My life is an entertainment-filled blessing. No matter what day of the week it is, what hour the clock has struck, I can pretty much find something to keep me occupied and amused. I read a lot of books, watch a fair amount of television and see my share of movies every year because being entertained inspires me. While 2013 was a pretty crappy year on a number of fronts, there were a few good offerings from the film industry.
Here are some of my personal favorites from 2013:
We saw the preview for Mama while we were at the theater watching another movie, though I can’t for the life of me remember what that other movie was. it must not have been very good, since I can’t remember it. The fact that it starred Nikolaj Coster-Waldau was a bit of a selling point because I’m shallow and sometimes I watch movies simply because attractive men I fangirl over happen to star in them. Sometimes the movies are garbage and I usually wind up wanting that 90 minutes of my life back, but Mama was a surprisingly good horror movie. When a free-spirited artist and his rock and roller girlfriend find themselves charged with the task of caring for his two young nieces, who mysteriously disappeared five years earlier, they discover that though the children appear feral after having fended for themselves in the forest they weren’t exactly alone out there. Back in civilization and learning to become people again, the girls brought someone with them and Mama isn’t happy that they’re trying to take her children away from her. This movie was well-done, balancing the supernatural and downright creepy with a healthy dose of reality that made it feel believable. By the time the movie was over, I actually forgot Nikolaj Coster-Waldau was in it for about ten minutes and that was a good thing.
I did not expect much from Jack the Giant Slayer, though the excited ten-year-old girl inside me did squee a little bit when I saw the trailer for this movie. Sadly, since Peter Jackson and his band of merry movie-makers started bringing Tolkien’s world into our living rooms, my expectations for fantasy films have gotten ridiculously high. Fortunately, this movie did not disappoint me. Jack the Giant Slayer brought a few new twists to an old classic many of us remember from our childhood, and while there was no goose laying any golden eggs in this movie I enjoyed it quite a bit. My only complaint is that ever since Peter Jackson gave the Orcs and the Uruk-hai of Middle-earth a voice, every disgusting villain you see in fantasy films sounds exactly like the baddies from the Lord of the Rings trilogy of films. Other than that, I enjoyed the movie.
I like the Wizard of Oz. I don’t love it the way some people do, but I don’t hate it either. It was a classic way before I was born, so it was one of my mom’s favorites. It became something of a holiday tradition in our house to watch it each year during Christmas break from school. I did get a bit excited about Oz the Great and Powerful, which I thought was very well done and gave us a deeper look into the world before Dorothy and her little dog made the trip. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and found myself wishing I could return to Oz again and again. I heard they were doing a sequel, so here’s hoping if that actually pans out it is as good as the first one. My only sadness was that my mom never got to see this movie because I really think she would have loved it.
I had not watched any of the other Iron Man movies before 2013. Yes, you can call me an Avengers bandwagon jumper all you want, but I had very little interest in Iron Man at all before I watched the Avengers last year. I’ve always loved Thor, but nearly everyone I know kept telling me the Iron Man films were worth watching. We had a weekend Iron Man marathon and finished it off with Iron Man 3, which I have to say was by far the best Iron Man film of them all. I will say that I am interested in Iron Man enough now that I will watch his movies if they make more beyond the Avengers franchise because I feel like Tony Stark is a good character. Yeah, he’s kind of a jerk, (okay, not kind of, he’s a jerk,) but there’s something about him that makes him sympathetic and I like that in my superheroes. It makes them more human, which I think makes anyone feel like they could be a superhero. The world needs more superheros.
Speaking of Avengers, I did make it to the theater to see Thor: The Dark World. I know a lot of people did not love this movie, but I did and I don’t care what anyone says. I wish they would make dozens of Thor movies, pumping them out like one or two a year. That’s the kind of thing that would make me happy. Nonstop Thor, day and night. And no, it’s not because I love Chris Hemsworth (though that does bolster my affection for these movies a little bit…) The truth is, I love Thor. Thor the comic book demi-god/superhero who gets his own movies now. Thor the God of Thunder. Thor who battles the World Serpent, Jörmungandr. Thor. Thor. Thor. I love watching his battles with Loki, and Tom Hiddleston does an amazing job portraying the Trickster God, so there. I don’t care. I loved Thor: The Dark World. I just wish it had less Jane Foster in it because Thor doesn’t need to love anyone (but Sif.) He just needs to smash things with his hammer and be amazing. That is all.
