Tuesday, December 31, 2013

the top 90 movies of 2013

Alrighty. As I type this sentence, I'm very nervous at the work I have ahead of me. Since this is the first full year I've had my MoviePass, I've seen a lot more movies than usual. Some of them I had to struggle to remember even seeing.

Every year I have this awkward problem with my list where I don't know what to do with certain movies that I saw this year, but were really just residuals from last year. I've tried making a separate little list of those, but that's lame. I've also put them in the current year's list with their own number, but it's sorta not fair to the more current movies. This year I'm going to try something different. I'll be putting non-2013 (but movies I saw in the theater this year) on the list, but I'm not giving them a number. I'm just gonna stick them where they would be if they actually had a ranking this year (so in summary, there are a few more than 90 movies on this list).

This also includes special presentations of old movies that I saw in the theater (such as Badlands). Those "classics" will be listed with their year of release in curly brackets ({}). Last year's movies (like The Impossible) I'll just put in normal brackets with the obvious date ([2012]).

Some movies were technically released in 2013 (Drinking Buddies for example), but I required other means of viewing them. The viewing method will be listed in parentheses (()).

Alright, let's get this rambling, incoherent blabberfest over with! Huhhehhehheh!

90 The Rambler
Speaking of rambling and incoherent, this film is very suitably named (I admit that I obviously set that one up). The Rambler appeared at Sundance as one of their midnight movies. Unfortunately my Sundance experience of 2013 was wicked disappointing. I can't imagine a drug that would have made this bizarro road trip movie less boring.

89 The Lords of Salem
I never saw Rob Zombie's other horror movies, but I heard this one was pretty different from those. Hopefully this movie is different from every other movie ever. Hopefully this is the only one. For a subject matter of witchcraft, the story became surprisingly stale very very quickly. I've heard that one of the actors in the movie died before filming was completed so much of the plot had to be re-written. I'm guessing that he died after the first day of filming, because the movie limps into a boring cycle, spinning its wheels and never rally advancing much story to my satisfaction. With its weird imagery it's almost like being trapped in a nightmare where the monster you face is boredom.

88 Not Fade Away
This ode to '60s music begins with a re-enactment of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards meeting up on a train and discussing American blues. After I got musically aroused at where it could go from there, the rest of the movie focuses on a whiny kid in America trying in vain to act cool with his own crappy band. Done by the guy who did The Sopranos. I've never seen one episode and unfortunately for what's considered a very good show, I'll never watch an episode of it after seeing this movie (at least not in the next year).

87 Magic Magic
Here's the one other Sundance movie that I saw this year. I do give the film kudos for Michael Cera branching out just a little in his acting (playing a seriously aloof and disturbing weirdo in far less of a comedic way). The rest is a bit joyless. Not that I'm demanding my movies to be happy or anything, but this joylessness doesn't hold my attention the way better joylessness is handled.

86 Lovelace
Pornography is the subject matter of this Linda Lovelace biopic, so how could it be so dang boring? I'm not sure what the movie was trying to say came across very well. The movie seemed to want to herald this woman for speaking out against the industry, but that was only done in the final few seconds of this film. Instead, it seemed that the movie hoped to exploit the character again and then just mention the woman's crusade at the end. Also, plot-wise, Linda's problems seemed to stem exclusively from her scum of a husband rather than the industry itself (most of whom (including The O.C.'s Adam Brody!) seemed to be pretty cool). I guess the filmmakers were perhaps in a handicap in dealing with a true story)

85 Bad Grandpa
You probably saw previews for this and laughed yourself silly. They show the hidden camera capturing peoples' reactions from the exploits of Johnny Knoxville and that bizarre (and very devoted work ethic it seems) kid he calls his grandson. The actual movie, however, is hindered by cramming an actual story that assumes these two people are actually related for the purposes of the movie. Kind of doesn't make sense that they still film it with a hidden camera format. This is especially lame when Grandpa and Kid are just sitting in the car and talking.

