It’s 2014–But Wait, There’s More (of 2013)

2013. 2013. 2013 fo'ever y'all.

2013. 2013. 2013 fo’ever y’all.

So here we are the beginning of a new year, with new hope, new possibilities, and new movies to see! But let’s not get ahead of ourselves just yet. We here in Hawaii have yet to experience some of the best films of 2013. Yes, even now while we are in the future–2014, some films that were “released” last year have yet to unspool on our shores.This is a problem I’ve lamented over somewhat in the past (here & here) and it’s something we just can’t help. While movie critics and bloggers have been trumpeting their ‘Best of 2013’ lists and are looking towards this year with their ‘Most Anticipated of 2014’ lists, we here in Hawaii are basically stuck with the Hollywood release slate as is and will be playing catch up for the rest of this month.

With a complex and sometimes even convoluted logic, a number of different factors go into when movies are released. The two biggest factors that affect Hawaii are our market size (Honolulu is currently 54th in population) and the crowded release slate in December (six major releases in the two weeks leading up to Christmas with another six opening on Christmas Day alone). Due to these factors, films that have been making a lot of ‘Best of’ lists we have yet to see.

So what have we been missing out on? Well, listed here are major releases or films that have been getting critical acclaim that have yet to be released in Hawaii. Since everyone in the movie world likes making lists; call it the ‘Best Films of 2013, That Haven’t Come Out Yet’ list.

HER – In Theaters This Friday, January 10


Directed by Spike Jonze (Where the Wild Things Are, Being John Malkovich), this film has made a number of Top 10’s and been voted Best picture by a number of critics groups, most notably the Los Angeles Film Critics Association. It stars Joaquin Phoenix as a lonely writer who develops an unlikely relationship with his newly purchased operating system. While the setup may sound silly, in a post-Siri world it definitely seems possible. I’ve heard the relationship that develops and everything that revolves around it makes the film emotional and affective. Oh, did I mention that Scarlett Johansson lends her voice to the Siri-like operating system and has even emboldened some critics to say that she should be Oscar nominated for her role in the film (even though she herself doesn’t appear in the film at all)?

Lone Survivor – In Theaters This Friday, January 10


In interviews Peter Berg has stated that the main reason he directed Battleship was so that he would have a deal for a film that he wanted to make. That film is Lone Survivor. If we had to sit through Battleship (though some of you didn’t) to get Lone Survivor–I’m totally ok with that. Based on the real life Navy Seal mission to capture or kill a Taliban leader, the film provides a cinematic version of what transpired from the account of the mission’s (spoiler alert!) Lone Survivor. Contemporary military films always hit a sweet spot with me so I’m definitely making sure I see this before I compile my list.

August: Osage County – Expanding to more theaters This Friday, January 10


Based off of the stage play of the same name, August: Osage County was on everyone’s radar at the beginning of last year just off of the names of the cast alone: Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Ewan McGregor, Chris Cooper, Sam Shepard, Abigail Breslin, Benedict Cumberbatch, and a whole host of supporting players. Critics didn’t seem to like it too much however after it came out because I haven’t heard nary a peep about this film since it played the festival circuit in the fall. However, it could probably be worth the price of admission just from said star power.

Labor Day – In Theaters January 31, 2014


If you’re not familiar with director Jason Reitman, you may remember two of his earlier films: Juno and Up in the Air. Relationships seem to be at the core of a lot of his films and Labor Day is no different. It stars Kate Winslet as a depressed single mother who, along with her son, take in a wounded convict whose story isn’t what it seems. As with August: Osage County there was a lot of early buzz about Labor Day being potential Oscar-bait being helmed by an Oscar nominated director and starring two solid actors. Why I think this didn’t get as much attention as originally anticipated might have been due to a crowded 2013 slate. Be that as it may, I’m still interested to see the film and it looks every bit as smoldering as the trailer leads us to believe.

There are also a number of foreign language films and documentaries in the awards hunt that probably won’t play here until after The Academy announces their nominees next week on January 16. Again, size matters, and with these films garnering such a niche audience, we simply have to hope and pray that a few of them will get a theatrical release here.

With all that said, here in Hawaii I always feel like creating a ‘Best of’ list for films can’t be realistically done till mid to late January–and even then, there could be a few releases yet to come. There’s only one person that I know of in Hawaii that may have seen everything, Hawaii News Now’s Terry Hunter (he’s part of the Broadcast Film Critics Association a group that gets studio screeners). Unless you’re getting screeners like he does, the rest of us just have to wait till these things come out theatrically in theaters.

Solomon Northup stares blankly at the bleak movie offerings for us in January.

Solomon Northup stares blankly at the bleak movie offerings for us in January.

Besides, has anyone really looked at the release slate for January? It’s usually a dumping ground anyway, but this year seems more so. There’s only two January releases that I’m interested in seeing: Jack Ryan Shadow Recruit and That Awkward Moment. Since there’s not that much going on, that not only gives you time to see 2013 releases that are coming out this month, but it also gives you time to catch up on 2013 films that are on DVD/Blu-Ray/streaming. My list of catch up includes:

  • Ain’t Them Body Saints
  • The Bling Ring
  • Francis Ha
  • Mud
  • Prince Avalanche
  • Stories We Tell

Whether or not I’ll have time to catch up with them is another story, but at least I’ll have something worthwhile to fill my January with.

In many ways coming up with a top 10 list for the year is somewhat of a chore if you’re trying to be diligent about seeing films, but I prefer to have seen a breath of films rather than post my list before I’ve seen all I want to see. Granted, seeing EVERYTHING is impossible, but that’s not the point. I’m looking for my favorite film of 2013 and it’s not a title I bestow very lightly. I want to be informed before I make a decision. To become the best in my book, you have to consider the rest.

Is there anything from 2013 that you’re still looking forward to? Let us know!

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