Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Top 10 Best Movies of 2013

And here it is. 2013's best movies. I've seen more movies than ever before this year, clocking in at a grand total of 32 movies. That's pretty much a movie every two weeks, and after going up and down with the quality of films this year, here are the ten best films of the year. It was actually fairly easy to pick my ten favorite movies, because there really only were ten great movies that came out. That's not to say they were bad movies by any means. It was actually really damned difficult to even rank these movies, because each of them was so damned good. There was a point where any movie really was in contention to be in my top 3 favorite movies, so it was painful at times to put a movie I really liked low on the list. As always, if you see a movie on this list that you like, great! If your favorite movie isn't on here, no need to despair. I probably just haven't seen the movie, or it belonged on a much less desirable list. So without further ado, here are my Top 10 Favorite Movies of 2013!

Honorable Mention: Man of Steel

Is this movie too dark for a Superman movie? Yes. Does it feel like DC can't do movies without trying to make it feel like it's The Dark Knight trilogy? At times, yes. But by God, this movie felt like it was a Superman movie. The scope of it was great, the characters were solid, and I enjoyed all of the action in this movie. Every battle felt like it was a grand battle between titans, and it showed. Hell, I even think that the ending was a justified and fascinating turn for the character. I know people despise this movie for its ending, but I thought that it was a strong emotional point that shows that sometimes, in order to save millions, a person has to do the unthinkable. It says a lot for how it takes a classic icon that people deemed "too much of a boy scout" and staying true to those roots while at the same time saying that Superman will always be the symbol of truth, justice, and the American way, and he will defend everyone on Earth no matter the cost. I do think the movie is a bit dark towards the beginning and is missing the charm that the Christopher Reeve's movies had, but that's why we have an honorable mention slot. It's a very flawed movie, and I can see why people would hate it, but I personally thought it was a great superhero movie.

Number 10: Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues
I will be the first in line to say that Anchorman 2 was not as good as the original. It uses a lot of the same jokes from the original and doesn't have that same heart, but that doesn't stop this movie from being hilarious. It says a lot that an average Anchorman movie is still better than most movies that come out this year. This movie ups the ante in terms of sheer bizarre moments, like when Ron decides to feed a baby shark he affectionately named Dobby milk from a baby bottle. That's pretty much the kind of humor that this movie goes for, and it's a non-stop trip. There were times when the movie did get cluttered by having too many plot threads, but they all eventually served as necessary in order to get to some great jokes. It's actually hard to talk about why a comedy like this is good, because if you've already seen the first movie, then you know exactly why it's good. Take some great personalities that are highly quotable and just put them back together again. There's no much more too it than this film is a blast even if it's not as good as the original. Let's just hope there's not an Anchorman 3, cause by then my luster for the series may die down.

To see why this movie is so classy, click here for the original review.

Number 9: Oz the Great and Powerful
I'm a man who loves his Wizard of Oz mythos. I love the idea of Oz and all of the fantastical elements that the series is known for. Hell, there's an animated Oz movie coming out in 2014 that I'm pretty sure is going to be good just because it'll have interesting characters and visuals going for it. I don't know if it'll be as good as this Oz movie, but hey we can be optimistic. There's just something about this movie that makes me in awe whenever I see the world that this movie lives in. It just looks so beautiful with drop dead amazing animation. Seeing the China Girl have her leg fixed and how she really does look like she's made of glass makes me think of how far animation has gotten and how good it looks now in comparison to just five years ago. The world feels alive and the story is just as good, showing the origins for characters like The Wizard and The Wicked Witch of the West. In fact, the big reveal of The Wicked Witch of the West is such a well done moment and the character herself is so expertly done. I still won't spoil how it's done, but needless to say, it shows just how deep the character can be through great dialogue and build up. I may be a bit cautious if they decide to make a sequel to this, which from what I hear is going to happen, but if they can keep it just as beautifully animated and have the same great characters, I wouldn't mind taking another trip to Oz.

