10. The Wolf of Wall Street
Somebody give Leonardo DiCaprio an Oscar already! I mean what does this guy have to do, he delivered countless high-caliber performances. Just look at: The Departed, Catch Me If You Can, Shutter Island, and The Aviator to name a few. He proves once again how wide his range is and even after all these years, can still surprise us. The Wolf of Wall Street is very entertaining, being hilarious and meticulously constructed. A dramatic element present too that stabilizes things too providing some interesting moral questions posing big statements. I strongly disagree with the criticism that Belfort was glorified in any way shape or form. Martin Scorsese has done it again (no shock there).
I wasn't eager on seeing Her after initially hearing about it. Thought the whole premise of a man falling in love with his operating-system wouldn't work out in a believable way. It really caught me off guard how well that was pulled off. Spike Jones deserves lots of praise for accomplishing that feat. The screenplay analyzes what constitutes love, and it's delved into so beautifully. Scarlet Johansson had a difficult task, but she expresses herself with such wonder and joy that is truly captivating. She also had great chemistry with Joaquin Phoenix even though Johansson never visually appears in the movie, her voice acting was magnificent. Her is one of the most deeply felt romances I've seen.
8. The Place Beyond the Pines
“Epic” might not be the ideal word, but The Place Beyond the Pines tells a sprawling story that serves as much weight as any other dram I can think of. While some things could have been altered to make this even better, it’s still one of the best movies of the year. Characters are the most crucial element here, the film immerses itself in them. The Place Beyond the Pines is focused and deliberately paced. It can be heavy to take in, but is one heck of a complex drama. I can’t wait to see what Derek Cianfrance does next.
7. About Time
About Time without a doubt is the most underrated movie of 2013. It seemed everyone was focusing on the time travel element, over analyzing and trying to find problems with it where that isn't a what the movie is all about. From the poster, I was expecting yet another romantic comedy that goes through the motions. Now, there is still a love story, but there is so much more than that. The message, or overall theme of the film about appreciating life as if it was your last. It was done extremely well not hitting you over the head with it, or being too preachy. I walked out feeling upbeat and happy about life, can't remember when a movie last did that to me. The acting was wonderful from everyone. Particularity Bill Nighy who subtly delivers a performance that moved me.
6. The Way Way Back
There are no bad elements, but the two things that make The Way Way Back are the script and Sam Rockwell. Rockwell is at his very best here delivering one of his finest performances. He is so sincere as this guy who hasn't quite left his own youth and understands what really matters more than any other adults around Duncan. Such a versatile, and sometimes underrated actor mixing his endless flare, strong emotional control, and hilarious mannerisms bringing such life to the character of Owen. Nat Faxon and Jim Rash – who also wrote The Descendants – are amazing writers. They know how to fashion a riveting story from start to finish. The Way Way Back is an honest movie that provides both laughter and tears.
5. Captain Phillips
I knew Paul Greengrass could rack of some tension, but not to this magnitude. Boy did Captain Phillips have my heart racing. It was all deserved as well, never anything done in a manipulative therewith is no loud swelling music or shaky cam trying to force anything. The story was portrayed so honestly and grounded to where you feel as if you're experiencing this crisis right along with everybody else. Tom Hanks along with other aspects help Phillips feel real. He is no glossy superhero, but a regular human who is faced up against a terrible situation, and his heroism that is shown, is bought. What a thriller.
4. Lone Survivor
There is a battle scene that begins in the middle that could rival any other in film history. It was THAT well done. The sound design was outstanding. Peter Berg directs the action masterfully, slowing down occasionally to ensure us as viewers feel the bullets hit, and hear the bones break. The violence is brutal, holding nothing back. Not overly violent however, or grotesque. It’s an intense movie that pushes you deep in your seat. Lone Survivor is the best war movie since Saving Private Ryan. Negative backlash has been thrown around by a good amount of people claiming propaganda. Honestly, I didn’t get that feeling while watching, and think that it’s an overall misinterpretation of the message the movie wanted to get across.
3. American Hustle
Under the marvelous direction by David O.Russell, American Hustle looks like a 70s con/mob film through and through. Everything down to the costumes, set pieces, and even the soundtrack that completely brings you out of the present throwing you into the world being portrayed on screen. Aside from being hilarious and simply fun to watch, it has a deeper message about hustling to survive. American Hustle took risks when pertaining to storytelling, and they all panned out. A major highlight for me was the characters (boosted by the amazing acting, my personal favorite being Christian Bale) who were so well written, that American Hustle could pass for being a character study.
The visuals here are masterful (that complement still feels like an understatement). You literally are in space with the characters - truly breathtaking. Easily the best space has looked on screen. Even though the technical aspect plays a major role, Gravity has substance. It is a rare breed. Simplistic, but so refreshingly new as well. There is a sensational and overwhelming power that Alfonso Cuarón's space thriller has that possesses and manages to do this for its entire running time staying with you long after the credits roll. The script by Alfonso Cuarón and son Jonas Cuarón shows restraint. Dialog isn't simply placed to break the silence. They let the scenery and acting portray certain things. When the dialog comes, though, it's excellent.
At first the story stars out slow paced building everything up. There are even some humorous moments mixed in. It’s deliberate on how it unfolds. A darker path is taken as it progress. I was completely immersed right away and never got out of that state; still on my mind. Mud tells a fabulously simple, yet complex story with a phenomenal screenplay. Part of the joy in watching Mud is the performances. There’s no weak link to be found; all are outstanding. Especially Matthew McConaughey who delivers one of, if not his finest performance. Does such a good job at subtlety playing on different emotions so you never know what to think. Mud flawlessly embodies everything that’s good about independent films.