If you’ve been to theater or read any reviews this year, you’re probably well aware that 2013 was a pretty good year for films. Not only did Hollywood rake in record-breaking profits on several movies, a good number of the flicks that came out were top-quality features. While sequels once again ruled the box office this year, there are also a number of original properties that debuted to great success. In terms of film, 2013 will certainly be remembered for its financial and critical successes in the years to come.
Of course, even in the slew of excellent films, some of them stand out among the rest. A few members of the INTERN-Net crew decided to weigh in on their top picks of 2013. Which films earned some extra praise from a bunch of unpaid internet chumps like us? Give our selections a look!
Mason Daniel – 12 Years a Slave
As 2013 comes to a close, the Academy is left with a refreshingly diverse selection of award-worthy films to choose from in the next few months. While there are plenty I still need to see (Her, Nebraska and The Wolf of Wall Street being my top priorities), I doubt that any one of them will eclipse the filmmaking majesty of Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave. Harvesting key elements of his previous two films — specifically the attention to historical detail from Hunger and the raw emotion present in Shame — McQueen concocts what is surely one of the most riveting period dramas ever made, exposing the atrocities of American slavery in the bleakest manner possible to drive home the lowest depths of human cruelty. Along with its top-notch acting, gorgeous cinematography, and astonishing/emotionally agonizing long takes, the film is a bonafide masterpiece. It may not be one that most people would want to return to very often, but that makes for some of the best films when it’s all said and done.
To the Wonder (Terrence Malick)
Upstream Color (Shane Carruth)
Spring Breakers (Harmony Korine)
Angelo Elauria – John Dies at the End
I have yet to see the better part of the Oscar season films (The Wolf of Wall Street, 12 Years a Slave, American Hustle, etc.), and from all the films I’ve seen this year, it’s hard for me to pick favorites. However, John Dies at the End completely blew my mind so far out of my skull, it traveled to another universe in to a parallel skull, and blew it again. This was probably the most creative and original film I have seen in a LONG time.
The film is really absurd and chaotic, but it’s not incoherent. Sure, there are MANY aspects of this movie don’t make sense: Girls exploding into snakes, door knobs turning into dicks, and Paul Giamatti in a Chinese restaurant. But if you just let these details wash over you, the narrative will really keep you guessing and the world they set up feels like you’re going full throttle through a rabbit hole. It’s as if a bunch of intelligent philosophical college frat boys talked about making a movie, decided to take massive amounts LSD, and then blacked out. When they sobered up in a hotel room in Mexico, they saw a bunch of film equipment scattered on the floor, and one completed film reel lying on the bed. On the reel, there was masking tape, and etched in blood were the words John Dies at the End.
Thomas Mariani – Before Midnight
In a year filled with many adaptations and sequels, it’s only appropriate that my favorite film of the year be an entry in a long running series. However, you’ll not find a single superhero or fantasy creature within my choice. Instead, there will just be a middle-aged couple having trouble with their marriage. Before Midnight managed to avoid every single pitfall some of the more disappointing sequels of the year fell into. It developed the characters Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy have been playing for nearly 20 years in ways that the previous films Before Sunrise and Before Sunset didn’t, having them face the major road bumps of a long-lasting relationship that have no clear cut answers. Neither side is wrong, as they both have very solid reasons for their points and that’s what makes every single moment of this film so fascinating.
We’ve seen these characters grow from optimistic kids to seemingly dispassionate parents. When they worry about how their lives will progress, the fans of the series (like myself) feel their pain. It’s all so emotionally honest and heartfelt from Hawke, Delpy and writer/director Richard Linklater that it feels as if we’ve actually known this couple for years. I barely emoted from some of the bigger sequels of 2013, with their special effects driven moments of peril and forced love triangles. Yet, a film that primarily focuses on whether or not a couple will live a happy life together had me invested the entire time, which is why Before Midnight managed to rise to the very top of my favorites list for 2013 films.
Chris Harrison – An Adventure in Space and Time
I going to cheat a little with my choice. I didn’t catch the wide array of 2013’s films and to be honest, I’ve been entirely exhausted at the same old Hollywood paint-by-numbers collection. Sure, some of the blockbusters are decent, but they are financially bloated and quite frankly there’s much more interesting things elsewhere (such as Tim Buel and Cody Rhyse’s low-budget horror film!). So for my choice, I’m going to pick the docu-drama television movie An Adventure in Space and Time. Much like what the BBC did for the Coronation Street anniversary, AAISAT tells the story of the inception of Doctor Who and the struggles faced by those involved, especially first Doctor, William Hartnell (played by David Bradley).
Originally conceived by Mark Gatiss for the 40th anniversary, the 50th provided the perfect platform to tell this heartfelt story full of intrigue and emotion even for someone who isn’t into Doctor Who. The drama is a period piece, and 60’s Britain is recreated lovingly with an impressive cinematography to highlight the romanticized era. Much care is also took in the recreation of the beautiful original TARDIS set, the original Daleks and more wonderful goodies that will delight fans new and old. David Bradley is also a wonderful William Hartnell who I wouldn’t be surprised picked up a BAFTA nod next year, along with the show itself.
Dimitry Pompee – The Wolf of Wall Street
There’s nothing quite Martin Scorsese’s interpretation of a terrible person’s life. After watching The Wolf of Wall Street, I am considering leading a life rife with crime and corruption just so I have a chance of getting the Scorsese treatment. There is so much to praise about this one: the writing was solid, the story itself was sordid and compelling, and the atmosphere made me feel as if I was in those heady, wanton days of lax financial regulation.
Of course, the performances are what really sell The Wolf of Wall Street. Of course, Leonardo DiCaprio gives a stellar performance as the thoroughly despicable Jordan Belfort. He is the among the worst people whose lives have been adapted for film, but thanks to DiCaprio’s manic portrayal of the lout, I can understand why he was as successful at robbing the rich as he was. Even in the face of this performance, I thought that Jonah Hill was the most impressive actor in the entire picture. I knew he could be funny, but I had no idea he could be such a magnetic AND repulsive individual simultaneously. Martin Scorsese brought out the best in everyone who had a moment on screen, which is why this movie tops my 2013 list.
Those are our picks, now we want to know yours! Which of 2013’s films were among your favorites? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!