Yesterday I went into all of the more horrific offerings 2013 had on the table, but it wouldn't be fair to leave it at that because it's been an incredibly stacked year for films this year. It was extremely difficult to narrow this year down to 10 (and I imagine it'd be even more difficult if Dallas Buyer's Club, Her, and Nebraska could have played within 40 miles of my house, so no those won't be on my list because I wasn't able to see them). Also, you will notice (from the movies that have a review on this website, no not every movie I saw this year had a review) that my movies aren't necessarily in the order that I rated them, just because I gave it a higher score does not guarantee it a spot on the list. The reason for this is because I review a movie for what it is, flaws and all, and this is a list of my ten personal favorites, meaning that 7/10 might rank higher for me personally than a 9/10. So without wasting more filler space typing random intro jabber, here were my personal best films of 2013.
Like with my last list I figured it would only be fair to give a few honorable mentions of movies that just missed my list. Every movie I am giving an honorable mention at some point in my thought process had that number 10 spot, I just kept flipping and switching until I finally settled on one. (So honestly, all of these are nearly interchangeable with my number 10)
Rush - This movie was so close to making my number 10, the direction was fantastic, the chemistry between Bruhl and Hemsworth was fantastic, and the racing scenes were jam-packed and exciting. It ultimately missed out because I felt it just wasn't as memorable as it should have been later on down the road.
The Way Way Back - An outstanding directorial debut, filled with some great performances and real acting turn around for Steve Carell in a completely different kind of role as the hard-ass step dad. It was extremely charming, and I loved it, it just wasn't quite as good as another coming of age flick later on in my list.
Before Midnight - I know, I am shocked to that the sequel to my favorite 2004 movie (Before Sunset) missed out on my top 10, and it's because it wasn't a good one, because it was a fantastic sequel. Ultimately though it just didn't stick with me like the last two did, despite diving into deeper territory than the last two installments of the Before trilogy did.
American Hustle - David O. Russel continued his streak of greatness with an extremely vibrant and entertaining American Hustle. The acting was probably some of the best I've seen in a Russel movie, and the script was funny and engaging. However, it didn't have the heart Silver Linings Playbook did that really gripped me last year (which made it my number 2 of 2012), and I ultimately found it a little safe.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire - This was one of the biggest surprises of the year for me, while I did have a few problems with it, I was extremely impressed how they fixed nearly all of the gripes I had with the original. It was a much grittier and an extremely gripping blockbuster. I went in expecting a so-so movie, like the original, and came out converted.
Now for my actual top 10.
This is the End
My number 10 slot was such a jumble to pick, but I really couldn't give my top 10 list without including This is the End (one of my favorite movies of the summer). The film was raunchy, degrading, and absolutely hysterical, I laughed more during this movie than any other of the year. The plot line is clever and original (despite it's low brow humor), it also completely took me by surprise by just how funny it was. Major props to This is the End for all of its hilarity.
Saving Mr. Banks
What a charming film, and some great performances too. Emma Thompson completely owns her role as PL Travers, and Hancock's sentimentality is taken down to a level that works, where it was a bit overbearing in The Blind Side. This film was able to balance the comical aspects of the studio situations, while also adding an endearing heart in its back story. I loved it and all the sappiness it entailed.
I said this after I saw Tangled, and again after I saw Wreck-It Ralph, but I'm going to say it for real this time, and that is that Walt Disney Animation Studios is back. The movie was like a love letter to their older princess classics, and at the same time a satire of them. It funny, the script was cliche defying, and the songs just could not get out of my head. Major props to Disney for delivering what's already an instant Disney classic.
This was one of those little films among all of the big blockbusters that really resonated with me and managed to out-do all of them. It was very well-crafted, the story was told intelligently, and the performances seemed so natural. I also loved the themes that were present in Mud and felt that it was all around an extremely solid film with very little flaws.
The Spectacular Now
The summer of 2013 may not have had a lot of great blockbusters, but it sure did have tons of small gems like The Spectacular Now. This movie was filled with breakouts and powerful performances, and it managed to twist everything you'd expect it to deliver being a coming of age film. It was very well edited and put together, and the two leads (especially Shailene Woodley) steal your heart in this story.
The Wolf of Wall Street
This was a movie that I didn't give an overly high rating (just a 7/10), but it's also one which themes and ideas embedded themselves into my head. I couldn't stop thinking about the life the man lived and how he got away with it for so long and how little punishment there was. The more I thought about it, the more genius the character study was, by being so divisive and controversial the movie pulled off exactly what it intended to do, get people talking about the real problems that are still going on unpunished today. It also helps that the acting was phenomenal, the writing was top notch, and that is was absolutely hysterical.
This was the first perfect score I gave this year, and I still would give it the exact same rating. It is absolutely hauntingly powerful cinematic debut for Ryan Coogler, and an unspeakably great breakout performance from Michael B. Jordan. It tells the true story with such a quiet subtle force and wrenches itself into you where all you can do is sit in silence when the credits role. Definitely look out for Ryan Coogler in the future.
My next three choices were really interchangeable, I could have had any of these at number one but I had to choose an order, so this is how it came out.
Alfonso Cuaron is one of (if not the) best director alive and working in the business right now, and this movie is a complete showcase of how good he actually is. He pulls off impossibly engaging shots and creates some of the most realistic visuals I have seen in a movie, period. Sandra Bullock manages carry this movie as the driving actor behind it, with only Clooney to support her, the movie is haunting and Cuaron's use of symbolism is powerful in each shot he takes. This is a film that definitely deserves the high praise that it has been getting.
Inside Llewyn Davis
I was very close to putting this at number 1, but ultimately I didn't feel as if it were ultimately justifiable for me place it there. This is a movie that grows on you the more you think about it, and the subtle social commentary is top-notch by the Coen Brothers who manage to provide humor along with it. The soundtrack was spectacular, and Oscar Isaac was utterly captivating in his role. It was one of the Coen Brothers best outings in my personal opinion.
12 Years a Slave
I'm sure once Gravity was shown at number 3 and Inside Llewyn Davis got my number two that it was obvious what my number one was, and call it a 'safe' pick all you want but it deserves the spot. I don't know what I can say what countless others have already said, but yes it is the Schindler's List of slavery, and yes 12 Years a Slave is a masterpiece and the best that 2013 has had to offer.