84 Salinger
The documentary on the writer seems like something you might see on A&E or whatever. I really would have appreciated a serious examination of the guy's writing and what it is about the writing that makes it so special. Instead we get a look at a lot of people who treat the man more like a tabloid celebrity to be captured on telephoto. Also there's a "mind-blowing" revelation at the end. Spoiler: J.D. willed that some of his writing will be released in a few years.

83 Jobs
This biopic of Steve Jobs features the clever casting of Ashton Kutcher. Unfortunately from the performance and the writing, I came away from the experience that Jobs wasn't just a jerk (which I've obviously heard is totally true), but was also far less intelligent than a normal person (which I'm pretty sure isn't true).

82 Now You See Me
This stupid magic movie tells us that magic happens, but removes us so far from the machinations that the exhilaration is removed. There's also a remarkable twist that nullified the need for any event in the movie to ever have taken place.

81 The Incredible Burt Wonderstone
This stupid magic movie is slightly funnier than the other magic movie (with a drama-recovering Jim Carrey) along with the added benefit of Olivia Wilde. It's hindered, though, by the obnoxiousest of Steve Carell.

80 Pain & Gain
Michael Bay is the worst in a lot of ways. I was looking forward to this one though. Unfortunately the man handles comedy in an even blunter way than he handles action. I'll throw the word joyless around again. I don't know what nightmare Bay lives in where the events, dialogue and attitude of these characters could elicit a laugh at all. Also, I get a deep vibe of dipping in the dual wells of parody and relate-ability. Watching this thing I couldn't tell when it was parody and when it was supposed to be relatable. Pretty sure they were supposed to be at the same time.

79 Oz the Great and Powerful
Okay, they've made a skewed look at the Oz universe with Wicked and stuff. They also couldn't get the rights to use the imagery from the original movie. The movie was handicapped from the beginning. Perhaps those are signs that something shouldn't be made when it's not even able to achieve a derivative status from the original. Mila Kunis wasn't as good as she usually is. I did like how her tears burned her though. That's somethin'.

78 G.I. Joe: Retaliation
I admit that I haven't seen the first one, so I must not have followed everything. Also, when I was going over my list, I had to stop and think for 30 seconds about whether or not I actually saw this movie. I did. I guess.

77 Kick-Ass 2
I think they did a pretty good job of making a sequel that embodied everything that was the first movie took jabs at.

76 21 & Over
In this drinking comedy the heroes at one point need to drink a gallon of milk. That was my favorite part. I guess the movie wasn't super good.

75 Movie 43
This anthology of comedy is perplexing. Most of it is absolutely terrible, but they somehow got people like Naomi Watts, Hugh Jackman and Kate Winslet to be in it. Pretty much the whole time I watched it, my mind was flooded with whatever kind of blackmail they had on these people. I think Movie 43 is on Netflix now. If you watch it, consider skipping to the sketch with Liev Schreiber and Naomi Watts home-schooling their kid. It's absolutely sickening, but probably my favorite one.

74 Sharknado (television)
I don't need to tell you about this because I know that we all saw it.

73 Girl Most Likely
I was about to write that I feel bad for Kristen Wiig for starring in this sub-par arrested development comedy, but I don't feel bad for her. The movie was so absolutely forgettable that nobody will remember she ever did it.

72 NO
I know this movie is better than #72, but perhaps I caught it when I was in no mood to read Spanish subtitles. The movie details the ad campaign that helped unseat Pinochet (I think) in Chile. I think the advertisers decided to start a revolution by throwing everybody off with non-revolutionary propaganda.

71 Identity Thief
Rex Reed famously got in hot water for his negative review of this movie for seemingly targeting the weight of Melissa McCarthy. In a really weird way he was right. The movie's emphasis is on the woman's appearance rather than her amazing comedy.

70 The To Do List
I don't hate Aubrey Plaza as much as I seem to. I usually tend to think her talents lie in other projects than the ones she tends to star in. Actually, she should never star in anything. She's wonderful as a side character, but her side character persona is just not matched to be the protagonist in anything. Also, this movie has super weak writing that awkwardly struggles to point out that it's a '90s period piece. Also it's gross and not funny. I think this should have appeared in a less flattering spot on the list.

