MY TOP 10 MOVIES FOR 2013
Halfway through every year, I wonder if I’m going to be able to compile a meaningful Top 10 list. Then by December I’m struggling to squeeze in all of the great films I saw. This was a diffcult choice. A lot of great films didn’t make the cut. But without further ado, (Drum roll please) my Top 10 Movies for 2013: Click the titles for the full review.
Directed by Paul Greengrass – Starring Tom Hanks, Barkhad Abdi, Barkhad Abdirahman, Catherine Keener
Perhaps the greatest triumph a movie can achieve is portraying a crisis so honestly, so purely, that it goes beyond the point of mere filmed entertainment. You feel as if you’re experiencing the genuine tragedy of real life.Captain Phillips is that type of film.
Directed by Derek Cianfrance – Starring Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendes, Ray Liotta
The Place Beyond the Pines is an ambitious tale you’ll remember long after the credits have rolled. Cianfrance masterfully presents a carefully balanced epic of guilt, sin and redemption amongst fathers and sons. But he also provides car chases, guns and cop corruption. It’s got it all in a magnificently sweeping chronicle.
Directed by Ron Howard – Starring Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Brühl, Olivia Wilde, Alexandra Maria Lara
In presenting two Formula 1 race car drivers that outwardly hate one another, the script makes the brilliant case that they are actually deeply indebted to their opponent. They each push the other in their pursuit of the World Championship. I was prepared to root for James Hunt, but walked away rooting for Niki Lauda. You might see the story differently and therein lies the brilliance of this film.
Directed by Nat Faxon, Jim Rash – Starring Liam James, Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Sam Rockwell
The Way Way Back enchants not with action, or special effects. It captivates because it concerns people, authentic people who yearn, hurt, care, and love. The screenwriters have captured young Duncan’s adolescence brilliantly. You’ll laugh, cry and cheer at his awkward trek.
Directed by David O. Russell – Starring Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams, Jennifer Lawrence
American Hustle is the work of a dazzling showman that has logged years of experience under his belt. What makes a potentially dry subject so delightfully fun is the intricate way the plot unfolds. Russell manipulates fact vs. fiction with the singular vision of a confident filmmaker. We’re treated to a spectacular production that fabricates the pop culture excess of the late 70s in all its unfettered glory.
Directed by Ryan Coogler – Starring Michael B. Jordan, Melonie Diaz, Octavia Spencer, Kevin Durand
Oscar isn’t a saint, but he certainly isn’t a monster either. What keeps coming through each vignette is that he was human. His existence had purpose because he had a soul. In Coogler’s small-scale portrait, we get the presentation of an individual unfulfilled. A powerful film about an American tragedy.
Directed by Spike Jonze – Starring Joaquin Phoenix, Scarlett Johansson, Amy Adams, Rooney Mara
Her illustrates the plausibility for someone to fall in love with a person they’ve never met, better than any work of fiction I’ve ever seen. The script analyzes what constitutes love and makes the case that a passionate connection doesn’t even require a physical body. It relies on making an emotional bond with a person on a spiritual level. What sounds like science fiction on paper, is actually one of the most deeply felt romances of 2013.
Directed by Francis Lawrence – Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks
You’ve heard the adage “show don’t tell.” In scene after scene, director Francis Lawrence invigorates the words of Suzanne Collins’ novel into a fully realized picture that exploits the possibilities of the visual medium. Jennifer Lawrence treats her role as if she were acting in a biographical drama. Her sincere performance has the gravitas required to engage our passion.
9. The Past
Directed by Asghar Farhadi – Starring Bérénice Bejo, Tahar Rahim, Ali Mosaffa, Pauline Burlet
Iranian director Asghar Farhadi has a talent for extracting honest emotion out of our everyday lives. His ability to construct a fascinating story from a deceptively simple scenario is nothing less than genius. He starts with routine domestic problems. Then presents an endlessly compelling drama with unflinching honesty. It sets the new emotional high bar by which all other movies must aspire. This is humanity and you cannot look away.
10. Spring Breakers
Directed by Harmony Korine – Starring James Franco, Vanessa Hudgens, Selena Gomez, Ashley Benson
Spring Breakers would appear to be a fun in the sun escapade full of carnal hijinks and randy shenanigans among older teens. What Korine does is take the “Girls Gone Wild” template and thoroughly turn it on its ear. This is as much a biting comment on pleasure seekers in Florida as it is a cautionary warning for the youth of today. Korine lulls the viewer into a false facade of good times, but the picture grows dark. It’s that ability to juggle a rapidly shifting narrative that makes Spring Breakers such a fascinating watch.
Just missed the Top 10:
11. Despicable Me 2
13. Blue Jasmine
15. Side Effects
16. The Book Thief
Worst of the Year: