It’s 2014 and JM has put together this top ten list of film for last year. Award season is upon us and there are lists everywhere, but it’s nice to actually see a list where smaller films and films that were overlooked can be given a chance.
Personally, I would put The Way Way Back on my list of top films because it was amazing. I really wish it was given more awards consideration.
Check out JM’s thoughts on the films of 2013 below!
This year I’m celebrating my 10th Anniversary composing a Top 10 Films list, but my first for MikeTheFanboy.com. Every year I generally see about a 100 new movies, if not more, and pride myself on discovering hidden gems. This year I saw a ton of interesting movies and very rarely left the theater disappointed.
Now every year before announcing my list I discuss films that I really enjoyed, but somehow or another just missed the cut. This year’s honorable mentions include: “Fruitvale Station,” “Only God Forgives,” “Spring Breakers,” “The Great Gatsby,” “The East” and “Blue Jasmine.” The only film I really wanted to see, but somehow missed was “Gravity” so don’t be shocked when you don’t see it listed below. In order to qualify for the list, the film must have been released this year (limited counts), even if it was only theatrically shown in a handful of theaters.
Matthew McConaughey is unstoppable this year. Right now he continues to demonstrate why he should seriously be considered for more dramatic film roles than just generic comedies. His performance as the titular character in “Mud” is one of the year’s most riveting performances. However his role as a bigoted AIDS patient in “The Dallas Buyer’s Club” has since overshadowed his amazing supporting role in this delightful drama.
Earlier this year, it was touted as one of the year’s best movies, but “peaked” too early despite maintaining a 98% rating on Rotten Tomatoes as one of the year’s most critically acclaimed films. “Mud” tells the story of two Arkansas boys, who discover a hidden boat stuck on an island near the Mississippi River and meet the titular fugitive. Along the way, their newfound friendship with the outlaw Mud demonstrates even “bad” people can do the right thing when it counts. This southern drama from Jeff Nichols (“Take Shelter”) is well worth watching and a great showcase for the underutilized talent cast in this amazing movie.
9) “American Hustle”
The con is on! David O Russell returns with another amazing ensemble film featuring some of the most critically acclaimed actors around (Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Amy Adams, Christian Bale). “American Hustle” is exactly the kind of film you want it to be and is unafraid to shift between comedy and drama at a moment’s notice. The film is inspired by the real life story of a con man (Bale) and his associate (Amy Adams), who’re recruited by an undercover FBI agent (Cooper) to stop corruption in politics using con games.
David O. Russell continues creating captivating movies and this is a great example. Anchored by four riveting, remarkable performances from its leads, “American Hustle” will certainly be one of the most recognized and talked about films from 2013. Whether it’s the soundtrack, costumes or even the acting, this film is great from top to bottom. Is it perfect…? No, but I can guarantee you will have fun watching this entertaining movie.
8) “Before Midnight”
One of the greatest love tales wraps up its story in the final chapter of this delightful trilogy. Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke once again return as Celine and Jesse, nine years after “Before Sunset.” The now married couple visits Greece with their two daughters and Hank (Jesse’s son), but their relationship is put to the test when an opportunity arrives for Celine to resume her career.
Richard Linklater wowed audiences nearly 20 years ago when he co-wrote and directed “Before Sunrise,” but much like wine, each subsequent entry in this series continues to improve upon the last and demonstrates relationships are always evolving. Delpy deserves much praise for her ever-evolving range as the character Celine and her chemistry with co-star Ethan Hawke is stronger than ever. Linklater’s longtime collaborators cap off an amazing run and have created arguably one of the greatest romantic scripts ever. It doesn’t get much better than this.
Personal stories seemed to be one of the main themes for movies in 2013. Although you can make a strong case Spike Jonze was exercising demons with his latest directorial effort, “Her” showcases Jonze’s amazing ability to capture complex characters in a spellbinding, sci-fi romance film. For the second time in as many years, Joaquin Phoenix delivers another tour-de-force performance and will certainly go down as one of this generation’s greatest actors.
Phoenix portrays introverted writer Theodore Twombly, who can’t cope with his recent separation and impending divorce from Catherine (Rooney Mara). Despite a marriage crumbling before his eyes, Twombly’s terrific prose perfectly perpetuates wonderful love letters and remains the “go-to-guy” at his company. Still, he longs to have a personal connection with someone and decides to purchase a new operating system (OS) with artificial intelligence. The OS adopts a female personality named Samantha (Scarlett Johansson) and soon the two become inseparable. Although uneven at times, this film showcases two of the year’s best performances and should help people to reevaluate their own relationships.
6) “Blue Is The Warmest Color”
Palme d’Or winner “Blue Is The Warmest Color” turned audiences’ heads earlier this year at the Cannes Film Festival and remains the year’s best Foreign Film. Unfortunately due to the Academy Awards’ rules on eligibility, this film will be unable to compete in the Best Foreign Film category since it was released “after the cut off date” despite numerous and practically universal praise from critics worldwide. This three-hour masterpiece contains two of the most breathtaking, brilliant breakthrough performances I have ever witnessed with leads Adele Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux.
The film tells the story of French high school student Adele (Exarchopoulos) discovering her sexuality and the experiences she must endure to find herself. It’s hard to believe this great coming of age love story originated as a graphic novel, but it proves a quality story will always find an audience regardless of medium. Adele Exarchopoulos’ extraordinary performance is unparalleled and demonstrates unbelievable range for someone who just turned 20. If she doesn’t get nominated and win for Best Actress, the Academy Awards will have definitely done a great disservice for world cinema with not recognizing the year’s best performance.
