The Playlist

The 25 Best Breakthrough Performances Of 2013

  • By The Playlist Staff
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  • December 3, 2013 2:20 PM
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  • 43 Comments
25 Breakthrough Artists of 2013
One of the great pleasures of being a movie fan is the discovery of new performers. Faces that, months earlier, you'd have passed by in the street, suddenly gifted the role of a lifetime, and whose lives will never be the same again. It feels to us that 2013 was an especially strong year for new faces: festivals like Sundance, SXSW and Cannes, not to mention films that went straight to wide release, unleashed a veritable hurricane of talent that we'll be seeing for years to come.

Remembering Paul Walker: 5 Of His Best Performances

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • December 2, 2013 2:06 PM
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  • 10 Comments
Over the weekend actor Paul Walker, best known for his role in Universal's ongoing "Fast and Furious" franchise, died tragically in a car accident in California. The actor was in the midst of filming the seventh film in the series, with every intention of continuing. As Bilge Ebiri pointed out over at Vulture, the series was originally designed as a vehicle for Walker, based on the actor's experience working with original director Rob Cohen on the marginal collegiate thriller "The Skulls." Even after his death it's easy to be glib about his skills as an actor, but Walker turned in a handful of memorable performances both within and outside of the 'Fast' franchise.

10 Lost, Unmade & Possible Future Projects Of Spike Lee

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • November 27, 2013 4:32 PM
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  • 7 Comments
Spike Lee
You hardly need to be a daily reader of our humble blog (though if you're not, what's wrong with you?) to know that there are few filmmakers we are more eternally fascinated by than Spike Lee, despite, and let's be honest, often because of his predilection for pissing people off. Lee is an epochal figure even away from the feuds and the tiffs and the controversies; we will never forget just how awestruck we were when we first saw "Do the Right Thing" and went on to enjoy the fruits of the independent filmmaking scene that it pretty much revolutionized. If Lee had never made another film, he'd deserve our attention just for that. But of course, Lee has made other films, and if anything, the way he has subsequently swung wildly from near-genius ("The 25th Hour," "Malcolm X," "4 Little Girls") to what the what? ("Girl 6," "She Hate Me," "Kobe Doin Work"), and regularly visited all points in between, makes us even more interested in tracking his output.

Oscars: Can Karen O & 'Short Term 12' Beat Disney's 'Frozen' In The Music Categories?

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • November 25, 2013 2:31 PM
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  • 8 Comments
Oscars, Score, 2013
This week sees the arrival of Disney's "Frozen," the studio's most acclaimed film in years. It's also a serious throwback to the studio's animated musicals of the late 1980s and 1990s, a full-on songfest with multiple numbers of Broadway quality, and that's useful for our purposes, because this week we're going to focus on the musical categories of the Academy Awards.

The Best & The Worst Of 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire'

  • By The Playlist Staff
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  • November 25, 2013 1:40 PM
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  • 66 Comments
Catching Fire, feature
Now officially the all-time November opening record holder, "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" was always a fairly sure thing in terms of box office. But what's more impressive is the advance word on the film (our own included), and the buzz around it, which has been so positive, with it being touted as the rare sequel that improves on the original, and with many going so far as to compare it to "The Empire Strikes Back." (Though, to be honest, we think that comparison is more to do with how open-ended it feels, with the good guys separated and some of them still imperiled, at the film's close.) Some of us might not go quite that far, but certainly director Francis Lawrence has made good on delivering a broader, more nuanced and more layered film than the first, which is fitting considering he was adapting what we'd consider the best of the three books, by quite some distance.

50th Anniversary: 8 JFK Assassination Films That Revisit History

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • November 20, 2013 2:09 PM
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  • 8 Comments
8 JFK Assassination Films
50 years ago this Friday, an open-top car rounded a corner, a bullet left a gun and history changed. The assassination of President John F. Kennedy is a landmark event of which it’s hard to overstate the importance—retrospectively we can see just how much U.S. politics and society altered from that point on, making hyperbole about its impact difficult. Perhaps the only event to which it can be likened, for those of us not yet born in 1963, is 9/11, in terms of how shocking, scarring and indelible it felt to witness, and not just that, but how eerie, how uncanny, how chillingly surreal. A little like one of those cartoon moments when the scurrying critter looks down to discover it ran out of cliff a while ago, it felt, according to those who lived through it, like the ground was giving way, and having glimpsed the drop below, suddenly the nation was in freefall, all the old certainties vanishing. And when the inconceivable has happened right before your eyes, who’s to say there aren’t monsters under the bed too?

10 Music Video Directors Turned Feature Filmmakers

  • By The Playlist Staff
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  • November 13, 2013 3:06 PM
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  • 2 Comments
10 Music Video Directors Turned Feature Filmmakers
Many years ago, The Playlist started off as a blog dedicated to soundtracks, scores, music movies and the rest of the middle part of the Venn diagram where the worlds of music and film collided. Though we’ve evolved since then, that overlap is still something close to our hearts. One way those worlds are inextricably interlinked is in the number of directors who come from a music video background to work in features, and with most of us being that precise age that we can still remember the first heyday of the music video, it never ceases to surprise us how many of the promos we remember best were shot by filmmakers we now associate primarily with features. Arguably the form is experiencing something of a renaissance in relevance these days, not just via YouTube, but also with high-profile bands like Arcade Fire embracing and expanding their music videos’ artistic potential, even while the Robin Thickes of the world grab some extra headlines with risque or provocative content.

Oscars: Will Hayao Miyazaki Win Best Animated Feature For 'The Wind Rises'?

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • November 12, 2013 2:19 PM
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  • 4 Comments
Oscars Animation 2013
The last week or so has seen the animation branch of the Academy start to crystallize their contenders: a list of 19 features have been announced as the submitted films for the Best Animated Feature category, along with a list of 10 shorts. This year sees a fairly major change in the category, with voters on the nominating committee now able to watch the films on screeners, rather than attending special in-theater screenings. They also only have to watch two-thirds of the eligible films (twelve and a half, which we're assuming rounds up to thirteen), rather than the 80% which was the case in previous years.

What Does The Netflix Partnership Mean For The Marvel Universe? 7 Points To Consider

  • By Edward Davis
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  • November 8, 2013 1:44 PM
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  • 4 Comments
Marvel/NetFlix
Has the revolution begun? Netflix announced just a few days ago that they had delivered 2 billion hours of just streaming content in their fourth quarter this year. Before that, Netflix chief Ted Sarandos provoked the industry with a confrontational keynote speech about releasing films day-and-date on the streaming service and warning theater owners that they will "kill movies" if they continue to resist multi-platform distribution. A convenient, self-serving statement, he's since back pedaled away from those comments (after all, it’s Netflix who mostly benefits here).

10 Big Screen Superheroes With Incredibly Uncomfortable Family Issues

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • November 7, 2013 3:00 PM
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  • 2 Comments
Ten Onscreen Superheroes With Incredibly Uncomfortable Family Issues
This weekend sees the release of "Thor: The Dark World," which, on the surface, is just another superhero film. But, in fact, it also works as a crystallization as to what makes superheroes tick: family issues. Thor's got to save the universe, but he's also got an obnoxious brother gumming up the works, and he can never agree with his father, who is also a King. To rub it in, the sequel also seems to suggest that Mom likes Loki better. Things just aren't going Thor's way!

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