As a follow-up to my list of this topic in 2011, I’m taking stock of the world of acting in the past year of cinema. Nearly every awards body gives out acting awards, but only a handful recognize a Best Cast or Best Ensemble of the year, as distinct from a more all-encompassing Best Picture. Two notable films from the year, Gravity and All is Lost, capitalize on their dual or solo protagonist(s) as the only characters, but nearly every other example relies on the interplay between recognizable stars, character actors, newbies, and extras. Effective ensembles of 2013 came under directors known for orchestrating, even indulging, an unwieldy stable of actors (David O. Russell, Martin Scorsese, Alexander Payne, Woody Allen), as well as filmmakers more known for focused tone in both acting and visuals (Steve McQueen, Denis Villeneuve, Sofia Coppola). The year was also notable for some relatively sensitive coming-of-age films involving large casts of young people and fun entries in ensemble-heavy franchises like Fast & Furious and The Hobbit. Next week I will unveil my own choices, but until then please comment on your own favorites.
Cinema transcends boundaries of time and space and thought and emotion; at its best it communicates the experience of being truly alive. I've been transfixed by the material ghosts of the movies since an early age, and I can't seem to shake them. Since reading and writing and talking about films are the next best things to watching them, criticism became a natural fit. Whether new or old, foreign or domestic, mainstream or cult, all movies are grist for my mill. Be forewarned, I'm an inveterate list-maker, so look out for rankings, topics, and opinions of all kinds. The AFI's got nothing on me.