BFCA Critics' Choice Movie Awards 2013

When you have more than 250 passionate, highly opinionated critics, it’s some sort of miracle that the BFCA manages to arrive at any consensus about the year’s best films without coming to blows. Of course, that leaves plenty of room for intense disagreement between members who’ve either loudly championed films quickly dismissed by their colleagues — or happily trashed other efforts universally admired by their peers.

For Jake Hamilton of Fox affiliate KRIV Houston, “the best film of the year — hands-down — was ‘Cloud Atlas.’ It was ambitious, bold, brave and different, and it does require a lot of the viewer’s attention,” he says. “But when I tell people that it’s a masterpiece, they usually shake their heads and just walk away. They’re just not willing to give it a chance, which is a great shame.” But the much-praised “Lincoln” was a disappointment to Hamilton. “Everyone else raved about it, and it’s not that I really disliked it — I just wasn’t into it that much,” he says. “Of course Daniel Day-Lewis gives an amazing performance, and Spielberg does a great job, but I just respect it more than I like it. I wish I liked it more but it just didn’t touch my heart.”

Bill Zwecker of the Chicago Sun-Times and film critic for Chicago’s Fox 32 News “really liked ‘The Odd Life of Timothy Green,’ though hardly anyone else did,” he says. “It was charming and engaging — the same with “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World.’ And I also liked ‘Sparkle,’ although everyone else panned it.” But Zwecker says two well-received films — ‘Magic Mike’ and ‘The Amazing Spider-Man,’ the fourth film in the multibillion-dollar-grossing franchise — were “really overrated for me, despite all the great reviews.”

For Texas-based critic Larry Ratliff (Larryratliff.com), the much-praised “Silver Linings Playbook” “fell short. “I wanted to like Bradley Cooper, but he just wasn’t believable in the role.” He also judged ‘This Is 40′ to be “a disappointment. It just tried too hard.” Conversely, he was, “surprised by how much I liked ‘Ted,’ though a lot of critics dismissed it as crass and puerile.”

Deadline’s Pete Hammond loves “audacious filmmaking — and Lee Daniels’ ‘The Paperboy’ was exactly that. It was so out there and crazy, but he got great performances out of everyone, and particularly Nicole Kidman, who deserves awards recognition for a very risky role as the Southern tart. But no one seemed to get it.” He also gives his marks to another critically ignored release, “The Guilt Trip.” “It’s Streisand’s first leading role in years, and she gives a true movie star performance,” he says. But Hammond was immune to the charms of the critically acclaimed festival darling “Beasts of the Southern Wild.” “I just didn’t get it — same with ‘Looper.’ I really tried to understand it, but it just didn’t work for me, while most other critics loved it.”

Sam Hallenbeck of WFLA NBC Tampa admits that he’s “kind of embarrassed to say I loved ‘Dark Shadows,’ as everyone else seemed to hate it, but I get a kick out of it. I’ve seen it three times now, and I love the dialogue, the whole way Tim Burton shot it, and Johnny Depp’s hilarious in it. It’s dark, weird, funky — and completely underrated.” Hallenbeck is also a fan of the little-seen and quickly dismissed “Seven Psychopaths,” calling it, “a great comedy with fantastic performances.” But like Hammond, he thinks “Looper” is overrated. “I found Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s makeup really distracting.”

Ed Symkus, Boston-based critic for GateHouse Media, also loved French import “Holy Motors,” “Seven Psychopaths” and “Cloud Atlas.” (“I’ve seen it three times and it gets better each time.”) “It’s on my top 10 list and is absolutely insanely funny and offbeat, but most other critics didn’t get it,” he says. But while many have raved about “Les Miserables,” Symkus doesn’t. “It’s just unwatchable and unlistenable, with far too many closeups for a musical.”

Veteran broadcaster Jeanne Wolf (Hollywood YouTube Channel) “loved ‘Killer Joe,’ and not only did I realize that title and the word ‘awards’ would never meet, but I risked my moral reputation by recommending a movie so raunchy, wild and out there,” she says. “Matthew McConaughey plays this twisted evil man just right. If he gets attention for ‘Magic Mike,’ I demand that you put aside any semblance of correctness and see what Matthew does for this wild movie. After a while I was embarrassed to recommend ‘Killer Joe’ to other BFCAers.”

“Everyone’s raving about ‘Zero Dark Thirty,’ but it just didn’t strike me as that great — it needed to be tighter,” says Bonnie Laufer Krebs (Tribute Entertainment, Canada). “And I hated ‘This Is 40′ with a passion, though a lot of critics are very enthusiastic. I found it insulting and cringe-worthy. But I absolutely loved ‘Les Mis’ and everything about it, although a lot of critics are lukewarm.”

David Moss, Fox TV Cleveland, also found the Kathryn Bigelow pic “a little loose” and isn’t “raving about ‘Argo’ like most other critics,” while for Tony Toscano (ABC, CW, Salt Lake City), ‘The Cabin in the Woods’ “was a great, underrated movie, while I just don’t get all the acclaim for ‘Wreck-It-Ralph.’ If you’re not a gamer, it kind of loses you I think.”

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