Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Beta's Top Ten Favorite Movies of 2013

This is obviously very late as I usually get this list out earlier in the month. There were a few outstanding issues that caused me to only do the minimal amount of writing until just this past weekend and while I clearly did do some writing during that time I prioritized things in a way that left this one lower on my To-Do List (By the way, The To Do List didn’t make the cut. Better luck next year Aubrey Plaza).

Anyway it’s finally time for my annual Top Ten Favorite Movie List. It’s true that like every year I wasn’t able to see every movie I wanted to see in the last twelve months but even so I feel like 2013 wasn’t as good a year for films as 2012 was, at least as far as my personal taste and preferences go. I mean last year my top five films basically all had perfect scores while this year I spent most of the fall with a deep worry that I wouldn’t have ten movies above 3 Pandas. If anything the delay in this blog gave me some extra time to track down some movies I didn’t get to see in theaters and that helped a lot. Same deal as every year: these are my personal choices based on my tastes as opposed to a more impersonal analysis. It’s my opinion and yours may be different. If you have any movies you think I snubbed, have your own list, or even want to agree let me know in the comments.

Beta’s Top Ten Movies after the jump.

#10: Upstream Color 
It's the circle of life...and it moves us all!
Adorable Panda Score: 4 out of 5 (Review)

The thing about this movie is that the filmmakers did not want a lot of information reveled about in its marketing and, having seen it, I can totally see why. You really shouldn’t know too much about this movie as it will affect the way you’ll watch it. So I’m not going to talk too much about the content and story. However I have to mention that I heard decent things about this movie but when I actually saw I was legitimately impressed with it. It’s probably a little too art house-y and if you called it pretentious I don’t think that you’d be completely wrong. If you hate talking and if you dislike unconventional narrative structure you won’t like it but if you enjoy stuff outside the box it may be worth a look. I dug it.

#9: Rush 
Good driver; not a nice guy
Adorable Panda Score: 4 out of 5 (Review)

I feel that Rush might be kind of an under appreciated flick that got lost in the shuffle of Oscar Bait Season as I haven’t really heard anyone talking about it in months. But the fact is I really enjoyed the film. It pretty much had everything you’d want in a good movie; it featured good acting, had a compelling story, and looked really good. Plus the rivalry from the two leads really resonated with me and helped me ignore some of the film’s weaker moments. I don’t know if I like the idea of calling this movie underrated but it kind of seems like it might have been.

#8: Saving Mr. Banks 
Not Pictured: P.L. Travers cursing Disney's name to her grave
Adorable Panda Score: ??? (Temporary) 

This is a weird one for me. On the one hand this movie is a heartfelt character study that suggests that we all carry the ghosts of our past in everything we do and expresses this idea in a poignant yet entertaining way. On the other hand I could not get over the liberties taken on the history involved. It really bugged me a lot during my viewing of this film. I might review it soon just so I can express this more thoroughly. For now I think this movie was very good and if it was a completely work of fiction as opposed to retelling “true events” I would have liked it better. Good enough to make it one of the better movies of the year, but not enough to get any higher than #8.

#7: Thor - The Dark World 
Can we all agree that Loki is the star of Marvel Cinematic Universe?
Adorable Panda Score: 4 out of 5 (Review)

Several superhero movies came out in 2013 and yet this is the only one that made my list. How telling. While Thor 2 had its fair share of flaws its strengths more than made up for them in the grand scheme of things. It’s biggest strength? That it was an actual fun movie. It’s second biggest strength? It didn’t make me want to set anything on fire (*ahem*). This is easily my favorite superhero flick of the year. Anyone else find it weird that Chris Hemsworth appears on this list twice?

#6: The World’s End 
Simon Pegg, playing the idiot loser friend for a change
 Adorable Panda Score: ??? (Temporary)

The (probably) final film in Edgar Wright’s unofficial “Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy” (which also includes Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz) and while it may or may not live up to the previous two films when judged on its own merit it was easily one of the best films of the year. At times awkward and uncomfortable and even sad The World’s End never really stops being witty and funny, showing why the collaboration between Wright and Simon Pegg never stops working. I wonder if, now that the trilogy is done, if we’ll ever see these two working together again?

