The Top 25 Films of 2013

17 Feb

321227Well, we’re finally at my last End of Year installment: The Top 25 films of 2013. Thanks for reading along, and yes, I do know it’s already the middle of February.

25. THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE: A marked improvement over the first installment is carried by the brilliant performance of Jennifer Lawrence.

24. BLUE JASMINE: In a surprisingly hard-hitting film, Woody Allen crafts a small tale of heartbreak and unfulfillment anchored by Cate Blanchett’s performance.

23. ALL IS LOST: It’s just Robert Redford and a boat, and the film still manages to be intense and exciting; Redford’s fantastic, as is the direction.

22. MUD: In McConaughey’s first film of a wonderful year for him, he and Tye Sheridan create a very believable bond that develops over the course of this tense, quietly beautiful movie. Jeff Nichols of “Take Shelter” and “Shotgun Stories” directs.

21. DALLAS BUYERS CLUB: McConaughey and Leto are stellar as Ron Woodroof and Rayon, respectively, and this story about a man’s fight to stay alive is both educative and entertaining.

20. THE WAY WAY BACK: For me, this is one of the most surprising films of the year. It’s endlessly watchable, filled with great performances, and is, quite simply, fun.

19. RUSH: Ron Howard directs “Rush” with a quick hand, barreling forward and delivering a high-octane story about the racing world and the rivalries that populate it. In particular, Daniel Bruhl gives a fantastic performance.

18. THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES: Although the film falters a bit in its third act and is overlong, as a whole, it’s still an ambitious, sprawling, and immersive story that features beautiful cinematography and great work from Gosling and Cooper.

17. PRISONERS: Two words: Roger Deakins. Aside from his brilliant work, we also get an incredibly intense film with some truly disturbing imagery; although it’s a bit overstuffed, the cast and the visuals are fantastic.

16. FRUITVALE STATION: In a heart-wrenching performance, Michael B. Jordan plays Oscar Grant with the perfect amount of care and poise, and the film is 90 minutes of pure emotion: whether it be happiness or devastation, it doesn’t matter.

15. INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS: Joel and Ethan Coen’s story about the circuitous nature of life is expertly handled, full of gorgeous music and anchored by Oscar Isaac’s fantastic performance.

14. GRAVITY: This is a technical feat of epic proportions, and Alfonso Cuarón’s direction is beautiful and intoxicating; it draws you in, as does Sandra Bullock in perhaps her best role to date.

13. CAPTAIN PHILLIPS: This is a tight, incredibly tense movie that–although it gets a bit repetitive in the overlong final act–delivers solid action, character interactions, and a sense of uncertainty that’s present even if you know how everything ends. In addition, Tom Hanks and Barkhad Abdi are just brilliant, and the film’s final scene is transcendent.

12. THE WORLD’S END: The third installment in the Cornetto trilogy is very entertaining, a raucous ride through pubs and alien invasions. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost also give great performances, and there’s an undercurrent of sadness and desperation throughout that they convey beautifully.SpectacularNow11. THE SPECTACULAR NOW: Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley create the best on-screen relationship of the year, outside of maybe Celine and Jesse. These two are revelations, giving mind-blowing performances that captivate you through the devastation, the happiness, and the love. This film is not what you’d expect it to be.

10. FRANCES HA: First off, Greta Gerwig. Just fantastic. This film is endlessly watchable, filled with joyful montages, sad interludes, and slick direction from Noah Baumbach. This is a relatable and quietly beautiful piece.

9. STOKER: This unsettlingly captivating film features great performances from Mia Wasikowska and Matthew Goode, who convey the strange, incestuous relationship with ease. Stoker is  all about atmosphere, and man, does it draw you in.

8. AMERICAN HUSTLE: This film, sadly, is being blasted due to its recent awards surge. That absolutely should not take away from the fact that this hilarious, entertaining caper is one of the best of the year. The cast is near perfect, and David O. Russell takes on the Scorsese style to tell a tale of reinvention, of the Hollywood dream.