69 We're the Millers
A bunch of comedies in a row. I love Sudeikis, but this one just wasn't that funny either.

68 The Counselor
Fassbender is a terrific leading man and I have a very real crush on him. This movie didn't really say much, though. I think Ridley Scott wanted to try new levels of restraint to say more, but it sort of backfired.

67 Saving Mr. Banks
Emma Thompson is charming and I love her, but I couldn't say I grew to love her character of the person who created the character of Mary Poppins. The whole situation didn't make sense to me. It's the story of how Disney charmed her into giving up the rights to the character for the movie, and every suggestion they brought to the movie was shot down by her. Weirdly everything I know about Mary Poppins is something she hated, so it was impossible to figure out how everybody in the movie was talking about these great books she wrote when all they wanted to do was change everything. It doesn't help that upon further research the real-life woman never came around on liking the movie. Oh, and also every ten minutes it goes into some very tired flashbacks of Colin Farrell in Australia.

66 48 Hour Film Project Awards
Our movie wasn't in this. See #53.

Beasts of the Southern Wild [2012]
This was a big big movie from last year. It looked GORGEOUS, but i'm sad to say that I didn't really get it. Seemed to be about a girl's father who told her to punch things whenever he woke up.

65 Mama
The chick who nabbed bin Laden was in this horror movie about a weird shadowy creature that looks like a Nazgul who kidnaps children. I'd rank it higher, but my soulless nature prevents me from getting scared in movies nowdays.

64 Out of the Furnace
Best part about this movie? There's a part where Woody Harrelson head butts Christian Bale (or maybe it's the other way around). I choose to believe that this is because Matthew McConaughey head butts Christian Bale in Reign of Fire (remember that movie? dragons!) and Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey played brothers in EdTV. That was the best part.

The Impossible [2012]
This was a good movie from last year (maybe, if I remember correctly). There's a storm and it's inspiring.

63 The Bling Ring
The more I think about this movie, the more I think that I find it so unsatisfying because the real-life events were so unsatisfying. Could the line between vanity and lawlessness really be that thin? Isn't there more to it than that? Hermione was really really good in it though.

62 Machete Kills
I think the joke of Machete Kills is how often absurd twists can happen in a single movie. After the fifth comedic twist, the chuckles fade. Robert Rodriguez does give us the courtesy of guiding where the movie is going with a fake trailer for the next trailer so we can brace for the ridiculousness.

61 Grudge Match
The boxing match in this movie is called "Grudgement Day" which would have been a much better title. I think the best reason to watch the movie is to have a drinking game with all the Rocky references (but you have to drink a glass full of raw eggs).

60 Olympus Has Fallen
It's like Die Hard, except it's in a building. Haha. Only I find that funny. It's on Netflix now. The best part of it takes place on the White House lawn. Skip to that part I think.

59 Austenland
I'm technically a man, so really there's no way I'm legally able to put Austenland lower than 45 or so. I rather enjoyed the movie while I watched it, but it kind of grated on me after it sat with me. Keri Russell is wonderful, but a minor cheat in character and editing to misdirect the audience really offended me. I also got the impression that Jennifer Coolidge's ad libs were crammed in rather than organic.

58 Ender's Game
I've thankfully gotten somewhat over one of my favorite childhood books in order to prep me for the simply underwhelming movie adaptation. Obviously over the years I've imagined how the adaptation would be, and hoped certain things wouldn't get cut. Unfortunately, the movie could have stood to lose a few more points and characters than were actually brought to screen. It would have brought a bit more loneliness to the character. A few more low angles would have helped with the child's perspective as well. The stupid music played incessantly through the whole stupid picture so we never got a chance to feel the main character's thoughts without it being driven into us.

