The Year In Review: The Best and Worst of Film in 2013
The Bad Kool-Aid Award (goes to a film that critics loved but we did not)
The UFO Award (goes to the film we’ll lose all our credibility for loving)
Bob: Now You See Me
Allie: Safe Haven
The Leftover Pizza in the Fridge Award (goes to the year’s most pleasant surprise)
Bob: About Time
Allie: The Way, Way Back
The Leftover-Pizza-in-the-Fridge-Has-Mold-On-It-Award (goes to the year’s biggest disappointment)
Bob: Frances Ha (because I’m a big Noah Baumbach fan)
Allie: About Time (because it’s right up my alley, but no dice) and The Conjuring (because it looked like a non-standard movie but it was cookie cutter)
The Iron Lady Award (goes to a film only redeemed by its terrific acting)
Bob: American Hustle
Allie: American Hustle
The Daniel-Day-Lewis-Wasn’t-In-A-Film-This-Year-Award (goes to the film with the best acting performance)
Bob: Leonardo DiCaprio in Wolf on Wall Street
Allie: Paul Rudd in Prince Avalanche
The Keanu Reeves Award (goes to the year’s worst acting performance)
Ed Note: We didn’t get to see either Keanu Reeves film released this year, so the winner’s accomplishment is considerably lessened.
Bob: Melissa McCarthy in Identity Thief (All obnoxiousness, none of the funny)
Allie: Joaquin Phoenix in Her (see review)
The Raven Symone Award (goes to the film you already forgot came out in 2013)
Allie: Evil Dead
The Gigli Award (goes to the worst film of 2013)
Bob: Tie- Identity Thief, Safe Haven
Allie: Frances Ha (ed. note: Bob is wrong about Safe Haven)
Bob’s Top 10 Films of 2013
A word on the year in film: Not a bad year. Even without PT Anderson and Quentin Tarantino, there were more films I liked this year than 2012 (and I still haven’t seen films from two of my favorite directors: Inside Llewyn Davis and Nebraska). It was one of the worst summers for blockbuster fare that I can remember, and it’s probably only going to get worse, because people are still paying to see Man of Steel and Grown Ups 2 (I really hope these adult men will finally have grown up by Grown Ups 3, so we can have closure with this masterful trilogy). Thankfully, great films are still getting made, and always will be. My biggest regret is that I didn’t get to see a single foreign language film released in theatres this year, so I can’t make this list nearly as pretentious as I’d like.
Films I didn't’ get to see that feasibly that may have made my top 10: Inside Llewyn Davis, Nebraska, 12 Years a Slave, Fruitvale Station, Spectacular Now, Kings of Summer (I’ll retroactively update the top 10 to reflect any changes once these have been seen)
10) About Time: Wait, don’t dismiss me yet! I love dark, mopey movies as much as the next sad sack, but it’s much rarer to find a warm, life-affirming movie that isn’t totally ruined by sentimentality and cliché. A funny, inventive, likable film and one of the few good date movies released in 2013 (ignore the fact that my date didn’t actually like it all that much).
9) This Is the End: It would have benefitted from some discipline and less lenient editing, and not all the gags work, but there were also a lot of ones that did. For all the horrible comedies that are released nowadays (most of which involve Owen Wilson and/or Vince Vaughn) television is slowly cementing its case as the best place for comedy. This Is The End gave me hope that mainstream comedy releases can still be funny.
8) The World’s End: Not as many heart-attack inducing big laughs as the similarly titled and premised number nine film on this list but consistency and a more coherent story give this one the edge. Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg are one of the most reliable director/actor tag-teams in film, so here’s hoping for many more collaborations between them.
7) You’re Next: We saw a whopping seven horror films in theatres in 2013, and most of them were either flat out horrible or unoriginal (I’m looking at you, Mama and Evil Dead). You’re Next was a funny, lively film that subverted genre clichés instead of relying on them. The best horror flick of 2013 by a wide margin.
6) Side Effects: Side Effects is so good at being a twist-filled thriller that you don’t realize that it’s just pretending to be a heavy handed commentary on the dangers of a pharmaceutical-crazy society for the first act of the film. Every character is a worse human being than they initially lead on, and every five minutes, a new surprise is thrown into the mix. Hard to do better for your fix of sex, murder and double-crossings.
5) Captain Phillips: Tense, well-acted and remarkably even-handed, Greengrass took a true story that could have easily been lazily political or preachy (of which he has been guilty in the past) and instead made a film about people on both sides of the pirating. The second half lags a little, but the first sixty minutes is among the most captivating hours in film.
