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Bill Dudley’s Top 10 Films of 2013: Part One

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Photo credit: Mike Windle/Getty Images

Photo credit: Mike Windle/Getty Images

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I don’t always see the blockbusters, so there will be many of those missing from my list. I enjoy entertaining and thought provoking films having well developed characters, that tell a story.

Here is part one of my Top 10 Films of 2013:

10. “Out Of The Furnace”: A young man (Casey Affleck) returns home from Afghanistan to his hometown a very damaged human being. He disappears, and his working class brother (Christian Bale) tries to find him. The rigors of war, and the collapsing American economy of 2007 focuses on these men, and the small town they live in. Woody Harrelson steals the show, as the villain, a man totally devoid of any human sympathy. This may be Woody’s best performance ever.

9. “Dallas Buyers Club”: This is a film that is not for everyone. It took 20 years for writers Greg Borten and Melisa Wallack to complete the screenplay on this one, as no studio wanted to make it. Matthew McConaughey portrays an extremely unsympathetic and obnoxious real life character, Ron Woodruff, a heterosexual, homophobic rodeo cowboy diagnosed with AIDS in 1985.  After 1/2 hour of watching the worst behavior on earth, Woodruff finally does some good things by establishing his own system of getting fellow sufferers the medication they desperately need. Woodruff even ends up fighting the federal government to do so. McConaughey continues to amaze me with the complex and diverse characters he now plays, rather then the fluff romantic comedy roles he was once known for. He lost more than 60 pounds to play this character, before he even knew the film would actually be made.

8.“Captain Phillips”: Tom Hanks stars as the captain of a merchant ship kidnapped by Somali pirates. Based on  a true story, the always capable Hanks makes Capt. Phillips a compelling character. The film is well done, and in true Hollywood tradition,the good guys win in the end. The movie is solid entertainment.The only problem is, 11 crew members who survived the real life incident are suing Capt. Phillips, along with the shipping company, claiming Phillips was NOT a hero, and took the ship knowingly too close to Somalia in very dangerous waters, claiming the incident never should have happened.

7.“Muscle Shoals”: One of two musical documentaries on my list this year. Rookie director Freddie Camalier captures the heart and soul of a small town in Alabama, that has given us some of the most enduring music of all time, from not one, but two recording studios.Nestled next to the Tennessee River, ‘Fame Studios’ was founded by Rick Hall over 50 years ago, and recorded R & B legends such as Etta James.Wilson Pickett, Percy Sledge, Clarence Carter, Johnny Taylor,The Staple Singers, and Aretha Franklin. You will see vintage 1966 film of Aretha cutting “I Never Loved A Man,” the song that ignited her career from Gospel to “The Queen Of Soul.” Prominent musicians,”The Swampers” were the studio band who appeared on over 75 hit songs.They  left Fame Studios and created the 2nd great musical presence,”Muscle Shoals Sound Studio.” Rock bands including The Rolling Stones, U2, Lynyrd Skynyard, and The Allman Bros all recorded , as did Elton John, Paul Simon, Jimmy Cliff and Alicia Keys. An excellent documentary for serious music fans.

6.“Lee Daniel’s The Butler”: This film has an odd title, as there was another film made nearly 100 years ago titled simply ‘The Butler.’ How could there be any confusion, as the original  film did not feature Forrest Whittaker and Oprah Winfrey? Based loosely on the real life story of Cecil Gaines, who had a 34 year career as a butler in The White House. Cecil was the true version of the fictional ‘Forest Gump.’ He witnessed many of the great events of the 20th century. This film came out many months ago, and thus these two excellent performances by Whittaker and Winfrey may be ignored at awards time. The 2013 version of ‘The Butler’ was a big hit taking in over 155 million dollars in revenue, with a budget of only 30 million.

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