Alfonso Cuarón tells a deeply personal story with absolute precision in "Roma"                "Creed II" is an outstanding sequel and one of the year's best films                Strong showings for "Eighth Grade" and "You Were Never Really Here" highlight the Independent Spirit Award nominations                Review: Round-Up: "At Eternity's Gate", "The Clovehitch Killer", "Jonathan", and "The Last Race"                "Green Book" is a crowd pleaser of the highest order and a definite Oscar contender                Steve McQueen and a phenomenal ensemble cast help make "Widows" look effortless                "The Ballad of Buster Scruggs" offers something for every type of Coen Brothers fan                Updated Academy Award predictions for early November                Review Round-Up: "Dr. Seuss' The Grinch", "El Angel" "The Long Dumb Road", and "Outlaw King"                Taking a look at potential Best Documentary Feature contenders                "The Front Runner" is a terrific and timely film for right around Election Day                Hollywood Film Awards Marked the Launch of Awards Season                Taking a first crack at Golden Globe predictions                “The Favourite” and “The Front Runner”: Films to see in November                Awkwafina to Host 22nd Hollywood Film Awards        

Matthew McConaughey starts 2013 with another great performance

A close backwoods cousin to Stand By Me (1986), Jeff Nichols’ Mud is an often moving and unpredictable coming of age story that benefits from some striking visuals and all around strong acting from its cast. Much like in Take Shelter (2011), Nichols is very interested in masculinity and what it means to be a man in a tough America, though this time around there’s more in the way of youthful adventures and less in the way of potential doomsday. The filmmaker is pulling from all sorts of other works, though “Huckleberry Finn” is likely the one most will recognize, though the early works of David Gordon Green were on my mind as well.

The work however, the work is still that clearly is his own. Not being a huge fan of his earlier work, Mud is top-notch with excellent writing and direction, not to mention the performances by Tye Sheridan and Matthew McConaughey. Reese Witherspoon is no slouch herself, while newcomer Jacob Lofland impresses. Though not perfect, and running about 15 minutes too long, it’s got a lot of things going in its favor. With the right push, I could see this making the long haul from the festival circuit to the awards season.

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About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He also contributes to several other film-related websites.

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