January 1, 2014

2013: The Top Ten Films!

Here it is, the list you have all been waiting for! (or not) My favorite films, seen in a theater, for 2013. It was tough to get some of the placing done, on a different day this could have had a few swaps with the 20-11 list. For my money, this is the cream of the crop of 2013 releases that I saw unfold on the big screen. You will notice it (and my top 20) as a whole missing some of the big titles that appear elsewhere and are likely to be major Oscar contenders. Good. While some are good films, they are far from perfect, not that the ones on my list are, but they spoke to me more.

One of the things I learned (or finally realized) is that just because a movie is loaded with big name stars or had other films that I really liked, does not mean I should be blinded by them now or by the hype machine that inevitably follows them. Just because a cast is stacked with big time talent does not mean the movie is good, it may be but it could also serve as a distraction to the fact that movie is not as clever as it thinks it is. Anyway, let's get on to the movies that I did like:

10. The Wolverine. There is something about this movie that just really works. The performances are all solid and the action is fast and violent. Sure, this is a tale weighted in the direction of drama, but it is not without is action. The action is edited pretty cleverly, never fully shying away from being full contact violent, but knowing how to move things around to preserve a PG-13 rating. I liked he portrayal of Logan as a ronin but also as an anarchic and unpredictable figure who subscribes to no tradition in a society where so much is given to tradition. The piece in common between society and our hero is honor. Combine that with a tormented hero struggling with his apparent immortality and you have the makings of a pretty interesting movie. This far exceeded my expectations, it is a strong film with a solid central performance that had interesting character elements as well as an exciting bigger picture.

9. The Grandmaster.  This is an excellent film, benefiting from the collaboration of a great filmmaker in Wong Kar Wai, a legendary fight choreographer on Yuen Wo Ping, along with great cinematography, acting, and music. This is a movie that benefits from being seen on the big screen. This is a film that skirts around some of the larger events, it spends time with characters who hold poses and stares for lengthy amount of times, it is shot in a fashion that focuses on the art of the shot, the beauty of the scene, and the result is a movie that is beautiful, poetic, and tragic.

8. You're Next. You're Next is an involving adventure. You sit there waiting for them to twist the knife, and while the twisting is near cheer inducing, the journey to the twist is bloody and interesting. You have a bickering family that should be annoying, but surprisingly isn't. The screenplay, believe it or not, is solid and plays you like a harp from hell. It is actually interesting to see the bits of development woven into the killing.  I really liked it. The mean streak, the final girl, the blood, there is a lot to get excited about. This is a movie that kicks up the home invasion story, injecting a little life, a little ridiculousness, and a lot of fun.

7. Fruitvale Station. The film is complex on it's simplicity, it is involving, touching, yet with an atmosphere and flow that feels very real.  Yes, it ends on a down note, but there is something hopeful about it. It is very moving, sweet, touching, and tragic. It is an experience that is well worth seeing. I cannot say for sure this is the exact way it happened, I suspect there is some liberty taken for dramatic effect, but there is something very involving in the way it proceeds and it benefits from a great performance by Michael B. Jordan.

6. The World's End. This is a story fraught with themes of friendship, maturity, growing up, moving on, all sorts of typical stuff like that, but it is then mashed up with action and science fiction. It works, it works beautifully. Edgar Wright is one of the best at making these genre mashes work. They create these characters and allow the comedy to build organically from them, nothing ever seems forced. Them the screws get turned and the genre mash begins to take over. This movie is hilarious, has some fantastic fight sequences and just flat our entertains. It so a great example of quality comedy, one that works on multiple levels and can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. 

5. Pacific Rim. Pacific Rim is one of those big summer movies that just gets it right. I is a movie that gives you just enough story to get you through, just enough heart to make you care, and plenty of action to get your blood pumping and make you cheer. Yes, a lot of movies do that, but this one does it just a little bit differently, there is something about the execution that makes stand head and shoulders above so many so-called blockbusters of the past and present. Big robots, giant monsters, and a world full of detail. This is called doing it right.

4. Star Trek Into Darkness. This movie comes out firing on all cylinders. It gives us some great characters, some interesting new wrinkles, and kept me emotionally involved all the way through the climax. I loved the dawning realization I had as it played out before my eyes, wondering why I didn't see it sooner, happy for the ability of the production to keep secrets, and just how good pop filmmaking can be. That is what this is, it is pop filmmaking, a movie that is easy to watch for the entertainment value, but still rich enough to offer more should you want to look for it. It does what the best of classic Trek did, entertain while being a thought provoking reflection on the world of the present.

3. Evil DeadEvil Dead delivers, period. I was hooked in right from the start. The movie takes a little time to ramp things up, but when they do, they really do. The possessions kick in and they do all they can to promise they will all be dead by dawn. There is some great effects work. The film looks great, besides the effects work the cinematography is a cut above the rest, and the score helps complete the eerie mood. The performances are solid. What it really comes down to is a movie that gets it right. It has an understanding of the history it is stepping into, knows that it needs to change things up, and most importantly knows it must be genuine in its efforts. There is nothing Hollywood about this. It may have more money and whatnot behind it than the original, but it doesn't feel churned out of the machine. It feels rather accomplished for a first time director. Fede Alvarez demonstrates a sure hand, guiding us through this journey through the pages of Evil Dead.

2. Lords of Salem. The movie feels like Kubrick, Argento, and Fulci got tossed in a blender and then filtered through Rob Zombie's intestinal tract. There is something about it that I just loved. It is sensical nonsense, it is a visual journey that will leave scratching your head. Love it or hate it, it is unapologetic, vulgar, grimy, and does not care what you think. It is a movie that made me think about how movies like this are not made anymore, at least not for theaters. It is a movie that does not care what the mainstream audience thinks, It does not cater to popular tendencies, it plays by its own rules, make it up as it goes along. The Lords of Salem plays into Lucio Fulci's idea of pure cinema that is not constrained by traditional narrative. What's not to like? Writer/director Rob Zombie lets out a different side of his cinematic persona. It is not a gore fest (although it does have some blood), it is more cinematic, carefully crafted, and just more classic in look. He put away the white trash and started moving in some different and interesting directions. 

1. Gravity. Simply put, this movie is completely gripping in its reality. It is a slow, but never boring, tale of survival, rebirth, and the strength of human spirit and will. You could view it as a survival horror film. While it would be easier to just call it a thriller, the situations depicted can easily be seen as horrific, especially if you have issues with heights. The trailer, on its own, is utterly terrifying, take the movie as a whole and you will be on the edge of your seat. This movie is an incredible accomplishment. Entrancing, terrifying, and a wonderful example of what can be done with movies.

There you have it! Let's hope for a great 2014!

Related Posts with Thumbnails


Post a Comment