Hi. It’s me. Don’t lets make a big deal out of this. Senior year has been demanding even more time from me.
2013 was sort of all over the place. Granted, my experience is influenced by the fact that I was in London for the first few months of the year, and was privy to some movies that weren’t gonna make it stateside quite yet. I’m pretty sure I saw Trance well before all of y’all. That being said, it wasn’t that strong. And then the summer sucked! For every Iron Man 3 or The Worlds End, we got 3 Hangover Part IIIs, Grown Ups 2s, or The Purges. It all picked up in the end though, and the slew of awards films ended up being one of the strongest in recent memory. So strong that it is pretty difficult to say which film is the frontrunner for Best Picture.
I know I missed the train for all the year end lists, but I managed to catch a cab, and then a jet ski, and then a stage coach, and I might have been parachuting as well, and I made it to the party just in time for the Oscars tonight (which I won’t be watching, cuz senior year). The point is, here are The Black Hole’s picks for the best movies of 2013.
RUNNERS UP: SPRING BREAKERS (For… reasons), STAR TREK: INTO DARKNESS (For that Sherlock guy), ELYSIUM (For Neil Blomkamp on a big budget), TRANCE (For Danny Boyle’s infectious style and its twisty, twisty plot), THE GREAT GATSBY (For the lesser half of Leo’s banner year), ONLY GOD FORGIVES (For that fist fight and those colors), THE COUNSELOR (For it’s rejection of mainstream cinematic tropes and McCarthy’s sensationally lurid script)
15. THIS IS THE END: While not the best or funniest end of the world comedy to come out in 2013, This is the End coasted high on the chemistry of it’s cast and it’s enjoyably meta nature. It’s always fun to see A listers take the piss out of each other. It’s all fun to see them die.
14. MAN OF STEEL: Yeah, Man of Steel had problems. Tons. It’s completely humorless, unnecessarily violent, and maybe it shits all over the source material. I don’t know. But the good of Man of Steel far outweighed the bad. I still appreciate how it treated Superman’s origin as a sci-fi movie rather than a superhero movie. I love how it spent a hefty amount of time on Clark’s struggle to reconcile the lessons of his two fathers. And Michael Shannon is incredible in it.
13. PRISONERS: In what was maybe the best performance of the year, Hugh Jackman was utterly convincing as a father willing to do unspeakable things to locate his kidnapped child. It would have been so easy to turn his character into a heartless villain or a cliche, all American hero, but Jackman’s talent, along with a brilliant screen play, smartly capitalized on the relatable nature of his actions turning him to a sympathetic monster and providing him a hell of an arc.
12. THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE: Damn it, Jennifer! Just damn it! Why do you have to be so good in everything that do you? Catching Fire wisely jumped on what was good about the first Hunger Games and did away with a lot of its problems. No shaky cam bullshit here. No dodgy CGI. The script, direction, acting, and world building are all much more confident, further drawing us into this violent landscape.
11. THE WORLD’S END: The superior of the two end of the world comedies, the final installment in the Three Flavors Cornetto Trilogy tackled Invasion of the Body Snatchers action and suspense, while taking the opportunity to provide Simon Pegg with what is arguably the best character of his career. Hilarious, exciting, and surprisingly thought provoking and touching, The World’s End brings this odd trilogy to a close with flying colors.
10. IRON MAN 3: Robert Downey Jr. and Shane Black should just make every movie together from now on. Iron Man 3 is the best Iron Man movie, and the best Marvel movie that isn’t The Avengers. Everything in it works wonderfully.
9. AMERICAN HUSTLE: DAMN IT, JENNIFER!!! Maybe David O Russell is losing his touch, what with him making a movie every year now, but damn if he still can’t rivet a viewer with his brutally straightforward dialogue, his great direction of actors, and his slick sense of style. But seriously, DAMN IT, JENNIFER!!!
8. STOKER: You know it’s a strong year where this ends up in the back half of my top 10. Park Chan Wook’s first foray into the English language was a delicious slice of Hitchkockian bravura, teeming with menace and full of secrets just waiting to be dug up. Hell of a soundtrack as well.
7. MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING: It’s Joss Whedon. It’s Joss Whedon’s friends. It’s one of Shakespeare’s most enjoyably daffy comedies. How could this possibly not be an absolute riot?
6. CAPTAIN PHILLIPS: Paul Greengrass sure knows how to make a convincing thriller. With a revelatory performance by newcomer Barkhad Abdi and the always great Tom Hanks in the title role, Captain Phillips side steps its obvious pitfalls and becomes a well balanced tale of survival on both sides. Great stuff.
5. FROZEN: I feel like the current hysteria around Frozen only has to do with it’s popularity as a good time at the movies right now. Once it inevitably wins its Oscars and fades from the public’s immediate consciousness, only then will we really be able to grasp how good this movie really was. Taking the Disney princess formula huge leaps and bounds forward with its imperfect heroines, modern day approach to romance, and powerful message of self acceptance over conformity, it heralds in what is hopefully a new era of dominance from the house of mouse. And yeah, “Let It Go” is a bonafide showstopper.
4. THE WOLF OF WALL STREET: It has never, I repeat, never been so enjoyable to spend three hours watching good actors behaving so incredibly bad. In the first hour, Leonardo DiCaprio and friends do more depraved, fucked up shit than in most movies altogether. A flat out hilarious comedy, a biting commentary on the stock trade and Wall Street in general, it’s one of Martin Scorcese’s boldest, wildest films. It’s also one of his very best!
3. 12 YEARS A SLAVE: It’s impossible to deny the raw power of this movie. Like Schindler’s List, it impeccably captures a dark time in history and doesn’t shy away from showing us the brutal details. Masterfully acted and beautifully shot, it’s an effecting piece of film the likes of which hasn’t come out in some time.
2. PACIFIC RIM: Hell yes, Pacific Rim is in my top three. No other movie this year was as unapologetically enjoyable in its quest to deliver on exactly what it promised, in this case, giant robots vs. giant monsters. Anyone could have made this movie cool, but throw in a filmmaker like Guillermo del Toro with a real love for fantasy and science fiction, and what you’ll get is positively revolutionary, an action movie for the growing global complex, where the heroes are multi national, where the setting isn’t in America, and where people of all creeds and dispositions are given a chance at heroism. On top of this, it never forgets why the audience is there, and heaps on the awesome moments one after the other. A movie where using an oil tanker as a baseball bat isn’t the coolest moment is a movie worth celebrating.
1. GRAVITY: But yeah, Gravity gets my top vote, for more or less the same reason Avatar did a few years ago. Were there, objectively, better movies in 2013? Most definitely? But did any of the people who made those movies invent a whole new way to make movies? No. They did not. Visually, Gravity is one of the most jaw dropping experiences I’m likely ever to have in a theater. The first time I saw it in theaters, every muscle in my body was tensed up, so utterly absorbing and believable was Alfonso Cuaron’s filmmaking. And while the gripes about the story are true to an extent, it is still told with grace and is still possessed of a soul. In a year full of memorable (for better or worse) movies, Gravity managed to out do them all in its first 15 minutes. The rest of its run could have just been a coast. And it wasn’t.