Year in Review for Film in 2013

Rooney Mara and Channing Tatem in Side Effects

Rooney Mara and Channing Tatem in Side Effects

This past year in film was one of the best in a quite some time.  There were a lot of great smaller independent movies whereas there were few good blockbuster films.  Lets see what the year brought us.

In January we saw the big return of Arnold Schwarzenegger in the Last Stand.  I still find him to be highly entertaining and I’m glad he’s back on the big screen.  In February, I was surprised by how much I liked Warm Bodies, the zombie romance film.  Side Effects came in under the radar and is an underrated film directed by Steven Soderbergh (Ocean’s 11, Traffic).  I was excited to see A Good Day to Die Hard but it ended up being a huge dud.

March was filled with mediocre/terrible popcorn flicks such as Oz: The Great and Powerful, The Croods, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, The Host, and Olympus Has Fallen.  Jack the Giant Slayer was also one of the biggest box office bombs of the year due to its high budget.  As least March had The Place Beyond the Pines which is one of my favorites last year. 

April was the complete opposite of March and had hit after hit.  Fans of the original Evil Dead were unsure whether its remake was going to be any good but it ended up delivering on the scares and gore. On my second viewing of Oblivion I liked it a lot more.  I thought it was one of the most visually appealing films of the year.  It was accompanied by a beautiful score by M83. Michael Bay went back to his roots and small budget productions and made the ridiculously true story titled Pain & Gain.  Lastly, Mud was the first of three film where Matthew McConaughey amazed audiences with his performance.

Ryan Gosling in The Place Beyond the Pines

Ryan Gosling in The Place Beyond the Pines

May marked the beginning of the summer movie season.  It began with Iron Man 3 which was a huge disappointment for me.  More of the disappointments were Now You See Me and the Hangover Part 3.  I am thankful that the trilogy is finally over.  At least the sequels Star Trek Into Darkness and Fast & Furious 6 were a joy to watch.  May had a plethora of great independent features such as The East, Frances Ha, Before Midnight, Stories We Tell, and The Kings of Summer.

I was happy that the summer Blockbusters got better in June.  Man of Steel became a successful reboot of Superman.  I was positive World War Z was going to be a flop after all of its production delays but I was surprised by how much I ended up enjoying it.  Other great films were Monster University, This is the End, The Purge, The Bling Ring, and I even liked White House Down.

July had a mix of everything meaning good and bad popcorn flicks along with great independent films.  The Conjuring delivered plenty of scares while Pacific Rim gave us the monsters versus robots movie we’ve been wanting.  People loved the minions once more in Despicable Me 2 and it looks like they are getting a spin off film.  Disney sunk all this money into the western epic, The Lone Ranger, and gave us a bore.  Another big disappointment was The Wolverine.  I thought they learned their lesson with his previous stand alone film but I guess not.  July provided us with a vast amount of amazing independent films like Blue Jasmine, The Way Way Back, Fruitvale Station, Blackfish, The Act of Killing, Stuck in Love, and Only God Forgives.  I’m telling you, it was the year of the indie features.

Shailene Woodley and Miles Teller in The Spectacular Now

Shailene Woodley and Miles Teller in The Spectacular Now

There were more wonderful indie films released in August and my favorite was The Spectacular Now.  Some of the other good ones were Short Term 12, You’re Next, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints and Europa Report.  My biggest disappointment of the year was Elysium by director Neill Blomkamp whom previously directed District 9.  It was my most anticipated this year and it just didn’t deliver the goods.  2 Guns and We’re the Millers pleasantly surprised me by how good they were.  Some other great films that month were The Butler, Kick-Ass 2 and The World’s End.

As the summer came to an end, September was packed with hits including Prisoners, Insidious: Chapter Two, Don Jon, Enough Said, Rush and Riddick.  Initially, I wasn’t a big fan of either Rush or Riddick but after thinking on it I really enjoyed them.  I haven’t had the chance to see Enough Said but I’ve heard nothing but good things about it. 

October begins awards season as films are being released in hopes on getting an Oscar.  Two of my favorite films of the year were released that month, Gravity and 12 Years a Slave.  If you haven’t seen either of those films then shame on you.  All is Lost was another phenomenal film that a lot of people didn’t see because of its limited release but it is a must see. Most critics and movie goers loved Captain Phillips but I didn’t share the same feelings towards it.  I was heartbroken when Ridley Scott’s latest film, The Counselor, was absolute garbage.  Even my main dude Michael Fassbender couldn’t save it.

