News Column

Top entertainment performances of 2013

December 7, 2013

YellowBrix

Dec. 07--MOVIES

Hollywood has a save-the-best-for-last mentality when it comes to film releases.

So some of the Oscar contenders and big box-office films are yet to come, such as "American Hustle" (can't wait to see Bradley Cooper in his curly perm, and the fact that he is reunited with "Silver Linings Playbook" co-star Jennifer Lawrence), " The Wolf of Wall Street" (reuniting Leonardo DiCaprio with Martin Scorsese), "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" and "Saving Mr. Banks. And then, there's also the much-awaited, probably-not-an-Oscar-contender "Anchorman 2," of course.

Other big-buzzed films already have been released but have yet to make it to our market, such as the "Dallas Buyers Club" and small films like "Blue Jasmine" and "Nebraska."

But we've selected a few of our favorites from 2013, so far:

>> "Gravity." Sandra Bullock and George Clooney are astronauts adrift in space in this visually stunning film by Alfonso Cuaron.

>> "12 Years A Slave." It's what movies should be about -- powerful stories and outstanding acting. Expect Oscar nods all around for this one, starring Chiwetel Ejiofor.

>> "Captain Phillips." Tom Hanks in shock in the last five minutes of the film is one of the most memorable five minutes in movies this year. Hanks plays Capt. Richard Phillips, who was kidnapped by Somali pirates.

>> "Mud." This was Matthew McConaughey's year with "Mud," "Magic Mike" and "The Dallas Buyers Club" behind him. "Mud" is one of those very American Mississippi river storytelling gems that's a must-see.

>> "Frances Ha." It wasn't a box-office blockbuster, but this movie about a dancer's big dreams and harsh realities is powerful.

>> "Frozen." The recently released animated film is the best of the year and pretty cute.

>> "The Butler." This story about a White House butler's life and view on significant historical events proved to be an audience favorite.

>> "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire." It probably won't be an Oscar-nominated film, but in the realm of popular culture, this movie about the rebellion against the evil Capitol was a strong box-office entry. Plus, it stars popular young actors like Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson.

>> "This is the End." This is another honorable mention film. The comedy about the end of the world made fun of itself and Hollywood in the process and starred Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, James Franco and Jonah Hill, among others.

PLAYS

The live TV performance of "The Sound of Music" on NBC Dec. 5 kind of fizzled -- critics bashed the weak acting. Still, audiences seemed to appreciate that TV would take on something as daring as doing a live musical.

In Wichita Falls, the theatrical scene is pretty busy, with plays from at least four groups keeping us entertained.

Here are some of our favorites from 2013.

>> "Chicago" at Backdoor Theatre. After an absolutely thrilling performance of "A Chorus Line" in 2012, we didn't think Backdoor could match it. While "A Chorus Line" is still my favorite from Backdoor in recent seasons, the 2013 production of "Chicago" was stellar. Amazing dancing, acting, choreography, costumes and cast.

>> "The Diary of Anne Frank." Midwestern State University's theater department rarely disappoints. Its production of "The Diary of Anne Frank" was awesome. Nicole Neely as the title character led the strong cast.

>> "Beauty and the Beast." Although "Cinderella" was a family favorite (and sold plenty of tickets), the Wichita Theatre's recent production of "Beauty and the Beast" was one of those magical things. The costumes were spectacular, but the cast really brought the Disney musical to life.

>> "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" at the Royal Theater in Archer City. The Royal Theater outdid itself with its production of Tennessee Williams' "A Streetcar Named Desire" in 2012 and returned to Williams territory in 2013 with "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof." We love to see theaters tackle some weighty stage productions like this.

>> "Sweeney Todd" by MSU Theatre. Ah, those lovely meat pies! "Sweeney Todd" is one of the most macabre pieces of theater, and MSU brought the dark comedy to wonderful places.

LIVE SHOWS

We're thinking the Wichita Falls Symphony Orchestra and Cirque de la Symphonie concert on Dec. 14 will be one of the memorable shows of 2013. But until then, here are some of our favorites from this year.

>> Rob Zombie and Korn. You felt the metal right in your gut at this concert in November. Metal fans loved it.

>> The Marshall Tucker Band. FallsFest had to make a move from Lucy Park to the MPEC because of rainy weather for the second year in a row. But luckily, fans were treated to Marshall Tucker, and the band turned in a pretty solid show.

>> "The Price Is Right Live." Fans of the show got to dress up in odd costumes and win some prizes while they were at it.

>> Wichita Falls Symphony Orchestra. The WFSO pretty much swept the crowds away with its "Mediterranean Nights" concert in November, featuring Mendelssohn's Italian Symphony and Rimsky-Korsakov's "Scheherazade."

>> Miranda Lambert and Dierks Bentley's "Locked and Reloaded" tour stopped by Kay Yeager Coliseum and thrilled crowds.

>> Lyle Lovett/Robert Earl Keen. Lovett and Keen brought their songwriting prowess to town at Memorial Auditorium for a less flashy, more acoustically magical show.

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(c)2013 the Times Record News (Wichita Fallas, Texas)

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