Sunday, January 5, 2014

DrogeMiester's Top 10 BEST Movies of 2013

This year in movies has been a really good year in my opinion. Now that the year is over, it's time to do what I look forward to every year -- making my list of favorite movies. Simply stated, this is my own personal list of the movies that I enjoyed most this year. I'm in no way prejudice in only including critically praised movies, Oscar contending movies, big box office hits, or movies that no one has heard of. This is just a list of my personal favorite movies, regardless of what anyone else thinks. I don't do this to impress anyone or to brag. I just wanted to share with you my favorite movies of the year. No, I haven't seen every movie, but I did see a lot of movies this year, so this list was actually really hard to create. There's a lot of movies that I wanted to include that I simply had to leave off because there wasn't room. Feedback and conversation is always fun, especially because the beauty of movies is that everyone can like different movies for different reasons; so once you read this, let me know what you think! Also, feel free to share with me your own personal favorites! Let's begin!

10- Saving Mr. Banks

The trailers on this one led me to believe that it was going to be a different movie than what it was. Trailer fail. But movie win. I love the movie Mary Poppins. However, I never really looked into the meaning of the movie that much. It was just a fun movie with fun music. Saving Mr. Banks is a movie that gave me a lot more insight to Mary Poppins. Specifically, author P.L. Travers had a very special, yet unique relationship with her father. Yes, he was a drunk. Yes, he had problems with his wife and his job. But he loved his little daughter and his little daughter loved him. That made P.L. Travers' book Mary Poppins very special to her for certain reasons, and to me learning of that relationship and watching it unfold was really beautiful and inspiring. I wanted to cry right along with Emma Thompson at the end. Speaking of which, Emma Thompson's performance as P.L. Travers was amazing. Definitely one of my favorite performances from an actress this year. Yes, Tom Hanks did great as Walt Disney, but this wasn't his film. This was Emma Thompson's film. I hope she wins an Oscar for this.

9- About Time

Imagine for a second if you had the ability to travel through time to events that happened in your life. You can't change history, but you can go back and change things that you have done. Maybe I'm just a sucker for time travel, but I thought this premise was really interesting. Specifically, our main character uses this ability he learns that he has to try to get a girlfriend. There's the second connection that this movie had with me. What if you had a poor encounter with a girl and you could just go back in time a few minutes before that encounter happened and change something that you said? I think I would be able to put that to good use. I won't give away much about this movie, but I went in expecting a chick flick with a time travel twist. I walked out with a lot more than that. This movie is actually less about the guy and the girl, and more about the guy and his father, who introduces him to this idea that the men in their family, once they turn 21, have the ability to go back in time. The movie had a lot of depth to it and a lot of heart. The acting was superb and the overall message that it taught was very inspiring.

8- The Book Thief

The Book Thief is based off the critically acclaimed book of the same title. I have not read this book, but after seeing this movie, that is something that I want to change. Eventually. This is a World War II movie, but a very unique one in that it tells the story from the perspective of people who were good people living in Nazi Germany during World War II. These people don't support the Nazi party, but they go with the flow so that they can survive. It was a super interesting premise that was really interesting to follow. This is actually a very slow-paced movie, but in this instance I appreciated it because I was able to get emotionally attached to this family that we followed. Specifically, our main character was the most adorable little girl that has been adopted by this older couple living in Nazi Germany. The little girl is played by a young actress named Sophie Nelisse and I wish her a long and prosperous acting career because she was absolutely fantastic. Really, the acting from everyone is superb and that's what made this movie work so well.

7- Nebraska

In case you haven't noticed, I have a theme going here. It wasn't intentional actually, but when I decided on my final order, I realized that most of my top movies were movies that had touching stories about family. I guess I'm just a sucker for these family movies. Yes, this theme continues with the movie Nebraska. I imagine that there are a lot of you that haven't seen this movie yet, and that's because it didn't get a huge release. Luckily for me, this movie showed up in a little theater in my hometown, so I caught. Whenever it gets to you, I'd highly recommend you give it a shot. It has a lot of Oscar buzz around it, and for good reason. What it is is a father/son movie. This family consists of a middle aged son who goes on a trip with his crazy old father to the state of Nebraska because his father thinks he has won a million dollars. Once again, it's a slow-moving movie that is actually shot in black and white. But all the actors do a terrific job and thus you become attached to this family. Bruce Dern plays the old, crazy father and Will Forte plays the son that gives in and goes with him to Nebraska. I loved Bruce Dern in this movie and I also loved his wife in the movie, June Squibb, who steals the show every time she shows up. Both of them will be up for Oscars here in a bit, and I wish them both luck. I also highly respect Will Forte because he usually does comedy and in this instance he does excellent in a completely serious role.

