Top 10 Movies of 2013

Photo Credit:

After the onslaught of quality filmmaking we got in 2012, this year had a lot to live up to. All considering, it performed fairly well. Without the looming election, politics sat on the sidelines this year for some more ambitious filmmaking (the same thing can be said about 2009). That’s probably the best word to describe the films that make this list: ambitious. Here are my ten favorite films of the year.


Photo Credit: Nebraska

A film that required more time than it took to walk out of the theater to really sink in, Nebraska has really grown on me as one of the year’s best. With it’s startlingly real portrayal of growing older and how our relationships change, the film is oddly all about legacy, something we may not necessarily think about when caring for a loved one. That makes this one of the most stirring films of the year.


Photo Credit: The Conjuring

Easily the best horror movie of this decade so far, The Conjuring was an old-fashioned ’70s fright fest. Both a simple haunted house story and an engaging look at the lives of paranormal investigators, there was not a better surprise this summer than this fetal position inducing horror film that will surely inspire nightmares for years to come.


Photo Credit: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

The follow up to The Hunger Games was more thought provoking and engaging than its predecessor. Jennifer Lawrence still owns the role of Katniss while the supporting cast perfectly rounds out the story. The action this time around was more exciting to watch unfold while the themes of rebellion ran true. Bring on Mockingjay.


Photo Credit: The Place Beyond the Pines

This small-town epic crossed several generations with multiple lead characters showing how the actions you take can affect others for years to come. This was one of the most ambitious films of the year and featured great turns from Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendes, Ryan Gosling, and Dane DeHaan. It was the smallest, big story of the year, one not to be missed.


Photo Credit: American Hustle

David O. Russell is on quite the winning streak. With The Fighter and Silver Linings Playbook behind him, the director pulled the casts of both into one hysterical heist movie. Every performance was just over-the-top enough to make this politics heavy crime story have the comedic edge it needed to become the notable Oscar contender it is.


Photo Credit: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

The magic returned in the second entry of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings prequel trilogy. After the disappointing An Unexpected Journey, Bilbo, Gandalf, and the dwarves continued their quest in a far more exciting second chapter. Featuring the outrageous barrel escape (the best action scene of the year) and an unforgettable villain in the dragon Smaug (the best special effect of the year), The Hobbit got itself on track to match what we loved about Middle Earth the first time.


Photo Credit: 12 Years a Slave

Easily the most difficult film to watch this year, Steve McQueen’s violent portrayal of slavery in the South was beautifully told and acted. Featuring an unbeatable cast, where unknown names beat out the likes of Brad Pitt and Michael Fassbender, everyone making this film felt the importance of what they were doing: the most visceral and real-feeling take on this dark moment in our history put on screen in a long while.


Photo Credit: Her

More proof that when sci-fi and romance click there’s just nothing like it. The most unique and thought-provoking love story since Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind sees Joaquin Phoenix fall in love with an operating system. What makes it the smartest film of the year is the world director Spike Jonze builds around their love. The astounding thing is that you never question this unconventional romance.


Photo Credit: The Spectacular Now

Perhaps the most unique take on the “summer indie coming of age romance”, this film’s protagonist isn’t an awkward boy looking for love. He’s the popular guy who corrupts the innocent girl. He doesn’t have to learn to be social he has to learn how to live past the moment and think about the future. It’s a unique but important message for this type of film, the type that a young 20-something will absolutely appreciate for all it’s realism and wisdom.


Photo Credit: Gravity

It’s rare to see a film with revolutionary special effects have such a well-told narrative. Alfonso Cuaron’s space epic became an instant classic when it launched into theaters in October. Between the harrowing visuals, Sandra Bullock’s striking performance, and the uplifting tale of survival, Gravity was the most immersive and rewarding trip to the movies in 2013.


Do you agree with my picks? What were your favorite films of 2013?


By Matt Dougherty

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