Tag Archives: best films of 2013
I watched 71 films this year! More impressively, 29 of those films actually came out this year! That might be a record for me, seeing as I mostly seek out movies that are over thirty years old. Man, 29! I’m not going to even think about how much money that was.
That said, 2013 was a year of ‘meh’ for me, as far as new releases were concerned. I felt let down by a lot of the big buzz movies: 12 Years a Slave was superbly acted, but felt disjointed; Gravity managed to not excite me visually or emotionally; Frances Ha just felt like Baumbach’s version of Girls; Elysium was a snooze fest where I found myself rooting for the bad guys because they at least had more character. I was also excited for both Star Trek: Into Darkness and The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, and while neither particularly disappointed me (well, the whole Star Trek reboot I’ve always had issues with, but whatever) they didn’t excite me either.
I was, however, surprised by a couple of movies I saw on a lark: The Bling Ring was surprisingly watchable, Saving Mr. Banks was genuinely well done, Blue is the Warmest Color wasn’t entirely French junk, and Prisoners sort of blew me away. I also would include Wolf of Wall Street in this category, but I’ll be expounding on that one at a later date.
So, here’s my list of the best and the worst, aka, the movies that, at the very least, made me say something other than “Meh.”
I haven’t been to the theater much lately. And by lately, I mean since I was a kid. I’m basically waiting for them to make movies again (see The Idea of What a Movie Is). I mostly deferred to John’s list to see what even came out this year:
Didn’t see too many new movies this year. Only thirteen in total. Mostly just watched older stuff. In fact, I went to the theaters to see old movies way more than I went to see new ones. This was a particularly great year for screenings of classics, here in NYC. BAM devoted a month to all of John Cassavetes’ films, and did a mini Douglas Sirk retrospective too. And Film Forum had King Kong—a staggeringly gorgeous print of it.
The new movies I did see in theaters this year were Blue Jasmine, This is the End, Gravity, and Escape From Tomorrow. Only liked one of those. As such, I doubt I’ll be going to the theaters to see a new movie any time soon.
Of the thirteen 2013 movies I saw this year (four in theaters, nine on VOD or Netflix) I only liked half, so my list is split into two parts. Part one is the good, part two is the bad. Any films marked 2012 were originally completed in 2012, but released theatrically in 2013.
By the way, there were a bunch of 2013 movies I tried on Netflix that I couldn’t bring myself to finish, and tapped out at the 15-minute mark—such as Frances Ha and Computer Chess—but I didn’t feel comfortable putting all those on this list because I didn’t give them a full viewing. Full enough to know I didn’t want to watch them, yes, but not full enough to really pick them apart.
Anyway, here goes. Feel free to agree or disagree with me in the comments section and whatnot.
What a year! Lots of challenging, beautiful films. A strong year for minority representation—including films that weren’t about that, like Fast & Furious 6 or The Best Man Holiday (oh lord), the latter of which I haven’t seen yet. Probably the strongest spread of black cinema since the late 1990s, but the prospect of a long-term sea change in that regard is rocky. And lots of films about the changing landscape of the American Dream, both excellent (Spring Breakers) and terrible (The Canyons).
If you’re not up to date on the Direct-to-Video action renaissance, you’re missing out on much of the most powerful and ambitious filmmaking in the world today. Last year, this market was dominated by the incredible Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning, which has made the whole movement kinda too good to ignore for a lot mainstream critics. This is wonderful news, but unfortunately none that I saw wowed me this year—if I missed any good ones, let me know. I hope going forward, we cease to be surprised to find quality in DTV, and instead expect ambition in the cracks as a matter of course. There’s no reason not to, right?
Here’s every 2013 movie I’ve seen, in order from best to worst. (Any film marked ‘2012’ was originally completed in 2012, but officially released in 2013.)
Feel free to comment and argue!