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My Top Ten Films of 2013

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Written by Markus Robinson, Edited by Nicole I. Ashland

It’s that time of year again! So, with the New Year upon us I have once again formulated what I believe to have been the ten best movies to come out of 2013. And no, neither the OVERRATED “The Way Way Back” nor the Oscar bait central “Captain Phillips” made my list, in case you were wondering. And just because I’m black does not mean “Lee Daniel’s The Butler” gets a free pass.

As always, if you disagree with my list and feel the need to write me an angry letter, my email is On a side note, as a companion to my list I will be writing mini write ups very briefly describing the synopsis and why I enjoyed each film. These write ups are only mini reviews, so if you would like to see my full reviews, click on the titles of each film and the link will take you to them.

So, without further ado, here is my list of the top ten best movies of 2013, in order:

10. The Kings of Summer: The story of three middle class white kids who come up with the idea of running away from home after endlessly b****ing about how hard their lives are, didn’t really sound like a premise that was up my alley. But, after recently watching it (having put it off for months) “The Kings of Summer” is the quietest surprise on my list. With heavy elements of the more sentimental moments from “Stand By Me” mixed with a healthy supply of hilarity (the dance that Biaggio does in the forest is epic) makes this film (which was in and out of theaters in like two seconds) the best coming of age movie of the year and arguably the best movie no one saw.

9. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire: All I can say is, thank God for new directors! What director Francis Lawrence has done here is created a film that will have even the biggest Hunger Game haters fully invested. Despite everything stemming from a premise that was never meant for a PG-13 format, “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire”, the sequel to “The Hunger Games” (which I thought was pretty good) shockingly had me on the edge of my seat the entire runtime, standing as one of my favorite action movies of 2013. OK, so there isn’t as much killing in a movie about former killers, who are placed into a killing arena and forced to kill, and it’s really low on shaky camera battle sequences. But, is shockingly high on engaging content and (I can’t believe I’m saying this but) adrenaline pumping action. This coming from a guy who could care less about the books, Catching Fire was so much better than its predecessor.

8. This Is the End: A comedy centering around Seth Rogen and Jay Baruchel going to a party at James Franco’s house when the apocalypse happens, admittedly is a plot which sounds like a natural disaster in its own right. But, after seeing this multiple times and quoting it nonstop, I still stand by my original statement that “This Is the End” is the funniest movie since “40 Year Old Virgin”. Sinkhole de Mayo. Need I say more?

7. All Is Lost: Telling the tale of an elderly sailor who wakes up in the middle of the Indian Ocean and must face his own mortality when he discovers that his small yacht is sinking, “All Is Lost” is obviously not a comedy. OK, so the idea of watching Robert Redford alone at sea for 106 minutes, no matter how much of a cinephile you may be, may not make you want to drop everything and rush out to buy a ticket. But trust me, once this film gets going, “All Is Lost” becomes something so suspenseful, touching and all in all emotionally draining, you won’t be able to take your eyes off the screen.

6. Gravity: I never thought I’d say this, but Sandra Bullock is a good actress. Screw “The Blind Side”! Where’s Sandra Bullock’s Oscar nomination for “Gravity”?! Simplistic in its storytelling, the film is basically about an astronaut who must survive when a freak accident causes her to be stranded in space. Obviously it shares similarities with “All Is Lost” (let me just get this joke out of the way) in other words “Gravity” is “All Is Lost”…in space. Although “Gravity contains a much less layered script than “All Is Lost”, it makes up for things with visuals that are so technically spectacular, much like “Avatar” when it first came out, “Gravity” will be seen by future audiences as a benchmark movie, dictating how CGI is used from 2013 onward.

5. Fruitvale Station: Though there are obvious touches of forced sentimentality throughout, the story of the last hours of Oscar Grant’s life makes my list at number five not just because I was born and raised in California (although that doesn’t hurt). With a brilliant performance from Michael B. Jordan and a nearly flawless directorial debut from Ryan Coogler (who dismisses all of the political muck, in order to tell the story of a real person with real flaws) “Fruitvale Station” is allowed to become this superb film, which, if it had been given a wider release, would have had the same cultural impact on this generation as “Boyz N the Hood” had in its day.

4. The Wolf of Wall Street: My reasons for loving this movie could start and end with Margot Robbie. But despite her angelic presence, “The Wolf of Wall Street”, the most ambitious movie on my list, based on self proclaimed born entrepreneur Jordan Belfort’s own bestselling book about his rise and fall in the stock market scene of the late 80’s through the late 90’s, is surely the most vulgar and outlandish Martin Scorsese film to date. It is a true wonder how “The Wolf of Wall Street” doesn’t pull an NC-17 rating. But if that sounds like a knock, it’s quite the opposite. The sheer ballsy-ness of this production is in fact, inspiring. It is inspiring to see a master like Scorsese evolve and constantly look to push the boundaries of film. In short, “The Wolf of Wall Street” is the most fun I had in the theater during 2013.

3. 12 Years A Slave: As the title gives away, “12 Years a Slave” is the story of a free man living in the north, who is kidnapped and forced into spending twelve years as a slave in the antebellum South. With that synopsis and its placement, you may have guessed that this stands as the movie having the most social importance on my list and automatically my favorite Steve McQueen film. BUT, more importantly, the more and more I think about it, the more and more I believe “12 Years a Slave” may be the most important movie about slavery since “Roots”. And herein lies a bold thought: Not that such an important movie about a horrific point in African American history wasn’t made by an African American, but more so the fact that maybe (just maybe) “12 Years a Slave” was so powerful and refused to pull punches BECAUSE it was not directed by an African American, or an American at all. Think about that for a moment.

2. Inside Llwyen Davis: “Inside Llwyen Davis” is a tough sell at number two for those who have yet to see it. Nomination worthy performances and top of the line Coen dialogue aside, it is still hard to explain as to why I loved it so much. So, I’ll make this short…

1. The Place Beyond the Pines: I am nothing if not loyal. Early on in the year I had made the proclamation that director Derek Cianfrance had directed the best movie of the year so far. And because I had been so blown away by his film, had also asked the question, “Is there a movie in 2013 that could somehow be better than “The Place Beyond the Pines”?” In the final hours of 2013, I can safely answer my own question, with a resounding, “NO, there isn’t one.” “The Place Beyond the Pines” is a story told in three parts; three storylines which parallel and intersect over and over again in the most breathtaking ways. The first story concerns a deadbeat father trying to make good with the mother of his child. The second deals with a “good cop” who becomes quickly disillusioned by the way things work in the precinct. And the third ties everything together. OK, I will concede that if you’re a fan of Ryan Gosling and just paid to see him, then of course you where disappointed with his fate, as well as his screen time. On the other hand, if you were disappointed in any aspect of this near perfect film, then you’re not a real fan of film to begin with.

Just missed my list/honorable mentions (in order from 1-10): American Hustle, A Band Called Death, The Hunt, Her, Disconnect, Monsters University, The Bling Ring, Prisoners, The Spectacular Now, Saving Mr. Banks.

Follow me on Twitter @moviesmarkus


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