Alright, here we go. My 5 favorite movies of 2013. This has been a very good year for movies, and it was really tough narrowing it down to just 5. That being said, I will admit that there are a few movies that I have not been able to see that look like they could make this list. Those that I haven't seen yet but will soon are Wolf of Wall Street, American Hustle, The Spectacular Now, and Short Term 12. Hopefully I'll see those soon. From what I did see, these are the best.
5. Despicable Me 2
Directed by Pierre Coffin & Chris Renaud, Voiced by Steve Carell & Kristen Wiig
I've said it once, I'll say it again. If you can watch the Despicable Me movies and not fall in love with the Minions, you have no heart. The story is fun, the characters are memorable, but the Minions really make these movies what they are - irresistible. It may not win any Best Picture Oscars, but it was certainly one of the best times I had at the theater this year.
4. 12 Years a Slave
Directed by Steve McQueen, Starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender & Lupita Nyong'o
I don't think I've ever been as emotionally effected by a movie in my entire life. I think this will be one of those movies that is shown in school, much like Schindler's List, in order to show what the days of slavery were really like. Based on a true story, we follow Solomon Northup as he is abducted and sold into slavery. All three main actors here deserve Oscar noms, especially Fassbender as Edwin Epps, a malevolent slave owner who will haunt your 'Worst Villain' lists for years to come. McQueen's direction is masterful, and he often lingers on tough shots just to make you think about it until you look away...because he's not going to.
Directed by Denis Villeneuve, Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Hugh Jackman & Paul Dano
Prisoners really took me by surprise. Upon seeing the trailer, it looked like a standard, "by the numbers crime flick that we'll dump into theaters in late summer after all of the good stuff has already been released" flick. What it ended up being was a grip the edge of your chair, hold your woman's hand and grit your teeth for two and a half hours thriller. Make no mistake, this is a tough movie to watch (especially if you have kids), but make sure to get a small drink, because you will not find a good place to leave the theater during this run time - every frame is suspenseful.
Directed by Jeff Nichols, Starring Matthew McConaughey, Tye Sheridan & Jacob Lofland
This was the year of Matthew McConaughey. Not only did he star in this terrific movie, he was in the critically acclaimed Dallas Buyers Club and Wolf of Wall Street. However, he didn't own the screen in Mud. That distinction goes to Tye Sheridan, a teenage actor who you'll know all about some day. He goes toe to toe with McConaughey and really makes you feel what it's like growing up on an Arkansas riverbank. Mud ends up being a great coming-of-age movie.
Directed by Alfonso Cuaron, Starring Sandra Bullock & George Clooney
Cuaron's Children of Men is a modern classic, a fantastic original story combined with perfect direction. Since then, we've had to wait 7 years for another Cuaron appearance. I had been waiting on Gravity since then, and damn, did he deliver.
I normally don't like 3D movies, but this one was made specifically for it, and used it so well. When I stepped out of the theater, it felt like I had been floating for two hours. There were points when I was literally squeezing the life out of my wife's hand or the arm of my chair, because the way this was filmed was so intense. The direction was impeccable and the visuals were amazing. The other four movies were tough to put into order, but number one was a no-brainer. I haven't had a theater experience like this in years.
Just missing the cut: Only God Forgives, The Way, Way Back, Frozen