Another year has come and gone. With the New Year has come a brand new crop of movies to take us away from the utter misery and boredom of our lives. Or to make us laugh. Yeah let’s go with that. Regardless we have a full year’s worth of movies to look at and judge. Now I’m sure I could just list 12 Years A Slave and Wolf of Wall Street like everyone else but really, who cares? That and I didn’t see them. Lets end the rambling here and present you my Top 5 (more or less) Movies of 2013
5(ish)- Evil Dead/Maniac
As I mentioned in my list this year has been great in terms of horror. From the studios to the independents we had some great, horrifying movies this year. What I kept coming back to was how much fun Evil Dead was and how insane Maniac was. Both took the best aspects of the original movies and made something different. Fede Alvarez, director of Evil Dead, basically made the movie Sam Raimi always meant to. The gory and over-the-top masterpiece it was meant to be. Maniac, on the other hand, was a more pure remake but with a twist. By filming it from a first person perspective we got a sick, blood soaked tale of insanity. A movie that makes you feel dirty from the opening minutes. Basically in one year we got two movies, remakes no less, which exemplified everything I love about the horror genre. Not bad for a year that also gave us Texas Chainsaw 3D.
4- The Place Beyond the Pines
It is easy to forget amazing movies early in the year. Particularly when the stars go on to do other critically acclaimed films that very year. That is why I think it is important to remember The Place Beyond the Pines. Starring
Bradley Cooper and Ryan Gosling it is a story about how the follies of you can affect the next generation. While I wouldn’t say it is perfect the movie is epic in its scope and tries things other movies don’t. It’d really be a shame to see such a great, sprawling movie overshadowed.
3D movies are a dime a dozen now. I mean of all movies Anchorman 2 had a 3D release. So to see the medium used in a stunning and unique way is a delight. With the 3D the movie uses a mix of atmosphere and “in your face” tactics to make you feel alone in space. The movie is much more than a special effects fest though. Like Buried and 127 Hours before it all of the heavy lifting is put on our lead and Sandra Bullock delivers. From beginning to end she is able to sell you on the fear, desperation and hope of being trapped in space. While not exactly stretching as an actress she is able to carry the majority of the movie on her back. I’m not 100% sure on how it will play at home but on the big screen and in 3D it deserves every bit of hype it got.
2- American Hustle
What more is there to say about American Hustle at this point? Is it funny? Absolutely. Is there amazing character work from Christian Bale and Amy Adams? Totally. Does it explore the inner workings of government corruption while still being humorous? Sure. I won’t say anything everyone else hasn’t already said so go see it.
1- Pacific Rim
Of all things one of my fondest memories as a kid was going to the dentist. Not the actual going to the dentist; nobody likes the dentist. No I liked what came afterwards when my parents would take me to Blockbuster to rent a movie. Despite the huge selection I’d always go to the sci-fi section. More specifically the Godzilla selection. Despite the shoddy dubbing and over-the-top acting I loved the Kaiju genre and it is obvious that director Guillermo del Tor did as well.
This movie had everything I could possibly want from a modern giant monster movie. Like Cloverfield on steroids I thought that every Kaiju had a cool and unique look. So did the Jaegers (the giant robots) for that matter. While it would have been easy to make the Jaegers identical each have their own cool look. Most importantly the movie knows what it is. In a summer of massive epics and obvious franchise fodder it is nice to see a movie that knows what it is and delivers. Now I’ve read the reviews and heard the issues critics had with the movie but honestly, I think it helped the movie. Over the top acting and simplistic stories fit perfectly in a giant monster movie.
If I had to sum up why I love Pacific Rim so much it would be nostalgia. It was the type of fun that had me take off my critic hat and took me to a time when all that mattered was giant monsters kicking ass. A movie that literally had me at the edge of my seat as it went on. Essentially it did what all my favorite movies do; it kept me enthralled and nostalgic without questioning the logic of what is going on. The kind of film that I could enjoy years as the same fun roller coaster of craziness that I loved when I first saw it. That is the kind of movie Pacific Rim is and that is why I rank it my number one movie of 2013.
You’re Next- Probably my favorite non-remake horror movie of the year. While not wholly original it is an amazing home invasion movie well worth your time.
Drug War- Crime movies are a dime a dozen from China. What makes this better than most is the focus on the characters and an amazing finale. The box art mentions The Wire and that comparison is totally worthy. Absolutely worth checking out for fans of crime movies.
Spring Breakers- I am still not quite sure how I feel about this movie which I think is great. For me there are two ways to look at it. As an examination of youth culture and the glorification of gang culture being embraced by the suburbs, it is alright. As a modern-day (whether intentional or not) exploitation flick it is awesome. No matter way you look at it there is no denying that James Franco, once again, puts in an awesome performance. While I may not love the movie I do admire it for what it tries to do.
V/H/S 2- I’ve heard the arguments on why this is or isn’t a disappointment compared to the first. No matter what side you agree with the general consensus is that Gareth Evans’ Safe Haven short is amazing and I agree. Just more proof that not only is Evans a great director but has chops when it comes to horror.
Only God Forgives- I loved Drive. I think it’s place as a blend of art house and action movie is solidified. With that said I think Only God Forgives is a worthy contender. It takes what everyone liked (and hated for that matter) about Drive and does it more. The violence? More violent. The atmosphere? More stylish. The silence? Silenter (I assume this is a word). This isn’t for everyone. Hell it will push away some fans of Drive. But I dug this incredibly stylish and unforgiving journey through Thailand.
Action Movies In General- I wanted to pick a single movie but I just couldn’t. Whether we had fairy tale characters hunting witches, superheroes with PTSD or the white house being invaded 3 different times I found action movies to be a blast. While nothing revolutionary was done I was rarely disappointed (sup Die Hard 5) and my expectations were usually exceeded.