57 Pacific Rim
I can't complain. I guess the movie delivered on its giant robots vs. giant monsters premise. Would have been nicer if said battles didn't take place at night so much. With the robots piloted by two synchronized pilots that share a consciousness of sorts, the movie became more like Dance Dance Revolution: The Movie.

56 Man of Steel
I don't know what Snyder did to Michael Shannon, but Zod was waaaay too subdued in this thing. It's very weird, but as much as I make fun of Superman Returns, I honestly miss it a bit after seeing Man of Steel.

55 Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues
Whoops. This shouldn't actually be on here. I only saw the first half hour before the power went out in the theater. The first half hour was way less funny than it thought it was though (exactly like the first movie).

54 Prince Avalanche (Netflix)
This has some pretty good Paul Rudd moments. It's sort of weirdly serious. There may be a sort of dream-like apocalypse going on in the background and that makes things interesting. It's liked more by critics than by normal people. If you only sort of like it, don't worry. That's normal.

53 48 Hour Film Project Group Whatever I Was In
This is that movie contest my friends and I do every year where you get two days to make a film right after learning what the film's requirements are.We didn't make the best of for like the third or fourth year in a row. Yeah, well we sometimes sorta have fun while doing it. I will say that most of the other entries have better technique, but tend to be astonishingly dull. Here's ours.

52 Kon Tiki
I'll be honest. When we met at the Broadway Theatre for the 48 Hour Film Project, I went a few hours early to check my Twitter. Since I had MoviePass I picked a movie to get out of the sun from and this was it. I sort of gather that it's about a perilous journey of a bunch of guys on a boat.

51 The Sapphires
This movie has some charm -- mostly supplied by Chris O'dowd. Australian Aboriginal girls singing '60s Motown. I guess such a premise couldn't possibly go wrong.

Oscar Nominated Documentary Shorts [2012]
The week of the Oscars, the Tower usually shows some of the short films nominated so that us commoners will have some kind of investment in the categories we usually have no idea about. I totally feel that the documentary short that won at the Oscars was nice, but seemed far more contrived than a couple of the other efforts I witnessed.

50 Trance
I'll always give Danny Boyle a pass. This weird modern noir is weirdly sleazy. One of the main plot points is... ah never mind. It's sleazy. Sort of good fun. Sleazy.

49 What Maisie Knew
This little film from the point of view of a little girl caught between a vindictive custody battle had the vision that Ender's Game should have had. Steve Coogan is great. He's always great. It's always nice to meet a new crush. This time it's Joanna Vanderham.

Promised Land [2012]
This one's a good-ish movie I saw last year. The guy from the office smirks a lot. There is a weird twist that's fortunate for the protagonist to realize he's the protagonist.

Life of Pi [2012]
The real dramatic telling of this movie was spoiled for me when we read this for book club, but I didn't actually read the book so I had someone tell me the dramatic part. I get the feeling that I needed to get that part fresh (at least once) to really latch onto the story.

48 In a World
My good friend Jeremy helped me get annoyed with Lake Bell, of whom I had no quarrel with before our conversation. He can really be a jerk like that. The movie is charming enough, but kind of needed someone more magnetic than Bell to prove the point that girls are just as engaging as boys at certain things (in this case, talking over a movie trailer).

47 Monsters University
This wasn't a super good movie from Pixar, but hey, we got way more than our money's worth out the place over the years. I really would have loved loved loved it though if the Steve Buscemi character stayed good the whole time, so his character in Monsters Inc. would be inexplicably bad. It wouldn't be super unbelievable. Lots of people I went to college with are inexplicably evil these days.

46 Oblivion
Standard sci-fi film. I didn't mind the visuals as the sci-fi stereotypes rolled out.

Badlands {1973}
This is the first Terence Malick film from forever ago. I saw it at the Tower at a late night throwback weekend showing. The thing looked beautiful, but I can't say I found it engaging. Tragically, the great Terrence Malick showed me my least favorite weekend Tower movie of the year.

