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2013 movie recap – Robots, racism and the Lone Ranger

Posted by on December 28, 2013 – 4:19 pm

Bruce Dern in “Nebraska”.

As another fun year at the movies comes to a close it’s time to look back and reflect on what we’ve learned and what we’ve seen on the silver screen in the year 2013. There were films we wish we never saw, some that we’ll never forget, and some that blew us out of our seats, but if there is one word that sums up the best movies of this year, it’s “Americana.”

Made of America – Movies in 2013 depicted a wide swath of the American experience, from August: Osage County to Nebraska, American Hustle to Dallas Buyers Club, Inside Llewyn Davis to The Wolf of Wall Street, each of these films is uniquely American and is a masterpiece in its own right; but the one film that stands above all of these is 12 Years a Slave. It is an outstanding artistic achievement and tells an important true story from an ugly chapter of our country’s history. In my opinion it’s one of the best and most significant movies ever made and is easily the best film of the year.

The Lone RangerLonely and Overlooked – There is one film that took an unfair beating in the press and the box office – this year’s John Carter, if you will – and that whipping boy is The Lone Ranger. A lot of the people bad-mouthing this film never actually saw it, but its well-publicized bloated budget was like blood in the water for industry sharks who counted this pulp hero out before the movie ever hit the theaters, and the snowball effect of its negative publicity led to its downfall. It’s a shame because this is a very good movie that tells the Ranger’s story from Tonto’s perspective and addresses some of the injustices brought against the Native American peoples. I strongly encourage you to ignore how much this production cost or how much it made at the box office and give this very entertaining movie a try on video.

Another overlooked film this past year is Turbo, which I absolutely loved and is the animated movie of the year in my book. The absurd story of the little-snail-who-could had me cracking-up and on the edge of my seat rooting for the hero to win the Indianapolis 500. I even loved this film’s poster tagline, “He’s fast, they’re furious.” Awesome!

For horror fans You’re Next and The Conjuring are two that, on the surface, sound run-of-the-mill and incredibly lame, but I was shocked at how good these two genre films were; and in the case of The Conjuring, this old school ghost story scared the Goobers right out of me. Be sure to seek these two out on video if you missed them at the theater.

If lost-at-sea adventures are your thing, you’ll want to make sure you didn’t miss All is Lost and Kon-Tiki (the 2012 Norwegian film that didn’t open in the United States until May, 2013.) Captain Phillips made a bigger splash than those other two movies, but they are all three some of the best pictures of the year.

Pacific RimRobots Rule – Robots were huge at the movies this year, and we’re not just talking the “jaegers” from Pacific Rim. Both Iron Man 3 and The World’s End were very robocentric as well. And then there are the relentless and deadly robotic drones in Oblivion (specifically number 166) and the ruthless robot police in Elysium (especially the snarky parole officer bot.) Although she’s not a robot per se, the artificially intelligent operating system portrayed by Scarlett Johansson in Her made that film one of the best of the year. (Her is a 2013 film but does not open in wide release until Jan. 10, 2014 – catch our full review then.) All in all I’d say that our synthetic brothers (and sisters) were pretty well represented in 2013.

Hold on Tight – For me, far and away the best genre film this year was Gravity. This is an amazing movie and one that had me on the edge of my seat for nearly its entire running time. I don’t care what Neil DeGrasse Tyson says, this film had me holding on to my theater chair and my wife’s arm with a death-grip, lest we be cast adrift into the endless void of space. Seeing this movie is most likely as close as you’ll ever come to being an astronaut — although you might change that career choice after watching this amazing film.

2013 Movie Lists – What’s an end-of-year recap without lists? These are the best and worst films of the year 2013 (at least in my humble opinion – which scientists have proven is 92.7% accurate 72.9% of the time.) I judge a movie on its acting, direction, cinematography, music, and its story/script – but most of all on its overall entertainment value. (I.e. Was I entertained?) That’s why on my list you’ll see the excellent animated movie Turbo, but not the also very excellent film The Wolf of Wall Street. The former was a ton of fun and the latter just disturbed me. There were a lot of really good movies this past year, and it was hard to leave a few of them out (like Iron Man 3), but nevertheless, let’s get to it! (Click the links to see full reviews.)

12 Years a Slave2013 Top Ten Films (Overall):
  1. 12 Years a Slave
  2. Gravity
  3. Nebraska
  4. Her (see full review Jan. 10, 2014)
  5. American Hustle
  6. Kon-Tiki
  7. Dallas Buyers Club
  8. Saving Mr. Banks
  9. August: Osage County (see full review Jan. 10, 2014)
  10. Captain Phillips
Gravity2013 Top Ten Genre Films:
  1. Gravity
  2. Her (see full review Jan. 10, 2014)
  3. Turbo
  4. Despicable Me 2
  5. Oblivion
  6. The Conjuring
  7. Warm Bodies
  8. Star Trek Into Darkness
  9. Pacific Rim
  10. The World’s End
Getaway2013 Top Ten Worst Films:
  1. Getaway
  2. The Purge
  3. Spring Breakers
  4. Now You See Me
  5. The Host
  6. Runner Runner
  7. Carrie
  8. White House Down
  9. The Fifth Estate
  10. Dead Man Down
Six you should see (that you might have missed):

If your favorite film is missing or if you think I’ve got it all wrong, you’re welcome to let us know about it in our comments section below – or feel free to share your own “Top Ten.”