6- The Croods

It was a fantastic year in animation in my opinion. I loved Frozen. I loved Despicable Me 2. I also found myself surprisingly entertained by Monsters University, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2, and Epic. But in my opinion, Dreamworks hit the big home run this year with The Croods. I wasn't expecting much with this movie, which shows that Dreamworks advertising wasn't that great, but I was super surprised by how much I loved it. Not only was the animation done very well, but the characters were extremely well written. In the movie, we follow a caveman family whose cave gets tragically destroyed, so they have to venture out into the world to survive. The voice acting is top notch. Specifically, Nick Cage does an amazing job as the father, and Emma Stone does an amazing job as the rebellious daughter. The movie made me laugh really hard throughout and it almost made me cry at the end. What gave it even more kudos was that it has the rewatchability factor, which for me is really important for animated movies especially. I saw this movie four or five times in theaters and every time I laughed just as hard and got even closer to crying at the end. Owl City does the main song Shine Your Way. I have that song downloaded and it is a commonly listened to song by myself. Not only is this my favorite animated movie of the year, but it is also up there as one of my favorite animated movies that Dreamworks has ever done. Yes, it's right up there with the likes of Shrek and Kung Fu Panda for me.

5- The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Leading up to the first Hunger Games movie, I was hearing a lot of hype for the movie because of the book. However, I hadn't read the books before I went to go see the first movie. After seeing the movie, I was instantly converted and quickly picked up the books and read the whole trilogy. When I got to Catching Fire, I was completely captured. I literally couldn't set it down. I read the whole book in just two days, which for me is super good. I ended up enjoying the whole series, including the often hated ending, but Catching Fire was my favorite book of the series. Needless to say, I was really excited for the movie, yet I was crossing my fingers that they would do it right, because if they did it had the potential to be a super good movie. Turns out they hit a grand slam as far as I'm concerned as this is one of the best book-to-movie adaptions ever made. Their pacing was perfect. Quite honestly, the book moved a bit slow in the beginning, but I loved that the book did so because it allowed for some character building. I was worried that the movie would rush the beginning and jump quickly to the arena. They didn't. They took their time and beautifully built up all the characters, just like in the book. Another slight concern I had initially was with Jennifer Lawrence. And before you freak out, I loved her in the first movie. Katniss in the first book was pretty good at keeping her emotions to herself, thus she came across as fairly emotionless. Jennifer Lawrence pulled this off perfectly. In the second book, though, is when Katniss starts to become emotionally unstable and thus freaks out at everything. I was simply wondering how Jennifer would pull that off. And by goodness she did it perfectly. Kudos to the rest of the cast, though. The returning cast was all excellent, just like in the first one. I was hoping the new cast members would pull it off, though, because Catching Fire introduces several new key characters that are very important to the finale. Once again, all the new cast members fit in perfectly and also nailed their characters. Specifically, I am talking about Philip Seymour Hoffman (Plutarch), Jeffrey Wright (Beetee), Sam Claflin (Finnick), and Jena Malone (Johanna). Story-wise, I was worried that the movie might go outside Katniss' perspective more than they should, but they didn't. They kept the twist ending a complete surprise for audiences who hadn't the book. I was very pleased with how this turned out.

4- Now You See Me

I could go on for a long time with this movie, but I'm not going to because what made Now You See Me so brilliant in my opinion is something that would require me to spoil the whole movie. This is a movie about a group of magicians that get brought together by an unknown person to put on a series of magic performances, all of which require doing things that aren't exactly legal. What happens is rather brilliant, but a huge part of the experience is going in to the movie knowing nothing about it. So I won't even begin to explain why I liked it so much. What I will say is that it had an excellent cast. Our four magicians are played by Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher, and Dave Franco. The chemistry between those four is perfect. Also we have the always fantastic veteran actors of Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine. Mark Ruffalo leads our FBI crew and he is supporting brilliantly by a bunch of different lesser-known actors led by Michael Kelly from the wrongly cancelled show Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior. Think there's lots of plot holes? Think it's very illogical? If you answered yes to either of those, you may have missed the whole point of the movie and you need to come talk to me privately so I can explain this movie's brilliance.

