2013 has been an incredible year of movies with many memorable films to come out and many movies to surprise me (The Great Gatsby and Computer Chess) and many to disappoint me (Only God Forgives and To The Wonder). Sometimes you go into a movie with incredibly low expectations and it blows you away. Or you go in with high expectations and it becomes such a disappointment and that’s just unfortunate. But, regardless, I found plenty of great movies to talk about for this list. The funny thing is that almost every movie that was in my top 5 of the year when I made a post in September…aren’t there any more. Or in the top 10 for that matter. My list has drastically changed for the most part after seeing so many great films which isn’t surprising considering many of the best films tend to come out towards the end of the year. Anyways, on to the list which hopefully won’t go on for too long.
10. Don Jon
I liked Don Jon when I first saw it. I had pretty high expectations as a big fan of Joseph Gordon Levitt and was really interested in seeing him direct a film. And well it was pretty good but I didn’t think it would end up on this list, I originally gave this movie 4 out of 5 stars, I would probably give it 4.5 at this point. The more I think about it, the more I really liked the movie. Especially the ending. It’s a humorous and an important look in relationships and how porn or romantic movies can really affect expectations within them. There aren’t too many movies exploring these ideas and it was a really nice, unique picture that hopefully more people watch and get something great out of.
My Review: https://smallerthangalaxies.wordpress.com/2013/10/05/don-jon-2013-movie-review/
9. Frances Ha
Mumblecore tends to be a genre that really works or completely fails. This one really works, the dialogue feels extremely genuine and is very funny at times but it also manages to be quite insightful as well. The black and white cinematography, backdropped in some New York City imagery is gorgeous and fits the film incredibly well. It follows two post-graduates from college still trying to figure themselves out, especially Frances who wants to be a dancer but isn’t as talented as she thinks she is. This movie would more than likely be higher up on my list if I was a confused post-graduate…but I’m not, it seemed very real in the way it displayed it and overall, it was a great, small, low-budget film that was obviously overlooked by the mainstream audience but is still getting plenty of great recognition from critics and film buffs alike.
8. Prince Avalanche
I just recently watched and wrote a review for this one and I’m really glad I watched it before making this list because it easily became apart of it with it’s gorgeous cinematography, a single setting, wonderful, low-key performances, and it’s overall sense of optimism despite problems and unexpected things happening to people. It just left me with a smile on my face and manages to be one of the most cheery films of the year but still managed to say something insightful in a great simplistic sense which is sometimes all you need in a movie. It just works.
My Review: https://smallerthangalaxies.wordpress.com/2014/01/11/prince-avalanche-2013-movie-review/
7. Computer Chess
By far, this is the most unique movie of 2013. No doubts in that. Shot with a 1969 digital camera in 4:3 and black and white, that alone makes it unique but on top of that, it’s this strange, completely surreal film that takes you for a strange trip into two extremes as well as the qualities of overbearing technology (and don’t worry another film about that might come up on this list). I think this is probably the movie that really flew over the radar of most people but it luckily is on Netflix now and hopefully that means more people will be exposed to it which is what happened to me. On top of that though, the movie is quite funny in a dry sense while still being insightful about Artificial Intelligence and how terrifying it can actually be.
My Review: https://smallerthangalaxies.wordpress.com/2014/01/02/computer-chess-2013-movie-review/
Jeff Nichols follow-up to the fantastic Take Shelter is a beautiful, wonderful movie set in the south and is also quite the coming of age story in a time where coming of age stories have become so stereotypical and boring for the most part. The performances by the entire cast are some of the best of the year and the cinematography uses everything about nature to it’s advantage. It isn’t the most sophisticated picture of 2013 but that doesn’t really matter, it leaves with a sense of tranquility in my mind and is just one of the enjoyable movies of 2013.