#5: You’re Next 
It's basically an R-Rated version of Home Alone
Adorable Panda Score: ??? (Temporary)

I struggled with whether I should put this movie down on this list not because I wasn’t sure it was good enough, as it’s a very good deconstruction of the “Home Invasion” sub genre of horror films, but because technically this film premiered in 2011. However it never saw wide release until this past August and even the DVD only just came out last week so I’m going to count it as a 2013 film. A great flick similar to reasons why The Cabin in the Woods was good (though this movie is considerably more subtle) You’re Next suggests itself to be one kind of film but by the middle you realize you’re watching a completely different genre. Plus it made great use of its relatively small budget; I appreciated that.

#4: Frozen 
Pictured:  A live photo of Michigan in early November. Probably
Adorable Panda Score: 4 out 5 (Review)

While I thought this film zigged where it should have zagged at some spots you cannot argue against the fact that Frozen was one of the best movies of the year, and possibly its biggest surprise. Despite the marketing being somewhat reminiscent of Tangled, which wasn’t a good movie at all, we actually got a Disney film that wanted to break the rules a bit and think a little bit outside the box while still hitting most of the notes of a what a modern animated picture should be. Even so I still say the soundtrack, with the exception of “Let It Go”, is pretty worthless.

#3: Evil Dead
Adorable Panda Score: 4 out of 5 (Review)

Most people know that I’m not really a big fan of horror movies so that two films of the genre made it onto my list must look pretty odd. And unlike You’re Next, which is a genre bending affair, Evil Dead is straight up horror. I’m not even sure why I like it as much as I did since I don’t even love the original 1981 film but the use of practical effects, a great performance by Jane Levy and real sense of urgency and tension made this movie stick with me all year. Also it greatly disturbed me over and over again…which was apparently the point.

#2: American Hustle 
That's the type of dress one wears to a cocaine party, is it not?
 Adorable Panda Score: 4 out 5 (Review)

I loved American Hustle. I wish I felt strong enough about American Hustle to give it the number one spot. As it is the movie is damn near perfect. In fact ti’s so good there’s little point in me talking about it too much because the critics have been all about it since it came out and it has nabbed of bunch of Academy Award nominations (not all of them I agree with but that’s neither here nor there). The 70s style, the likeable antihero, the fantastic script and dialogue; I can’t say enough positive things about this flick. If you didn’t get around to seeing it you need to. Right now.

#1: The Wolf of Wall Street 
Making money has never been so cool frighteningly off-putting
 Adorable Panda Score: 5 out of 5 (Review)

Sometimes you make decisions with your head and not your heart and in my opinions those are the ones that tend to matter more (also you can't think with your heart, that’s ridiculously). So in the end I decided that as a film The Wolf of Wall Street was my favorite movie of the year. But my God, what a slimy movie! It makes my skin crawl, it disgusted me worse than Evil Dead did and I felt physically ill throughout the whole thing. Now that I think about this movie was an honest-to-goodness horror movie but instead of gore and jump scares the source of terror was the hedonistic greed running rampant throughout. I hate this movie yet I love this movie, which sounds like a fairly successful long term marriage now that I’ve typed it. Bottom lines is that for its faults the film left a far greater impression on me than any other movie this year. Now whether I watch it again is a whole other story. 

Like I said I wasn’t very impressed with 2013’s selection of film so here’s hoping that 2014 will be better! 

And yet I suddenly have a deep pain in my stomach...


  1. After all the online raving I saw about Frozen, I was kind of sad I didn't like it more. I was mostly cut off from the marketing and hadn't even seen a preview of the movie, so I ended up mentally comparing it more to Brave (another animated movie that went outside the usual "Disney princess romance"-style box) than to Tangled. I thought Brave had a better overall story, but, dang, it was nice to see something starring two sisters who liked each other, and even the way the romance was handled was a surprise.

    1. I didn't want to compare it to Brave since it was a Pixar movie and it usually seems unfair to compare a Pixar film to a Disney one. Although to be fair I didn't love Brave.

      I really, really like Frozen but the sheer worship I've been seeing on the internet the last month or so has been a little confusing to me. It was good but I think people are going overboard about it.


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