Highs and Lows of the First Half of 2013

The 5 Best Performances of 2013 (so far)

delpy1. Julie Delpy in Before Midnight– Delpy has always been great in this series, but she brings it to new heights here. This is my favorite performance of the year so far, especially when you include Ethan Hawke as a package deal. Still, Delpy is the star and gives a career best performance. Hopefully Oscar remembers this.

shailene-woodley-spectacular-now32. Shailene Woodley in The Spectacular Now– I loved her in The Descendants, but this is heads and tails a better performance. She’s impossible not to fall in love with here, but it’s done without being any kind of a manic pixie dream girl or the like. She’s 100% deserving of either a Best Actress or Best Supporting Actress nomination, though I’m not certain she’ll be in real play for either.

movies_place-beyond-the-pines poster3. Bradley Cooper and Ryan Gosling in The Place Beyond the Pines– Okay, I cheated here, since both Cooper and Gosling are terrific in their smaller than you’d expect parts. They’re each equally essential to the story and ace their parts completely. I could go on all day about them both, but neither is as good without the other, honestly. Both are worthy of Best Supporting Actor consideration.

large_the_pretty_one_pubs4. Zoe Kazan in The Pretty One– It’s no secret that I dig Kazan’s work consistently, but she’s turned in one of her best ever performances here. By playing two parts, she’s stretched herself in a real interesting way, something even I wasn’t expecting. I doubt the Academy will notice her, but they should.

Don-Jon-trailer-640x2745. Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Don Jon– Not only did JGL write and direct a hell of a film, he gave one of his top five acting jobs to date as well. This is also a very different type of role than you’d expect from him. Honestly, I’m not sure many other people could have pulled it off. Voters probably won’t pay attention to his acting, and that’s a shame…

Male Honorable Mention: James Franco in Spring Breakers and Miles Teller in The Spectacular Now
Female Honorable Mention: Greta Gerwig in Frances Ha and Felicity Jones in Breathe In

Half Year Awards
(Winners in BOLD, runners-up in ITALICS)

Best Picture: Before Midnight, Don Jon, Frances Ha, The Place Beyond the Pines, and The Spectacular Now

Best Director: Noah Baumbach (Frances Ha), Derek Cianfrance (The Place Beyond the Pines), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Don Jon), Richard Linklater (Before Midnight), and James Ponsoldt (The Spectacular Now)

Best Actor: Tom Cruise (Oblivion), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Don Jon), Ethan Hawke (Before Midnight), Tye Sheridan (Mud), and Miles Teller (The Spectacular Now)

Best Actress: Julie Delpy (Before Midnight), Greta Gerwig (Frances Ha), Zoe Kazan (The Pretty One), Brie Larson (Short Term 12), and Shailene Woodley (The Spectacular Now)

Best Supporting Actor: Bradley Cooper (The Place Beyond the Pines), Kevin Costner (Man of Steel), James Franco (Spring Breakers), Ryan Gosling (The Place Beyond the Pines), and Matthew McConaughey (Mud)

Best Supporting Actress: Scarlett Johansson (Don Jon), Eva Mendes (The Place Beyond the Pines), Julianne Moore (Don Jon), Kristin Scott Thomas (Only God Forgives), and Mickey Sumner (Frances Ha)

Best Adapted Screenplay: Before Midnight (Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke, and Richard Linklater), Man of Steel (David S. Goyer and Christopher Nolan), The Spectacular Now (Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber), This is the End (Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen), and Warm Bodies (Jonathan Levine)

Best Original Screenplay: Don Jon (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), Frances Ha (Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig), The Place Beyond the Pines (Derek Cianfrance), Short Term 12 (Destin Cretton), and Stuck in Love (Josh Boone)

Best Documentary Feature: After Tiller, A Band Called Death, Manhunt, A Place at the Table, Stories We Tell

Best Foreign Language Feature: Starbuck (there’s not enough here yet for a full lineup)

