2013 was another great year for movies. This list was harder to come up with than I thought. I realize that not everyone will agree with me, but that’s okay. We’re all entitled to our own opinions. Enjoy and I hope all of you have a wonderful New Year.
10. The Conjuring
· I can’t tell you how refreshing it was to see this well directed horror movie that actually scared the crap out of me. Everything about it was creepy, and I mean that in a good way.
9. Pacific Rim
· Never did I think this movie would make it onto my list. When I first saw the trailer I figured it was just going to be some Transformers rip-off. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Transformers wishes it was this cool. Guillermo del Toro delivers a strange but visually stunning sci fi action adventure. It has something for everyone- kick ass action scenes and for the ladies there’s Charlie Hunnam hehe.
8. Fast & Furious 6
· Yes, I know these movies are dumb and have no real plot. But I don’t care- I love the hell out of them! Normally I can’t stand movies like this, but what makes Fast & Furious different are the characters. They’re all really interesting in their own way and the movie actually makes you care about them.
7. Captain Phillips
· I’ve always been a big Tom Hanks fan. Here he delivers another Oscar worthy performance (although I don’t think he’s going to win it this year. More on that in a bit.) as the title character. It’s based on the true story (for the most part) of Captain Richard Phillips, who in 2009 found his ship being hijacked by Somali pirates. The leader of the pirates is played by actor Barkhad Abdi. From what I understand, he had never acted before this. Not that you can tell at all. His performance was so good it was scary. I’d love to see him get a Best Supporting Actor nomination. This movie had me on the edge of my seat and also nearly in tears, especially Tom Hanks’ performance in the last few minutes.
6. Dallas Buyers Club
· Had a chance to see this back in October at the local film festival. It tells the true story of Ron Woodrow, a Texas bull rider who in I believe it was the mid-eighties was diagnosed with AIDS and given only 30 days to live. Refusing to accept this, he sets out to find alternative drugs/vitamins, going so far as to smuggle them in from other countries since the FDA wouldn’t approve them (even though these medications were perfectly safe). He ends up forming a “club” to help other AIDS individuals but instead of selling them the drugs themselves, he sells memberships and gives them access to all the drugs they need. Along the way he meets a transgender person named Rayon (who becomes his business partner), played brilliantly by Jared Leto. They might as well just give Jared an Oscar now he was that good. Heartbreaking, yet at times funny. Matthew McConaughey has really redeemed himself lately. I hope he continues to do more movies like this.
5. Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
· Another great movie I saw at the film festival. It’s about the life of the late Nelson Mandela, based on the book of the same name that he wrote himself. It’s spans most of Mandela’s life from the time he was a young lawyer and political activist, his 27 year imprisonment, right up until he becomes President of South Africa. He’s played by the amazing Idris Elba, who’s having a great year. While he doesn’t look like Nelson Mandela, he captures who he was so well that it doesn’t matter. In addition the movie has some gorgeous cinematography and a powerful musical score.
4. Star Trek into Darkness
· I know this movie had a lot of flaws, especially in the last third, but I still loved it. Plenty of action, humor, and great characters. Benedict Cumberbatch really surprised me in this. He makes a great villain. Director JJ Abrams does a pretty good job here, although I really wish he would stop using those damn lens flares. While this wasn’t as good as the 2009 movie, it was still a lot of fun.
3. The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug
· I just loved this movie so much. Peter Jackson is amazing. I liked how he developed the characters this time around especially the dwarfs. Kili was my favorite. While I wasn’t crazy about the higher frame rate, visually this movie was beautiful and the action sequences were a lot of fun, especially the barrel scene. Smaug looked absolutely badass. The movie does end on a big cliffhanger though. I just wish we didn’t have to wait a whole year for the conclusion to these wonderful movies.
2. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
· A rare instance when the sequel is better than the first movie. I loved the story a bit more this time around. And thank god there was no shaky cam! Jennifer Lawrence is such a great actress. I can’t imagine anyone else playing Katniss. The arena looked amazing too. It’s a wonderfully made movie that keeps you on the edge of your seat and will probably make you shed a tear or two. If you liked Hunger Games, then you’ll love Catching Fire.
1. 12 Years a Slave
· Some might think it an odd choice, but I just couldn't put this movie at anything but number one. While I admit, there were other movies that I enjoyed more (in the sense that I walked out of them feeling really happy and not seriously depressed like I did with this one), I can’t deny that 12 Years A Slave was the most well made movie this year. I've said it many times, Chiwetel Ejiofor is going to win the Best Actor Oscar for his incredible performance as Solomon Northrup, a free man from Upstate New York who was tricked, drugged, and sold into slavery. It’s an extremely brutal movie that had me turning my head away from the screen several times and wanting to shout, “Enough! I can’t take this anymore!” That’s the point though. It’s supposed to make you feel uncomfortable and if you don’t there’s something seriously wrong with you. Steve McQueen deserves the Best Director Oscar this year for making this powerful, flawless movie. It really is well made- from the cinematography to the haunting musical score by Hans Zimmer. I walked out of 12 Years a Slave and found myself thinking about it for days afterward. Not many movies these days do that to me. And when one comes along that does, it deserves the number one spot on my list. It really needs to be seen by everyone, unless you have a weak heart or stomach. But for me it’s kind of like Schindler’s List, a cinematic masterpiece that’s so depressing you’ll only watch it once.