My Top 10 Films of 2013
#10 The Internship:
When two down-on-their-luck salesmen apply for internships at Google, they must struggle to compete with a group of young, tech-savvy teenagers for a shot at employment. In this dream-chasing comedy, the laughs continue throughout and the film does a decent-enough job of providing an inspiring, while still funny, story about two old guys trying to fit in in a world of new digital advancements and younger, smarter workers to compete with. Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson may not be the masters of comedy, but they do okay in this smart buddy comedy.
The story of the Brooklyn Dodgers' Jackie Robinson has never been told like this. The amazing talents of breakout star Chadwick Boseman and legend Harrison Ford fuel this loving story of how one African-American baseball player joined the ranks of the all-white team of the Dodgers, ultimately changing how the sport was played in the coming future. Of the sports-related films of the year, if there were any others, this one is a sure delight and successfully retells the story of a man with limited rights, but a magnificent amount of courage and bravery.
#8 Gangster Squad:
When ruthless mob king Mickey Cohen (the masterful Sean Penn) takes over 1949 Los Angeles, a group of police officers turned-gangsters revolt against the mobster and his crew in an attempt to take back their beloved city. Through this thrill-ride of violence, blood-shed, and...well that pretty much sums it up, the film became my choice for the decent gangster film of the year. While it may not live up to the legends of GoodFellas and The Godfather, it was pretty entertaining and appealed to my desire for a good action flick to start the year off. My favorite thing of the film has to be between Sean Penn's fits of mind-blowing rage...and all the cool 40's Tommy guns and fancy cars.
#7 The Great Gatsby
Moving further back in time into the 1920's, we find ourselves immersed in the bright lights and misguided deception of New York City, where Nick Carraway struggles to live in Long Island and tries learn the mysterious truth behind his neighbor, the lavish Jay Gatsby. In this story of madness, tragedy, and the underlining hope of it all, we see one man's rise to the unknown reaches of prosperity and wealth, and another man's downfall to tragedy and misguided hope. This was probably one of the better films of the year, showcasing more award-worthy performances by actors Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire. The book, along with the film, are both masterfully written and are a delight to both read and watch.
#6 Man of Steel:
From Asgardian gods to billionaires in mechanized suits (and those guys in Kick Ass 2), this year Superman topped the charts in superhero films, dominating the theaters with explosions, superhuman fighting, and the music of Hans Zimmer. This film was one of my most anticipated ones of the year, me being super excited for a new, darker look at the man of steel himself. And, to my strong belief, I was not at all disappointed with the film's result. It was a cool, dark, and maybe a bit too violent, new look at one of my favorite superheroes from the comics. Hopefully, the film's sort-of sequel will be as good as this one (I still have faith in Ben Affleck as the new Caped Crusader...fingers crossed).
#5 Catching Fire:
Sequel to the much-anticipated blockbuster The Hunger Games, Catching Fire was sure to "catch fire" among fans in a positive way. Doing so, it was able to create an even bigger fan-base for the series, something that the box office executives can be happy about. And those executives weren't the only ones happy, because I loved the film and all its glory, from the Katniss-Peeta-Gale love triangle (not so much) to the explosive story of a growing revolution (there we go). The next two films will surely be as big as its money-making predecessors.
#4 Captain Phillips:
Probably the second biggest thriller of the year, Captain Phillips told of the 2009 hijacking of a cargo ship by fearless Somali pirates, who threaten the ship's crew led by Captain Richard Phillips (Tom Hanks). Tom Hanks gives his best performance in years in this film, struggling to negotiate with the pirates to save his crew, and then risking his mind and body in order to stay alive in the midst of danger. While the thrills took a little while to begin, when they did they never ceased as we witness one man's struggle to survive in a deadly and painful situation.
#3 American Hustle:
From the director of Silver Linings Playbook and The Fighter, American Hustle spills out a wondrous plot of con artists, crooked cops, and stern mobsters, accompanied with an amazing cast full of odd hair and even odder accents. While the film tried to rise among the greatest gangster films, it wasn't all about the mafia (even though mobster legend Robert De Niro does appear), but more about the struggles of living the lives of cons and crooked cops in an era of political scandals and horrid hairstyles. If you want a clever and funny film with some awesome music (like Elton John), or just want to relive the late 70's, this is the film for you.