Before I name my Top 5 I would like to mention that all of these films were at one point or another my Favorite Film of the year and remain the five Best films I have seen all year. Without further adieu, here are my TOP FIVE FILMS OF 2013.
5) “12 Years A Slave”
Steve McQueen directed a great film and hands down deserves the Oscar for Best Director. McQueen’s remarkable run for feature films is unbelievable and despite numerous adoration for his first two films (“Hunger” and “Shame”), this film went “under the radar” until its theatrical release. Based on the bestselling memoir by Solomon Northup, “12 Years A Slave” details the disturbing story of Solomon’s transition from freedom into slavery during the mid 1800s.
Chiwitel Ejiofor stars as Solomon Northup and creates one of the most troubling, yet enchanting performances of the year. Not only does “12 Years A Slave” contain career-making performances from Michael Fassbender and Lupita Nyong’o, but brilliantly captures this despicable era of our country’s embarrassing past with a spectacular score by Hans Zimmer and mesmerizing cinematography by Sean Bobbitt. It may be the best film ever made about the horrors of slavery, but this is not something you will be begging to re-watch right away.
4) “Inside Llewyn Davis”
You either love them or hate them. That’s exactly how I feel about the Coen Brothers’ entire filmography. Fortunately for me they’ve crafted one of the most intelligent, ingenious movies about the folk scene and its centered around an amazing arrogant folk singer named Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac). Set in New York’s Greenwich Village during the early 1960s, Llewyn Davis is trying to cope with the suicide of his singing partner Mike and his struggles as a solo artist. The cultural disconnection experienced by Davis is only exacerbated as he meanders around town crashing on friends’ couches, his inability to think beyond “one day at a time” and remain truthful not only to himself, but to those closest to him.
Isaac’s deplorable and despicable characterization captures the arrogance of an artist unafraid to do whatever it takes. He selfishly undermines his closest colleagues and takes advantage of everyone he encounters without even the slightest remorse for his actions. Once again, the Coens have assembled an impressive cast and prove they have a knack for evoking award worthy performances from their lead actors with amazing turns by supporting players Carey Mulligan, Justin Timberlake and John Goodman. If that wasn’t enough, the soundtrack for “Inside Llewyn Davis” is hands down the best soundtrack of the year and one of the year’s best albums.
3) “Frances Ha”
Believe me I’m shocked this film stumbled down to my number three spot, but it still holds a place near and dear to my heart. “Frances Ha” details the life of the titular twentysomething (Greta Gerwig) and her struggles to “grow up” in post-college life. Gerwig’s star-making role in “Frances Ha” goes above and beyond with representing Generation Screwed in wunderkind Noah Baumbach’s bold, brilliant and beautiful film. Their fantastic follow-up collaboration accurately assesses the troubling times for recent college grads and creates an aesthetically pleasing movie that’s a combination of a mainstream movie meets mumblecore.
The chemistry between scene-stealer/supporting actress Mickey Sumner and lead actress/co-writer Gerwig remains one of the main reasons why this film persists as one of the year’s bests. This mesmerizing black and white movie will certainly go down as a zeitgeist film capturing my generation’s post graduation dilemmas, which was recently recognized with the first dual Blu-ray and DVD release for the Criterion Collection (the first in the company’s catalog).
Of course, it would take another black and white film to overthrow “Frances Ha” and for good reason. Alexander Payne follows his Academy Award winning “The Descendants” with his first film, not written by him, but by a first time screenwriter Bob Nelson. Bruce Dern’s comeback performance as patriarch Woody Grant is gut wrenching and painstakingly real with one of the most authentic performances of the year. Even more impressive is the strong dramatic debut from former SNL cast member Will Forte as his loving, sympathetic son David.
Woody Grant believes he won a million dollar sweepstakes prize and must travel to Nebraska in order to claim his prize. Despite everyone’s doubts, David (Forte) agrees to accompany his father and they both discover sometimes it’s the little things in life that make it worthwhile. Considering this cast is primarily composed of mostly untrained actors, “Nebraska” delivers the goods with great supporting turns by June Squibb, Bob Odenkirk, and Powers Boothe. Once again, Payne proves his eye for recognizing talent and may have very well assembled the best road trip movie ever.
1) “The Wolf Of Wall Street”
Martin Scorsese does it again with another amazing, ambitious movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio. Every time these two great artists collaborate on a project something remarkable happens and “The Wolf Of Wall Street” certainly proves that. Impressed by the lavish lifestyle of his boss Mark Hanna (Matthew McConaughey) and other stockbrokers at his new job, Jordan Belfort (DiCaprio) sets out to be the best stockbroker on Wall Street. Unfortunately after he obtains his stockbroker license, Belfort’s first day occurs on Black Monday (October 19, 1987), when The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) dropped 508 points and greatly affected the world market. Disheartened by losing his job almost immediately afterwards, a chance encounter reading the want ads forever changed his life and the way Wall Street works.
DiCaprio gives one of the most well rounded performances in recent memory and should seriously be considered for his first Oscar. Not only does his performance make you laugh, but it also makes you cry with how disturbing and raw it is. Scorsese helms another astonishing film about over-indulgence and decadence in this instant classic drama. Even Jonah Hill loses himself in character and proves his performance in “Moneyball” was no fluke. “The Wolf Of Wall Street” was certainly the most memorable and quotable movie of 2013.
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