2013 Top Ten Films

1.) The Wolf of Wall Street: The Wolf of Wall Street is classic Scorsese. We are used to seeing mafia movies and super violent and dramatic movies from the genius. But this year, he brings us what, in my personal opinion, is the funniest movie of the year. It is formatted as a “dramedy”, clearly having serious aspects to it. But this is a straight comedy. Over three hours long, I can’t remember a point in this movie when I wasn’t almost falling out my chair laughing. Leonardo DiCaprio who has a penchant for getting no love come Oscar season, has given us what may be his best performance to date. It isn’t the kind of powerhouse we saw in The Departed; but it is a powerhouse of a different kind. He does things in this movie I never thought he would do. DiCaprio was let loose and I loved every second of it. When a three hour movie seems like an hour and a half, they are doing something right.

2.) 12 Years a Slave: Everyone should see this movie. Even if its just for the history aspect. This is a must-see movie even if its one you only watch once. Featuring what is arguably the best male acting performance of the year (he’s up there with DiCaprio and McConaughey), Chiwitel Ejiofor gives us a heartbreaking and chilling look at this true character. This movie doesn’t hold back. It will make you cry and it will make you….no, it will just make you cry. It is haunting and heart-wrenching. The fact that this is an honest portrayal of a true story, makes it all that much worse. Great acting all around along with one of the most difficult scenes to watch in the history of film; I wouldn’t be shocked if this took in all the awards for best movie of the year.

3.) Short Term 12: Short Term 12 was a little movie that came along that truly shocked me. Featuring really no A-list actors, this movie makes a bold statement in terms of emotion and acting. It goes to show that you don’t need Meryl Streep for a movie to really hit your heart strings with it’s acting. Brie Larson and John Gallagher Jr. are brutally honest and real in every scene and it hits hard. This movie didn’t make the mistake of being overly-preachy or sentimental. It just offered us a look at this small group of people at this children’s home and the stress that comes with the territory.

4.) Gravity: One of the most beautiful looking movies you will ever see. The only movie I’ve ever watched where 3D actually made a difference. This movie doesn’t offer much up in terms of story and originality, but it all falls on the shoulders of Sandra Bullock to carry the movie. And she carries the movie easily with her understated performance. Breathtaking visuals and one of the most memorable film scores I remember in the past couple years, brought to us by Steven Price, make this movie one of the best of the year and a must-see. Alfonso Cuaron and Space is a combination to die for.

5.) Her: A few years ago, I’d laugh at even the mention of Joaquin Phoenix’s name. Now, he is no laughing matter. He turned his life into a joke a few years back, but if you look at his body of work…the man is a gifted actor. Walk the Line, Gladiator, The Master, and now Her; the guy can act the phone book and I’d watch for two hours. This is about what I’d expect from Spike Jonze, considering what he gave us in Being John Malkovich. I’ve come to expect weird from him. Yes, this movie is weird. But it takes you a whole ten minutes to get used to it and roll with it. With an amazing acting performance from Phoenix and fantastic voice support from Scarlett Johansson (along with a great supporting role from Amy Adams), Her is easily one of the most unconventionally great movies of the decade and one of the best movies of the year. It also makes a telling look at how technology could realistically advance and become an even bigger part of our lives. Stop rolling your eyes at the trailer and watch it already. Beautiful movie.

6.) Dallas Buyers Club: Alright, alright, alright! Matthew McConaughey keeps bringing the pain in yet another amazing acting performance. First Mud, now this. This guy isn’t pulling any punches anymore. He lost a significant amount of weight for this film, and its haunting when you see him. A true story that deserves to be told, this film is about a man who finds out he is HIV positive and is told he has 30 days to live. The drugs that the FDA is testing for HIV is causing more problems than it is doing good. Ron Woodruff, played to perfection by McConaughey, decides to try and get drugs from other countries to try and actually help others with this disease. Jared Leto is equally as impressive in his turn as McConaughey’s partner-in-crime.

7.) Fruitvale Station: This is a movie about a story that some people may not have heard of, but it is one worth telling. Releasing it immediately after the Trayvon Martin verdict was smart marketing. Michael B. Jordan proves to be a force to be reckoned with in his amazing acting performance as Oscar Grant. This is his movie to shine and he does so. Some of the movie may have been exaggerated so we can truly feel for his character, but Jordan carries this movie. He makes the character his own and we believe it because he is that good. Started out being one of the best movies of the year. Unfortunately, it came out too early for Oscar recognition.

8.) The Hunt: I almost missed this one. The Hunt, a foreign movie starring Hannibal himself, Mads Mikkelsen. That dude can flat out act. Holy cow. A film where you just see the deterioration of a man, when he loses almost everything; Mads plays the part to perfection. It gives a haunting look at how some stains never wear off. Surprised me completely. I usually don’t get out to see the foreign movies of the year, but I’m glad I saw this one. Le Chiffre is the man!

9.) Saving Mr. Banks: Everyone looks at this movie and sees Tom Hanks as Walt Disney and thinks this is his movie. But its not. This movie belongs to Emma Thompson. She flat out kills it in this role as P.L. Travers, the author of Mary Poppins. The true story of how Mary Poppins was put on the big screen shows some revelations about the source material and the author who wrote it. A heartbreaking story with fantastic performances from both Thompson and Hanks (who gave an even better performance this year in Captain Phillips), but also from Colin Farrell and Paul Giamatti. Heartwearming and just a really good movie. Good for viewers of all ages.

10.) American Hustle: I wasn’t as big of a fan of this movie as everyone else was. But that’s not a bad thing. It is still a very good movie. I just liked many other movies more. The acting is top-notch. The story is pretty good too. When I describe this movie, I call it an “Oceans Eleven with amazing acting”. That’s what it is. A fun movie with some truly great performances, especially from Amy Adams. Jennifer Lawrence was good, but her character really was only added for comedic effect. At the end of the day, she wasn’t too important. The music makes this movie even more enjoyable. A fun and often funny movie that is just that…fun and funny. Its no Wolf of Wall Street but its still one of the best of the year. Also, shout out to Louis CK, who made me care about a simple ice fishing story.

Honorable Mentions:

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
The Spectacular Now

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