Best of 2013 header

As 2013 came to a close, I looked back on the year in film – or if you consider the last few award-hopeful-heavy months, then the last few months in film. I personally don’t pick favorites; I’m too indecisive that way. Instead, my Top Ten list is in the form of superlatives, a la Mashable, in no particular order and based on what films I saw in theaters.

Best Destruction, Large-Scale – Man of Steel


You could argue for the destruction spread throughout Iron Man 3, but those were action set-pieces separated by miles and miles (and that’s including the plane crash and ensuing monkeys-in-a-barrel rescue). Man of Steel offers catastrophic levels of destruction and loss of life in Metropolis, albeit CGI. The cast (including Cavil as Kent/Kal El) is good, as is the new dynamic between Kent and Lois Lane (Amy Adams), and Hans Zimmer’s score was bombastic and energetic as usual.

Best Destruction, Small-Scale – The World’s End (or The Cornetto Trilogy, if you want to consider it)

The World's End

Edgar Wright has a thing for small-town destruction. A good portion of London (and presumably the world) goes to pot during the zombie apocalypse in Shaun of the Dead, and The Winchester burns; Sandford gets shot up, and Miniature Sandford gets a wee bit crushed in Hot Fuzz; and lastly, Newton-Haven suffers some bar brawls, chases, and a worldwide EMP in The World’s End. The film doesn’t disappoint with the Wright mainstays/good luck charms (Pegg, Frost, Freeman, Considine, Nighy, etc.) and Wright newbies, and the comedy – while geared a bit more towards the over-the-hill crowd – is nostalgic and sharp.

Most Underrated Action Flick – Pacific Rim


Combine Guillermo del Toro’s love for mechs and kaiju movies and you’ve got Pacific Rim. It was one of my favorite popcorn flicks (Okay, I don’t really go in for concessions before the screening(s) start.) because of 1) the cast (Where else are you going to see Ron Perlman go toe-to-toe with a kaiju groupie (Charlie Day), and where else are you going to hear GLaDOS monitor Jaeger pilots? Also, Idris Elba doesn’t get enough credit for all the TV and film work he’s done this year alone.); 2) the CG (No practical kaiju or Jaegers (apart from a giant leg or miscellaneous body part) on the set, and they still looked damned impressive.); and 3) the originality (Okay, you can argue against the tropes, but how often do you get the chance to see something like Pacific Rim on the big screen? Very rarely – and for the love of all good movies, don’t bring up any recent Michael Bay or alien invasion films. Those don’t count.). Also, Ramin Djawadi’s soundtrack reached almost Zimmer levels of bombast.

Best Writing/Directorial Debut – In a World and Don Jon



I’m split on this one, as I thoroughly enjoyed both subversive satires. In a World‘s meta-commentary on the movie industry played rather well, as did Don Jon‘s stealthy (okay, not that stealthy) rom-com bashing … in the midst of a non-traditional rom-com. The casts are solid, and the cameos/supporting cast members offer plenty of amusement.

Best Under-the-Radar Drama – The Place Beyond The Pines and Much Ado About Nothing

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What struck me most about these two films was their originality – Pines with its multi-generational story and Ado with how well the modernization worked with Shakespeare’s original script. And the casts of both films didn’t hurt, either – especially seeing so many Joss regulars on-screen in Ado. That, and the opening minutes of Pines where the camera doesn’t cut away but instead tracks Luke (Ryan Gosling).

Most Panic-Inducing Drama – Gravity


Without a doubt, this was the most intense film I saw all year. 90 minutes of non-stop suspense, the long shots, the bleak airless expanse of space … and Cuaron did wonders while Sandra carried the film nearly by herself. And lest I forget to mention Stephen Price’s score!

Best AdaptationThe Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Hunger Games Photo 1

As much as I loved The Hunger GamesCatching Fire stepped it up, both in terms of the cast and the cinematography. While I did have a gripe or two about some details lost in translation, the slight change in the point-of-view benefited the political themes and plot-line of the series.

Best “Real Life”Fruitvale StationDallas Buyers Club, and Philomena



Philomena Photo

Dramatic license aside, I loved the personal tales these three films weaved. From the last day of a struggling San Francisco man trying to do good to the beginnings of a thriving AIDS community and network in 1980s Texas to an elderly Irishwoman’s search for the son who was taken from her decades ago, each film manages to connect with the audience on a human level, both reminding us what a life unlike the one we’re living is like and what the redemptive power of doing good by others can do.

Best “Inspired By”/Period PiecesAmerican Hustle and Inside Llewyn Davis

American Hustle Photo


Each of these films fits its respective period. The dulled color palate and the music of Inside Llewyn Davis recalls the look and feel of the ’60s folk scene and the free-wheeling nature and perfectly-chosen soundtrack of American Hustle hearkens back to the late ’70s. And the casts are stellar, especially Bale, Adams, and Isaac.

Most HumanHer


What more can I say about Her that hasn’t already been said? It presents an original, creative, and human view of the future and while it doesn’t veer off into Singularity territory, the focus on the evolution of AI poses an interesting question for audiences to ponder. And, again, the soundtrack/score from Arcade Fire, Owen Pallett, and Karen O fit the film so well.


Mind you, I am still behind on some of the big nominees and snubs (Walter Mitty, Wolf of Wall Street, Saving Mr. Banks, 12 Years a Slave, Nebraska, and Captain Phillips), and I hope to see some or most of them (by hook or by crook) before the Oscars. And, if anything, 12 Years would either be in the same category as Fruitvale StationDallas Buyers Club, and Philomena, or it would take the category by itself.

So what were some of your best/favorite films of 2013, Oscar-worthy and not? Do you tend to pick ultimate favorites or are you one for superlatives? Let us know below and we’ll continue the discussion.

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