I haven’t been writing for this site very long, so you, the readers, haven’t gotten much of a chance to get to know me. And one of the best ways for you to get to know me is by letting you know what I like, what movies get to me, get inside my head. So, with that in mind, here are my top 10 movies of 2013.
It’s been…something of an odd year overall though. A lot of my favorite movies are on the strange side, and not just because I tend to like strange movies. Many of the more conventional movies were poorly executed or just plain boring, so my Top 10 is populated mostly by movies that exist well outside the norm.
A quick note: choosing what I think the best movies of the year is often hard, because I have to separate them from the movies I just like. If this was my favorite movies of the year, Pacific Rim and John Dies at the End would both be on here and if I was just choosing raw quality Fruitvale Station and Blue is the Warmest Colour would probably have a solid chance of being on here. It’s hard to choose movies that meet both qualifiers, but I do my best. And there are still some movies I want to see (I was holding onto this list for a while, as I’d hoped to see Her and Zero Theorem before the end of the year, but no dice), so this just the best movies I’ve seen this year so far. So, with those things in mine, let’s get started:
#10: The World’s End (site review here)
This was a very close pick, with both Pacific Rim and Prisoners vying for the 10th spot. Still, I feel very secure in this choice; it’s a smarter movie than Pacific Rim and I think I’ll still be talking about it longer than Prisoners. While not as perfect as Shaun of the Dead or Hot Fuzz, it’s still a brilliant little movie, one of the funniest films of the year, surprisingly smart and with one of the best performances of Simon Pegg’s career at the center.
#9: Captain Phillips
With very few exceptions, I’ve had little patience for Paul Greengrass. But here, he managed to pull it together, by boiling it down to it’s essentials and making it, more than anything else, about Phillips and Abudwali. Tom Hanks has been reminding us regularly why he has two Oscars already (I know a bunch of you STILL haven’t seen Cloud Atlas) and Barkhad Abdi gives one of the best unknown performances since…well since last year in Beasts of the Southern Wilds. Still, it’s a great film because it understands its limitations and makes it about the characters.
#8: Much Ado About Nothing
I bet most of you forgot this existed. But I didn’t, and I loved it, one of the best modern adaptations of Shakespeare ever. Joss Whedon knows how to use this cast perfectly, it features some great direction and best of all it trusts the audience to just deal with the fact that it’s Shakespeare, without questioning why they’re referring to what is clearly a house in LA as Italy (looking at you Baz Luhrmann). And hey, it’s nice to see Wesley and Fred get together without one of them immediately dying.
#7: Spring Breakers
Told you this would be here. If you’d told me last year that one of the best films of 2013 would be directed by the guy who did Trash Humpers, star Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens, and would contain James Franco singing a Britney Spears song, I’d have laughed in your face. But here I am, declaring Spring Breakers not only a good movie, not only a great movie, but maybe an important one. What is the world coming to?
#6: The Wolf of Wall Street (site review here)
Hey Martin, nice to see you here again, it’s been a while. It’s cool that, having passed his 70th birthday, Scorsese still has it. A weirdly engaging and darkly comic story, with a fantastic lead performance from Leonardo DiCaprio and a bizarre turn from Jonah Hill. It’s nice to see that Leo, despite all his money and fame, is still willing to debase himself for a performance.
#5: Nebraska (site review here)
Thank Christ we didn’t have to wait 7 years between Alexander Payne movies again. Although it is kinda weird that I have no less than 2 black and white films on my top 10 this year. Oh well, you know I loved this one. Payne directs with the kind of confidence people usually have to have been directing for 30 years to get, the screenplay was brilliant and Bruce Dern gave one of the weirdest and most affecting depictions of Alzheimer’s I’ve seen. Maybe if this gets some Oscar nominations it can actually get a wide release.
Huh, this movie wound up lower than I was expecting. It feels weird to name a movie that was basically a pure ride movie as one of the best movies of the year, but here we are. Brilliant directed by Alfonso Curaon, superbly acted (why could Sandra Bullock do this kind of performance more often?) and incredibly intense to watch, Gravity is the best kind of action/thriller there is: the kind that’s not afraid to also be smart. Now go see Children of Men too.
#3 Inside Llewyn Davis (site review Here)
I’ve not actually had a chance to finish writing and post my review of this movie, so I’m not going to say much about it. I will say this though: Go. See. This. Movie. NOW!
In a year that saw his most famous movie remade by Spike Lee opening to critical indifference and spectacular commercial failure, Korean director Park Chan-wook reminded us why he’s a big deal. I honestly can’t tell you why this movie is so great without either spoiling it or making this list no longer safe for work, but trust me, it’s great. Some of the most beautiful direction of the year and a set of the weirdest performances I’ve seen. It’s been on DVD for a while, so go track it down. Besides, you would not believe with Mia Wasikowska gets up to in this movie.
#1: 12 Years a Slave (site review here)
Some people might take issue with this choice, as I did not enjoy a moment of this movie. But that’s kind of the point, enjoyment was not the emotion this movie wanted to evoke. Incredibly directed and often physically painful to watch, in a way I’ve rarely seen in cinema, 12 Years a Slave hit harder than any other movie of the year. From Chiwetel Ejiofor’s quietly brilliant performance to Fassbender’s unhinged psychotic performance, straight out of a nightmare, this film had the best acting of any movie this year. The only possible negative for this movie is that it means Steve McQueen might have peaked too early. Do not miss this movie for any reason.