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The Playlist

The 15 Best Soundtracks Of 2013

  • By The Playlist Staff
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  • December 11, 2013 12:00 PM
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  • 17 Comments
2013: The Best Soundtracks
Some people—a convenient straw man, for instance—might argue that the days of the movie soundtrack are numbered. “From & Inspired By The Motion Picture” releases are less and less common, it's hard to find music videos for specially written singles that feature footage from the movie in the way that was so common in the 1990s (thank God), and in the iTunes and YouTube era, you can find the one song that you love from a movie without needing to pick up a whole CD of stuff you don't care about.

Swindlers, Crooks And American Hustlers: 20 Films About Con Men

  • By The Playlist Staff
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  • December 10, 2013 3:03 PM
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  • 6 Comments
Con Men Movies
Are they confidence "artists" or merely con men? Your answer may depend on your view of cinema’s flim-flammers as either larger-than-life icons of charm and effortless theft, or simply morally suspect, desperate scammers. Certainly the film industry has banked large sums with the former depiction, as the con entertains because of its (usually) non-violent nature. As opposed to a heist film where characters burst into banks, guns blazing, con artists lift money from their marks by persuasion, sleight of hand, by their superior knowledge of human nature, often accompanied with a devilish smile. Oftentimes the con will be played on a “deserving” victim—wealthy, exuding greed, arrogance, and cruelty—but other times it will be between so-called allies, lovers, or siblings, perhaps the more worthy, and therefore more fun adversaries.

For Your Consideration: 10 Overlooked Actresses Who Deserve Some Awards Season Attention

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • December 4, 2013 3:05 PM
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  • 11 Comments
Received wisdom says that most years, including this one, the Best Actress field of contenders for the Oscars is "weaker" than their male counterparts, with a fairly limited group of possibilities who are plausible nominees. To which we can only say: horseshit. Every year, but this one in particular, we watch scores of fine female performances be overlooked because they're in small indie movies or because they were overshadowed in reviews by male co-stars or because they're not Meryl Streep.

12 Sad Sack Musicians In Movies

  • By Jordan Hoffman
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  • December 3, 2013 3:43 PM
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  • 2 Comments
10 Sad Sack Musicians In Movies
Music is frequently one of the most memorable parts of a film, but what about when the film is about music? Better yet, what about when the film is about that character we know all too well in life: the mopey, misunderstood, fatalistic, tortured sad-sack musician? The one blindly convinced that the cosmos is purposefully conspiring to keep his melodies obscured from the masses? The one feverishly spamming your Facebook with gig announcements at puke-stained Irish pubs in obscure, transit-resistant neighborhoods? These toiling troubadours now have a new patron saint—a cinematic icon to represent their struggle to the wider world. His name is Llewyn Davis, a character worthy of both sympathy and scorn, played by Oscar Isaac in the Coen brothers' fantastic new film “Inside Llewyn Davis.”

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?

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