Monday, February 03, 2014

2013 movies... the best part two

So, finally... after the my favorite ten movies of 2012 and before that I watched in 2013... here are my top ten films of 2013 that I saw in the calendar year of 2013... hope that makes sense...

10... Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)... Trumping its predecessor, 2010's Star Trek, (but only by a bit), this sequel jumps into action, and goes full blast nonstop til its very end. Added to the mix is Benedict Cumberbatch--which sounds like a villain's name, only he's the actor--playing Khan. And Khan is a villain... or is he? That's a good question that the movie takes its time to answer. The cast is perfect--Chris Pine as Kirk, Zachary Quinto as Spock, Zoe Saldana as Uhura and so on, the special effects are visually mindblowing and the story is solid. Loved this movie... hence, my top ten.

9... Prisoners (2013)... First... Hugh Jackman is freakin' awesome in this movie. I mean, unbelievable. He's a dad, along with a subdued, yet terrific, Terrence Howard, who's daughters are kidnapped. They find a suspect, Paul Dano, arrested by Jake Gyllenhaal, but can't hold him... so our dads kidnap Paul and torture him for information. And it tosses up the moral question of "What would you do?" that many movies ask but can't pull off--this one does, though. Its quick, its serious, and it just sticks with you... and the cast is superb, with no wasted roles, characters or scenes.

8... World War Z (2013)... Right out of the gate, WWZ tosses you right into the action... Its a not only a zombie movie, its a smart zombie movie, and Brad Pitt is great as a scientist and family man racing around the world to try and find a cure for what ails them. A smart, undead film is a rarity, and I really enjoyed this one. The shot of the zombies climbing the walls in Israel is pretty fantastic.

7... Monsters University (2013)... Being a Pixar fan, it was hard to not like this movie. While I don't consider it one of the best Pixar films around, and as time goes by, I think we'll hold the original Monsters Inc as the superior of the two, Monsters U is just really entertaining. The college aspect of it makes it a bit nostalgic for those of us who look fondly on our own college days, while the newer characters are all kinds of fun to watch and get to know. The "backstory" on some of the characters is fun to watch too, especially when you realize the relationship that Randall (the Monsters Inc bad guy) had with Sully... don't think too much, though, because some of the events here don't quite line up with the events of the first film, leaving you with a "If that is supposed to happen later, then why did they do ____ in this one?" kind of feeling.

But the animation is spectacular, and miles and miles ahead of 2003's Monsters Inc. Great movie, so much fun.

6... Gravity (2013)... There are some movies that you should see on the big screen, like "Star Trek Into Darkness" and "Monsters University"... and then there are some movies that almost require a large screen viewing to understand, to comprehend the scope and magnitude of the feature film you are witnessing. "Gravity" is one of those movies. It is epic, it is grandiose and it is harrowing.

A movie came out a few years ago that totally freaking The Lovely Steph Leann out, and made me all kinds of edgy, that being "Open Water", about two people stranding in the middle of the ocean with sharks all around. This is like that, except in space.

You see two faces, really--George Clooney and Sandra Bullock... and Sandy is the one that remains throughout the entire film. First, and foremost, its a gorgeous film... its a visual masterpiece and is so wonderfully put together. The acting is superb, the story is strong, and at 90 minutes, it doesn't keep going 20 minutes after it should have ended. It knows when its story is done. This is probably one of the top two or three BEST movies of the year--but this is my FAVE films, so its at #6.

5... The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)... Its great when a sequel meets and even surpasses the first in the series, and this one manages that feat. Katniss is back, done so well by Jennifer Lawrence, with her co-horts, the unfortunately named Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) and Haymitch (Woody Harrelson), and through the decisions of a sadistic president of the country, is forced to once again fight in The Hunger Games... this time against previous winners. 

I read all three books in the past year, and "Catching Fire" was my favorite of the three, so it was great to see the movie follow the book so closely... for time's sake, obviously there were chunks cut out and a few things changed for time, but overall, even though I knew the outcome, I was still kept in suspense as it went on.