3- The Great Gatsby

Here's a movie that, if you recall, I didn't initially give it a high grade when I first saw it. However, for several months the movie just wouldn't leave my mind. I thought a lot about the events of the movie, and then when I rented it on DVD and watched it again, that is when it blew my mind. The novel of the same title written by F Scott Fitzgerald is considered a classic, and although I never read it, I understand why. The book was written in the 1920's and is a reflection of society for that time period. It's also a reflection of society today. The fact that it stand the test of time like that, being still relevant to us today, makes the story brilliant. In the story, you have four main characters. You have the main girl who only cares about money. You have the husband of the girl who cheats on her, yet is a hypocrite because he expects her to not do the same. You have the old boyfriend who was rejected by the girl, and so he tries to change who he is to impress her again, not caring that she is married. Finally you have the friend who is more of an onlooker to all this. He doesn't really participate in all of this, but yet he does nothing to stop it, helping it along when he is asked to. All these are four very different characters all with different moral problems. Who's good? Who's bad? That's open to a lot of discussion there, but it is brilliant to see all of these characters interact and clash with each other. The characters in the movie are played by Leonardo DiCaprio, Joel Edgerton, Carey Mulligan, and Tobey Maguire. All four nail the characters perfectly. Also the soundtrack for this movie is amazing, topped by the beautiful, yet haunting song Young and Beautiful by Lana Del Rey.

2- 12 Years a Slave

12 Years a Slave is a movie that will stick with me for a long time. We all have heard how slavery was via our history books and our education, but since it was abolished long before our time, none of us have personal experience with it. This movie gives us a realistic take on how it was like to be a slave. Being realistic, it is quite graphic at times and super hard to watch for much of it. The movie pulls at all your emotional strings as you watch certain slave owners in the movie treat their slaves like property and livestock. It's horrible watching these human beings being treated like dirt, and it's even worse as we see that some people really didn't see them as human beings. The story is also heart-wrenching because we follow the true story of Solomon Northcut, a man who was born free, but later in life got kidnapped and sold into slavery for 12 years, leaving his wife and two children behind. It's such a sad story. However, despite it being hard to watch, I would recommend that this is a movie that all adults should watch. No it's not a children's movie, but watching this movie has given me more insights into slavery than anything I read in a history book. Also the movie is heavily boosted by a terrific cast, all of whom do an excellent job with their roles. This movie has a lot of Oscar awards coming its way and they are all deserved.

1- Gravity

As I mentioned in the beginning of this post, there are a lot of movie that were excellent this year. Despite that, though, picking Gravity as my top movie was the easiest choice I had to make while putting this list together, as seeing Gravity in 3D was easily the best theatrical experience of the year for me and quite possibly one of the best theatrical experiences of my life. Note the careful wording with that. Favorite movie of all time is different than best theatrical experience. What this movie did was take me into space. And the 3D aspect of the movie was what made it actually feel that way. I normally don't like 3D movies, but the 3D in this movie is the best 3D movie ever. Yes, there are a lot of movies about space, but this movie portrayed space better than any movie has ever done. There was an astronaut's review that I read that said this. He admitted that it wasn't 100 percent perfect, but it was the most realistic that he had ever watched. In doing so, it showed me how scary space actually is. If you get lost, there is very little hope for you. Space is extremely dangerous and completely unmerciful. Like many people, I have always thought it would be fun to go into space. Nope. Not anymore. However, this movie isn't just about all the realistic space visuals. This is a movie where Sandra Bullock plays an astronaut that runs into some serious problems and has to fight to survive. With how realistic the portrayal of space is added to the fact that the 3D makes you feel like you are up in space with Sandra Bullock, you become immediately attached to her character and you aren't just watching her character suffer and hoping she survives, but you are living the story with her. You become terrified as the soundless explosions start happening and all the chaos begins. There were times where I was unsure if I was going to make it out of the theater alive. I personally am not going to tell you what happens to Sandra Bullock's character outside of mentioning that it actually wasn't that predictable, but I will mention that I am proud to announce that I personally made it. I survived space. Yes, this was my favorite movie of the year. Nothing even really came that close.

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