My Top Ten Films of 2013
I liked Prisoners a lot more than I thought I would. Its one of those engrossing thrillers which is rarely pulled off well, The mystery was one that was easy to get wrapped up in and the acting is top notch, especially by Jackson. Its dark and brooding to be sure, but sometimes that’s needed to take a basic kidnapping thriller like this to the next level.
This rivalry sports story manages to avoid feeling like a cliched sports movie, even though the story structure pretty much is. I think the reason it avoids it is because so much focus is put on the two characterizations of Niki Lauda and James Hunt as well as the very well-played rivalry between them. This movie was a lot of fun, and any time these two squared off was great.
8. American Hustle
I will confess I’m not a big David O’Russell fan and I had very low expectations for this film. But it won me over with its interesting plot and fun characters. Jennifer Lawrence won me over more than most of them, but I thought Bale was also quite excellent as the anchor to the story. There are some quirks I don’t relaly like, such as a certain cameo scene later on and some non-sequitur song numbers, but overall I had quite a lot of fun with it.
7. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
I really liked this movie. I know I was one of the few, but it won me over completely. I found the character of Walter really likable and loved how he was able to break out of his routine life and start living. Yes his adventures were ridiculously exaggerated, but realism was not the point of this movie at all. And I really liked the reveal of what the photo for the last issue of LIFE was. A nice, uplifting little movie.
6. The World’s End
Edgar Wright’s latest film had me skeptical upon seeing the trailer. I love Shaun of the Dead, but this felt like it might be getting a little to close to that. And it was in a sense, but still managed to be its own movie at the same time. The dynamics between this group of guys reuniting after years of growing up (or not) was quite interesting. And when they begin to learn that their old town has been replaced by alien robots, this movie only intensifies. And oh yeah, its funny. Really funny.
5. The Wolf of Wall Street
When I first heard about Scorsese’s new movie Wolf of Wall Street, this was not at all the kind of film I had imagined. This is a ridiculous, comedic romp,rather than the stuffy corrupt business drama I was expecting. Its nuts! No holds barred, and both Leo and Jonah Hill are downright hilarious. It does suffer from an overlong ending however, otherwise this may have been higher on the list.
4. Star Trek: Into Darkness
My fanboy pick of the year. When Star Trek came out in 2009, I was completely won over by how fun and fresh the movie was. I had expected simply the MTV or CW version of the popular series, and while there is a hint of that there, it was a genuinely great action adventure. But even though I loved that movie, I still had doubts about the sequel. But once again, it won me over as well. I really liked the retro-twist in the middle, which caught me by surprised, and it didn’t bother me at all like it did many others. There are some really goofy aspects, I can acknowledge that (like the tribble thing, and of course the inexplicable Spock-Uhura relationship which doesn’t need to be), but these don’t bother me all that much.
3. Captain Phillips
Greengrass does it again. This real life conflict is not nearly on the same level as that in United 93, but its still a fascinating tale shot with a lot of intensity. This is a great movie. The crew of the liner feels very natural, and you really get a sense of them as professionals who know what they are doing even in the face of a crisis. Hanks is brilliant in the best role I’ve seen him in in years. And Barkhad Abdi is also great in the role of the head pirate. This was certainly a thrill ride.
2. Before Midnight
Before Midnight has the advantage of having two previous films before it providing a lot of the emotional context that this film capitalizes on so well. For movies like these, those previous films seem to add more than for your average sequels, since they are about a relationship growing over twenty years. And you feel that depth in these characters. This is a great film which went to emotional places I wasn’t sure they would go. Some times its great to see a movie with lots of spectacle (like the upcoming #1 on my list) and sometimes its great to just watch two hours of engrossing conversations.
I’m probably the only person to have Gravity as their No. 1 film of the year! Or not…
Without a doubt in my mind. The best movie experience I’ve had in years. Nothing this year comes close.