Never have I seen a film with so many frightening twists around every corner and some awe-inspiring Oscar-winning performances from two amazing actors such as this engrossing film. When his daughter and her friend go missing suddenly, Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman) takes matters into his own hands after Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal) does nearly all that he can to help. But, as the leads grow in number and the pressure begins to mount, Keller gets in too deep and must save himself and his family in an attempt to solve this in-depth, thrilling mystery that has grown into something even more terrifying then before.
Topping off my list of this year's films is the masterfully filmed space journey called Gravity. With a limited cast of only two award-winning actors (and that's about it), and an outer space atmosphere one could only imagine to see on-screen, director Alfonso Cuarón has managed to deliver something indescribable and jaw-dropping. Even with all its floating through dead space for an hour and half and all, I would probably watch this film over and over just to stare in amazement at the talented work of this film's cinematography. Along with its amazing visuals, the star, Mrs. Sandra Bullock, delivered an unforgettable performance as she experiences the unknown horrors of the silent reaches of cold, dead space.
Well, that's my list. Now, in an effort to appeal to the fans of the films I kept out of my list, here are some of the films I did see, but I thought weren't good enough to make it into my top 10. Here's my honorable mention:
Super, But Not Super Enough:
- The Wolverine: Hugh Jackman once again claws his way into another Wolverine film, this one being surprisingly better than the train-wreck of X-Men: Origins. This time around, he's fighting a metal samurai and a haunting past love Jean Grey in Japan. This was an awesome Wolverine film to replace the other, but still didn't make the ranks of the top 10.
- Iron Man 3: With a new, less stylish suit of armor and a barrage of plot twists and new characters, this new Iron Man installment was portrayed as the "best Iron Man yet", while me and most likely everyone who has a brain knows that the first one still rules above the rest. Even last year's The Avengers beats this new film that just mocks the series now. Sorry, Shane Black.
- Thor: The Dark World: Even though this sequel knocks the first one right out of the park, Thor 2 came close to making the top 10, Man of Steel knocking it back as my dominant choice for the best superhero film of the year. The Thor sequel did an amazing job continuing the story from Thor and The Avengers, integrating a good mix of new and returning characters to give the sequel familiarity, and also some new appeal with a bigger, badder villain...and of course more Loki.
- We're the Millers: With an outlandish plot involving smuggling drugs across Mexico and creating a dysfunctional fake family, We're the Millers was one of my top comedies of the year. I saw this a couple nights ago expecting another inappropriate drug-filled mess of a comedy, and while that is what it basically was, it was still pretty entertaining and funny. It competed closely with other comedies of the year, but I ended up keeping it from the list because, while it was funny, its weak plot of drug-dealing and fake family-feuding wasn't all that engrossing.
- The Heat: Known for the breakout comedy Bridesmaids, Paul Feig delivers another comedic contender with the buddy-cop film The Heat. While the talented Melissa McCarthy brought her foul-mouthed comedic and crazy nature, Sandra Bullock pulled short as an uptight FBI agent who's comedy was a bit dry and didn't bring much to the story. However, this comedy was definitely a contender for my list, being just beat out by the more practical comedy The Internship.
- Admission: In this more down-to-earth comedy, Tina Fey and Paul Rudd lead this tale of a Princeton admissions officer who is up for a big promotion, taking a risk when she meets a college-bound kid whom she related to and an alternative school teacher who she grows closer to. This comedy was a cute, funny, and delightful film to watch, but still wasn't the best comedy of the year. However, it did a good job at incorporating elements of comedy, romance, and the struggles of an admissions officer into one feel-good comedy of the year.
Sci-fi Lacking and Action Slaking:
- Oblivion V.S. Elysium: These two tales of depleted earths and futuristic chaos both ranked in my top science fiction films of the year. But, lacking amazing plots and overly interesting characters, these sci-fi epics didn't quite contend with the bigger films of the year like they should have. While the action was awesome (guns blazing and swords clashing) and the futuristic aspects were mind-blowing (deadly androids and exoskeletons), the films didn't do as well as I expected them to do. Overall, I thought Matt Damon's hard-shelled Elysium did much better than the loner heroics of Tom Cruise's Oblivion.
