Top 10 Films of 2013 - Keith Simanton

Many critics are calling 2013 one of the best years for movies in the history of the medium. I think we're too close to it and frankly, in addition to unimpeachable years like 1939, I think any year from 1970 - 1976 could tick off just six films from its respective year and 2013 would put its hand down. Still, it's been a very good year for original films and filmmakers and 2013 can darken the theater with a smile. Here is an extended list of my Top 25 Films and my 13 Great Movie Moments in 2013 - Keith Simanton, Managing Editor, IMDb
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Gravity (2013)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
Two astronauts work together to survive after an accident which leaves them alone in space. (91 mins.)
Director: Alfonso Cuarón
“ Director Alfonso Cuaron's Gravity is a big, yawping tour de force of sound, of music (an incredible score by Steven Price), of special effects, of startling visuals and features a powerful role for Sandra Bullock. It's a rousing metaphor for the sacredness of life, its extreme fragility, our privilege to live on this planet, and our penchant to take even the simplest things, the magnetic pull that keeps us grounded, the mere act of breathing, for granted until we have to fight for it. ” - keithsim
12 Years a Slave (2013)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
In the antebellum United States, Solomon Northup, a free black man from upstate New York, is abducted and sold into slavery. (134 mins.)
Director: Steve McQueen
“ Majestic, brutal, sublime, 12 Years a Slave shows that director Steve McQueen is an artist interested in making intimate and personal films about the individual, even while working with powerhouse actors (amazing performances by Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, and newcomer Lupita Nyong'o) and stories with historic sweep and important themes. ” - keithsim
Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
A week in the life of a young singer as he navigates the Greenwich Village folk scene of 1961. (104 mins.)
“ A movie not likely to be fully appreciated on a first sitting the latest film by Ethan and Joel Coen is a masterpiece about the sometimes misguided integrity of an artist who genuinely respects and appreciates the art form he serves. Oscar Isaac performs his own songs and makes us believe in Llewyn Davis, a folk singer in New York in 1961 who both adores and despises the terrible muse he's chosen to follow. Music producer T Bone Burnett brings authenticity to the gorgeous folk tunes on display here. ” - keithsim
American Hustle (2013)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
A con man, Irving Rosenfeld, along with his seductive partner Sydney Prosser, is forced to work for a wild FBI agent, Richie DiMaso, who pushes them into a world of Jersey powerbrokers and mafia. (138 mins.)
“ The best ensemble of the year in one of the best films of the year. Hustle confirms that David O. Russell is making some of the most intriguing, original films today, particularly with this nitrous mixture of comedy and drama. Loosely based around the Abscam events of the late '70s characters emerge before our eyes, with outstanding, singularly memorable performances by Christian Bale and Amy Adams as con artists who get in over their heads when they are forced to work with a rogue F.B.I agent. Bradley Cooper, in perhaps the most difficult role, plays the hapless agent who forces these scammers to help him entrap representatives of Congress, a senator, and a well-meaning Cambden, New Jersey mayor, played with gusto by Jeremy Renner. Jennifer Lawrence brings a superb mixture of naivete and cunning as the manipulative New Jersey housewife of Bale's character, Irving Rosenfeld. Bale's Rosenfeld, with the portly girth, and the hideous, complex comb-over, is a character that joins the ranks of Ratso Rizzo and Gordon Gecko as one of the greatest in cinema of the last 50 years. Hustle clearly owes its feel to Scorsese and Goodfellas, but much in the same way that The Beatles owed Little Richard. ” - keithsim
Saving Mr. Banks (2013)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
Author P.L. Travers reflects on her childhood after reluctantly meeting with Walt Disney, who seeks to adapt her Mary Poppins books for the big screen. (125 mins.)
“ As a confirmed Disney-phile and avowed fan of Mary Poppins Saving Mr. Banks was a joy to watch, combining Disney-lore, movie-making, and the Disney magic. The secret to that magic is, and always has been, telling us the story we like to hear while never denying the encroaching shadows of reality never far away. Emma Thompson gives starch to her role of author P.L. Travers, who reluctantly contemplates allowing Walt Disney (avuncularly played by Tom Hanks) to adapt her book into the classic we now all love. ” - keithsim
Spring Breakers (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.3/10 X  
Four college girls hold up a restaurant in order to fund their spring break vacation. While partying, drinking, and taking drugs, they are arrested, only to be bailed out by a drug and arms dealer. (94 mins.)
Director: Harmony Korine
“ Writer and director Harmony Korine's Spring Breakers is the caustic satire of the violent and shallow nature of American popular culture that Oliver Stone intended Natural Born Killers to be. ” - keithsim
Fruitvale Station (2013)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
The story of Oscar Grant III, a 22-year-old Bay Area resident, who crosses paths with friends, enemies, family, and strangers on the last day of 2008. (85 mins.)
Director: Ryan Coogler
“ One of the finds this year was writer/director Ryan Coogler who brought balance and vitality to Fruitvale Station, the breakout of the Sundance Film Festival last January.

