Built up throughout the year, these are my favorite films of 2013. There is also my Top 13 disappointments of the year and a too-long list of films I missed. You can see my complete, top to bottom 2013 rankings on Letterboxd. [Photos are paid links.]
Top 13 Films
- Inside Llewyn Davis (review)
- Her (review)
- American Hustle (review)
- Stoker (review)
- The Spectacular Now (review)
- Gravity (review)
- To the Wonder (review)
- Don Jon (review)
- Before Midnight (review)
- Short Term 12 (review)
- 12 Years a Slave (review)
- The Place Beyond the Pines (review)
- The Fifth Estate (review)
Blue Jasmine (review), Prisoners (review), Dallas Buyers Club, Out of the Furnace (review), The Counselor (review), The Great Gatsby (review), Rush (review), Much Ado About Nothing (review), Mud (review), The Way, Way Back (review), Prince Avalanche, The Butler (review) Frances Ha (review), Byzantium (review), Spring Breakers (review), Something in the Air (review), In a World… (review)
Remaining Anticipated Films
- The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013)
Every time I see the trailer, I get inordinately excited. It feeds right into my own predilection for idle fantasy and looks like the kindly earnestness I adore.
- The Wolf of Wall Street (12/25/2013)
Martin Scorsese, need I explain? Howabout Leonardo DiCaprio‘s fifth teaming with Scorsese? You said it was good, alright? I base most of what I do on the idea that he’s pretty darn good at what he does.
- August: Osage County (11/8/2013)
Having John Wells direct doesn’t fill me with excitement, but another role for Cumberbatch and the promise of some nasty family drama smells good to me.
- Gangster Squad (review)
Sure, you knew it was going to suck, but I saw a possible actioneer version of L.A. Confidential (1997). That is, until I saw the movie.
- The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
While this film probably hurt me the most, I half expected the pain. It was a gruesome bludgeoning of a sweet and funny novel turned into a hyper-violent action adventure film.
- Trance (review)
There’s a twist to Trance, which you might have expected. There was also a twist from hyper-reality to just plane whacky.
- Pain & Gain (review)
Perhaps I was wrong to expect much from the movie, but there certainly was potential. Michael Bay, unsurprisingly, failed to maintain focus and regiment the story and his (admittedly interesting) visual choices.
- Only God Forgives (review)
Because I expected so much from it and got so little enjoyment–and I don’t just mean thrills or laughs.
- The Iceman (review)
What was this movie about? The man, the moment, his motives, or life? I don’t think any of those were fleshed out enough to suggest an answer.
- Now You See Me (review)
Here’s another kinetic story that was told with a revolving camera rather than a well-paced plot. That and it was so cheesy.
- Stand Up Guys (review)
They didn’t have the story, they didn’t develop the characters, they just cashed in. Towards the end, they lost all shame and pooed a little in their pants.
- Shadow Dancer
Knew how to tell the story, it just needed three more plot points. But it was the best of the bad bunch.
- The Bling Ring (review)
It isn’t that I expected greatness, but I did expect some insights. Whatever insights it gave, they were limited and certainly not new. Watch an 80’s movie and you’re about there.
- The Look of Love
Sadly, I did expect greatness from this Michael Winterbottom/Steve Coogan collaboration that turned out not to be a constant comedy or painful character inspection it needed to be.
- Kill Your Darlings (review)
While the performances were strong, I left without a defensible view of the Beatniks. They still seem like pretentious jerks to me. Maybe they just are.
- The Grandmaster (review)
Perhaps the worst kind of disappointment, I went in expecting something but didn’t know what and found a biopic that seemed neither particular realistic nor as well-structured as a fiction should be.
I’m not going to get to everything as it comes out, that’s true. Either I’ll guess incorrectly as to the best things coming out in a particular weekend or I just won’t be able to find the time. Thus far, though, here’s what I think I really need to check out to be 2013-literate.