- Star Trek Into Darkness: Following the surprisingly good reboot kick-starter Star Trek in 2009, this much-anticipated sequel did a decent-enough job of continuing the new legacy of the Trek universe, bringing in aspects like a bad-ass secret villain (Khan, that is) and stuff from the original Trek stories (Klingons). While the sequel was a good film, with all its space action and charismatic characters, I think it relied too much on reusing story lines from past films, and having a good amount of obvious cliches (I won't start my rant again). Hopefully, we can rely on our friend J.J. Abrams to deliver a decent Star Wars film in 2015. May the force be with him (Sorry, that felt necessary).
- White House Down V.S. Olympus Has Fallen: Now comes two movies of the year that can probably be easily forgotten, mainly because of their overuse of explosions and their main focus on killing the President. Right from the start, I knew the R-rated Olympus Has Fallen (starring the grizzled Gerard Butler as the POTUS' savior) would be a bloody train-wreck, which it was. With gory action and a stern cast of tough guys duking it out to save the President, Olympus didn't deliver much compared to its counterpart/copycat White House Down, which was a bit lighter and more comical (as if the topic was at all comical). With Channing Tatum in the savior/father role, White House Down delivered a lighter, less violent look at an attempt to kill the President (Jamie Foxx) by ruthless terrorists. How light can they actually make it though?
And last, but not least, if you're still reading this, these are the films I didn't get to see this year, but hope to see in the coming one soon enough. If you want to or not, you can let me know in the comments which of these films you liked, hated, or just boycotted for your own unknown reasons. But, either way, I'd love to hear what you thought of the films below and what other films you saw this year. Thanks guys, and see you next year!
- Rush- A faced-paced thriller about Formula One racing foes racing in the rain...what could go wrong?
- 12 Years a Slave- The story of Solomon Northup, a free man who get sold into slavery. It looks Oscar-winning already and it has Michael Fassbender in it....it can't lose!
- Last Vegas- Usually when you see a movie about a group of old guys, it's a snooze fest. However, this one looks pretty entertaining.
- Mandela- Idris Elba brings the heat as the legendary freedom fighter and South African president who will never be forgotten. If I was gonna sit through any long biopic, it would definitely be this one.
- The Way Way Back- This quirky comedy about a shy 14-year-old on summer vacation with his family looked entertaining and funny...and also had Sam Rockwell, Steve Carell, and Maya Rudolph at the head of its cast, so count me in.
- The Wolf of Wall Street- A barrage of sex, drugs, and stock markets fuels this film based on the life of Jordan Belfort, who faces a major downfall involving crime, corruption, and the federal government. This film looked like a wild-ride of entertainment and amazing performances, but at the same time, a blinding mess of nudity, drugs, and maybe a bit too much language.
- Fast and Furious 6- I have always been a fan of this series about fast cars and bad-ass characters, loving the thrilling nature of all the heists and the drag races that came from the films. Losing one of the main stars, Mr. Paul William Walker IV, in a car accident last month, devastated both the cast of the film series and the entire world. I'll be sure to treasure this film as a final memory of the talented actor. Hopefully, his work on the next Fast and Furious is as memorable as his work on this film. RIP Paul.
- Saving Mr. Banks- The final film I wanted to see this year was the tribute to Walt Disney and Mary Poppins' author P.L. Travers called Saving Mr. Banks. The loving biopic tells the story of how Walt Disney (Tom Hanks in another winning role) struggles to get the rights to P.L. Travers' (Emma Thompson) novel Mary Poppins, which would soon become one of my family's all-time favorites of Disney's works. I knew this film would be entertaining and surprising to watch, and I'm excited for when I get to enjoy this great finale to this amazing year.
Still here? If you are, let me know what films you're most excited about for next year in the comments below. For me, so far I'm most excited for the sequels to Captain America and Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and also Christopher Nolan's mysterious new sci-fi film Interstellar. Have a great New Years, guys, and be sure to come back here in 2014!