45 Captain Phillips
I don't like the title. There I said it. The story happens over a few days so the title shouldn't sound like it's some guy's life story. The movie is plenty good, but there is one issue I have plot-wise. I haven't researched it, so maybe it happened that way in real life -- unfortunately it doesn't seem to make sense to me in the movie. That's another case on this list of real life interfering with good storytelling.

44 Thor: The Dark World
This movie is okay. I'm playfully on the comic book movies bandwagon. Now we can legitimately call them comic book movies because they're behaving like actual comic books -- with their own plot lines that occasionally carry over into an expanded universe. I can safely say that Thor is the plotline I'm least interested in, yet a nice vacation into Marvel-land is always time I enjoy.

43 A.C.O.D.
This is the last movie Adam Scott can safely get away with his stressed out double-take face.

42 The Conjuring
Went to this with my boss. We were both hoping for scarier. I can see why many people like this one more than Paranormal Activity and Insidious, but I sort of feel that this one is a (successful) combination of the two, but lacks the extremes in tone that the other two achieve.

41 Much Ado About Nothing
It's cool to put Shakespeare in a modern setting, but there's always the danger of the language seeming more out of place than usual. I think the cast got halfway there. The modern home environment made it a bit more accessible, but at the same time the translation needed to be hammered down a little more.

40 Closed Circuit
This one made my top 40 because it was fun to learn a little bit about British law. There's actually a time in the trial where some of them ceremoniously remove their wigs. I'd also like to make out with Rebecca Hall. I like to hope that we'll have a delightful laughter-filled discussion for a good couple of hours after we make out too.

39 Frances Ha
My buddy Jeremy also made me dislike this movie a little after discussing it with him. That's fine, and the movie's still fine. The film is really a young woman's Woody Allen, which I don't get angry about. I tend to give movies points for displaying anxiety on the screen. The most refreshing aspect is that the movie focuses on a platonic relationship on the verge of breaking up, which is a refreshing perspective to look at.

38 Iron Man 3
Shane Black has a weird fascination with Christmas. That's fine, because it was nice to have some wintery scenes in this summer blockbuster. I remember liking it, but I don't remember too much about it. I'm kind of thinking that in a few years the reviled Iron Man 2 may possibly be more fondly remembered.

37 The Kings of Summer
Alison Brie is the main kid's sister and I almost think it's fake that he didn't want to make out with his own sister in the movie. I'm just saying that Alison Brie is attractive, that's all. The movie is a coming of age charmer with the weird short bully from Ender's Game playing the weird nice kid here (which is jarring).

36 Stoker
Visually arresting, this movie didn't completely grab me. The camera did some amazing things, but I'm not sure if the problem is because the style of the director (the Asian who did the original Oldboy I think) doesn't translate well into an American setting or if it was written by the star of Prison Break.

35 Fast & Furious 6
This is by far the fourth best of the franchise. My favorite part is how the plane taking off seemed to be on a circular racetrack for 17 minutes.

Oscar Nominated Animated Shorts [2012]
My favorite animated short had to do with a sort of macabre stop motion concept of a guy making guacamole. Go look it up. Trust me, it's alright. The disney one was pretty astounding of course. That one got the Oscar.

34 Antiviral (Netflix)
It's nice to know that when David Cronenberg dies, his son is right there to pick up the mantle of king of body horror. This movie is about a sad cough-y future where normal people pay top dollar for celebrity disease.

33 Enough Said
James Gandolfini is very huggable in this and he and Julia Louis-Dreyfuss have a wonderful time of things. If I were Julia Louis-Dreyfuss I probably wouldn't be so quick to advise the neighbor girl to lose her cherry though.

32 Sightseers
I barely remember this, but this one's a great combination of awkward social situations and psychotic horror.

31 The Wolverine
This is easily the second-worst movie called Wolverine. I really dig how the whole movie took place in Japan. I liked that sort of intimacy. The other refreshing thing was how he wasn't betrayed by one of his girlfriends even though I was totally expecting it to happen.

30 Elysium
Let's be honest. The story was shallow and just plain sucked. Jodie Foster and some of the other acting was atrocious, but at least it was entertainingly atrocious. Lots of people said similar negativity for the action sequences, but I actually really dug them.

