Year-end lists always allows us an opportunity to stray away from music for a bit to spotlight some of our favorite movies and TV shows of the year. Our final 2013 list, our 10 favorite films, comes to you a little later than the rest, partially because the lion’s share of great movies are always released in late December for Oscar consideration. I thought this year was a dynamite movie year, one I might even call the best since 2007 (the year of No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood). For a year that was touted so much on the small screen (with more great TV shows than we could handle), it was great to see the big screen rise to the occasion as well.
10. About Time
Sure it might seem funny that three bros put a romantic comedy in their top 10, but About Time is consistently hilarious and alarmingly charming. With a Weasley as the lead, Rachel McAdams attempting to look 15 years younger, and the always loveable Bill Nighy as the movie’s emotional core, About Time is a delight.
9. Kings of Summer
2013 was the year of the coming-of-age film renaissance, with several worthwhile movies focused on adolescence (Mud, Spectacular Now, The Way Way Back), all of which either made our list or were quite close. Kings of Summer was not only the funniest of the bunch, but it stayed away from some of the obnoxious high school clichés that so many coming-of-age movies fall into. Also, any time you add Ron Swanson to your movie, you can count me in.
2/3rds of us loved Gravity, for being the sort of groundbreaking movie-going spectacle that so rarely comes along. The one that didn’t love it, Austin, didn’t see it in the theater, which is maybe why he wasn’t taken away by the movie, but rather focused on its rather typical script, which is admittedly the movie’s weak point.
This is the one movie in our top ten I haven’t seen, but I do trust Austin that it is great, since it stars the always great Steve Coogan and a seemingly eccentric Judy Dench performance.
Alexander Payne’s last film, The Descendants, was one of my favorite films of 2011, and Nebraska taps into the same magic that film had. Beside maybe David O’Russell, Payne is delivering some of the most interesting and cutting family dramas around.
5. Captain Phillips
This movie was probably the most pleasant surprise to me this year. I haven’t liked Paul Greengrass’s movies, but the extent that Greengrass went to to make this movie as authentic as possible, mixed with the amazing amateur Somali actors’ performances and the best Tom Hanks performance in at least a decade, it’s hard not to be taken by Captain Phillips.
4. Inside Llewyn Davis
I am the only one at LxL that has seen Inside Llewyn Davis, but having just seen it this evening, it’s probably my favorite film of the year beside our #1 choice. Hollywood is always giving us the story of the artist that persevered and succeeded, but the Coen Brothers’ depiction of a failing folk musician based on the life of Dave Von Ronk provides far more insight into what makes a person a success or failure more than any success story ever will. Oscar Isaac is sure to get snubbed on the Oscar nominees, but I think he should absolutely not be dismissed for this performance.
Plain and simple, they don’t make movies like this anymore. Jeff Nichols, who has to be one of the most exciting up-and-coming directors, delivers a wonderful Southern coming-of-age film combining the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn with Stand By Me. Matthew McConaughey started his absolutely dynamite year here, and it was his greatest height in a year of them.
2. The Wolf on Wall Street
Probably the most polarizing film of the award season, Martin Scorsese’s adaptation of Jordan Belfort’s book about his rock ‘n’ roll Wall Street years is one of the most entertaining yet disturbing films I have ever seen. Leonardo DiCaprio will likely lose the Best Actor Oscar to Wolf co-star Matthew McConaughey for his role Dallas Buyer’s Club, but I think DiCaprio no doubt deserves it, combining rollercoaster emotional range with a physical comedic performance in the vein of Jim Carrey.
1. 12 Years a Slave
Few movies in the history of film are as powerful and emotionally gripping as 12 Years. Director Steve McQueen tortures and captivates his audience by lingering on painful images, and gets help from tour-de-force performances from Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, and Lupita Nyong’o.
Austin – Prisoners
Prisoners takes what appears on many levels to be an ordinary crime thriller, but by taking an all-star cast and a handful of interesting twists, Prisoners stands out as one of the bigger surprises of the year.
Todd – Springbreakers
Springbreakers is no doubt one-of-a-kind, which no matter what you think of this absolutely nutso movie, you can’t deny its originality – or its Britney Spears ballad.
Wes – Short Term 12
I kept going back and forth between Terrence Malick’s beautiful To The Wonder and Short Term 12 as my miss, but I decided to go with the newcomer hear to raise its profile. Short Term 12 is a movie about a foster care center of troubled teens run by several twenty-somethings who have been touched by the foster care system in their own lives one way or another, and it’s realistic depiction of life in social work, troubled teens, and the importance of giving grace above all, made this film resonate with me as much as any this year.