It was a given that I would see The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug in the theater, even though I’m getting to the point where I’d much rather watch movies in my pajamas from the comfort of my own home. Especially a movie that’s nearly three hours long (and probably will hit that three hour mark when they release the extended edition.) I loved the adaptation and feel like there is no one in the world who can do Middle-earth the way Peter Jackson and his crew have done it. As I mentioned above, Jackson has set the fantasy film bar for me, and there seem to be very few who reach that bar. Of course there were things added into this film that weren’t in the book, and I know that irks the ever-loving-crap out of people when the book and movie aren’t twins, but I sort of like that Jackson feels comfortable enough in Tolkien’s world to alter it in ways he think will make the experience more believable and relative to audiences who’ve been taking escapist vacations in Middle-earth for decades. It was action-packed, the dragon was fantastic and the characters were all casted to perfection. I do think I will like this movie ten times more than I already do when I can watch it in my pajamas in the comfort of my own home… repeatedly.
If you haven’t noticed by now, I’m a bit of an entertainment nerd. There are very few reality-driven movies in my collection of favorites, and I’ve never been a big action-movie fan. I love science fiction and fantasy, and I thank my dad on a regular basis for filling my head with things like Star Trek and Doctor Who when I was a little girl. I am loving the reboot of the Star Trek film franchise, and I stayed away from spoilers and the like when I heard this movie was coming out. We didn’t get to see Star Trek: Into Darkness in the theater, so I really had to distance myself from the wagging tongues and clackity-clickety spoilerers who frequent the internet. I remembered the second film in the original string of Star Trek films from my childhood, so I had a vague idea of what to expect, but overall I was delightfully surprised by this movie from beginning to end. It was action-packed, filled with that excellent Kirk-Spock dynamic and though I knew what to expect, I was so happy with the twist they gave it and cannot wait for more films in this franchise.
I am not as much of a horror film fan as I used to be, because frankly there are very few horror films that actually scare me these days, and I can’t stand torture porn horror, where they break into a family’s house and just torment them all until the last surviving member rises up with a vengeance and obliterates them all. I hate those movies. But The Conjuring was an excellent horror film, based on stories from two of the first accredited paranormal investigators: Ed and Lorraine Warren. I love the paranormal, demons, ghosts, believable monsters… those things have always excited me because there’s always that possibility that those things could be real. There’s just no “definitive” proof to support the claims. When I see things like this, it may not be proof but it definitely strengthens my own belief and that’s good enough for me. This movie had a few terrifying moments, and my husband and I sat around for hours after watching it talking about demons and ghosts. It was great. One of the best horror movies I’ve seen in a long time, I highly recommend it to those who like a reasonable scare without the torture that seems prevalent in so many of today’s horror movies.
The Hunger Games series really pulled me in, and I didn’t expect it to. I didn’t even read the books until I went to see Catching Fire with my daughter, but now that I’m invested, I’m really loving these movies. I was pleasantly surprised to see how closely the films have been following the books, with only a few minor details left out here and there because really, if you want the book experience, just read the book and watch the movie screen in your mind. There were several times during this movie that I was emotionally moved to tears, and was glad I’d stuffed extra napkins into my coat pocket while waiting for my popcorn. I used every single one of those darn napkins to wipe away my tears.
I may not be much of an action movie gal, but I do love Vin Diesel, and I’ve been a Fast and Furious franchise fan since the original movie. After Fast Five, I was anxiously awaiting the sequel to find out how the heck Lettie was still alive. These movies are simple enough, filled with fast cars, criminals breaking the law to get by and believe it or not, some pretty strong values. One of the things I’ve loved about these movies since the beginning was the family bond between the characters, and their willingness to do whatever it takes to keep their family together. Fast and Furious 6 was just like all the others, chock full of car chases, explosions and impossible to achieve stunts that will probably get some dumbass somewhere killed before all is said and done, but I liked it a lot. I do think it’s getting close to being time for this franchise to call it quits, and as much as I like the movies, I sort of hope Fast and Furious 7 is the last one. Funny, though I’d been looking forward to the newest Riddick movie for ages, I picked Fast and Furious 6 over that one to watch because Riddick looks dangerously similar to Pitch Black and I’m afraid I will not love a movie I’ve wanted to see made forever.
So, there you have it. My top ten movies from 2013. I know there are a lot of movies that were great, but didn’t get mentioned, but most of the ones I didn’t mention were movies I would probably never watch again. That’s how I gauge a movie’s goodness, on the number of times I’m willing to sit down and watch it again. All of the movies on this list are movies I would watch again (and again and in some cases again.)
What were some of your favorite movies that came out in 2013?