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Top Ten Movies of 2013

Boy has this been a good year for movies. I didn’t get to see them all, but I feel like I got to see some of the best.  Of course, I will update this list periodically.

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10. The World’s End

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Edgar Wright’s final addition to his loosely connected Cornetto Trilogy is devilishly smart and will you have you laughing the whole time.

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9. Frances Ha

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For any 20-something this movie is so true, it hurts. It could be considered a thematic counterpart to HBO’s Girls, but the character of Frances allows this movie to jump, dance, skip, and fall on its own.

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8. Prisoners

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This chilling crime thriller steers far deeper than the everyday-tv-cop-show level of drama. It’s writing might not be the most original, but its direction and acting (Hugh Jackman gives us some of his best work) loft this film among 2013’s best.

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7. Star Trek Into Darkness

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J.J. Abrams continues to deliver these quality big movies. I don’t pretend to be a Trek connoisseur, but it’s not hard to appreciate how the new Star Trek universe is flipping characters and story lines on their heads and making it work.

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6. Captain Phillips

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 Paul Greengrass and Tom Hanks deliver some of the best work of their careers.

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5. Blue Jasmine

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Woody Allen continues to surprise at the ripe old age of 78.  Jasmine is perhaps his most timely movie and it may be Blanchett’s best.

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4. Nebraska

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Yes, there’s a lot to be said about this movie, but let’s not forget how darn funny it is. Nebraska is cinema gold and will linger in my mind for years to come.

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3. Before Midnight

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It’s hard to describe how a trilogy of movies about two talkative people falling in love is so good to people who haven’t seen them. But once you see the Before movies, you’ll know. You’ll know why the acting, writing and relationship tugs your heart all over the place. This movie is a must-see for watching one of the greatest cinematic relationships ever cap off one of the best trilogies ever.

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2. 12 Years a Slave

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An absolute stunner of a movie that will leave you shaken to your core. Steve McQueen has done nothing but make great movies, but his third effort will surely live on as a classic. If there’s any movie this year that I plead for people to go see, it’s this one.

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1. Gravity

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Although I feel like 12 Years a Slave was 2013’s most important film, Gravity still finds its way to #1 in my heart. It’s simply cinema in it’s purest form. It’s the perfect combination of visual awe, character intimacy, and tonal direction. People like to complain about the script in this movie. Umm, there was a script? I was too busy in Sandra Bullock’s helmet gasping for my own air while in my theatre seat. This is a director’s and actor’s film, not a writer’s movie. And that’s a rare thing, especially for a big budget film. The fact that there was little to no knowledge about these characters or circumstances made the experience even more personal. Any plot point or logical explanation would have taken me away from Bullock’s immediate emotional swings. This movie was never about logic or backstory. It’s about the audience’s desire to breathe. Gravity is flawless in my eyes and will stand as the greatest theatre experience I have ever had.

Honorable Mentions: PhilomenaThe Place Beyond the PinesUpstream ColorDallas Buyer’s Club, HerSaving Mr. BanksAmerican HustleTo The Wonder, Enough SaidMud, The Wolf of Wall StreetAin’t Them Bodies SaintsMonsters University, Oblivion

Movies that make me think of Fall

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Seasonal changes demand a lot from us. Wardrobe adjustments. New decorations to put around the house. Holidays. The beginning of a new season always makes me aware of growth and change, yet triggers memories of seasons past. With Autumn just starting, my wife asked me last night to put in a fall movie. I sat there for a few minutes trying to figure out what that means. Sure it’s easy to think of Christmas movies, but “Fall” movies? It’s rather interesting how there are intangible clues that seasons are changing. What makes us “feel” like it’s Fall?  Does it go all the way down to a biological level where our bodies have natural cycles that relate to seasons? Or is it all just one big marketing mastermind that tells us what we should think of and do given the corresponding month on our calendars?

After some thinking, naturally, my brain went straight to football. I suggested Rudy. No go. There’s already enough football on during the week. Unfortunately, after about 5 minutes of thinking we eventually got onto a different topic and never settled.

So after some thought, here are my top ten movies that make me think of Fall. Not all are warm and fuzzy, but all contain some essence of what the season feels like. Read More…

Ten must-see cult films of the past decade

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The “cult film” status is an ambiguous claim. There’s several ways to look at it. Cult films could simply be movies that didn’t anticipate having a huge fan base.  They could be movies that failed at the box office but went on to have an unbelievable DVD shelf life. Cult films could be panned by critics but loved by fans. They could do all of the above. One thing that all  films need to reach that “cult film” status is time. Since we live in the digital age of instant gratification, I think cult status can be reached sooner. Maybe 20 years from now people will still be talking about these movies. Maybe not. This list isn’t made up of the most underground cult films of the past decade, but cult films are dependent on next generation taking them on. You can see that in recent (but not recent enough to make this list) cult films such as The Boondock Saints, The Big Lebowski, and Donnie Darko. Read More…

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