I’m always careful to separate “favorite” from “best” when evaluating films. I really enjoyed The Lone Ranger this year, but that doesn’t mean it was one of the best made movies of the year. You’ve already seen what I believe are the top 10 movies from a simply artistic point of view, as they are the films I listed in predicting Best Picture nominations. Side note: I don’t necessarily recommend all those films, as Wolf of Wall Street, American Hustle, and Dallas Buyers Club have some really unneeded and unnecessary scenes. On this final 2013 edition of This Year in Cinema, you’ll find my favorite films of 2013 (regardless of their shortcomings), and my ten most anticipated films for 2014.
Looking Back…My 10 Favorite Films of 2013
10) Much Ado About Nothing
Joss Whedon’s take on Shakespeare’s play was hilarious and heartfelt. Who would have thought Nathan Fillion would be such a great comic relief? Or that Joss Whedon’s estate could be the setting for such a great film? The original Shakespearean dialog is used throughout, which is hilarious when matched with the modern setting. A fun film that is a romp for anyone, whether you’re a fan of the Bard or not.
9) Man of Steel
I’ve seen this a lot higher on other lists. Don’t get me wrong, this was a great film, but some people are willing to crown it a masterpiece. Not quite, but Cavill as Superman gives the WB/DC Universe a solid leg to stand on. Let’s hope they don’t mess everything up (again).
8) The Way Way Back
A bunch of under the radar films are on this list, but they are generally available at Redbox so get ’em while you can. It seems like every summer there is a “coming of age” story that is praised left and right. The Way Way Back is one of those, and rightly so. Sam Rockwell rules the roost as he plays a lazy but compassionate manager of a water park smack dab in the middle of beach country. He meets Duncan, played by Liam James, and gives him a new confidence he never knew. Steve Carrell turns in one of his best serious roles to date as well.
7) What Maisie Knew
A modern retelling of the Henry James story, this one is full of heartbreak, and yet it churns out a happy ending that doesn’t fall into cliche. The viewer sees everything as Maisie sees it, caught in a war between mother and father, neither of whom really want her as more than a bargaining piece. The saddest part is that this stuff happens in real life.
6) Iron Man 3
Unlike some people, I can take the “Mandarin Twist” for what it is, a genius bait and switch that played a huge prank on everyone. Yeah, I’d like to see the “real” Mandarin later, but there was still plenty here to like. Robert Downey was great again, and be brought the new wrinkles of paranoia along with him. Plus he studies more crime scenes in one film than Batman did in an entire trilogy.
5) Blue Jasmine
Woody Allen’s latest is a look into a train wreck of a life. Cate Blanchett should bring in a Best Actress Oscar for her portrayal of Jasmine, and a Best Original Screenplay nomination for Allen is likely as well. This Jasmine is an anti-princess, a woman whose supposedly great life is now completely off the rails. Some quick twists along the way that bring the unexpected to light provide a movie experience that isn’t that far off what some of us experience every day.
4) Thor: The Dark World
Ah, yes, the comic book nerd in me surfaces! Hemsworth and Hiddleston are back for more adventures as Thor and Loki. Thor used to be my least favorite Avenger, but with Marvel Studios taking him to alien world after alien world, his films are among my favorite. The “fighting with portals” finale between Thor and Malekith was fan-flipping-tastic.
3) Captain Phillips
How do I tend to forget how great an actor Tom Hanks is? Regardless of what the actual true story is behind these events (the real life captain and his crew differ in their accounts), the story told here is a modern day tale of piracy that leaves you on the edge of your seat. A great ensemble cast is what makes this film really great, and Barkhad Abdi came out of nowhere to deliver in a remarkable supporting role.
2) The World’s End
Watched this again this week and loved it again. Love the cast again here, everyone is in sync, everyone has their moment to shine, and the result is the funniest film of 2013. To think I was originally excited to see it only because Edgar Wright had been announced as the director of Ant-Man.
I had the pleasure of seeing this in IMAX 3D at the Screen Actors Guild in L.A. After the screening, director Alfonso Cuaron and his son Jonas (the screenwriters of the film) were on hand for Q & A. Hearing them talk about the details and planning that went into this film just made me appreciate it that much more as a work of art. If you missed out on seeing this in theaters…too bad for you. This is a must see.
Looking Forward…My 10 Most Anticipated Films of 2013
This list is a bit more simple. Its also a bit heavy on the “summer blockbuster” side of things, which usually changes a bit when more under the radar films come to light.
- Guardians of the Galaxy
- Captain America: Winter Soldier
- The Grand Budapest Hotel
- The LEGO Movie
- The Monuments Men
- Muppets Most Wanted