4... Fast & Furious 6 (2013)... One of the reasons I enjoy "Ocean's Eleven" so much is that you can tell everyone is just having a ball of fun being around each other, eating up the dialogue--which I'm sure much of it was ad-libbed... and its great that they don't take themselves so doggone seriously. Those things, plus the knowledge that you won't be winning any awards with what you are doing, is what makes the last two Fast & Furious movies a blast. 

Vin Diesel, my mancrush The Rock, the returning Michelle Rodriguez (she's not dead! Spoiler!) and the late, great Paul Walker return for some silliness about The Rock needing to stop a crime boss, so he reaches out for Vin's help and gets the gang, like Ludacris and Tyrese Gibson, back together...

But honestly, who cares? The plot is a little predictable and passable, but they know this, delivering funny one-liners and self-reverential humor... and the main star? The action sequences, which are completely absurd, are a blast. And, as I said before, the best part of this, these guys are having FUN... they know this will never be up for any kind of real award, so they wanted to make the most entertaining movie possible... and they succeeded completely. 

3... Saving Mr. Banks (2013)... In our January 5th, 2013, episode of The Deucecast, our movie podcast that I co-host, we did a "Top Ten Movies Most Anticipated 2013 Films, and here was my list: 10-Fast & Furious 6... 9-Iron Man 3... 8-The Hunger Games: Catching Fire... 7-Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (I still haven't seen this)... 6- Star Trek Into Darkness... 5 (tie) The Wolverine & Man of Steel (meh)... 4-Oblivion (blew that call)... 3-Grown Ups 2... 2-Monsters University... and my most anticipated film of 2013... Saving Mr. Banks.

Being a Disneyphile, when I heard about the prospect of this film--Tom Hanks was Walt Disney, it was filmed partly at Disneyland, it told the story of how Mary Poppins was acquired--I was giddy, and the film that I waited all year long for, didn't disappoint.

Emma Thompson is marvelous as the unsettled, impatient PL Travers, the creator and writer of the Mary Poppins books, and rather than be mad at her for being so temperamental, the film shows her as a child, and what she dealt with that grew her up in the manner that she did.

Also wonderful in a supporting role are BJ Novak and Jason Schwartzman, who play the famous Sherman Brothers, and also someone who has gotten only a little notice, Paul Giamatti, as PL Travers personal limo driver. The whole cast is wonderful, and its a family film through and through. 

2... Frozen (2013)... Disney is on a roll. I submit to you their last three animated features.... Tangled... Wreck it Ralph... and now this one. The tale of two princesses, Anna and Elsa, the former being a goofy little girl who grows up to be a goofy, lovesick teenager, the latter being the more responsible one who becomes the queen... only she has ice powers she cannot control.

The music in this film is just tremendous, especially with the Idina Menzel's power bomb "Let It Go", but don't let that overshadow the other songs, especially Olaf the Snowman's whimsical ode to what it must be like in the summertime... and no one wants to tell him what happens when a snowman meets summer. This film is gorgeously drawn, well executed, and even its flaws can be overlooked for how great it actually is. 

1... The Way Way Back (2013)... Talk about a surprise entry outta nowhere... this is the simple story of a boy named Duncan who travels with his mom (Toni Collette), and her skeezy boyfriend (Steve Carell in a completely different, welcome, role) and sister to vacation in Cape Cod. Duncan deals with all the parts of being 15, but also the emotional abuse he gets from Trent, Mom's boyfriend, and his cold sister, plus his Mom who always takes her boyfriend's side of everything.

Friendless, he meets Susanna, a daughter of a neighboring, friendly family, and then ends up visiting--then getting a job with--the local waterpark, Water Wizz.

And this is where the movie really soars... Sam Rockwell is Owen, the guy who essentially takes Duncan under his wing, with co-workers played by Maya Rudolph, and the directors of the films, Nate Faxon and Jim Rash. 

Its a true coming-of-age story filled with fun moments, growing up, remember whens and you cheer for Duncan when his life hits the upswing, and feel for him when he gets knocked down again. And seeing Steve Carell play a bad guy is just wonderful as well.

So there you have it... my favorite 2013 films I actually watched IN 2013... So glad you stuck around, now on to other things!

(#500Words... 1670 written in February, 13,330 to go for #15KinFeb)

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