It’s that time of year here at Hey Buddy Movies, where I get to decide what the best movies of the year were. You, as always can disagree, but you’d be wrong…again. This year was actually really difficult to decide on a list. As the year came to a close, I thought I wasn’t going to be able to find a top ten because this really did seem like an anemic year for great movies. I thought I was going to have to put movies on here that I only gave two stars just to make the list a nice round number. I even thought of only making this list the five best, but I grew up with top ten lists and I like that tradition. So without further delay, here we go
10. The World’s End
I still have yet to post a review on this because I saw it during that busy season of gift giving/receiving made me very behind on my reviews. Nevertheless, while this film may not live up to the sheer greatness of the previous films, Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, it was yet another success for the Corneto trilogy makers. It was full of the usual movie geek humor that rocketed the first two to instant classics, but this time with a little darker twist. While not full of the fun and games as the others, The World’s End not only brought some inspired funny moments but a tighter story more interested in character development than the next gag. It would be great if they decided to all get together and try another film, a western would be awesome, but this could be the end. If this is the end of this collaboration, it was a good way to go out.
9. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Far surpassing the first installment, this Hunger Games sequel gave us something that was more focused and entertaining. Not only that, but the special effects were much better as was the acting from the cast, both old and new. Just like the last film it really showed what the evils of dictatorship is or when the State is in full control. The oppression, lies, corruption, suppression of the truth, propaganda and murder are an incredibly scary thing in real life let alone a movie from a book written for teenagers. This was a far superior movie than the first one in practically every way and in the end left us excited for more.
8. World War Z
Plagued by rewrites, reshoots, added filming dates and changing the source material made this film seem like it would be one of the biggest bombs of the year. Knowing all this I went in expecting not to be overly impressed and honestly had some low expectations which probably helped me enjoy it to a very high degree. Yes there were plot holes, certain decisions didn’t make sense, but dang it, it was a fun summer popcorn movie. It didn’t have a completely new way to feature the zombie film, but the way in which they had the zombies interact with the world around them seemed energizing to the viewers. World War Z was filled with multiple scenes of intense suspense and thrilling action while also supplying interesting commentary on the civilization of man sprinkled here and there with a laugh or two.
The first stand alone Wolverine wasn’t great. Most people hated it, I thought it had its good parts, but when a multimillion dollar movie spends two dollars on CGI claws, you don’t get a lot of cheerful viewers. Fast forward a few years and man did they finally seem to get almost all of it right with The Wolverine. The story was tighter, acting was way better and we finally got CGI that didn’t look like someone drew on the film stock with a crayon. Hugh Jackman is Wolverine and will always be no matter who eventually replaces him in future installments/reboots. He gets the character and has a love for it that many actors don’t experience with their roles. The addition of newer characters like Yashida, Shingen and Yukio were just as good and the actors that portrayed them were just as entertaining to watch on the screen. The last battle was something that may not have been the best one yet for the franchise, but the movie as a whole did what the makers promised it would do and that was wow and entertain its audience.
6. Iron Man 3
The first of the Marvel films since the box office behemoth that was The Avengers was this highly anticipated film. A lot of uproar was made about a certain twist that made a lot of people hate it from then on. Me? I loved it! Not just the twist but the whole movie was everything I expected it to be…fun. Robert Downey Jr. hit it out of the park again, as did Ben Kingsley. The story was different and would be a suiting end of a franchise if that was the way they were going to go with it. Some also hated that Tony Stark spent most of the movie outside of his suit. I thought it developed the character more than being just a mere man in a suit and that he may not always win. The character needed this type of development after the last few movies. While it would have been great to have Jon Favreau finish out the trilogy, Shane Black was still a phenomenal choice as the successor to the franchise. Though it will happen one day, the thought of anyone but Robert Downey Jr. playing this character was fully cemented in this film. Here we got another great addition to the Marvel universe as well as comic book movies as a whole.
5. Man of Steel
This was a huge gamble after the horrendous nature of Superman Returns. You had a director who is mostly know for slow motion action scenes rather than depth. A reboot that tells the same origin story that we’ve seen or read before a hundred times and a star that would don the cape that not many people knew of. Christopher Nolan was involved, but not to an encouraging extent. Then that first full trailer came out and all bets were off, this could be a good film. And it was! Great acting came from everyone involved, especially from Henry Cavill, Kevin Costner and Michael Shannon. It had touching moments as well as great action scenes. It showed that the character of Superman can still be refreshing while maintaining its familiarity with the audience in an exceptional way. A big task was undertaken and a triumph was the outcome. For those of you that hated it because a certain someone killed a certain someone else…maybe read some of the source material as well as watching previous incarnations with the number 2 after them.
4. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
If a movie makes you think about it several days afterward, you know you just saw something special. Yes, it did have some acting and story elements that felt out of place, but dang is it some inventive filmmaking that looks extremely good. Most, if not all, of the scenes of Mitty’s imagination do not slow the story down or even throw the viewer off. They conform perfectly to the pace of the movie and are in no way a distraction. It showed that Ben Stiller has got some dramatic acting talent in that Zoolander frame and showcased that Kristen Wiig can keep up with him. While it did not fully engage in the philosophy of what should make us happy outside of our own needs being met, it was still a good movie to think about after the credits started to roll. When a movie makes you think about meaning of life, life choices, etc., that’s not a horrible two hours spent in my opinion, whether they got it wrong or right.
3. Monsters University
I actually liked this one better than the original only because it connected with me more than the first. Everyone likes the underdog story and here it is done incredibly well with life lessons that ring true scattered throughout. The most important ones were being there for your friends when they need you, humility and hard work being a good thing. The comedy was just as solid as the story and the animation was probably one of the better looking Pixar movies in the last few years. The colors and depth of each scene popped off the screen and was a continuous flurry of candy for the eyes. It is not only a clean movie for the family but had less scary moments for little ones than the first one did. Good story, humor, animation and real world themes that connect with everyone make this an incredibly huge winner in my book.
2. American Hustle
Out of all the movies that I saw this year and enjoyed, it was this one in particular that had me thinking about it for many days afterward. It may have felt long, but the story was engrossing and the characters were interesting. The film looked great, but not only that; this was a true character driven movie, where there is lots of dialogue, character development and so much to do in each scene to make them spark. It showed that Bradley Cooper wasn’t just a guy who can do dumb comedies, but really has some acting talent. Christian Bale is one of those actors that will most likely win another Oscar and should at least be nominated for this one. I said it in my review and I’ll say it again here, the moral ambiguity was the only thing that held this film back from true greatness. I would have preferred some sort of call to a true change for the good instead of just ignoring the past. Nevertheless, it was masterfully directed, acted and it looked incredible.
I’m not sure who slapped Matthew Mcconaughey with a severe sense of going back to his dramatic roots, but somebody find that person and thank him for me. He’s always been a good actor, but just seemed to be doing too many romcoms, most of which I like and seemed to be squandering his talents. This movie not only showed us how good he can be with a meaty role, it showcased what it looks like to have a film filled with talent from young to old. Every character here feels real and tortured and you connect to them very easily. The film itself feels the same way as you sit and watch and get the strong sense of heat and dryness as the beautifully filmed movie unfolds. Its story is touching as well as well paced and is able to connect with its audience in a personal way. Hands down the best film of 2013!
Well, there you have it. Let me know what you think in the comments below. Next week I hope to have the list of the truly awful films that unfortunately made it to a cinema near you.