Articles, Film Lists

Taylor Kujawa’s Top 10 Films of 2013

For this year’s list, I decided to upgrade the number of films from 10 to 20. Instead of adding a “notable mentions” section, I thought it would be better to expand the list solely because of my indecisive mind. The fact of the matter is that I had trouble making a “best of” list for 2013 because of the wide range of films I had the chance of seeing. With the inclusion of twice as many films, the list itself has become more of a “Now That’s What I Call Movies… 2013” than anything else.

Through these films, viewers will be taken on various rides through the past, present, and not-so-distant future. My favorite aspect of this list is that it’s so diverse with both independent and mainstream motion pictures. Because of this, there is something to be found on this list for almost anyone.

20. The Place Beyond the Pines: A family crime drama that is driven by its performances and cinematography. While Ryan Gosling stands at the center of the film’s poster, Bradley Cooper carries the weight of the film.

19. American Hustle: While it fails to reach the expectations set by the director’s previous effort (Silver Linings Playbook), this film is purely a party hosted by one of today’s best ensemble casts.

18. The Wolf of Wall Street: Following The Great Gatsby, Leonardo DiCaprio cuts loose in the late 20th century. While Scorsese brings us this engrossing crime epic in the vein of Goodfellas, I can’t help but feel as though he took a step back following his masterful Hugo. My eyes had to go to church after this movie.

17. Spring Breakers: Speaking of going to church, that’s all that Selena Gomez wants to do when she finds herself living the thug life in Spring Breakers. However, this film delivers much more than its candy-coated shell of violence and nudity may suggest.

16. Saving Mr. Banks: Showcasing the development of one of my favorite Disney films (Marry Poppins), this film is quite the tearjerker. Emma Thompson shines in the leading role, but Colin Farrell stole the show in his emotion portrayal as the inspiration for Mr. Banks.

15. All is Lost: Robert Redford reminds us why we love Robert Redford in this meditative tale of a man lost at sea.

14. Mud: I love this film because it reminds me very much of Mark Twain’s stories set on the Mississippi River. While Matthew McConaughey leads the film with gravitas, the film is really led with power by teenager Tye Sheridan who channels a modern-day Huck Finn.

13. Prince Avalanche: As one of the lesser-known films on this list, Prince Avalanche is one to check out primarily for its pure enjoyment. It comes to show how much impact a small-budget movie can still have. Also, Paul Rudd delivers a unique performance worth seeing for its quirky realism.

12. Frozen: I say that this is best Disney film since Tangled, but really it’s the best Disney film since the peak of the Disney Renaissance in the 1990s. In other words, you can’t go wrong with Frozen… unless you don’t like crying at “cartoons”.

11. The Way Way Back: One of the funniest movies of the year, The Way Way Back proves that the writers of The Descendants (Nat Faxon and Jim Rash) can do no wrong. The same can be said about Sam Rockwell.

10. The Spectacular Now: Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley give breakthrough performances in this subtle film about alcoholism. Ladies and gentlemen, these are our next leading stars.

9. Nebraska: While the title is “Nebraska”, the film itself is a portrait of America’s entire Midwest. Both very funny and equally sad, this film captures the essence of what life and growing old is like around here.

8. Fruitvale Station: Based on the true story of a young man killed by a police officer on New Years Day 2009, this film contains no surprise but of how you react to the loss of a human life.

7. Behind the Candelabra: If this film were actually released theatrically in the United States, it would have dominated all of the film awards. However, it was released on HBO because film distributors were afraid of releasing a major LGBT film. Therefore, it dominated all of the television awards. This is the Liberace biopic in which Michael Douglas shines. A must see.

6. Dallas Buyers Club: Matthew McConaughey strikes again! This time with his best career performance as a homophobic rodeo cowboy diagnosed with HIV. Dallas Buyers Club is a bold movie in the vein of 1999’s Boys Don’t Cry.

5. 12 Years a Slave: Probably the most significant film of the year, 12 Years a Slave never holds back and does not care for your enjoyment. For these reasons, it is perhaps the most important historical film in recent years.

4. Gravity: Despite what the title may suggest, Gravity is a very uplifting film that takes space seriously and creates great comparison with the struggles of everyday life on Earth.

3. Before Midnight: As the third movie in Richard Linklater’s Before trilogy, Before Midnight never loses sight of what made the first (and even the second) film so enthralling. Maybe it’s because the characters are more mature, but I would have to say that this is the strongest film in the series. I highly recommend seeing the entire trilogy from the beginning.

2. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty: This was one of the films I anticipated the most in 2013 and it never let me down. Walter Mitty is both imaginative and inspiring. While its messages may be more in the open than most films, it never loses its traction as the titular character grows into the man of his dreams.

1. Her: The number one film on my list is a romantic dramedy. A film filled with so much heart, you almost forget that one of the main characters is a computer operating system. I’m excited to see this film reach larger audiences, but am afraid some might judge it the wrong way.

When I make these top movie lists, I’m always fascinated by my own choices. For instance, 12 Years a Slave is a great movie but I probably won’t watch it as much as I will watch Frozen. Does this mean that content is more important than entertainment? In some cases, I guess the answer would be yes. However, as time goes by, I will probably end up watching Walter Mitty and Her the most which is why they sit so perfectly in the lead of this list. But then again, who knows what time will do to these films…