Dazed and Confused {1993}
I saw this movie for the first time at the Tower. Can you believe that? This might be the final high school period piece. For some reason, making a film that calls back to 2001 doesn't seem to work.

29 2 Guns
I wouldn't even say acting goes a long way. More importantly, charisma goes a long way and Denzel and Marky Mark have a lot of that. Well, Marky Mark has it half the time. When he's asked to have fun, I truly believe it. On the other hand when he needs to be serious, it really does seem like he's talking to animals.

28 Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain
Stand up comedy special. Yes, stand up comedy specials are films, especially when they're shown at the cinema. Little dude is pretty funny. I was kind of hoping that more people would be yelling back at the screen when I saw this, but I went pretty late in its run.

27 Side Effects
The twist halfway through this movie is just about the hilariousest turnaround ever. It's like you're getting a lecture on the pharmaceutical companies and then the chick giving the lecture takes off her glasses and shakes her hair. The movie strangely has fun with both sides of it.

26 World War Z
No zombie movie can ever be in my top ten again. This one did some things right though. Not everything, but I certainly liked it more than anticipated. No boredom and it mixed things up with a loud zombie genre toward the beginning and loud zombie genre toward the end.

25 Rifftrax Live: Night of the Living Dead
Zombies again. These movie commentary sessions are movies in themselves! I almost didn't include them but the hilarity of the Rifftrax guys pointing out that The Night of the Living Dead "is really more of a carpentry movie" is pretty hilarious.

24 Rifftrax Live: Starship Troopers
This one was slightly more funny than the Night of the Living Dead one.

23 The Place Beyond the Pines
Interesting structure, with really the three acts becoming more like three short stories with small links between the three. They progressively get worse, but there's some good stuff in there.

22 Star Trek Into Darkness
As a Star Trek nerd I'm not angry because they didn't abide by canon, I'm mad that they didn't stray from it enough. I've said PLENTY on this one in Facebook posts and SEVERAL podcasts. So I'll only conclude with this: it's awesome that Sherlock stole the villainous purple duster before he got in his epic fist fight.

21 Only God Forgives
When I first saw this disturbing nightmarish cesspool of a film, I thought "Huh. Yeah, I totally understand why this was totally boo'ed at Cannes." But then this sucker stayed with me. Those brilliant fluorescent lights and wicked top-down fist fights are wicked cool. It's a nightmare, but it's sleek.

20 Don Jon
I'm impressed with Joseph Gordon-Leavitt for choosing a weirdly porny topic for his first movie. I'm more impressed that he took a few scathing shots at both sides of the relationship equations.

Anna Kerenina [2012]
This curiosity from Joe Wright is... well, check it out. There's a bizarre experimental filming technique involving bringing the sprawling epic into more of a play -- with some very delicate camera work.

Cloud Atlas [2012]
Very long, but doesn't seem long. Hugh Grant's best acting ever. Weird, but if it's too weird, don't worry, it switches to a different storyline plenty rapidly.

Flight [2012]
A fantastic 2012 film that I take to mean accepting responsibility no matter who's looking after you.

Amour [2012]
I hated watching every second of this, but every second of it was agonizingly beautiful. Please see it so you understand and also so I don't have to be the only one to deal with it.

Wreck-It Ralph [2012]
You've seen this. It's good, right?

 The Terminator {1984}
Another weekend at the Tower! The most arresting and the most telling thing James Cameron ever did. The tight budget only helps him rely on tension rather than theatrics.

19 The Spectacular Now
I really loved the angle toward realism in this picture. All the kids aren't fully innocent or villainous, but they're full characters. Sure, Miles Teller has a weird face, but the kid is genuine. I wasn't blown away as I watched this, but it was a slow build and it certainly sat well with me.

18 The Wolf of Wall Street
This was the final movie I saw of 2013. I sort of wish the movie was a bit more of a takedown piece than it was. I'm pretty sure Scorsese wants us to see this immoral behavior and take issue with it, but the movie sort of has the opposite vibe. In the meantime though, the movie certainly clips along (at three hours!) and there are lots of funny moments.

