It’s time to put 2013 to bed and get ready for a brand new year. There were some amazing films this year and it’s impossible to say which movies are better than the others much less with one is the best. But I'm going to try anyway. There are a ton of movies that did not make this list, but that's the way it goes, kids.
Below are ten movies that really stood out to me this year. A few of them may surprise you. A few of them you may not even remember. Either way, I would highly suggest seeing all of them as soon as you possibly can.
Your top ten may differ greatly from mine -- and if it does, please feel free to argue your points in the comments below.
Without further ado, here are the ten best movies of 2013, in order of theatrical release:
World War Z: A fantastic book does not usually make a fantastic movie and it’s pretty much a freaking miracle this movie is watchable. It’s not only watchable, it's a must-see for genre fans and on top of that, an incredibly smart and intense thriller. After delays, rewrites, and reshoots, director Marc Forster and star Brad Pitt somehow managed to take a book that was seemingly impossible to adapt and turned it into what could become an exciting zombie thriller going forward. (review)
The Conjuring: Finally a scary movie that is actually scary. Horror movies are a dime a dozen and these days, demon possession movies are almost as common. With a solid cast led by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga, James Wan’s flick about the real life paranormal investigators, Ed and Lorraine Warren, is a genuinely terrifying movie that relies on good old fashioned tension to build its scares rather than rely on gore. (review)
The Way, Way Back: One of the most underrated movies of the year flew in under the radar when it was released in June, delighted those who had the good fortune to see it and then it was forgotten, eventually getting lost in the barrage of award contenders that hit at year’s end. But make no mistake this hilarious and touching story from Academy Award winning screenwriter Jim Rash about a boy forced to go on vacation with his mom and her bully of a boyfriend is one of the real gems of 2013. (review)
Rush: Another one that got lost in an end of the year rush of outstanding film releases, Ron Howard's biopic about two Formula One rivals may be one of the most inspirational and underrated movies of the year. With a terrific performance from Chris Hemsworth, who proves he can do more than swing a giant hammer, this flick about European driver James Hunt (Hemsworth) and Germany's Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl) is an intense and thought provoking look at how the competitive spirit can be fuel for human endurance. (review)
Gravity: Every few years, a movie comes along that redfines why movies are best viewed on a big screen. In October, Alfonso Cuaron’s “Gravity” stunned audiences with the heart-pounding story of a biotech doctor, whose chance of a lifetime trip to space turns into a living nightmare when the space shuttle is trashed, leaving her to fight for survival while drifting helplessly though space. I'm not usually much of a Sandra Bullock fan, but she is great in this and it is easily the best cinematic experience of the year...and it's not even close. (review)
12 Years a Slave: A brilliant cast. A powerful and gut-wrenching based on real life story. It’s the stuff that Oscar dreams are made of. And don't be surprised if and when this flick gets adorned with Oscar gold. Director Steve McQueen's incredible drama of a man forced into slavery, who found the courage to fight for his freedom is without a doubt worthy. If there is any justice in Hollywood, Ejiofor, will finally establish himself as a true leading man. The guy is a fantastic actor. It's time.
American Hustle: This one has been highlighted on my calendar for most of the year and it did not disappoint. David O. Russell once again steps into a new genre and knocks one out of the park. But this one about hustlers FBI agents working together to bring down corrupt politicians gets a bit long and ridiculous at times. Thankfully it gets career performances out of its cast including Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams, and Jennifer Lawrence. Plus, if nothing else, it gave us the term: "science oven". Instant classic, indeed. (review)
The Wolf of Wall Street: Who would have thought the funniest movie of the year would come in the form of a Martin Scorcese movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio. It’s just a shame that we had to wait until December to get something with some real laugh out loud hilarious moments. Of course it’s also the most vile, misogynistic, and vulgar movie of the year, but it’s so worth the 180 minute running time. (review)
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty: Ben Stiller movies are usually better when the man directs them himself. Of course, you may be able to argue that this might have been a better movie had Stiller stayed behind the camera, but that depends on how you feel about the man as an actor. A remake and a re-adaptation, “Walter Mitty” is a beautiful and inspiring story about a daydreamer who wants to make a difference and take control of his life. And the good news is that it lacks most of Ben’s slapstick humor and allows the heart to lead the way. (review)
Her: One of the best movies I've seen this year won't even be released until we are ten days into the new year, but by this time next year it will be long forgotten so, technicalities be damned, it's on my list. Spike Jonze always delivers and he does it again here in this odd and unsettling yet harrowingly truthful look at love and life. Even creepier is the fact that something similar to this story about a lonely man (Joaquin Phoenix) who falls in love with his computer's operating system is probably closer to being a reality than we'd like to admit. Then again his OS is voiced by Scarlett Johansson. So, duh. (review)
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