Ladies and gentlemen… The time has come. 2013 is coming to an end and I reviewed 65 movies throughout the year. Some were great, some were horrible (Movie 43, I’m looking at you).
So, with all these reviews… Which 10 stood out?
Before we begin… I managed to watch about 65 movies this year. That’s a lot. But there are just as many that I missed. Movies I didn’t see, that have topped a few Top 10 lists, include: 12 Years a Slave, Mud, American Hustle, Rush, and Dallas Buyers Club, among likely many others.
Honorable mentions: Two movies didn’t quite make the top 10 but I still wholeheartedly endorse them. The first is Don Jon, Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s directorial debut. Don Jon is a great movie but tackles the taboo topic of pornography addiction and Gordon-Levitt manages to walk a fine balance and manages to make this a comedy. It’s a great film and Gordon-Levitt and Scarlet Johansson both deliver incredible performances. The second movie to make the list is Pain and Gain, Michael Bay’s return to form. Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, and Anthony Mackie star as three guys who begin essentially a heist operation to steal millions from a jerk. It’s a beautiful film and stylistically very cool. Johnson gives one of the best performances I’ve ever seen and both Mackie and Wahlberg do what they do best. It’s a dark, gritty, and violent movie but ultimately a great experience.
Number 10.) The Wolverine
The X-Men films have had their ups and downs. I had critiques of both X3: The Last Stand and X-Men: First Class, so it was a nice return for Hugh Jackman. This movie stripped away the huge roster of heroes and villains and really focuses on Wolverine and his trials following The Last Stand. The action is scarce but The Wolverine delivers just enough to remind you how awesome this character is.
Number 9.) The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
I enjoyed The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey but it relied too heavily of computer-generated effects and lacked the weight that the original Lord of the Rings movies had. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug fixed some of those errors but a few faulty CGI characters and some over the top effects kept this movie from reaching higher on the list. However, Martin Freeman’s performance as Bilbo and Benedict Cumberbatch’s voiceover work as Smaug the dragon were both incredible enough to revitalize my love for this franchise. It’s a much better movie than Unexpected Journey and packs much more action and still manages to find quiet moments for some character-building. Hopefully all of this was enough to prepare us for The Hobbit: There and Back Again next Christmas!
Number 8.) Elysium
Neill Blomkamp created the revolutionary District 9 and Elysium was his spiritual followup. Matt Damon delivers a great performance as Max, a down-0n-his-luck factory worker who ends up using an exoskeleton weapon to start a revolution and attack the upperclass outerspace colony known as Elysium. Jodie Foster stars as the Secretary of Defense for Elysium who must stop Damon before he reaches them. The story isn’t stellar but it’s the world that Blomkamp created, including Sharlto Copley as a deranged bounty hunter, that is so intriguing. The gritty setting also is incredibly compelling and you almost forget that there’s CGI, as things look so real. In terms of science-fiction action, Elysium was one of the year’s best.
Number 7.) Star Trek: Into Darkness
When you combine all of my favorite things, you’ll likely get Star Trek: Into Darkness. J.J. Abrams, Karl Urban, Benedict Cumberbatch, crazy explosions, spaceships, and some amazing fight sequences… This movie has them all. The first Star Trek was okay and got me interested in the franchise, but it wasn’t until Into Darkness that I truly started to appreciate the world here. Great performances by Chris Pine, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Zachary Quinto. I know very little about the television shows so I don’t really understand the hate from some fans. I loved this movie though, by its own merit.
Number 6.) The World’s End
Edgar Wright can do no wrong. His film Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is one of my favorites of all-time and his films Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz are both consistently funny. Simon Pegg delivers a more layered performance in this movie than I’ve ever seen him do and the supporting cast is incredible. I would’ve been content with just a buddy comedy, but then Wright drops the bomb that there are aliens involved. This movie then starts to drop some incredible fight sequences with some really cool visual effects. Out of the “Cornetto Trilogy,” The World’s End is the highlight for me.
Number 5.) Saving Mr. Banks
Saving Mr. Banks is much more than the trailers would lead you to believe. Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson were both brilliant but the real star of the show is Colin Farrell, who stars as Thompson’s father when she’s a girl. The movie has its funny bits, but it’s really a drama at its core. I laughed, I cried, and I wholeheartedly encourage you to see Saving Mr. Banks before it leaves theaters this season.
Number 4.) Captain Phillips
Two Tom Hanks movies in my top 5 this year? Yes. This was a good year for Mr. Hanks. While Emma Thompson really stole the screen in Saving Mr. Banks, Hanks is really the sole star of Captain Phillips. The movie has incredible tension, it’s beautiful to watch, and the last 15 minutes really seal the deal as one of Hanks’ best performances. When it hits DVD or streaming, make sure to add Captain Phillips to your list.
Number 3.) Gravity
This was a good year for movies, if Gravity is only number three on my list. Gravity features a stellar performance by Sandra Bullock as she struggles to survive on her own in space. George Clooney delivers a suitably charismatic performance as well. The star here is Alfonso Cuaron, who directed one of the most suspenseful and engaging thrillers in recent time. The movie is mostly silent, which is a bold move, but it creates such a sense of atmosphere (or lack thereof) that you can’t help but hold your breath in amazement. Gravity is a stunning film but one that will strike at your very core.
Number 2.) The Wolf of Wall Street
December brought some great films, with The Wolf of Wall Street being the most notable that I saw. Leonardo DiCaprio gives one of his best performances as Wall Street stock broker Jordan Belfort, who actually wrote the book this is based on. Martin Scorsese directs an incredible movie here, managing to take an absolute horrific human being but make them sympathetic, to some extent. The movie is entertaining and engaging, though gives you a brutally honest look at what the world of being a millionaire might look like. Absolutely fantastic.
And number 1.) Frozen
I would not have guessed that my number one movie of the entire year would be a Disney animated film, especially after their recent track record. Well, what can I say? Frozen is much more than you’d think. The trailers do the movie an incredible injustice. This is a beautiful film about two sisters, one of which can blast ice from her hands. The story is both tragic and beautiful, but it’s the music score that really elevates this film. Idina Menzel (Wicked, Rent, Glee) performs some of the most stunning songs I’ve ever heard in a musical. And visually, this movie impressed me a thousand times over. The reason this falls as number one… No other movie on my list have I been so determined to get others to see. “Have you seen Frozen?” comes from my lips almost daily. I haven’t been this insistent for a long time that people see a movie.
If you’ve seen Frozen, let’s revisit the best ~3 minutes of any movie I’ve seen this year.
Thanks for reading! Comment on what movies you agree/disagree with and what movies you would’ve put in your top 10!