4) Philomena: Much funnier, smarter, and surprising than you’d expect from a film about an old Irish lady attempting to visit her long-lost son in America that looked like it existed to give Judi Dench another Oscar. She is fantastic, but the script by co-star Steve Coogan (based on a true story) was the real highlight of the film. Philomena achieves real emotional pathos without resorting to any easy sentimentality. Also you get to hear Judi Dench describe Big Momma’s House 2, which instantly upgrades the film a notch.
3) The Wolf on Wall Street: I know this is extremely blasphemous, but I enjoyed Wolf more than either Goodfellas or Casino (the two other Scorsese films that are rightly being compared to this one for being nearly identical in many key ways). I don’t find any of them particularly insightful in their commentary on the subjects they cover, but they’re all immensely watchable, beautifully made films about ugly people. Wolf is the most compulsively watchable of them all as it’s the strangest, funniest, darkest, most off-kilter of the three. DiCaprio has never been better.
2) Her: What a year for Spike Jonze. He had a terrific small role in the number three film on my list and directed this funny, sweet, original film. There are so many things to like about this film: the cinematography to the script, the acting (it’s phenomenal how much chemistry Scarlett Johansson and Joaquin Phoenix have together considering they’re never actually together on the screen), the soundtrack, everything. Scarlett Johansson (known butcherer of Tom Waits songs) sings a Karen O song (written for the movie) at a key point, and even that’s wonderful. This was the film I most wanted to rewatch right after leaving the theater.
1) Before Midnight: Paving the way for Transformers 27: Optimus Prime vs. Stretch Armstrong, Before Midnight is the first sequel to ever become my favorite film of the year (its amazing predecessor, Before Sunset, is robbed of that honor for 2004 thanks to Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind being released that same year). It trades some of the romanticism of the first two films for a more critical but still warm look at a relationship with a bit more mileage on it. Still, it has just as much wonderful, honest, intelligent dialogue that is wonderfully well-acted as the other two in the series. It’s a true testament to Delpy, Hawke, and Linklater, that a film that is almost entirely just talking is as riveting and emotionally affecting as this one. It’s absolutely fantastic on its own, but is truly, deeply satisfying if you’ve seen all three films. Unless they make a fourth one, the Before series is my favorite trilogy of films ever made (take that Godfather, Star Wars, and Lord of The Rings!).
Allie’s Top 10 Films of 2013:
A word on the year in film: My top ten list is a bit odd, and that is mainly because very few movies truly astonished me this year. In fact, very few movies even made me think twice. I don’t know if it’s because they just weren’t my type of movie (Before Midnight, for example, was good but probably would have been great if I enjoyed the slow-paced, leisurely movie type more). It could be because I had such high expectations (American Hustle and About Time were so built up by the time I saw them that I was somewhat let down). But I did think some movies were fantastic, and although my top ten list makes me look indecisive in terms of genre (I am) and the inclusion of Safe Haven in my top five may discredit me to 90% of the people who are reading this, believe me when I say that I do love movies. This year had no Argo, though, so I’m not sure it’s quite as good as 2012.
10) Now You See Me: I did not expect to like this movie and I wouldn’t watch it again, but it makes my top ten because it managed to surprise me. It wasn’t the stupid, forgettable movie that I pegged it to be—sure, it wasn’t particularly smart or Oscar-worthy, but it held its own.
9) We’re The Millers: Pleasantly surprising. It looks stupid and it is, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t entertaining.
8) Carrie: I was excited for Carrie and although it disappointed to a degree (it was pretty standard stuff), it still had great acting and managed to hold my attention.
7) About Time: Yes, as Bob’s date I did not enjoy this movie too much, but I think in retrospect it was more the disappointment that it wasn’t as wonderful as I thought it would be. Rambling and long, this movie could’ve been edited, but it still managed to make me tear up.
6) Before Midnight: Ah, the sleepy indie film of the year. I haven’t seen Before Sunrise or Before Sunset, but it didn’t matter. The acting and the pure emotions in this movie catapulted it.
5) Insidious Chapter Two: I did not like Insidious at ALL, but, surprisingly, Insidious Chapter Two delivered horror and tension that kept me on the edge of my seat the whole movie. Patrick Wilson is creepy.
4) The Way, Way Back: Another surprise. I will admit that I didn’t see the ending due to a theater evacuation, but up until ten minutes before it was supposed to end, I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. Toni Collette is fantastic; she’s got the mom thing down (re: Little Miss Sunshine, About a Boy).
3) You’re Next: I am on the forever quest of finding fresh horror movies and this one takes the cake. It has twists and turns and unique characters. What more can you ask for?
2) Safe Haven: The Notebook is also one of my top five favorite movies of all time. Don’t judge me.
1) Captain Phillips: Tom Hanks rocked it. See my review here. This movie has high tension, great acting, good screenplay. Not as good as my favorite role of his (run, Forrest, run), but Tom Hanks proves he’s still got it.