Historians may look back on 2013 as the year of “blockbuster fatigue,” as an unprecedented number of big event movies tanked this summer.
Or maybe it was the year of “Blockbuster fatigue,” as all the late fees in the world couldn’t keep the once ubiquitous movie-rental chain from shuttering its remaining stores.
Then again, some of you no doubt will remember it as the year four-time Golden Globe nominee Cameron Diaz made sweet, sweet love to the windshield of a sports car in “The Counselor.”
It was a big year locally as Las Vegas starred in four movies: “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone,” “Now You See Me,” “The Hangover Part III” and “Last Vegas.”
Thanks to statewide film tax incentives that finally were passed into law this summer, it may no longer be cheaper to re-create portions of the city elsewhere, as “Now You See Me” did with an MGM Grand theater in New Orleans and “Last Vegas” did with Aria’s Haze nightclub in Atlanta.
You could watch those movies in greater comfort at Galaxy Theatres, which introduced its Luxury+ brand by rehabbing the former UA Green Valley 8 and retrofitting its existing Cannery location with electric recliners as well as beer and wine sales.
Penn &Teller’s “Tim’s Vermeer” joined 14 other documentaries on the shortlist for a 2014 Oscar nomination.
And part-time Las Vegan Andrew Dice Clay earned the best reviews of his career for his supporting role in Woody Allen’s “Blue Jasmine.”
It also was the year of James Franco as, in the span of two weeks, he portrayed the title character in the family-friendly prequel “Oz the Great and Powerful” and the raunchy rapper Alien, who fellated a gun barrel and memorably implored his young lovers/criminals-in-training to “look at all my (stuff),” in the candy-colored fever dream “Spring Breakers.” His 2013 also included turns as Hugh Hefner in “Lovelace,” a backwoods meth cook named Gator Bodine in “Homefront” and James Franco in “This Is the End.”
In non-Franco-related excellence, Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto shed roughly 80 pounds between them and created two of the year’s most unforgettable characters in “Dallas Buyers Club.”
Two of 2013’s best performances came from newcomers: Lupita Nyong’o, in her first film role, as “12 Years a Slave’s” tragic Patsey, and Barkhad Abdi, in his first acting role of any type, as the leader of the Somali pirates in “Captain Phillips.”
They were part of a standout year for black actors and films about black causes that also included “42,” “Fruitvale Station,” “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” and “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.”
And “The Best Man Holiday” proved African-American audiences were more than ready for a comedy that had absolutely nothing to do with Tyler Perry.
Speaking of underserved moviegoers, the Spanish-language comedy “Instructions Not Included” cracked the mainstream, earning $44 million in the U.S. and playing in wide release at local cinemas. It even spent several weeks at the drive-in.
Sharing an absurdly similar premise involving lone heroes who save the president when bad guys seize the White House, “Olympus Has Fallen” got out of the gates first and became a surprise hit. Meanwhile, the flashier, splashier “White House Down,” with its buddy-cop vibe and its sneaker-loving commander in chief, was one of the bigger duds in a summer filled with them.
Other big-budget bombs included “After Earth,” “The Lone Ranger” and “R.I.P.D.”
While not outright disasters, at least not commercially, the year was chock-full of who-asked-for-them? sequels, such as “Grown Ups 2,” “RED 2,” “Smurfs 2,” “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2” and “Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters.”
And every third movie in 2013 seemingly took place on a ruined Earth or proceeded to ruin large chunks of it.
But enough with the negativity. There were plenty of highlights this year, including:
■ the unexpected pleasures of “Enough Said,” which was buoyed by a funny, lighthearted, out-of-character turn by the late James Gandolfini that only made his passing that much sadder.
■ the sardonic, John Hughes-style zombies of “Warm Bodies.”
■ the rampaging, Usain Bolt-style zombies of “World War Z.”
■ Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Marky Mark singalong in “Don Jon.”
■ Christian Bale’s bald head and belly in “American Hustle.”
■ Sam Rockwell’s channeling of a “Meatballs”-era Bill Murray in “The Way Way Back.”
■ the technical wizardry of “Gravity.”
■ the small-town charms of “Mud.”
■ the cavalcade of cameos in “This Is the End.”
■ the debauchery of “The Wolf of Wall Street.”
■ everything Dwayne Johnson did in “Pain &Gain.”
■ everything Steve Carell did in “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.”
■ the wildly anachronistic soundtrack and spectacle of “The Great Gatsby.”
■ the music of “20 Feet from Stardom.”
■ the reckless machismo of “Rush.”
■ the rambling heartbreak of “Before Midnight.”
■ the way “About Time” made you want to fall in love AND hug your dad.
■ the first 20 minutes of “Now You See Me.”
■ the first third of “The Place Beyond the Pines”
■ the non-Australian parts of “Saving Mr. Banks.”
■ the sections of “Elysium” that didn’t beat you over the head with its political agenda.
■ and the fact that, since it never played here theatrically, I never saw Lindsay Lohan’s “The Canyons.”
Contact Christopher Lawrence at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-380-4567.