Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, Sleepy Hollow, NY
About Ryan:

I'm a teacher and writer living in Warren, PA. I love obsessing over books, movies, music, and television, and occasionally writing about it. My first short story "Writer's Block" was published in The Big Book of Bizarro from Burning Bulb Publishing.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Best Movies of 2013 (And Honorable Mentions)

I love movies.  I love writing and talking about movies.  This post is an attempt to expand on my annual list of favorite movies I compile at the end of every year.  Usually I simply post my top ten on Facebook with no context.  This time, I wanted to try and say a little something about why a particular movie made my list and also drop a few honorable mentions that didn't quite make the cut but came awfully close.  I have neither the time nor the means to see every movie that opens in a given year, so the criteria for my list is merely that they were released in 2013 and I saw them in 2013.  Here goes!

The Best

The World's End - Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg's capper for their "Cornetto Trilogy" is every bit as funny, exciting, and touching as Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz.  Seeing Pegg and Nick Frost flip-flop their traditional roles is particularly fun.

Inside Llewyn Davis - Of all the "Oscar buzz" movies I saw toward the end of 2013, this is the one that stayed with me long after I left the theater.  The Coen Brothers craft a character study full of great music and compelling metaphor.  I'm still thinking about the cat.

The Wolf of Wall Street - DiCaprio and Hill are riveting.  It might be overly long, but this one is so entertaining it's not a problem.  It's hilarious and infuriating at exactly the same time, showcasing Scorsese at the top of his game.

American Hustle - There are so many good performances in American Hustle I started to lose count: Amy Adams, Jennifer Lawrence, Christian Bale, Jeremy Renner, Bradley Cooper.

Blue Jasmine - Admittedly, I've only recently become a fan of Woody Allen, so there's a lot of catching up to do.  This film has one of the best performances I saw in 2013: the stunning Cate Blanchett for the win.  Plus, it features a surprisingly dramatic turn for Andrew Dice Clay.

Frances Ha -  Greta Gerwig, as Frances, delivers a monologue about what it's like to truly be in love toward the middle of this film that floored me, so much so that I had to rewind and watch it multiple times.  Simply a beautiful screenplay from Noah Baumbach and an excellent performance from Gerwig.

Gravity - The single most visually stunning movie of the year, Gravity deserved to be seen in the biggest theater possible, while also being the rare film that demanded to be seen in 3-D.  From the extended opening shot through Sandra Bullock's harrowing, claustrophobic fight for survival, I wasn't impressed by a film in 2013 more than I was by Cuaron's latest masterpiece.

Upstream Color - Shane Carruth's follow-up to his challenging indie sci-fi cult classic Primer is every bit as challenging, while being a little less low-budget.  Gorgeous, mesmerizing, and puzzling (in a good way), Upstream Color is the most singular movie I saw in 2013.

This Is The End - For sheer volume of laughs per minute, This Is The End wins hands down against any other 2013 comedy.

Evil Dead - Being a movie fan as long as I have, I've made peace with the fact that remakes will happen and most likely they'll be of genre movies I love.  I try and measure each one on its own merits.  That being said, Evil Dead is one of the best examples of a horror remake I've seen.  Outlandish, practical effects gore? Check.  Appropriate homages to the original?  Check.  Killer, fist-pump ending?  Check.  Too much fun for horror hounds.

Honorable Mentions

The Way Way Back
Pacific Rim
Iron Man 3
Side Effects
Europa Report
You're Next
A Place Beyond the Pines

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