Thursday, January 9, 2014

Jonesy's Top Ten Films of 2013

We made to 2014, and it's time for another year of great movies. I ended 2013 seeing 271 films, 70 of which were released in 2013. Overall, it was a great and entertaining year. My disappointments were more difficult to come up with than this list. I narrowed my list to 15, but then it was like pulling teeth trying to whittle it down to a top ten. As always, my list is in no particular order, and look for my honorable mentions and festival mentions towards the end.

My cohort has already posted his top films, and now….

Onto my list!

I feel in love with director Richard Linklater's BEFORE series when I caught the first one, BEFORE SUNRISE, one random night on TV. The second film was able to top the realness and maturity of the first film, and now with the third film, Linklater, Deply, and Hawke have created the ultimate truthful tale of romance. The dialogue isn't sugarcoated, and the script really explores the roller coaster ride of this couple since we last left them. Just like the first two, the film takes place during the course of one day, yet we understand every ups and downs these two have gone through over the past ten years. It's heartfelt, poignant, and simple. Quite refreshing in a year of big budget films.

I missed this film when it was in theatres, but I caught it when CNN played it on TV. This documentary lived up to all the hype. It smashes any idyllic childhood memories of Sea World and the dream of being a killer whale trainer. It's tense, thought provoking, and raises many serious questions about how animals in captivity are handled.

This might be the one of the stranger additions on my list, but I was shocked at how much I enjoyed this film. My expectations were set low because I wasn't a huge fan of the first THOR, except for Tom Hiddleston's performance of course. But DARK WORLD improved on the script problems from the first film, amped up the comedy, and really developed Thor as a character. And as always, Hiddleston's Loki continues to be one of the best comic book villains on screen.

Director Edgar Wright and actors Simon Pegg and Nick Frost have been able to complete been able to change the way we think of buddy comedies. Not only are their films funny and quotable, but they always have real heart to them. THE WORLD'S END, which ends up being my favorite of the Cornetto Trilogy, explores deep themes of friendship, nostalgia, and growing up all through an alien invasion of a the hero's hometown.

There's always seems to be one film from early in the year that I seem to hold onto. I underestimated the charm that WARM BODIES would have. It's a smart and unique retelling of Romeo and Juliet but with using zombies and humans. It's a sweet romantic comedy that never feels too cheesy or sappy. There's also a fantastic, and very understated performance by Rob Corddry.

3D is becoming less of a stigma for moviegoers if the movie was filmed for 3D. More and more, I'm finding that films that were planned for 3D from the the beginning actually end up being a fun experience. However, GRAVITY made the 3D experience even more immersive in IMAX. Once the action begins, felt like I didn't have time to breathe for the rest of the film. It's a film that needed to be experienced on the big screen to fully appreciate all the attention to detail that director Alfonso Cuaron created. Sandra Bullock won me over with her performance, and the movie completely solidified why space is the coolest yet most terrifying thing out there.

At a certain point growing up, almost everyone thinks about running away from home. The protagonist, Joe (Nick Robinson), actually follows through with his promise and escapes to the woods with two of his friends to build their own house and live off the land. The story is quite hilarious, yet it's filled with charm and heart. The draw of the film is the star studded supporting cast (Nick Offerman, Alison Brie, Megan Mullaly), but Robinson steals the film as the teen trying to find his way.

I'm a fan of good, ole fashioned Shakespeare, but I love when filmmakers are able to modernize the Bard's classic works. Joss Whedon got his band of merry actors together at his house over a period of 12 days and filmed a lovely, black and white, modern adaptation of the romantic comedy. It features the  best Beatrice I've ever seen, portrayed by Amy Acker, and Nathan Fillion's Dogberry steals almost every scene.

In a world where studios pump out horror movies by the dozen, this film stands out as one of the most original horror films in the past few years. It takes the basic home invasion format, which could be dull, but director Adam Wingard couples it with a dark comedy aspect and well-rounded characters, so the film ends up being fun and interesting. Go in seeing it with knowing/seeing as little as possible.

This film took me off guard. I was expecting a self-referential and annoying comedy from a bunch of actor friends, but the film ended up being sidesplittingly hilarious and smart. It's crude of course, but the chemistry among the leads keep the film from never felt forced or unnatural. Plus, it has the best cameo of any film this year.


Festival Mentions (seek these films out as soon as you can):

A clever, solid little film about parallel realities that requires multiple viewings and spurs endless conversations.

A classic revenge story of a man looking to enact justice on the criminal who killed his parents. But instead of huge set pieces and fast paced action, the film is slow, methodical, and understated.

This would have been my favorite film of the year had it been released theatrically. It's a hilarious story about a group of young filmmakers getting caught up in the world of the Japanese mafia, and it has one of the most outlandish finale set pieces I've ever seen.

Bullying is one of the hot button issues in the media and schools currently, and this film brings a fresh look to bullying in a faux-documentary style that will strike an emotional chord.

A complete gut punch of a film that will stay with you for days. It's one of those you can only watch once because you feel raked over the coals afterwards, but the performances and direction are fantastic.

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