Number 8: Evil Dead
If 2013 was the resurgence of the horror genre, then it only makes sense for one of the best series to make an appearance. And boy what an appearance it was. When this movie came out, I was fairly interested in just exactly how this movie would portray itself. Would it be a self aware, over the top parody of the horror genre like Evil Dead 2, or would it be a serious and legitimate horror movie like the original Evil Dead? The answer, I'm happy to say is both, and it's all the better for it. There are some truly disturbing moments in this movie, mostly involving frisky trees and cutting mouths, but there was always a sense of this movie was aware at how over the top and goofy it was, but it was playing it completely straight. When a character gets bashed with a crowbar, attacked by a deadite, shot with a nail gun several times, stabbed repeatedly with syringes, and beaten within an inch of his life, it's almost hilarious how much of a beating this guy takes, and the way he dies is anticlimactic, but in the best possible way. As in after all he's been through, this is the thing that kills him? Over the top, and having some of the best gore this year, this movie literally brought down the house and made it rain blood all over said house's remains. There was no better horror movie this year, and it kept things relatively simple. One cabin, 5 people, and one Necronomicon Ex Mortis. Let the games begin!

Number 7: Pacific Rim
If you were looking for a gigantic action blockbuster, look no further than Pacific Rim. This movie is the definition of "go big or go home", and this movie went BIG. As in, the robots in this movie are insanely massive. There's a scene where a robot uses a tanker freight to club a giant monster in the head repeatedly. It's a giant robot versus giant monster movie. You can't get much more simpler than this. This is exactly how children view Power Rangers in a serious light. You take giant monsters and just have them fight against even bigger robots. Yes there was a plot to it, and while it wasn't really a significant part of the movie, it was serviceable in enhancing each and every moment involving the robots. To pilot each robot, it takes two people that need to sync their mind together, so when the characters were more in sync, the better their fighting was. So when characters went through emotional journeys and came out all the stronger for it, it made for even more interesting and spectacular fights, like bisecting a giant sea monster in half with a several hundred foot sword. There wasn't a bigger or better action blockbuster released this year, and I am proud of the fact that I saw this on the day it came out. I supported a movie that I legitimately want to succeed, and it paid of, being one of the highest grossing movies of the year. It just goes to show that quality almost always goes rewarded. Unless you're Iron Man 3.

Number 6: Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters
To be perfectly frank, I don't know why this movie is on this list. I don't even know why it's so high up as number 6. I haven't seen the previous movie in the series, nor have I read the teen adventure books that this movie is based on. So why is it so high up on the list? I don't really have an answer to that. This is just a simple little adventure movie that splices together Greek mythology with decent action. But you know what, sometimes being a simple little movie is all you need. Sea of Monsters didn't try to be a giant blockbuster that had sweeping action scenes or huge plot points; it kept things relatively simple and knew its boundaries. It knew what it was capable of and got across a clear vision of its story. I went into this expecting just another young adult book series made into a movie series that would be unremarkable and try to catch a spark of the popularity of the Twilight or Hunger Games franchises. But instead of trying to imitate them and do what what they do, Percy Jackson just does its own weird, albeit it simple, thing. It's just fine, but being just fine is good enough for a movie like this. It had a greater sense of adventure and fun than most other movies released this year, and you can tell a lot of heart went into this movie. Whether it be Nathan Fillion playing Hermes, who runs a light speed UPS delivery service, or Ron Perlman playing a giant cyclops, everyone was putting their all into this movie and just making it a good time and respecting the source material. I don't know how to explain this movie any further, because its peculiar why this movie would even be on a best list, but I'm not going to deny that there's something about this movie that feels fun and is a nice adventure. Sometimes, the most refreshing movie can be one that knows exactly what it wants to be.

