The film industry had another incredible year in 2013, and now that the New Year’s ball is once again hovering above Times Square, it’s time for a look back at the thirteen best movies of the year. From the sex-filled, white powder-snorting world of “The Wolf of Wall Street” to the white powdered snow that gave life to an adorable talking snowman in “Frozen,” there’s something for everyone on the list of the best movies of 2013.
The film centers on the driven, egomaniacal and extremely persuasive Jordan Belfort, a New York stockbroker who gleefully makes his living defrauding investors. As audiences quake at the inconceivably corrupt and excessive world that Belfort lives for, they realize that the film offers more than a glimpse into the life of a depraved, money-crazed man; it is a reflection of the insatiable, despicable greed that lies at the core of our society. Director Martin Scorsese uses Wall Street as the canvas for his image of American greed, and he lets DiCaprio paint the picture with his portrayal of the terrifyingly greedy wolf of Wall Street. For viewers willing to dip their toes into a world of moral depravity, this is truly the must-see movie of the year.
Only the faces of George Clooney and Sandra Bullock float across the screen in the film “Gravity” as the two portray astronauts desperately clinging to life as they attempt to navigate their way through space. The two face problems no one on Earth can possibly imagine as they work to make their way back to the massive blue planet that dominates the screen. As they battle to survive on screen, the audience is able to understand the characters in unique and profound ways – they see them simply as human beings trying to find the strength within themselves to survive when all hope seems lost. Gravity isn’t a film that will transport viewers into another world, but it will certainly give them a stunning view of the one they inhabit.
With a cast of sleazy oversized collar, outlandish suit-wearing hustlers, “American Hustle” has an electrifying, intoxicating energy that makes for an entertaining and unusual viewing experience. Despite its all-star cast and its brilliant direction, “American Hustle” still captures the gritty, seedy feel you’d expect from a story about a group of 1970s conmen who believe that “Everyone hustles to survive.” The group may not live better than everyone else, but they certainly hustle better, which makes for a fun, amusing and exciting film.
Kings of Summer
Although it didn’t get the attention it deserved at the box office, “Kings of Summer” was unquestionably the best coming-of-age movie of the year. The film told the story of a group of angst-filled teenage boys, who, in a quest for independence, run off into the woods to build a house and live on their own. “Kings” reminds viewers of a time when they knew more than their parents, wanted their own roofs with their own rules, and sought for a way to let their rebellious, ambitious spirits run free. The film paints a hilarious, intelligent and shockingly relatable picture of a group of free-spirited teenagers who find their own way of getting rid of their pent-up teenage frustrations. Unlike many other coming-of-age movies, “Kings” doesn’t take itself too seriously and it secures itself as one of the most entertaining and memorable movies of the year.
It’s been a little over a month now since I saw “Frozen” (for the first time), and I still can’t get the catchy “Do you want to build a snowman” song out of my head. There’ve been plenty of great animated children’s movies in the past few years, but none of them have been able to capture the same sense of fun, excitement and wonder that made the Disney movies of the ‘80s and ‘90s the beloved classics they are today. With “Frozen,” Disney has shown viewers that they still have the magic touch – the film combines the heartwarming spirit of the older films with new technology to create a stunning and entertaining Disney classic.
Do you remember when horror movies used to be about… horror? When I was young a horror movie was something like “Psycho,” “The Birds,” or “Silence of the Lambs” – horro movies that had one objective and that was to keep moviegoers awake for days after watching – they weren’t meant to show off fancy new effects or to boast high body counts like many of the horror films that fell into theaters in the past few years. Fortunately, “The Conjuring” is a horror movie that remembered how to scare audiences – it didn’t waste time with special effects and unnecessary acts of brutality, it found the common horrors that can strike fear into audiences and it used them to terrify its viewers. Thanks to “The Conjuring,” fans of horror movies can finally sleep quietly at night knowing that some filmmakers still know how to make classic horror movies that can keep their viewers up at night.
“Man of Steel” is exactly the sort of experience that Superman fans have spent years waiting for, with the added benefit of having some brilliant filmmakers behind the scenes who are able to breathe fresh life into the development of one of history’s most iconic fictional characters. Like Nolan and Christian Bale’s first Batman outing, Snyder and Cavill’s first Superman film could use some improvements, but re-introducing a franchise is always a difficult task, and bringing Superman to life is nearly impossible. However, “Man of Steel” easily makes the list for successfully bringing the world’s most popular superhero back to the silver screen.
As a foreign language film with no real promotional budget, it’s no surprise that “A Hijacking” didn’t get much attention this year – to be honest, I saw it only because after a week with only a few openings it was the only movie in theaters I hadn’t seen yet. However, I was astounded by the tremendous power the film had. “A Hijacking” powerfully tells the story of a small boat hijacked by Somalian pirates, and through its depiction of an unimaginably stressful and taxing conflict it paints a vivid and unforgettable picture of people’s ability, or inability to persevere when all hope seems lost. It’s a difficult movie to watch, but it will stick viewers long after the credits roll.
Hunger Games: Catching Fire
The much anticipated sequel to the first “Hunger Games” movie is far more impressive than the original. “Hunger Games: Catching Fire” featured another set of brilliant performances by its talented cast, which of course included Jennifer Lawrence, who after a busy, award-winning year is more experienced as an actress and more comfortable in her starring role. The latest addition to the “Hunger Games” series is a thought-provoking, exciting and exhilarating film that will appeal to a wide range of viewers.
Unlike most comedy sequels, “Anchorman 2” doesn’t try to copy the formula of the original movie – it boasts an engaging and original story that gives viewers something to follow while also allowing the characters to constantly crack jokes and take liberties with the dialogue. “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues” isn’t quite as good as the first movie, but it offers everything fans could hope for in a sequel making it a definite must-see for fans of the original movie.
Woody Allen’s most recent film, “Blue Jasmine” shows a story that is startlingly believable – it shows the devastating effects the actions an immoral businessman’s Ponzi scheme can have on his victims and on his own family when the pyramid collapses. Allen’s recognizable brand of neurotic humor pokes through at times, but the film focuses on the life of the businessman’s vulnerable wife as she is forced to cope with the complete destruction of her life, her lifestyle and her plans for the future. The movie lets viewers see the effects of a Ponzi scheme in a new light, which makes it well worth watching.
“Star Trek: Into Darkness” is a spectacular follow-up to the first “Star Trek” film in the latest reboot of the franchise. The film masterfully depicts the iconic characters from the original franchise in their new incarnations in his franchise, which makes the bold new voyage for the famed Starship Enterprise exciting and entertaining for moviegoers – whether they are newcomers to Star Trek or were fans of the original series.
The final film on the list, “Saving Mr. Banks,” reveals the turbulent process of creating of one of Disney’s most beloved and well-known films, “Marry Poppins,” in an unexpectedly honest and candid manner. This isn’t a film that will make audiences smile the whole way through and remind them of the magic of Christmastime, that’s what Disney’s other Christmas film, “Frozen” is for, but it will fascinate audiences with its depiction of the dark and very human roots of one of Disney’s most heartwarming and magical films.
As the final few minutes of 2013 tick away and everyone reflects on the joys the past year brought them, which, for me, included the thirteen films mentioned above, I’d like to take a moment to thank everyone who reads my articles – whether this is the first time you’ve read one of my articles, or if you are one of the readers who subscribes to everything I write, I appreciate every view. Thank you for your continued support, and I look forward to sharing more news and reviews with you in the coming year. Happy New Year!