You know I love a good GIF. So what better way to recap this year's biggest hits and misses than through that little looping animation that has made the internet such a magical place?
In the coming days, we'll be rolling out our critic's personal top tens to toast the very best movies this year had to offer. But here I'll be recapping the highs and lows of the movie business experienced over the past 12 months. 2013 has been a pretty fascinating time for film, full of reversals of fortune, dizzying successes and even some truly polarizing pictures. So let's look back and GIF out!
Jennifer Lawrence IS The Girl On Fire
The twenty-three-year-old ingénue may well be one of the most talked about people of 2013. Or maybe it just seems that way since everything she does becomes a GIF or viral video. But internet saturation aside, JLaw has had an incredible year. It began with her winning the Academy Award for Silver Linings Playbook, and winning our undying devotion by tripping on her way to the podium.
With the fall (as in autumn) came the release of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. The much anticipated sequel to The Hunger Games not only won better reviews than the first film, but has already made more at the box office in just four weeks ($735 million worldwide) than the first had in its entire run ($691 million worldwide). Then just in time for Christmas, Lawrence gives the glitzy gift of American Hustle, her reteam with David O. Russell and Bradley Cooper that is scooping up critical praise, SAG nominations, and Golden Globe nods. All this hype and hubbub could well lead to Lawrence making her second trip to Oscar gold come 2014.
Every Non-Hunger Games YA Property Bombs
Harry Potter and Twilight proved what a box office behemoth a good YA property can be. And the record-breaking success of The Hunger Games' first two films proves audiences are still hungry for the genre. So why did so many would-be YA franchises fail this year?
Sharing an author with Twilight did nothing to help the adaptation of Stephanie Meyer's The Host. The $40 million movie fronted by Saoirse Ronan brought in an embarrassing $48 million worldwide, and got a mere 8% on Rotten Tomatoes. Based on the Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl's novel, Beautiful Creatures was poised for this same audience, which presumably missed supernatural stories of romance. Nonetheless, critics jeered and this movie pulled in just $60 million worldwide, little more than its production budget before the high expenses of movie marketing.
Another $60 mil production was Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, which was meant to be the first in a franchise based on Cassandra Clare's six-part novel series. But it earned on 12% of critic's approval on Rotten Tomatoes, and made just $80 million worldwide, throwing its sequel plans into uncertainty. Lucky for fans of Clary Fray, Constantin Film Produktion has looked past these abysmal numbers and has promised a part two with Mortal Instruments: City of Ashes.
Less lucky on the sequel front was Ender's Game. The most expensive of these YA-inspired adventures cost a whopping $110 million to produce, and made just $87 million worldwide despite topping the box office on its opening weekend. Some might blame the outspoken bigotry of its author Orson Scott Card for the film's failure, but CinemaScore's suggest it was more a lackluster word of mouth after its first weekend that sunk a sequel's chances.
Sandra Bullock Says Screw Your Glass Ceiling
You know those little assumptions of fact like "women aren't funny," or "audiences won't pay to see female-fronted action movies" or "women over 40 can't get arrested in Hollywood?" Yeah. Sandra Bullock showed just how out of date each of those bullshit lines of thought were this year, and she did it with a one-two punch known as The Heat and Gravity.
This summer Bullock teamed up with Bridesmaids director Paul Feig and its breakout star Melissa McCarthy for an R-rated cop comedy with some serious
balls ovaries. Not only did The Heat win over critics, it also proved a force to be reckoned with tanking the suspected blockbuster White House Down, and taking home an impressive $229 million. But Bullock wasn't through with 2013 yet. October brought the release of Alfonso Cuaron's Gravity, a lost in space thriller that broke a slew of box office records and went on to earn a stellar $642 million worldwide. As award season heats up, many count Bullock a serious contender for Oscar night, thanks to her physically demanding out-of-this-world performance.
Channing Tatum's Winning Streak Comes To An End
2012 was hands down the Year of Channing Tatum. Everything this stripper turned "Sexiest Man Alive" touched turned to gold, from The Vow to 21 Jump Street and of course Magic Mike. But 2013 was less kind, and for reasons we still can't make sense of.
The year started off well, with Steven Soderbergh's Side Effects, which earned critical praise and a healthy $60 mil worldwide. Then came G.I. Joe: Retaliation, which made $375 mil globally but wrote Tatum out of the future of the franchise. Next was what should have been Tatum's summer smash, White House Down. But despite its exhilarating president-under-siege plot and a gripping execution from Roland Emmerich, this $150 million tent pole crashed hard, coming in #4 its opening weekend, and making only $73 million domestically. Another blow was dealt when Tatum's could-be solace--and potential Oscar contender--Foxcatcher was moved from December of 2013 to 2014. Despite these setbacks, Tatum's still standing strong, with 22 Jump Street and Jupiter Ascending coming next year.
Johnny Depp Showed His Ass
Metaphorically of course. Between the massively successful Pirates of the Caribbean movies and Tim Burton's worldwide hit Alice in Wonderland, Depp had become Disney's favorite oddball/star. So Disney trusted Depp when his artistic muse led him to cake his face in white paint and play a nutty Native American in a big sprawling western of his own producing. Here Depp overreached in a move I've compared to Mike Myers, and the sloppy western with a reported budget of $215 million has been estimated to have lost Disney $150 million after print and advertising costs. But then things got gross when Depp decided to blame the film's epic failure not on it being a bad product that didn't connect with moviegoers, but on critics being judgmental jerks. (Allow Katey to explain why that argument holds no water.)
