I saw 77 new releases this year, and I’ve been compiling a ranked spreadsheet of them as the year has gone on. Now that it is over, I am here to present my 2013 year in review at the movies. To the left of this text is the ranked list that you can view. For this post, however, I’ll only be highlighting my top 10 favorite movies of 2013. These are my personal choices for the year and may likely not reflect the views or opinions of others. The scores from the film’s review on HoF (if there is one) may not match exactly to the number by which they have been placed on my list, but opinions can change. I’ve given some serious thought to this list and how it was put together. With all of that being said, let us begin our list.
This movie is a thrill ride if there ever was one. Ron Howard has been around for a while, and even though he’s given us a lot of pretty bad movies (Grinch), he’s also given us some pretty great things too. This is one of the latter. Rush is an interesting character study that highlights the importance of rivalries, as well as what happens when the human will to win takes over and becomes your driving force in life. Not only is it just a complete thrill ride from beginning to end, but it was also a very visually stimulating experience. Be it quick cuts, the unique use of titles, or just the breakneck editing, Rush is certainly a film worth watching and has earned its spot in my top 10 for the year.
9. Captain Phillips
The second you find me a Tom Hanks movie where he isn’t fantastic, let me know. Because I don’t think there will be one for the rest of this man’s career. Even though it’s apparently factually inaccurate and can be one-sided, there’s no arguing that this film is both powerful and intense. The performances from Hanks and the pirates who take over the Maersk Alabama are incredible. But what sold me on this movie above anything else was its final few minutes. I don’t think there has been a more convincing few minutes of acting all year. Paul Greengrass’ direction is intense and above all, gripping. Well done.
8. The World’s End
Freakin’ Edgar Wright, man. That guy has yet to make a bad movie. This is no exception. As a huge fan of both Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead, I was incredibly excited to see the third and final installment of the Cornetto Trilogy. And this movie was the perfect way to send it out. There’s something about the way that Edgar Wright directs his movies with intense speed and wit. It generally takes more than one viewing to catch every joke that’s thrown in to all of the scenes. When you couple that with brilliant thematic writing, it makes for a great time. The World’s End isn’t necessarily as good as Hot Fuzz, but it’s still a great movie.
7. The Way Way Back
Maybe I’m a sucker for coming-of-age stories or I just love movies with characters that I completely and totally relate to. Because I loved this movie so much. The humor was spot on, entertaining, and had a great tone to it that just screamed “summer”. With Sam Rockwell’s best performance to date as well as a very hate-filled and conniving Steve Carrell (who also nailed his part), this was one of the better character-driven movies that were released this year. This is a film that a lot of people were unfortunately unaware existed. This needs to change. Please watch this if you get the chance.
This is probably higher on a lot of other people’s lists, but this is my list so whatever. Gravity is by far the most visually and technically impressive movie that has ever been created. Sure, it may not deliver a powerhouse story that pulls at your heart and mind for years on end, but just the pure spectacle of this film is something that a lot of other movie’s cannot even come close to matching. It also has the best shot of the year to boot. If you didn’t see this in 3D in a theater, shame on you. If there’s any movie that begged to be seen in a cinema, it’s this one.
This is another movie that was just kind of out there without anyone caring enough to go and see it. Which again, is another unfortunate reality of the current state of audiences. Be that as it may, Philomena was a movie I didn’t expect to love as much as I did. The sheer hope and playful naivety expressed through Judi Dench’s character makes for one of the more memorable and charming performances given this year. When coupled with Steve Coogan’s humor and sarcasm making appearances throughout the film, it makes for a great drama/comedy.
4. The Wolf of Wall Street
Martin Scorsese is the greatest director who ever lived. His awesome use of camera movements and storytelling remain unmatched today. Compared to his other works, this doesn’t really stand as tall. But it’s still one of the best movies to have been released this year. At a staggering and intimidating 3 hours in length, The Wolf of Wall Street is as great a comedy as it is a crime thriller, drama, and exercise in excess. While I can’t vouch for the likability of the main character, I can at least say that the film is so well acted and directed that it still deserves a viewing or two.
Again, maybe I just like movies I can relate to. I’ve never visited Nebraska or Montana or anything like that, but this movie perfectly encapsulated awkward family affairs. Bruce Dern gives us one of the most accurate depictions of an elderly senile man that’s confused and convinced by something that’s trying to trick him. Alongside him are Will Forte, his annoyed yet charmed son, and his wife played by June Squibb, who steals every scene she’s in with quick-witted dialogue and biting sarcasm. Nebraska is a film with the best-written characters that have been onscreen this year.
2. The Spectacular Now
What a fantastic movie. When it comes to teenage romance films, you need to approach it with caution. But I didn’t need to. The strongest point about this film by far is its subtlety. I was worried that this was going to pull out all of the cliches and essentially bore me to death. What I watched, however, was a very realistic and articulated depiction of teenage love. It draws emotion in a manner that isn’t too heavy-handed, but not so light that it becomes forgettable. As a bonus, there are a ton of long takes. Which is awesome.
1. Inside Llewyn Davis
Those Coen Brothers, man. If you have a script that has sarcasm, wit, and great characters, give it to these guys. These are some of the greatest people working in movies today. Think about it. Fargo. No Country. True Grit. The Big Lebowski. These guys are incredible. Inside Llewyn Davis is not only the best movie of the year so far in my opinion, but also their best film to date. This is an excellent movie on a variety of factors. Its characters are fleshed out, likable, understandable, relatable, and entertaining. It’s also a film that does not shy away from the realities of things and instead is completely honest in the way it tells its story. There are a variety of messages and lessons here, and all of them hit home in the perfect way. For these reasons, Inside Llewyn Davis is my favorite film for 2013.
After watching 77 movies this year, these are the ones I feel deserve your attention and eyes. But that needn’t mean there aren’t other great ones in the year. You can see other films that almost made the cut in my ranked list at the top of this post. Thanks for reading, and let’s hope 2014 is even better.