As the calendar prepares its turn to November, we remember the 11 days of cinematic glory that took the city of Philadelphia by storm. in its 22nd year of operation, the Philadelphia Film Festival comprised of many Oscar-bound pictures along with hordes of world-renowned documentaries, foreign films and debut features. Here's a look back at the "best of" selections that I had the pleasure of viewing during the long-winded affair.
Sometimes it's the surprising ones that get you the most. This year's Best Picture at the Philadelphia Film Festival was the delightful and sentimental treat, About Time, from director Richard Curtis (Love Actually and Pirate Radio). While the feature is a far cry from some of the Oscar juggernauts playing throughout the event, About Time transcends well beyond the stereotypical "rom-com" and serves as an eye-opening expedition into the lives we lead. Touching, sincere and downright hysterical, Curtis' latest project is one of the most enjoyable films of the year.
Runner-Ups In Order: 12 Years a Slave, All Is Lost, August: Osage County, Nebraska, 1982, The Art of the Steal and Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa.
The Best Director category was the most difficult for me to choose between. On one hand, I was enamored with J.C. Chandor's amazing efforts for his survival tale, All Is Lost, but Steve McQueen's visceral and gut-wrenching vision manufactured one of the year's finest true-stories. 12 Years a Slave is imperfect and certainly rough around the edges, but McQueen assists greatly in bringing Solomon Northup's harrowing tale to life.
Runner-Ups In Order: J.C. Chandor (All Is Lost), Alexander Payne (Nebraska), John Wells (August Osage County), Tommy Oliver (1982)
Robert Redford re-invents himself in the role of a lifetime. As the only credited actor in a film that boasts almost zero dialogue but an astonishing amount of action and intensity, Redford immediately lands in the forefront of the Best Actor race for this year's awards season. It could be the Academy's way on tying a perfect little bow on the tail end of a legendary career.
Runner-Ups In Order: Bruce Dern (Nebraska), Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave), Hill Harper (1982) and Joaquin Phoenix (The Immigrant)
The 22nd annual Philadelphia Film Festival proved to be a haven for many older legends of Hollywood. Robert Redford and Bruce Dern weren't the only old-timers to make a splash as this year's festival, the Best Actress winner comes from none other than Meryl Streep. As the melodramatic matriarch of the Weston family in the stage-play-turned-movie August: Osage County, Streep keeps her ever-extending streak of outstanding performances.
Runner-Ups In Order: Marion Cotillard (The Immigrant), Judi Dench (Philomena), Kate Winslet (Labor Day) and Lindsay Duncan (Le Week-End)
Best Supporting Actor
When it comes to Michael Fassbender's diabolical supporting turn in this year's Best Picture contender, 12 Years a Slave, all I can say is, "What a performance!" Snubbed for his last great role in Steve McQueen's previous release, Shame, Fassbender should expect completely different results this time around. A towering and film-altering performance such as this can't be ignored, clearly making him a big-time player in this year's awards season.
Runner-Ups In Order: Bill Nighy (About Time), Will Forte (Nebraska), Josh Brolin (Labor Day) and Steve Coogan (Philomena)
Best Supporting Actor
Once again a lifelong actress puts her expertise on display as June Squibb completely steals the show in Alexander Payne's newest feature, Nebraska. Squibb never offers a dull moment and hits the mark on every perfectly-timed one-liner she so brilliantly spouts. Her performance is impressionable and stays with you long after the credits roll. I can only hope that the voting Academy Members feel the same way as I do.
Runner-Ups In Order: Julia Roberts (August: Osage County), Lupita Nyong'o (12 Years a Slave), Margo Martindale (August: Osage County) and Sarah Paulson (12 Years a Slave)
*** Stay tuned for an expansive review on Jason Reitman's Christmas Day release, Labor Day.