Of course even with this failure--and that of Dark Shadows the year before--Depp is still a big star. But his star power has taken a hit. Reportedly, Disney is reassessing how much they are willing to spend on the next Pirates movie. But they are far from giving up on Depp, what with Alice in Wonderland 2: Eccentric Boogaloo coming in 2016.
Even Still, Disney Dominated
Through its various distribution and production deals, Disney was essentially the driving force of the box office this year. Even with the massive flop that was The Lone Ranger, the House of Mouse had so many irons in the fire in 2013 that didn't matter that the expensive western was an absolute dud.
Their year started off strong with Oz: The Great and Powerful. Then two wings of their smart company buys kicked in, with Marvel's massive hit Iron Man 3--which is on track to be the highest grossing domestic release of the year--and the Pixar prequel Monsters University. Even with the summer catastrophe that was The Lone Ranger, Disney hit the billion dollar mark by July. And that was before Planes, Thor: The Dark World and Frozen came out. By the end of November, the studio that's earnestly gobbling up all the franchises you love became the first studio ever to make $4 billion in one year at the box office . And that number keeps climbing as Frozen continues to thrive, and Saving Mr. Banks joins the fray.
Hollywood Goes Crazy For True Crooks
This year theaters were overrun with films inspired by the bad behavior of real-life lowlifes, from The Bling Ring, and Spring Breakers, to Pain & Gain, Wolf of Wall Street, and American Hustle. And by and large we ate it up!
Sofia Coppola's The Bling Ring won rave reviews for its depiction of the home invasion and burglary spree of a pack of entitled Hollywood teens, and made a solid $19 million at the box office. Harmony Korine's neon-colored crime-drama Spring Breakers, which may or may not have found its muse in a lesser-known rapper called Riff Raff, became a hot button issue of child stars gone wild thanks to scantily clad performances from Vanessa Hudgens and Selena Gomez. While parents blanched, critics cheered and audiences turned out to the tune of $32 million.
The horrendous acts of extortion, torture and murder of the Sun Gym gang became a gonzo satire in Michael Bay's Pain & Gain. Though the outlandish biopic received mixed reviews, it scored at the box office, bringing in $86 million worldwide. David O. Russell's American Hustle is a comedy influenced by the conmen of ABSCAM, and while it's too soon to call this recently released film a hit, it certainly has won over critics, earning seven Golden Globe nominations and a string of critic guild honors. As it won't open until Christmas, Wolf of Wall Street is another unknown, but the early buzz is overwhelmingly good with many critics claiming it one of the best films of the year.
Man Of Steel: A Hit AND A Miss?
Few films this year drew the kind of passion Zack Snyder's Man of Steel unleashed. Earning $662 million worldwide, the $225 million superhero epic was undeniably a box office success that cemented the future of DC's growing movie franchise which will include the already polarizing Batman vs. Superman. However, the film's controversial climax struck a chord that had some fans cheering and others cursing the heavens.
Screenwriter/Superman fan Max Landis and Superman comic book writer Mark Waid both publically scorned Snyder's take on the iconic hero, but both he and Man of Steel scribe David S. Goyer defended their death-packed final act.
Here at Cinema Blend, we too were divided. Eric loved the movie, giving it four stars with his review, while Mack declared this Superman is one humanity could never trust to protect us. And from the look of the comments sections, this debate is far from over.
American Remakes Get Trashed In Translation
You know when you see a foreign film and think, "That was great! It’s a shame Hollywood doesn't make movies like that!" Well, this year showed that's not for lack of trying. 2013 saw the release of three remakes of foreign properties, that despite lauded directors and loveable stars flopped hard.
The first came last summer in the form of Brian De Palma's Passion, a lifeless remake of the erotic thriller Love Crime fronted by Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace. Critics sneered, and ultimately the $30 million dollar remake pulled in about $1.3 mil worldwide.
Fairing better but still badly was Delivery Man, the Vince Vaughn vehicle, which was a retooled version of the heralded French-Canadian comedy Starbuck. Even though DreamWorks brought Ken Scott, the first film's writer-director, on to helm this American version, lightning did not strike twice. The $26 mil production brought in just $29 million worldwide and earned little love from critics.
Last but not least was Spike Lee's Oldboy, which relocated Park Chan-wook's iconic Korean revenge thriller to New York City. Even with a splashy ad campaign and stars like Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Olsen, Sharlto Copley and Samuel L. Jackson, Lee's remake couldn't win over audiences or critics. All told the $30 million rehash made a shockingly low $4 million worldwide.
The Rock Ruled
There was a time when Dwayne Johnson was just a WWE star with a cool catchphrase and a megawatt smile. But with dogged determination and more than a decade of film work now under his belt, Johnson has pulled himself to Hollywood's A-list. Don't believe me? This year this insanely brawny star fronted four feature films. Three of these - G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Pain & Gain, and Fast and Furious 6 - opened at #1 (Snitch opened at #2 behind the widely promoted comedy The Identity Thief). By June, these four films has made more than a billion dollars at the box office, ultimately earning Johnson the title of highest-grossing star of the year, according to Forbes. The Rock was in our face through all of 2013, and still left us wanting more.
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Staff writer at CinemaBlend.