Last year closed with several strong candidates for Best Picture. It's hard to narrow them down to a 10-best list, but these are my picks without ranking them in order.
This was a hallmark year with three major films focused on the African American experience across two centuries. I mention them first as they all deserved Oscar nominations:
"12 Years a Slave" is a stark portrayal of the cruel reality of slavery.
"Lee Daniels' The Butler" covers decades of the civil rights movement through the eyes of a White House butler who served eight presidents.
"Gravity" is a sci-fi marvel that transports you into space and keeps you there as the intense adventure unfolds.
"American Hustle": A wild comedy/drama caper with Coen Brothers overtones resulting in several nominations.
Close behind the above picks and also worth seeing:
"Lone Survivor": The quintessential realistic war story of our time.
"Captain Phillips": Tom Hanks in a headline story of modern piracy.
"Enough Said" and "The Way Way Back": The two best romantic comedies of the year are a cut above all their competition.
JOHN DEPKO is a retired senior investigator for the Orange County public defender's office. He lives in Costa Mesa and works as a licensed private investigator.