Whose Year Was It Anyway? – Part I

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Before 2013 becomes yet another distant memory (seriously, who on earth remembers “twenty-eleven”, whatever that’s supposed to be?), let’s take one last, lingering look at it. We now know the big films, the awards contenders, the breakthroughs and failures… but what of the people?

Last year I looked at those film stars that had the biggest impact on 2012 in a countdown that included Robert Pattinson (#10), Mads Mikkelsen (#6), Maggie Smith (#5) and Anna Kendrick (#3), with Jennifer Lawrence of course topping the ten after excellent turns in The Hunger Games and Silver Linings Playbook. Let’s see if she turns up again this year.

But before we get to those that impressed, let’s have some fun. This year I’m expanding the “awards” so that we first get to look at those who didn’t fare so well, whilst also looking at rising stars, prolific performers and more, before the prestigious finale. Oh, how exciting it all is.

So exciting – it turns out – that it requires two parts. I’d just like to say that this is a Kill Bill-esque decision (i.e. too much content and complete lack of self-control editorially) rather than a Twilight or Hunger Games like moneyspinner. Let me assure you, if I was getting paid by the article then this would be an eight-parter.

To be clear, my rules necessitate that a nominee be in at least two films, otherwise they can barely be said to have affected the year. All the other awards ceremonies focus on single performances (well, apart from the Globes maybe…) but not here. It’s about who took 2013 by the scruff of the neck and forced themselves down the audiences’ collective throats without making them gag. Let’s find out who that was, shall we?

Worst Actor Award

It all started so well for Naomi Watts with The Impossible, somewhat of a surprise hit, released into cinemas on New Year’s Day 2013. But that seems like a long time ago now, because she followed it up by appearing in Movie 43 and then attempted to play Diana later in the year. Ouch.

Helen Mirren’s only saving grace was her voiceover work in Monsters University, otherwise her appearances in flop Hitchcock and pointless geriatric sequel Red 2 make for bad reading (and viewing).

But the best (worst) is saved until last. Can’t sing, won’t act – it’s Russell Crowe. I actually like him quite a lot as an actor, but Man of Steel even made Michael Shannon look like he’d never been in front of a camera before. And the vocal criticism he received for Les Mis was harsh… but yeah.

Biggest Fall From Grace Award

I didn’t see Promised Land; I’m not sure anyone did (and I’m a big Gus Van Sant fan). Still, it can’t be a bad year if you’ve excelled in the wicked Behind the Candelabra, right? Well, just about. Elysium is an unimaginative bore-fest, meaning that Matt Damon’s 2013 was so much worse than it should have been. Apparently it’s a vaguely pretty film, but it’s difficult to remember… or care.

Ryan Gosling – aka the male Jennifer Lawrence (and the unofficial winner of these awards from 2011 despite their non-existence at the time [hence ‘unofficial’]) – has also had a funny year. He rode like lightning in the stunning Place Beyond the Pines, but Gangster Squad‘s reception takes away from that somewhat, and Only God Forgives was… divisive. At best.

But 2013’s winner is Benedict Cumberbatch. No Sherlock, not named in Star Trek into Darkness and was in the biggest flop of the year (The Fifth Estate) which came with the added baggage of having to acknowledge correspondence from Julian Assange. And there isn’t a last-minute dwarf-eating dragon alive that can salvage all that.

Best Latecomer Award

Peter Capaldi’s made a really good stab at it this year. Even though the aforementioned Fifth Estate didn’t go down well (with anybody it seems, not just Wikileaks), this plus World War Z were big breakthroughs for Capaldi. He also got a gig as some sort of Dr or other, which is nice.

Nick Offerman is one of many whose popularity on Parks and Rec has seen him elevated to big-screen comedy (see also: Aubrey Plaza, Adam Scott, Chris Pratt, etc.). He appeared in a couple of new releases in the space of a week, one of which was the delightful Kings of Summer.

But not even he can outdo winner Steve Coogan. Like Capaldi, his time has well and truly come after striving for success for many years. Perhaps it was his brutal and brilliant piece of self-deprecating storytelling in The Trip, but last year alone saw him “make it”. Not only was there Alpha Papa, but Oscar contender (and one of my films of the year) Philomena, plus What Maisie Knew, The Look of Love, and even a voiceover in Despicable Me 2. Back of the net.

The Insanely Prolific Award

Though all of these awards reward prolificacy, this one acts as a special mention. There are certain actors that you associate with such high output, and so the names below will be of no surprise.

Steve Carell managed four films, including Despicable Me 2, Anchorman: The Legend Continues and an impressive turn as antagonist stepparent in The Way Way Back.

Anchorman sequel co-star Paul Rudd did not only that, but Prince Avalanche, This is 40 and This is the End too, plus he was announced to play Ant-Man in the upcoming Edgar Wright adaptation

Bradley Cooper continues to go from strength to strength, bookending the year with roles in The Place Beyond the Pines and American Hustle, as well as two more in The Hangover: Part III and The Words. (I’m already regretting his non-inclusion in the top ten for Part II)

The reliable and ever-present Eddie Marsan took on Filth, The World’s End and Jack the Giant Slayer this year, as well as featuring in acclaimed mini-series Southcliffe.

The highly productive Paul Giamatti just about loses out, despite a voiceover in Turbo and bit-part roles in Parkland, Saving Mr. Banks and Romeo and Juliet, before rounding off 2013 with an appearance in the Downton Abbey Christmas special.

But it’s James Franco who edges it for playing the early wizard in Oz: The Great and Powerful, another directorial outing with Interior. Leather Bar., getting to act as Hugh Hefner in Lovelace, performing as himself in This is the End, and finally taking a turn in the barmy, Disney-girls-turned-dirty Spring Breakers. There was also plenty more, and he’s got an absurd amount lined up for 2014. Hope you’re not sick of him yet.

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Well, that’s all for now. Tune in for Part II on Friday where there are three more awards to follow – getting into the heavyweight categories – including the elusive ‘Whose Year?’ Best Actor non-literal trophy. See you then.

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