17 American Hustle
Ultimately, I think I prefer the faux-Scorsese movie to the actual Scorsese movie. American Hustle does hurt itself slightly by being far more character-driven than plot-driven, which tends to make it not fit together as well as desired. However, the '70s vibe gushes out all over the place crowning with Jennifer Lawrence's perfectly coifed curls (and Amy Adams' aversion to any sort of fabric on her front torso). The surprising highlight is Louis C.K. as the most undeserving victim in any movie ever.

16 The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
And two Jennifer Lawrences in a row! So far, I'd say the movies are better than the books. A real weird combination of dystopian sci-fi and disturbing fantasy is really apparent in this Panem world. Nice to see the camera's somewhat stopped having a seizure as well.

15 20 Feet From Stardom
This is that flick about back up singers. I sort of wish the movie did a better job of emphasizing that we don't need to think of any kind of singer on some kind of elite scale in comparison with lead singers. On the other hand, the movie goes through some awesome musical history with some great interviews. It's always nice to hear brilliant songs differently after hearing them for so many years.

14 Dallas Buyer's Club
McConaughey and Leto were both terrific in crazy transformative ways. The history of the AIDS epidemic was very interesting too. (While I waited for this movie to start, I caught 20 minutes of Blue Is the Warmest Color. Hoo boy. Let's just say when those chicks were finally finished, the audience in the theater erupted into applause.)

13 About Time
The preview for this thing bugged me, but I saw this one anyway. Silly sci-fi concept aside, the film adequately tugs at the 'ol Love, Actually heartstrings and gets you to smile and look forward to love, life and the future. Ugh. That sounded cheesy. Somehow, the cheese in About Time works.

12 The Heat
Is it weird that I find Sandra Bullock very funny? Well, Melissa McCarthy is definitely funny, and I laughed. It's a comedy. What else do I need to say? Oh, but see here's an example where McCarthy is actually used right (unlike Identity Thief).

 Zero Dark Thirty [2012]
It's a movie that came out last year. It won lots of awards. You know! Bin Laden!

11 Drinking Buddies (iTunes)
I had to actually seek this one out online because I liked the idea of the concept and don't think it ever played here. The movie focuses on the tricky work relationships that blur the lines between personal and professional. We tend to spend more time with people at work than people at home and there are consequences and pluses. The movie didn't disappoint and actually explored further than I anticipated. Also, Olivia Wild is sharp on her toes and is pretty great in this.

Argh. Two minutes to midnight. I'm posting as-is right now.

10 Upstream Color
This mind-bender is very confusing, but fortunately it doesn't so much ask what you think of it, it asks more how you feel about it. I suppose the strange sci-fi nature is just an excuse for us to consider the positives and negatives of how our personalities wrap around each other over time.

9 This Is the End
I really laughed at lots of this Armageddon comedy. Kind of weird that they used such a big concept as an excuse to get a bunch of buddies friend-sult one another, but it really works when they get going.

8 The World's End
Ultimately, though, THIS Armageddon friend comedy is the one I respect more. Edgar Wright's extremely meticulous direction and layered structure brings his comedy up to a respectable as well as hilarious level. Also, the guy actually has a lot to say and even within the crazy bombast, he says the most very subtly. I'm looking forward to seeing this one again.

Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adaptation {1989}
This little flick really blew my mind. In the 80s a couple of kids saw Raiders of the Lost Ark and decided to do a shot for shot remake of it. You can only see this when one of them tours around with it. It's kind of considered a rarity in the movie festival scene or something. Anyway, it's amazing. I thought the original movie was amazing until I saw these kids doing the same things for real (lighting themselves on fire, getting dragged behind a truck, etc.). It blows my mind that they made this thing way before the YouTube world. It's corny of me to say, but it's a lovely testament to the young passion of filmmaking or passion for anything, really.

