Stevennix2001's Top ten BEST movies of 2013

Introduction

Another year has finally come to an end, and it's time for me to publish my top ten films of last year. It's been quite a year for movies, and there were a lot of contenders that could've easily made this list.

However, the sad thing about a top ten list of anything is that chances are not everyone is going to make the cut. Sadly, that seems to be the case here. Therefore, I'm just going to warn my readers right now. There's a strong chance that a film you might think belongs on this list won't be on here.

Having said that though, anyone is more than welcome to list their top ten movies of 2013 down in the comment section below. And, I'll be more than happy to discuss and answer any questions that you all may have about these selections.

Now that we've established this...let's get the show on the road.

10. Frozen

This one was a bit of a no brainer. "Frozen" is arguably one of the best animated films of all time, and it rightfully deserves to be on this list. Although, I probably shouldn't say it's the best Disney animated feature that I've ever seen, as "Lion King" and "Beauty and the Beast" are still better.

I will say that "Frozen" is definitely a masterpiece, as it manages to make Disney's animated princess stories popular again. Not only does the film subvert most of the stereotypes and cliches that plagued past Disney animated princess films, but it also manages to tell a very touchingly unique story as well.

I especially loved the characterization of Elsa in this film, as she was forced into sort of antagonistic position, but she wasn't evil. And, the resolution involving her character at the end did involve love, but it wasn't the same old cliched kind of love that would've happened in past Disney films. It was a unique set up, and it had a great moral for kids by showing them that the true path to happiness is embracing who you really are.

Although the film does subvert a lot of cliches and stereotypes that plagued past Disney princess films, there's still quite a few that it reinforces as well. For instance, you still have the dopey sidekick character, who comes off more like generic stereotype than anything else.

(Warning: The Next Paragraph contains spoilers)

And even though the movie goes through the whole notion dismissing the whole "love at first sight" nonsense, it still manages to introduce another rushed love story for the sake of having one; even though it added little to nothing to the overall story arc.

Granted, these minor flaws don't hurt the film from being one of best movies of last year, but it does prevent it from being ranked higher on this list.

Warning: Video contains adult language and adult situations. Parental Discretion is advised

9. The Butler

To be honest, I do plan to write a review on this movie eventually, so I'll try to keep my thoughts more direct on this one. The movie is said to based on a true story about a butler, who served in the white house for several generations. Witnessing several presidential reign, while dealing with personal problems at home, as most of the story takes place during the civil rights movement.

It's an interesting story that's chalked full of historical references that most history buffs might find intriguing. Not to mention, it tells a rather deep and interesting character arc that immerses the viewer into a captivating experience.

Although the film does drag a few times, and it's not that much different than most films that focus n racism. However, it's still a great movie nonetheless that deserves to be recognized.

8. Ernest & Celestine

Apart from feeling a bit short, the overall movie itself actually quite enjoyable. The characters are interesting, and the story is chalked full of heartfelt moments. Unlike most animated features, this one mostly involves the viewers enjoying the interaction between the characters.

Similar to how many audiences enjoy watching the characters in the "Winnie the Pooh" movies, as it's more about spending time with these characters than anything else.

Another thing that's interesting about this movie is it's unique style in animation. In an era where CGI has become the norm, it's quite refreshing to see that hand drawn animation can still work. I especially loved how the whole movie had more of a water painting style to it as well. In fact, some of the transition scenes would often involve a blank sheet of paper, and then you'd see subtle pencil lines being drawn in; followed by splashes of paint to color in the characters. It was probably one of the best transitions that I've seen in animated film before.

And even though the story about two characters who aren't supposed be friends because of society is a tad cliche to say the least, it still works for this film. "Ernest & Celestine" may not have garnered the same level of hype as "Frozen" did, but it's worth checking out if you haven't already.

7. Saving Mr. Banks

Like "The Butler", I'll try to keep my thoughts on this short because I do plan to write a review on this one as well. Since becoming a film critic, I've been fascinated with the history of movies in general. Granted, most of the older films that you'll find on TMC and AMC probably wouldn't hold up to today's standards, but they're still classics that we have to respect because if it wasn't for those great movies, then none of the films that we have today would even exist.

Therefore, when I first heard there would be a film based around what happened behind the scenes of "Mary Poppins", I knew I had to see it. Granted, there have been reports that the events this movie is based on are highly exaggerated for dramatic effect. However, the movie is still fairly entertaining for what it is. Plus, aren't all movies a bit exaggerated for dramatic effect anyway?

However, the real story lies in the Emma Thompson's character, P.L. Travers, struggling to deal with the tragic past involving her father. Although P.L.'s father was a good man at heart, he was an alcoholic. To her own regret, there was nothing she could do to save him. Needless to say, they were quite close, so the loss of her father made Ms. Travers quite bitter over the years.

But to quote Tom Hanks from the film, "George Banks and all he stands for will be saved. Maybe not in life, but in imagination. Because that's what we storytellers do. We restore order with imagination. We instill hope again and again and again." In the end, isn't that part of the reason why we watch films to begin with? To escape the confines and cruelty of reality? Sure, we may not always have happy endings in real life, but it's always refreshing that we can sometimes escape into films to instill a sense of hope.