In addition to providing perspective Coogler proves himself an able director of actors playing mid-wife to three extraordinary performances: Michael B. Jordan is the center of the film as Oscar Grant, a man murdered on New Year's Eve in 2009 by police. It's a star-making role and you can almost see Jordan reaching out and pulling it in.

Octavia Spencer proves that The Help was no fluke. Her performance as Oscar's mother is steely and gentle simultaneously.

One of the best things to happen though, is what should be the recognition of Melonie Diaz, so good in so many earlier roles like A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints. She plays Oscar's girlfriend and mother to his daughter and she once again can move from street-smart indignation to hysteria in an instance. ” - keithsim
Only God Forgives (2013)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.7/10 X  
Julian, a drug-smuggler thriving in Bangkok's criminal underworld, sees his life get even more complicated when his mother compels him to find and kill whoever is responsible for his brother's recent death. (90 mins.)
“ Getting upset with Nicolas Winding Refn for the laconic brutality and naked cruelty of Only God Forgives is like getting mad at a pit bull for the ferocity of his bark. Refn continues to build upon a world of uncertain morality and questionable motives this time bathed in the light and shaded hues of cinematographer Larry Smith. Ryan Gosling plays Julian, the unfortunate, not favorite second son of Kristin Scott Thomas's character, who goads him into avenging his brother's death. The Oedipal themes get a workout but the other star is Vithaya Pansringarm as Chang, a policeman with unconventional methods of exacting punishment. The best scene of the year is when Julian, a proficient boxer, faces off with Chang (a stand-in for the omniscient hand of God) and utters the words of regret: "Let's fight." ” - keithsim
Monsters University (2013)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
A look at the relationship between Mike and Sulley during their days at Monsters University -- when they weren't necessarily the best of friends. (104 mins.)
Director: Dan Scanlon
“ As with almost any Pixar movie much more is going on with this sequel to Monsters Inc. than an animated outing. That unique feeling of self-discovery when you're out on your own is at the heart of this film as one-eyed Mike Wazowski (the inimitable Billy Crystal) heads off to college, hoping to blaze a new trail. He faces a formidable obstacle in the form of Sully (the differently inimitable John Goodman), the big man on campus. A scene by a lakeside edge, where a lifelong friendship is forged, should resonate with anyone who discovered an unlikely kindred soul in an unlikely person in an unlikely place. ” - keithsim
This Is the End (2013)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
While attending a party at James Franco's house, Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel and many other celebrities are faced with the Biblical Apocalypse. (107 mins.)
“ Even though it has so many in-jokes it will have the shelf life of milk This Is the End is the funniest film in 2013. When the Apocalypse with a capital "A" hits Los Angeles buddies
Seth Rogen and Jay Baruchel take refuge in James Franco's house. Gleefully lampooning both our perceptions of them and their images they are joined by Jonah Hill, Danny McBride and Craig Robinson. Includes one of the best endings of the year. ” - keithsim