Chiwetel Ejiofor and Michael Fassbender in 12 Years a Slave

Chiwetel Ejiofor and Michael Fassbender in 12 Years a Slave

There were some heavy hitters at the box office in November that included The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Frozen and Thor: The Dark World.  I was pleased to see that Catching Fire lived up to its expectations and was even better than the first movie.  Ender’s Game surprised me since I thought it was going to be awful.  The book is known as one of the greatest sci-fi novels so it had a lot to live up too.  November also had some Oscar hopefuls: Philomena, Dallas Buyers Club and Nebraska.  Jared Leto And Matthew McConaughey transformed themselves into their roles as HIV positive patients in Dallas Buyers Club.  They gave brilliant performances

December was absolutely jam packed with movies.  The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug was significantly better than the first film. I was pretty disappointed how American Hustle turned out but I was in the minority there.  The Wolf of Wall Street and Her were absolutely amazing so make sure you go see those films.  I also loved Saving Mr. Banks especially Emma Thompson’s performance as Mary Poppins Arthur, P.L. Travers.  Ron Burgundy returned in Anchorman 2 which was probably the most unpredictable movie I’ve seen all year.

It was hard narrowing down my top ten films of 2013 because I loved so many. I wrote down a list of 20 and picked from there.  So without further ado, here are my favorite films from 2013.

10. All is Lost

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All is Lost was not seen by many but was adored by those who had.  Robert Redford plays a sailor out in the middle of the ocean on his own.  We seem him struggle through survival after his boat collides with a shipping container and intersects with a severe storm. Redford gives a powerful performance by expressing his emotions.  He is the only actor in this film and only has a handful of dialogue throughout.  All is Lost is captivating tale that I hope will be seen by more.

9. The Place Beyond the Pines

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This film has a very unconventional storyline and I feel like most people I’ve talked to either loves or hates it.  As you can see, I loved it.  There were a lot of great performances in it especially from Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper and Ben Mendelsohn (Dark Knight Rises, Killing Them Softly).  It was beautifully filmed thanks to director, Derek Cianfrance (Blue Valentine). 

8. Man of Steel

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Zack Snyder was the right man to reboot Superman due to his shooting style.  This was among the most entertaining films of the year. Man of Steel had awesome special effects, action sequences and costume design.  Hans Zimmer wrote yet another amazing score that I still listen to today.  I can’t wait to see what is in store for the next film.

7. Her

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At the beginning of the year I haven’t even heard of this film yet.  It was one of the last films I saw from 2013 and it left quite a big impression.  I was mesmerized by the beautiful cinematography and the connection between a man and his computer.  The plot may sound dumb but be sure to give it a chance before you let it slip by.

6. Mud

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Matthew McConaughey had a fantastic year and has been making some great choices.  He was fantastic as the title character, Mud, who was a convict on the run that got some help from two young boys.  The film was also a coming of age tale about one of the boys, played by Ty Sheridan, whom was struggling with his own problems. 

5. The Conjuring

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The Conjuring scared the hell out of me.  James Wan is a master of horror and can do no wrong.  I can’t remember how many times I covered my face with my hands.  There is a great mix of supernatural and demons to scare you out of your seat. 

4. The Spectacular Now

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One of the many great coming of age tales that were released this past year but this was my favorite.  Miles Teller (Project X, 21 & Over) played a senior in high school who had a bit of alcohol problem.  He comes in contact with a girl who helps him change his ways of life.  The Spectacular Now has wit, charm and it brings you on an emotional roller coaster.

3. The Wolf of Wall Street

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This movie was bat shit crazy from beginning to end.  Leonardo DiCaprio was in rare form and his performance was incredible.  I couldn’t believe have the shit he did in the film and to think that most of it is a true story.  Martin Scorsese delivers a hell of a movie in an ode to his part movies, Goodfellas and Casino.  Its 3 hour run time only feels like two. 

2. 12 Years a Slave

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This was most powerful and heartbreaking film of the year.  It featured the best performing ensemble of any movie this year.  Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Sarah Paulson, Lupita Nyong'o and many others were spectacular in their roles.  Steve McQueen directed this masterpiece and gave us a few gut wrenching scenes that you couldn’t help but watch.  It is getting a re-release on January 17th so make sure to see it while you can.

1. Gravity 

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I still can’t give this movie enough praise.  Alfonso Cuaron created a masterpiece and I’m not sure how he could top himself.  He gave a realistic view of what it would be like in space.  He’s known for creating these long shot sequences and I believe the opening shot was 15 minutes long without a cut.  It was an experience when seeing this in theaters.  Cuaron utilizes the use of 3D very well and worth seeing it in that format.  Like 12 Years a Slave, it is also getting a re-release in theaters on January 17th.  So now you two movies to see in the upcoming weeks.

 

Runners Up: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Dallas Buyers Club, You’re Next, Prisoners, Fast & Furious 6, The Bling Ring, The Way, Way Back, Blue Jasmine, Don Jon, Evil Dead

Well there you have it, my thoughts of film in 2013.  I can’t wait to see what 2014 brings.  Enjoy!