Number 5: Gravity
Chances are, you already know why Gravity is amazing. This movie has been making every critic's best of list, and this movie has been placed as the best movie of 2013 for several major review outlets, and rightfully so. This is a movie that in lesser hands should have been a colossal disaster. The fact that you can make George Clooney and Sandra Bullock floating in space for almost two hours a good movie is great. The fact that you can fill it with tension without sound and minimum dialogue is amazing. The fact that this movie makes you fully believe you're in space to the point where you are terrified of even the slightest thing that could go wrong to them AND look incredible is nothing short of a god damn miracle. The imagery is great. This movie is the definition of less is more, and instead of trying to craft witty dialogue or pulse pounding action, this movie emphasizes mood, silence, and atmosphere. This is by far the most engrossing movie of the year, and I legitimately feel I was cheated because I couldn't see this movie in IMAX 3D. I am one of the biggest deterrents of 3D in movies, seeing it as nothing more than a gimmick, but if all movies had 3D like this, then I would perfectly alright with it. This movie has single handedly justified 3D movies for me. I can see why so many critics have been putting this as their movie of the year, and I wouldn't be surprised that years from now, when we look back on Gravity, it'll be seen as a revolutionary movie; a movie that employs mood and imagery over anything else, while still make a pulse pounding thriller and the most intense movie in years. I salute you Gravity, and during any other year, you'd be my hands down choice for best movie... but there were four more movies that I enjoyed more.

To drift off into space, click here for my original review of Gravity.

Number 4: Frozen
If you were to tell me that a Disney movie was going to be making my favorite movies of the year... I'd probably believe you. Disney does have a habit of making good movies after all. I wouldn't expect it to be this high however, so that counts for something I suppose. Last year's Wreck-It Ralph was a fine movie, but besides being centered in a world connected to video games, I didn't really have all that much passion or connection with the movie. Not so with FrozenFrozen has been called a throwback to more classic Disney movies like Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast, and while I wouldn't go that far when describing its merits, I still think it's the best Disney movie in years, and the best Disney musical they've made in over a decade. People have been going nuts over this movie, from children that love the nice songs (and to be fair, most adults like the songs too), to adults that love the characters and the unique spins it has on traditional Disney cliches. Cliches like "love at first sight" and "true love's first kiss" are brought up in this movie and have a self aware kind of realization that certain tropes of fairy tales fall apart when faced with reality, and I love that it takes that approach. This is the Disney movie that both kids and adults can love, but for completely different reasons. I loved this movie for introducing Elsa, who is probably my favorite character of the year! There's something in Elsa that people can relate to and she is a strong female role model for children. Plus the snowy landscapes and especially how ice is shown deserve special mention, because the ice in this movie looks phenomenal. It may seem like a small thing to comment on, but Frozen makes even the little things stand out. If we don't have another Disney animated musical for a few more years, then I'll be perfectly fine just having Frozen. 

To see which songs melt my icy heart, stop and read the original Frozen review here

Number 3: The Wolf of Wall Street
This is hands down the most fun I've had in a movie theatre all year. The energy in this movie is contagious and will have everyone in the audience enamored with how over the top, yet hilarious this movie is. This is probably the first film that Martin Scorsese has done that can be considered a comedy, and it's the king of all black comedies. Drugs, sex, alcohol, and even more sex is a regular occurrence with this movie, and was even on the border of getting an NC-17 rating. That's saying a lot for the kind of content in this movie, but that manic energy is transmitted to some of the best situations and moments of the year. This is a biopic of the real life king of stock swindlers Jordan Belford, and he is portrayed masterfully by Leonardo DiCaprio. This is the role that should give DiCaprio his Oscar for best actor, because it takes a work of genius to portray a man that's having the time of his life being a monster, while switching to being genuinely concerned for his company and the people that work there in less than ten minutes. 3 hours are dedicated to this soaring roller coaster of a movie that shows human excess at its finest, and how great it can be to just be an awful person. A friend of mine joked that this was a better Great Gatsby than this year's The Great Gatsby was, and I fully agree with them. I hope this movie does well at the Oscars, because it deserves all the praise it can get.