7 Blue Jasmine
Woody Allen! I'm a big fan. I doubt a ton of people would be super fans of this film, though. We're sort of asked to take pity on a conceited snob who fell out of a bit of money. The film starts light, but like many Allen movies, the small bits of lightness really start weighing down in the end.

6 Inside Llewyn Davis
I wouldn't have been able to tell this is a Coen brothers movie without the opening credits. I can't say I even know what this movie is about without just saying it's about a week of this abrasive musician's life. Usually if someone is a jerk in a movie I tune out and lose interest in the character. I'm often surprised when other people are able to retain their sympathies for such people. In this case, though, I guess I could relate to how much of a jerk this guy is. I still had the sympathy. I can totally see most people not feeling for the guy, though. I'm not sure what that means. I guess when nobody's perfect, they relate to different imperfections. The music, though. The music really is quite wonderful.

5 Mud
McConaughey. He's doing some great stuff lately. I bet he's one of the happiest people in America right now because he's an actor who's quite suddenly in a position to land all these really fun and different roles. It's a smaller part, but Michael Shannon is really awesome in this movie as well (as a guy who's much cooler than Zod). But really, here's another coming of age story and I truly believed these kids' world.

4 Gravity
As one tweet put it, it should be called Grabbin' At Handles: The Movie. I'm sorry if you didn't see this in IMAX, because I doubt it can be seen any other way. Lots of people say that for blockbusters of all types, but this one's different. The scale required is especially important. I know there were some complaints about the writing of this one, but the film obviously needs to be felt and not heard.

3 The Way Way Back
Okay, fine this is my last movie on the list involving a boy's coming of age. Sam Rockwell is his usual charming self, but the movie does an amazing job in chipping away at the charm for some different and less clown-ish layers. Steve Carell is wonderful as the villainous stepdad. I want him to do more stuff like this because I'll go on a shooting spree if he does more of his charming moron schtick. Anyway, this movie was such a pleasant summer spectacle in a sea of bright noise.

2 12 Years A Slave
Okay, on one of my podcasts I think I complained about this movie and those complaints are still valid. The 19th century dialogue often sounds a bit unnatural with many of the actors and there might be a little too much lingering on a few dramatic torture methods. But the movie's great. Obviously. I may be cold in saying this, but what I remember most are the visuals of the thing. They're very mesmerizing. I think most of it takes place in Louisiana and it almost looks like a Dr. Seuss land. The most dramatic aspect is the non-drama. The way the movie shows life carry on in the midst of atrocity is far scarier than pausing for a swelling of emotion.

1 Before Midnight
There you have it. You should have guessed Before Midnight would be at the top. This thing wrecked me in a way I don't even know. Is there any other third movie in a trilogy that's actually better than the two that preceded it? I'm amazed that the intriguing combination of tight structure and loose improvisation yields something so natural I actually feel the weight of it in my seat. This movie has the added benefit over the other two of drawing on a further backstory, as well as more characters for more viewpoints. I'm trying to sound smart here, but I can't really. Before Midnight does it right though. Jesse and Celine's world turns on a dime so easily. It seems so natural and so obvious. And that scares the hell out of me.

Hey! As an added bonus for making it all the way through the list here is the ticket stub breakdown of the theaters I visited in the past year. Some movies I saw twice.

Cinemark Farmington: 1
Majestic Cinemas Idaho: 1
Park City Egyptian Theatre: 1
Park City Jim Santy Auditorium: 1
Park City Library: 1
Thanksgiving Point: 1
Wynnsong at Riverwoods: 1
Brewvies: 3
Jordan Commons: 3
Legacy Crossing: 3
Sugarhouse Movies 10: 3
Valley Fair Megaplex: 5
Tower Theatre: 9
Gateway: 14
Broadway: 26
Century 16: 29


Blogger Saule Cogneur said...

That's a lot of cash on movies! Thanks for posting your list as always. I disliked Before Sunset, so I didn't think this year's installment would be worth it. Maybe I'll reconsider.

January 01, 2014 9:13 PM  

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