7. UPSTREAM COLOR: You may not get this one on the first try, but rewatch it. It’s worth it, and it’s one of those films that reveal more clues to us as it moves along. It rarely feels like it’s overstuffed, and that’s due in part to Amy Seimetz’s great performance and Carruth’s impeccable directing.

6. SHORT TERM 12: Watch this film. It’s near perfection, and while it sadly isn’t getting the recognition it deserves, it’s a  work of art that you won’t regret seeing. Brie Larson can match up to any other actor working right now, and in Short Term 12, she’s transcendent, delivering a performance that’s heartbreaking and beautiful.

theres-a-free-screening-of-the-wolf-of-wall-street-near-goldman-sachs-tomorrow-night.jpg5. THE WOLF OF WALL STREET: Yeah, it’s too long, but yes, it’s also fantastic. Scorsese’s new film features ridiculously entertaining performances from Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill–Kyle Chandler and Matthew McConaughey shout out as well–and it’s all not entirely superficial, either. The film portrays excess without feeling too excessive, and it’s an indictment of society as much as it is an indictment of Jordan Belfort. Also, the yacht scene and Quaaludes set piece are two of the best of the year.

4. THE ACT OF KILLING: Joshua Oppenheimer’s documentary about a group of former murderers is repulsive, compelling, and downright amazing. It’s not just a film about the horrors that occurred; we see the toll the reenactments are taking on those involved, the way the killings have been weighing on their minds. That all culminates in that perfect final scene.

3. BEFORE MIDNIGHT: Celine and Jesse are back, and the third film of the series is just as, if not more, fantastic than the other two. Sadly, Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke aren’t getting the recognition they deserve; the last 20 minutes or so are occupied by an increasingly ugly fight that’s wonderfully acted, and the film as a whole portrays both the beauty and the heartbreak of marriage.

2. 12 YEARS A SLAVE: Steve McQueen’s drama about Solomon Northup is sickening, heart-wrenching, and gorgeously directed and acted. It delivers an unflinching look at Northup’s fight to simply live through these unforgiving conditions, and although the film is anchored by Chiwetel Ejiofor’s performance, Lupita Nyong’o, Michael Fassbender, and more make up an impeccable supporting cast.

1. HER: This is the best film of the year. At its heart, it’s a simple story about love, but it also deftly deals with topics of divorce, isolation, companionship, and our relationship with technology. Johansson and Phoenix make Samantha’s and Theo’s relationship seem completely genuine, and it’s a gorgeous, hilarious ride that they take us on. In addition, people like Amy Adams and Chris Pratt add to this wonderful film, one about the longing and the desperation we feel, but also the joy of living.

Thanks for reading, guys!


-Enough Said


-Drinking Buddies

-Iron Man 3


-Side Effects


-Fast and Furious 6

-In A World…

-Blue Is the Warmest Colour


-Only God Forgives

-Pacific Rim

-White House Down


-This Is the End

-Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues

-The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug

-Spring Breakers

Photo credits: (top), (middle), (bottom)


6 Responses to “The Top 25 Films of 2013”

  1. Harry Rogers February 18, 2014 at 10:19 pm #

    Wait. Let me get this straight. Her is better than 12 Years A Slave? Bahaha

  2. alexraphael May 8, 2014 at 4:26 pm #

    Agree with quite a few of these. Which film disappointed you most?

    • polarbears16 May 8, 2014 at 5:37 pm #

      From the list? And in terms of disparity between anticipation and actual quality, or just the actual quality?

      • alexraphael May 9, 2014 at 3:53 am #

        From the list and overall I guess. In terms of what you were expecting and how it turned out.

      • polarbears16 May 10, 2014 at 12:09 pm #

        -All Is Lost or Dallas Buyers Club, if we’re talking list

        -Gravity or Inside Llewyn Davis, sort of: even though I really liked both of them, there was lots of critical acclaim/hype, and my expectations were set really high. Wouldn’t call them disappointing, though; they’re great films.

        -Pretty disappointed by Only God Forgives, and I also went into Pacific Rim thinking I would have a good time; I didn’t.

        -On the other hand, I was most surprised by The Spectacular Now and Short Term 12.

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