New Jack City: Jack’s Best (& Worst) Nights of ‘Flickering’ in the Darkness

keri-russell-dark-skiesEverybody does those silly year-end Best Of lists…

I guess that’s because there’s not much else going on this late in the year. I wasn’t planning on doing one—but I got shamed into it.

Let me explain.

I don’t do BESTS or WORSTS because I’m not smart enough for that. I’ll leave that to those so-called schooled critics.

However, I know what I enjoyed during the past year—and what I suffered through— in many a dark auditorium.

So here then the films of 2013 that made going to the movies the most enjoyable for me.

Wolf-of-Wall-Street-Header1# 1—“THE WOLF OF WALL STREET”Martin Scorsese’s decadent true story of the American dream and corporate greed—not to mention sex, power and cocaine. It’s Leonardo DiCaprio‘s best performance of his career while Jonah Hill proves that his great performance in “MONEYBALL” wasn’t a fluke.

# 2—“THE WAY, WAY BACK”—a poignant, funny coming of age story with great performances by Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Allison Janney, Sam Rockwell and Liam James.

# 3—“AMERICAN HUSTLE”—What an ensemble! Director David O. Russell here spoofs the Abscam scandal with Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams, Christian Bale, Jeremy Renner and scene stealing Jennifer Lawrence.

# 4—“AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY”—If there’s ever been any doubt in your mind that Meryl Streep wasn’t America’s finest actress, then here is even more proof!

Julia Roberts, Benedict Cumberbatch, Juliette Lewis and Chris Cooper are also terrific in this dark, touching Tony and Pulitzer prize winning stage to screen transformation.



(The movie ‘platforms’ into KC area theaters on January 10.)

# 5—“GRAVITY”—An extraordinary one woman show that Sandra Bullock pulls off against all odds

# 6—“NEBRASKA”—Director Alexander Payne‘s touching and inspiring dramedy of cantankerous Bruce Dern’s road trip from Billings to Lincoln to claim his non-existent sweepstakes fortune. Also delivering award worthy performances in crisp black and white are Will Forte and June Squibb

# 7—“12 YEARS A SLAVE”—Often hard to watch as director Steve McQueen puts us through the wringer with Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano, Paul Giamatti and Brad Pitt—who also co-produced this incredible true story motion picture.

# 8—“CAPTAIN PHILLIPS”—This year’s poster child of how an exciting and tense action-adventure SHOULD be presented on the big screen.

# 9—“SAVING MR. BANKS”—Movie industry based stories don’t often work. And filling Walt Disney’s shoes would add even more pressure to the film. But between Tom Hanks, Emma Thompson, Colin Farrell, Jason Schwartzman and Disney’s OWN studio backing the project, director John Lee Hancock pulled it off!

# 10—“42”—You don’t have to be a baseball fan to like this movie—for example, I’m not one…..This is just a terrific story about achievements both on the field and off that works on all fronts.

Screen shot 2013-12-30 at 8.40.05 AMHonorable mentions for memorable nights at the movies in 2013 also include:






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spring-breakers-Vanessa-Hudgens-Selena-Gomez-Ashley-Benson-Rachel-Korine-2Cinematic turkey salads during the past year included sitting through the likes of:







* “R.I.PD.”

However there were two titles that almost made me lose faith in Hollywood’s often-dubious judgments.

The runner up—you guessed it—another sorry Adam Sandler offering, the unfunny and just plain dumb “GROWN UPS 2.”

the-big-wedding-5208eec950f17And the VERY worst movie of 2013 was sprung upon unsuspecting moviegoers in April and was called “THE BIG WEDDING.”

It was described as “an uproarious comedy about a charmingly modern family trying to survive a weekend wedding celebration.”

What we got instead was a star-studded embarrassment of tragic proportions. Shame on Robert DeNiro, Susan Sarandon, Diane Keaton, Katherine Heigl, Robin Williams, Topher Grace, Amanda Seyfried and EVERYONE who claim ANY involvement with this bombastic misfire.

What were they thinking?

All right I finally got it all off my chest.

Here’s to a bright and prosperous New Year!

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3 Responses to New Jack City: Jack’s Best (& Worst) Nights of ‘Flickering’ in the Darkness

  1. jon says:

    I didn’t see all the movies you included on the lists but agree with your picks from among those I did see in a theatre or on dvd. Am glad you didn’t include ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’ into your list of favorites. I thought it got a whole lot more praise from critics than it deserved.

  2. Pingback: From Our Members – Best & Worst Films of 2013 | Kansas City Film Critics Circle

  3. jack p. says:

    Agreed! Unless you’re into the musical score it’s sure not one of my favorite Coen brothers movies.

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