2013 has been the best year for film in at least the past six years. There has always been the cream of the crop as far as movies go and just about everyone knows that everything spectacular is mostly scheduled in the final few months of the year to try to capitalize on the forthcoming awards season, but 2013 had solid efforts throughout the year while everything that was released in November and December seemed to be this nonstop release schedule of great film after great film hitting the big screen on a weekly basis.
Every list like this that's compiled in the never ending sea of print and online outlets is going to have the repeat offenders like "Gravity" and "12 Years a Slave," but there are plenty of films released this year that no one is even mentioning. Foreign films like "The Suicide Forecast," "The Great Magician," "Tai Chi Hero," "In the House," "Bleak Night," "Drug War" and "New World" are being brushed over for all of the wrong reasons. Then there are personal favorites like "Charlie Countryman," and "Only God Forgives" that were immediately branded as awful films and washed down the gutter. And finally, there's that group of films that you're kicking yourself for since they fell just shy of making your top 10; films like "Pacific Rim," "Rush," "Man of Steel," and "Upstream Color." 2013 was this outrageous and phenomenal year when it came to film because there was so much out there to enjoy and fall in love with and it seems like everyone was able to discover a new favorite film.
A list like this never really seems complete because there's always something that you miss that you end up kicking yourself for later. Nevertheless, here are the top 10 films of 2013:
This is the rarity in this list; that anamoly in the matrix that likely won't be included anywhere else. The desire to find a really fantastic modern creature feature was met with this Irish-British monster comedy that was actually funny with superb special effects and a wonderful cast. While a film like "The Host" is of the same quality, it isn't quite as fun as "Grabbers."
9. "The Place Beyond the Pines"
Released very early on in the year, this crime drama methodically strung its audience along this unpredictable journey that consistently threw the viewer into unseen directions. "If you ride like lightning, you're gonna crash like thunder." "The Place Beyond the Pines" is a film that leaves more than a lasting impression.
8. "Inside Llewyn Davis"
The Coen Brothers latest is a very different kind of experience. You witness the life of a struggling artist who obviously has talent, but can't find the right work or any kind of work for that matter. Its folk soundtrack is extremely catchy and is something you'll want to revisit immediately. "Inside Llewyn Davis" is the type of film that you love to ponder. It means one thing when you first see it, but slowly evolves into something more the more you think about it. That's a special kind of cinema not just anyone can capture.
Another film that stays with you long after it ends, this crime thriller by Denis Velleneuve features absolutely spellbinding performances from Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Paul Dano. The film is in the same vein as David Fincher's "Zodiac" with a massive jolt to the riveting department. "Prisoners" is a dark, unexpected delight that should not be missed.
As a man who spent most of his life being single and having a difficult time finding anyone even remotely interested in being in a relationship, "Her" made a massive impact. The film features new technology that allows people to check and compose emails with their voice and operating systems with realistic personalities that seems futuristic, but also believable. This is a not too distant future that feels like something we'll be able to achieve sooner rather than later. The relationship between man and machine has never felt so personal or intimate. Spike Jonze has created yet another wondrous masterpiece with two actors (Joaquin Phoenix and Amy Adams) that seem to be marvelous in everything they participate in and a supporting role from Scarlett Johansson that might just be the best role of her career.
5. "The World's End"
Another film that likely won't make other lists like this, Edgar Wright's finale to The Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy was this critic's favorite of the entire trilogy. The British science fiction comedy had this wit and intelligent factor to it that was unexpected with a finale that was a hell of a lot smarter than it had any right to be. The post-apocalyptic atmosphere certainly helped sway the film into personal adoration and the film's science fiction elements are glorious, but it was Simon Pegg's performance and his portrayal of a character that was a complete 180 degrees from every other character he's ever played that really edged the film into this list.
4. "The Hunt"
Mads Mikkelsen has been awesome for nearly two decades, but people are just figuring out how talented he really is. Mikkelsen delivers one of his greatest performances in "The Hunt" as a man and devoted father who loves his job working with children, but his life is immediately ripped in half when he's accused of something horrific that the entire town including his best friend turns against him for. "The Hunt" tackles a very tricky subject matter and delivers something extraordinary that you can't turn away from.
3. "The Wind Rises"
Not only is it Studio Ghibli, but it's the last time Hayao Miyazaki steps into the director's chair for an animated film. "The Wind Rises" is both extraordinary and bittersweet as you can't help but feel Miyazaki's farewell to animation in every frame yet the film is still able to clutch onto your imagination and never let go just like every other excellent Studio Ghibli film that's been produced. It's the end of an era and the beginning of something new and exciting.
2. "Dallas Buyers Club"
These last two films feel very cliche since they're more than likely in the majority of other top 10 lists, but they were both so effective that nothing could bump them from the 1 and 2 spots. "Dallas Buyers Club" continues Matthew McConaughey's ridiculous streak of excellent performances as he plays a sick man whose three loves are drugs, women, and the rodeo that is eventually diagnosed with AIDS. McConaughey's weight loss is astounding alone, but his performance is all the more absorbing. Not to mention Jared Leto nearly stealing the show with his performance as Rayon, "Dallas Buyers Club" is fantastic no matter how you look at it.
1. "12 Years a Slave"
No film released this year will affect you the way this once "unfilmable" story directed by Steve McQueen does. Brutal and heartbreaking, "12 Years a Slave" will rip your emotions to shreds and practically stain your soul. It seems purposely hopeless, which is what makes it so hard to swallow. But that last brief scene brings it all together. It's a film that takes pride in destroying you. You're Humpty Dumpty and "12 Years a Slave" is not ashamed to push you off that wall. You piece yourself back together again, but you're not quite the same. It's a touchy subject taken to the absolute extreme and it's done extremely well. However, repeat viewings will be all the more difficult.
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