To see why vice and sin are so damn fun, read the original review here

Number 2: The Counselor
I know that in my original review I gave this movie a 4 out of 5, so why is this ranker higher than a movie that I gave a perfect score to? Because the more this movie sat with me, the more I began to appreciate all of the subtle nuances this movie had and how it was the meatiest movie of the year. Every line of dialogue had a purpose and had a theme behind it, and there was nothing in this movie that felt like it was filler. From scenes about explaining the rationale behind sending pickled corpses across the border to Cameron Diaz having sex with a car, scenes that seem out of place and bizarre have a purpose and a higher meaning to them. Every line is dripping with nuance and all comes together to paint a picture about greed and the hubris of man. To say this is the best movie of 2013 is an understatement, because it's so much more than just a beautiful screenplay. The story is a legitimately great one that takes several twists and turns in its two hour run time. You think one character is going to be alright, but five minutes later their life is in complete shambles and they wish they were dead. But like I said, this is a meaty movie. It doesn't spell out everything for the audience. You're going to have to be willing to follow the movie and see where it's going if you want to even try to understand what is going on. It takes effort on your part, but you take what you put in. If you want to understand what is happening in this movie, then you need to show a genuine interest in it. Cormac McCarthy, the writer and author of another phenomenal movie No Country For Old Men, has made another great story that stands with the best releases this year. I'm actually a bit disappointed that this movie didn't do better. It did fine, but no one seems to talk about this movie in any recognition at all. I feel like this is the Scott Pilgrim of 2013; a movie that some people really do love and think is phenomenal, but no one showed up to support it, so it's just a footnote in releases this year. It may be doomed to being a footnote, but this movie is much better than that. See it at all costs.

But in the end, there can only be one movie. No one will agree with it, but it's the truth. Please hold your rage. 

For a breakdown of why this movie is a master class of dialogue, read the original review here

Number 1: Spring Breakers
I'm not insane. 

What can really be said to describe Spring Breakers? Out of all of the movies released this year, this one is probably one of the most polarizing movies of the year. From an outside perspective, it looks like just another bad teen party movie. You know the kind. It's the kind of movie that's all about watching people act drunk, crazy, and stupid all because they're "adults" and can so whatever they want because of it. If that's your main reason for not seeing this movie, because it looks terrible and stupid, then I beg of you, see this movie. You are the perfect audience for this film. In the same way that The Breakfast Club serves as a time capsule of the 80's and what the general culture was like at the time, Spring Breakers, like it or not, is a time capsule for our generation. It does have all of the aforementioned traits featured. This movie is full of drunk, stupid people that only want to party and have a good time, but while movies like Project X have nothing going for it besides the debauchery, this movie is smart. Yes, Spring Breakers is smart. It shows both sides of the equation and how far people will go to have said good time. What starts out as an idea to go to Florida for spring break divulges into robbery, gang wars, and outright murder, all because this is what the characters think they want. I won't go into any more details, because deriving the meaning of various scenes and even plot points is spoiling the entire point of this movie, but frankly it's a bit difficult to write about everything this movie tries to do. It looks dumb, but it's smarter than most other movies released this year.

If you were to tell me that my favorite movie of the year would be a movie that starts former Disney starlettes getting drunk and partying while on spring break, James Franco as a rapper gangster named Alien, features dubstep, and being directed by the same man that made Trash Humpers, I would punch you in the face for insulting me so much. But after seeing the movie, as soon as I got out of the theatre, I was pretty much complacent with the fact that this would be my movie of the year. Even at the end of March, when I first saw it, I knew this would be my film of the year. I was the biggest proponent of how awful this movie looked, and I joked about how terrible it was probably going to be, but those 90 minutes changed that outlook in an instant. It's out on DVD and is sold on amazon for about $10. Don't miss out on this movie that defines our generation for better and worse. Just see it.

Well 2013 was certainly an interesting year! After I get my three game reviews done, I'm probably going to take a bit of a hiatus until February starts up. Thank you everyone for following The Critical Order in its first 3 months, and here's to more reviews, more movies, more games, and more shows. And happy New Year!

No comments:

Post a Comment