Jeagers from Pacific Rim were cool and you can never go wrong with the Fart Gun from Despicable Me 2, but as long as there is a magical hammer that you can control with your mind, the Mjolnir from Thor: The Dark World wins it every time.
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