Best Animated Feature: Monsters University (there’s not enough here either yet for a full lineup)

Best Cinematography: Before Midnight, Frances Ha, Mud, Only God Forgives, and The Place Beyond the Pines

Best Film Editing: Before Midnight, Don Jon, Frances Ha, The Place Beyond the Pines, and The Spectacular Now

Best Original Score: Man of Steel, Only God Forgives, The Place Beyond the Pines, To the Wonder, and World War Z

Now, I turn it over to you all for debate and discussion. What were your favorite films and performances of the year so far? What were your least favorite? What are you excited for in the second half? Whatever you want to talk about in regards to the first half of 2013, consider this your time, so have at it!

Thoughts? Discuss in the comments!

What do you think?

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Written by Joey Magidson

When he’s not obsessing over new Oscar predictions on a weekly basis, Joey is seeing between 300 and 350 movies a year. He views the best in order to properly analyze the awards race/season each year, but he also watches the worst for reasons he mostly sums up as "so you all don't have to". In his spare time, you can usually find him complaining about the Jets or the Mets. Still, he lives and dies by film. Joey's a voting member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.


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Matthew P

I’m thrilled to find someone who shares my love of “The Place Beyond the Pines”. Often with movies that run 140 minutes, I feel they struggled to fill that time, but I loved every second of “Pines”. Looking forward to “The Spectacular Now” later this summer. Also enjoyed “Mud” quite a bit.

Also, I was a big fan of the underseen “The Sapphires” – breaks no new ground but very charming and entertaining. Saw “What Maisie Knew” at TIFF last Septemeber and thought it was beautifully done.


Great piece Joey! As a huge fan of “(500)Days,” I’m anxiously awaiting “The Spectacular Now” and “Don Jon”

Stephen Jay

Thanks for the writeup, Joey. I enjoyed it. I was curious to see your Oscar predictions for this year – are they posted anywhere? All I could find were Clayton’s.

John Rivera

Here are my awards Best Picture Winner: This is The End Runner Up: The Place Beyond The Pines Best Director Winner: Derek Cianfrance – The Place Beyond The Pines Runner Up: Jeff Nichols – Mud Best Actor Winner: Leonardo Dicaprio – The Great Gatsby Runner up: Bradley Cooper – The Place Beyond The Pines Best Actress Winner: Rooney Mara – Side Effects Runner up: Olga Kurylenko – To The Wonder Best Supporting Actor Winner: Emory Cohen – The Place Beyond The Pines Runner Up: Zach Braff – Oz: The Great And Powerful Best Supporting Actress Winner: Eva Mendes – The… Read more »

Steve Glansberg

Very surprisingly, Spring Breakers is my favorite film of the year so far, as it was the complete opposite of what I expected. Kind of like with Killing Them Softly last year, I think there is a heck of a lot more going on in that movie than some detractors give credit for.

I’m definitely looking forward to most of the movies on your list, I just don’t know when I’ll get a chance to see them. Mark Johnson’s Cleveland seems way ahead of the times from where I live.


I cannot wait for The Spectacular Now, it really does look fantastic. I think To the Wonder is by far the best movie of the year so far, but I also loved The Bling Ring, Pain and Gain, and Spring Breakers as well. So far, there hasn’t been a critical darling that I’ve completely agreed warranted the praise (Before Midnight, Stories we Tell didn’t live up to the filmmakers’ potential imo).


I always find myself at a disadvantage during the first half of the year because I don’t have “access” to all of the great indie films that usually end up being my favorites by the end of the year. As of now, my favorite film of the year is 42, which, despite its financial and critical success, I still find to be largely underrated. Very impressed with the direction and the two lead performances. Its a familiar story, but an emotionally daring one. I also thought that G.I. Joe: Retaliation was downright the most horrendous movie I have seen in… Read more »


Thanks for your input!!! Ill check out the ones u like. Thanx


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