(for the list of the best of 2013, remember to click on the "More photos" link that accompany this article)
Every year I find it hard to reduce my experience at the movies to only 10 best films. Why does a list have to stop at 10? Where is it written that the official number of a respected list should not go further?
To me, it all has to do with the films that strike a nerve, that entertain me and put my brain cells into work the longer after I leave the theater. If I forget what a film was about by the time I get home, or confuse it with another, then, I've only seen a formula.
Here's the list of my favorite films of 2013.
But before, I would also like to check on films that weren't great but had some redeeming elements:
- Philomena by Stephen Frears. With an impossible to overlook performance by Dame Judi Dench, and the never obstructive direction of Frears, the film avoids tearjerker moments even if the story has enough drama to take you there. (For my full review, visit: http://www.examiner.com/review/philomena-teaming-up-dame-judi-dench-with...)
- The Dallas Buyers Club by Jean-marc Vallee. The acting is top Notch even if the film loses some of its initial punch in the mid section. (For my full review, visit: http://www.examiner.com/review/dallas-buyers-club-and-how-to-survive-the...)
- Saving Mr. Banks by John Lee Hancock. Thompson and Hanks are excellent even if the film takes the same conventional approach once taken before in Finding Neverland, another film about another writer of another Disney movie.
- The Great Gatsby by Baz Luhrmann. It is like Fitzgerald through the lens of Moulin Rouge, but it's still entertaining and you get the idea. Plus it has DiCaprio and Mulligan.
- August: Osage County: This film is like a Soap Opera elevated by its superb acting. Meryl Streep, who has done almost everything in acting, finds some dark corners she hasn't explored fully yet. Julia Roberts doesn't have much to do but is able to respond to Streep's antics with some explosive rage. If the film had had a more precise direction it would have landed a Best Of 2013. Let's just say it is enjoyable to see people in misery.
Now let's review the complete misses:
-The Secret Life of Walter Mitty by Ben Stiller. Boy wants girl. Boy loses photo. Boy loses job. Boy travels to three or four places for photo. Boy finds photo around the corner. Boy wins girl. This is the most moronic piece of pretentious boringness I've ever seen.
- American Hustle by David O. Russell. Al little bit more cohesive than his previous film, this one is so fake and so been there, done that you may confuse it with 50 other films. I do have to admit that I applaud Amy Adams. Finally this actress has been offered a character that is not the typically likable girlfriend.
- The Butler by Lee Daniels. This film suffers from a case of self grandeur/importance. It wants to put the history of the United States, one cameo at a time. With all this, the film wastes Forest Whitaker's talent and gives too much screen time to Oprah in hopes of giving her an Oscar nomination. (For my full review, click on the following link: www.examiner.com/node/65205026/edit)
- Prisoners by Denis Villeneuve. This one is a big disappointment. Most of the cast wasted in characters with nothing to say or do. Jackman and Gyllenhaal doing generic stuff. A story with an interesting idea that ends up becoming somehow ineffective. (For my full review, click on the following link: http://www.examiner.com/review/prisoners-the-event-of-a-crime-we-are-all...)
- The Counselor by Ridley Scott. A cast to die for. An A-list Director. A script with a pedigree writer. This film only proves that not all formulas work exactly the same in Hollywood even when studios keep thinking they can measure success. What's good for one film doesn't translate the same for another.
- Only God Forgives by Nicolas Winding Refn. I was the only person who didn't think "Drive" was the visionary work that won Nicolas the Cannes Film Festival Award for Best Director, and his newest film confirms that he is pure form and nothing inside. This film is no different from his previous film, except that the critics and the audience opened up their eyes for good. (For my full review, visit the following link: http://www.examiner.com/review/only-god-forgives-a-more-stylized-drive-s...)
- I'm So Excited by Pedro Almodovar. I never thought the day would come when I would detest an Almodovar film. His scripts have shown a maturity and a capacity for surprise that few screenwriters have shown lately and consistently. And no matter how much he wants to convince you this film is a metaphor for the economy crisis in Spain, it is a pastiche with a clear lack of timing for comedy. It's like Almodovar wasn't really there when the camera was rolling. (For my full review, click on the following link: http://www.examiner.com/review/i-m-so-excited-almodovar-lost-spain-polit...)
Then, there's the Guilty Pleasures:
- The Heat by Paul Feig. To see Bullock and McCarthy develop their comedic styles in perfect timing and harmony is a simple pleasure. (For my full review, click on the following link: http://www.examiner.com/review/the-heat-bullock-and-mccarthy-on-a-been-t...)
- Rush by Ron Howard. The conventional story is set aside for some of the most breathtaking car race scenes and a measured performance by Daniel Bruhl. (For my full review, click on the following link: http://www.examiner.com/review/rush-how-men-compete-with-themselves)
- Pacific Rim by Guillermo Del Toro. I enjoyed the whole thing as much as Del Toro enjoyed making it. (For my full review, click on the following link: http://www.examiner.com/review/pacific-rim-a-profuse-take-on-the-best-mo...)
And a special mention to:
Escape from Tomorrow by Randy Moore for its daring use of Guerrilla Filmmaking which overshadowed its subject matter. (For my full review, click on the following link: http://www.examiner.com/review/escape-from-tomorrow-a-film-on-how-to-mak...)
This list doesn't include some films that should be noticed, because I haven't had the chance to see them yet (Captain Phillips, Much Ado About Nothing, The broken Circle Breakdown, The Great Beauty, Hannah Arendt, All Is Lost, Out of The Furnace, Enough Said, The Past, Labor Day, among others).