While teenagers remain dependable box office marks, propping up the receipts of horror and superhero flicks, there is a grayer cadre of viewers who are still being catered to and coveted by Hollywood: baby boomers. The Woodstock generation is now full of empty nesters with some of that mystical “disposable income” we’ve all heard about; naturally, they want to see their peers up on the big screen. This has led to a procession of movies about old coots either getting back in the saddle again or refusing to quietly get off the party bus, and the results aren’t pretty. Aging action stars like Sly Stallone, Bruce Willis and even Arnold “Governator” Schwarzenegger, just keep cranking out shoot ’em ups, even though their knees probably require shots of cortisone. And let’s all try to forget Last Vegas, a sad collection of wasted Oscar-winning talent doing Viagra gags and dancing to hip hop.
Faced with a desolate future of doing Kate Hudson rom-coms into his dotage, McConaughey seems to have had a come-to-Jesus moment, and began discarding the scripts that called on him to play surfers and caddish boyfriends, and began to, you know, act. What began with a brilliant tweaking of his shirtless lothario image in 2012’s Magic Mike culminated in a hallelujah chorus of rapturous performances. He was absolutely captivating as the title rascal in the overlooked indie gem Mud, as a modern semi-mystical drifter rogue right out of Mark Twain. He was even better in Dallas Buyers Club, as the real-life, bigoted Texan rodeo stereotype turned AIDS patient and reluctant pharmaceutical revolutionary Ron Woodruff. This is the role that will likely garner McConaughey tons of awards (He’s already got one from the DFCS) and may be the role of his lifetime.
And if all that weren’t enough, he strolls in for a brief role in Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street and steals the picture like an inside trader.
Just when it looked like the world was going to be safe again for us flatlanders (and with audiences beginning to balk at the enhanced prices charged for that extra dimension), there arrived a movie actually worth shelling out a bit of extra scratch for. Alfonso Cuarón’s dizzying astronaut-in-peril thriller. The outer space Sandra Bullock vehicle raked in more than $250 million domestically and was a creative triumph, as a truly immersive, mind blowing next-gen experience in IMAX 3-D.
Still, people didn’t care to pay more to watch stuff like Monsters University, so it may take something else worthy enough to induce us to all sit around looking like Elvis Costello in the dark.
And, as the song goes, “You don’t pull the mask off the old Lone Ranger” either, but that is exactly what Disney did with its muddled, overwrought attempt to bring the silver-bullet-slinging vigilante to the big screen. While I thought it had some amusing and mildly redeeming moments, my fellow critics and audience shunned the new adventures of Johnny Depp’s oddball Tonto and his achingly bland cowboy kemo sabe in a big way. While he fared better at the box office, nobody seemed all that excited to see the Man of Steel return to the bijou. Too many folk were turned off by the movie’s overly dark take on the last son of Krypton, complete with a muted color scale, endless falling rubble, and displays of super emoting that seemed out of character for the big blue boy scout.
Seriously, the ginger-topped sexpot wore a closet full of coke-spoon-era dresses that were cut down to the equator, but she was perky enough to revive underboob for a whole new generation. Also the versatile Adams, who made for a spirited Lois Lane, continued to cement her status as perhaps the most formidable American actress of her generation, holding her own in a powerhouse cast of showoffs in Hustle — and slinking off with the movie.
2) Short Term 12
3) American Hustle
4) Inside Llewyn Davis
5) Blue Is the Warmest Color
7) The Wolf of Wall Street
9) Don Jon
Honorable mentions: Dallas Buyers Club, Frances Ha, Stories We Tell, Gravity, 12 Years A Slave, All Is Lost, Crystal Fairy & the Magic Cactus, Fruitvale Station, In a World.
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