My Review: https://smallerthangalaxies.wordpress.com/2013/10/31/mud-2013-movie-review/
5. The Place Beyond The Pines
This is one of the movies that has really stuck with me considering I saw it back in April. With it’s unique plot structure, cinematography, and an ending that really leaves you plenty with think about, there’s a lot about this one that just has melancholic yet hopeful yet confusing themes within it that’ll keep you vividly remembering it. The cast was really great especially Bradley Cooper in a really serious role which is always nice to see. But, overall, it’s the really great plot structure that makes this movie really important because it throws you around emotionally and really makes you have to piece this all together as to why this connects with that in the end. A wonderfully unique picture.
4. The Wolf of Wall Street
If I had to choose a movie where I was the most entertained it would probably be this one despite the movie not really having much to say, it’s hilarious, filled with amazing performances, and is one of Scorsese’s best movies in years. It has the tone of GoodFellas but even more comedic which makes for a great movie. To me, this is the kind of movie I’d want to make, over the top, comedic, and just a great time for a whole 3 hour running time which that in itself is hard to do. This is DiCaprio at his finest as well with him portraying so many different moods from over the top and comedic to serious to drugged-out to completely insane. Overall, if you like your movies really fun but in a more intelligent sense than unfortunately most movies are, this is it.
My Review: https://smallerthangalaxies.wordpress.com/2014/01/04/the-wolf-of-wall-street-2013-movie-review/
3. 12 Years a Slave
I was pretty confident this was going to be my favorite movie of the year but I couldn’t help but put two movies in front of it. Everything is great about this-especially the performances and camera work. Shots that just linger and make you watch the terror of slavery and how brutal and horrible it was. Performances that evoke all the emotions of what is going on with perfection and a wonderful ensemble cast, the movie didn’t try to win Oscars like I feel many of these historical movies try to do, it all felt very natural and not overly theatrical. No other movie has showed the brutality of something so tragic in a very visual way and worked on every level. A wonderful but completely brutal and tough film to swallow in the end.
My Review: https://smallerthangalaxies.wordpress.com/2014/01/05/12-years-a-slave-2013-movie-review/
A lot of people think this movie won’t be as good once it leave the theaters, it might be true but for some reason, I don’t think it will be. People are comparing it to Avatar in that it won’t be good as a home experience but here’s the thing, I saw Avatar in the theaters and didn’t even like it that much. This movie I liked more than just in a visual sense. It was the editing, the cinematography, the performances, and yes, even the story. Many people have complained about the dialogue and the backstory for Bullock’s character but I love it. The entire thing is about alienation and loneliness and what is a better backdrop for that than space? It is the loneliest place a human being could potentially travel to. Regardless, this movie is a nonstop thrill, the visuals will blow you away and make you realize the potentials of CGI and the way cinematography and editing can make multiple shots look like a single, huge long take. The entire thing is a feast of visuals. I still can’t get over some of parts of this movie that stick out so vividly still and the score is something that helped emphasize everything in this film. An experience. Not just a movie.
My Review: https://smallerthangalaxies.wordpress.com/2013/10/15/gravity-2013-movie-review/
No movie is more relevant than Her is right now. It is a defining movie of our world as it is right now despite it’s near-future setting (which has beautiful set design and cinematography throughout). How technology has changed relationships for the worst in a lot of ways, how A.I. can become a frightening realistic thing, and just in general how technology is affecting the world and how we can be more disconnected than ever. It just defines the problems we have now and how it’ll only manage to get worse as time goes on if people don’t learn the importance of actual human relationships, face-to-face not screen-to-screen. It’s ripping us apart from the real world and everything beautiful around us, we’d rather sit around and avoid that just as Joaquin Phoenix’s character avoids his own problems and would rather be sucked in by an operating system and treat it as a real human relationship. It just doesn’t work that way. And the movie is also quite funny at times, it has a sense of humor but we as the audience can still take a story like this quite seriously which surprised me.
It has an incredible score by Arcade Fire amongst other artists that only helps the movie especially the track, “Supersymmetry” which was also featured on Arcade Fire’s latest album which has very similar themes to this film about the overbearing quality of technology. I find this movie to be very cautionary. And we need to see it as such, as a warning that human relationships are escaping us if we let it but, technology can still be a good tool if used in the proper way. I only hope more people watch and learn from this movie and get something incredible out of it. The most relevant movie I’ve seen in years.