Warning: Video contains adult language, adult situations, and violence. Parental discretion is advised

6. Captain Phillips

Arguably one of the best films of 2013. The movie is based on the real life story of Captain Phillips, as he gets captured by some Somali pirates. Like "Saving Mr. Banks", the events in this film are a bit exaggerated, but it's like I always say about films in general. Whenever you go into any film that's based on any form of reality, you have to keep in mind that no matter how realistic the filmmakers try to make it that it's not reality. Nothing is going to be a hundred percent accurate to the source, nor is everything going to be realistic. Heck, I would tend to question anyone's sanity if they honestly expected to learn all the facts about tragic real life events, from a movie that wasn't a documentary of some kind.

However, "Captain Phillips" does a great job capturing the fears of our protagonist's situation that immerses the viewer into the story, and it's great to see how well the movie portrays the Navy Seals in action. It's an interesting film, and definitely one of the best dramas that I've seen in a long time.

5. Blue Jasmine

Arguably Woody Allen's darkest film ever made. Although this film probably won't garner as much love from audiences as Woody's other classics such as "Midnight in Paris" or "Annie Hall", I have to admit that "Blue Jasmine" is probably one of the deepest character studies ever written.

The story focuses on a woman that's lost everything in her life, after her husband passed away. Once, she was rubbing elbows with other high society members. Now, she's nothing more than a shadow of her former self.

She soon realizes that life may never be like it was for her before, and she soon finds that all her mistakes start to come back and haunt her. She even begins to realize that her once perfect life may not have been all it was cracked up to be, as she continues down a path of self destruction and despair.

It's an interesting character study that deserves to be viewed, and it's arguably one of Woody Allen's best films to date.

4. 12 Years a Slave

Like "Frozen", this film was a bit of a no brainer for me to put on this list. It's arguably one of the best movies of all time, and it features a lot of strong social commentary about racism and slavery.

Although the concepts of racism and slavery aren't exactly new to Hollywood, "12 Years a Slave" takes a unique approach to the subject matter that somehow makes it feel fresh and original.

Like most audiences that are unfamiliar with how things were back in the slavery days, our main protagonist starts off as a free man; pre civil war era. He lives in upstate New York, where he makes a living as a musician.

He's offered a job in Washington, but things don't go according to plan, when he's confused for a runaway slave. Cut off from his family and closest friends. With little hope of survival, Solomon Northup does everything and anything he can to survive his current predicament.

Although the story can get a bit too graphic at times, the movie is actually executed quite well. Making the audience feel the plight of what our protagonist is going through, as we're immersed into this cruel world of racism and tyranny of oppression.


3. The Wind Rises

Although this film didn't win "Best Animated Feature" at the Oscars this year, it's still arguably the best animated movie of 2013 by far. Based on the real life story of Jiro Horikoshi, a plane designer during WWII for Japan. Hayao Miyazaki manages to tell a captivating story chalk full of emotional depth, and character exploration, as we see Jiro desperately try to follow his dream to design airplanes. Not because he wants his country to use them for war. No, all he wants is to follow his dream and create something beautiful.

In a strange way, that sort of defines Hayao Miyazaki's career. Every film he's made was always brimming with creativity that defied the depths of our own imagination. Indeed, Hayao Miyazaki was a true creative visionary if there was one, and it's fitting that his last film,"The Wind Rises", embodies that.

If that wasn't enough, there's also a love story in this movie as well. Jiro falls in love with a girl that suffers from a terminally ill disease. Although, they don't spend a lot of screen time together. The times we do see them say so much, even if they say very little. It's like watching poetry in motion, as it's arguably one of the most touching love stories ever made.

2. Philomena

Originally, I was going to put this movie at number one on this list. But in hindsight, I dropped it down a notch because the next film has more of a unique concept that automatically bumps it up to number one. However, that's not a knock against "Philomena", as I still consider it one of the best films ever made. No, it's more of an attestation of how great the number one pick on this list truly is.

However, I'll delve more into that when we get to it. For now, let's focus on "Philomena." As I said before in my review of this film, "Philomena" is arguably one of the best movies of all time. Not only does it feature a heartfelt story about a woman trying to find her long lost son, after so many years, but it also acts a strong social commentary about some of the hypocrisies about the Catholic Church.

I won't spoil it for readers, but the movie is very controversial, when it comes to the topic of religion in general. Yet, that's not to say that this film is anti religious either. After all, the main character, Philomena, still remains a deeply religious woman throughout this entire film.

Plus, it's that the movie presents a strong moral about life that we can all learn from. Although forgiving those that have wronged us in the past isn't easy, but it's far easier to forgive a person than it is to resent them for the rest of your days. It's arguably one of the most unique films that I've ever seen, and it's worth checking out. Sadly, the film only got a limited release, so I'm not surprised it didn't have a lot of hype going into the Oscars earlier this year.

1. Her

"Her" is arguably one of the most unique love stories of all time. The film essentially follows Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix), who works as a letter writer for various couples.

After his girlfriend and him broke up, he's been having difficulty moving on ever since. However, his life changes one day, when he falls in love with his own computer system that was designed to meet all his personal needs. And surprisingly enough, she falls for him as well. But can one really call that love?

Like most of Spike Jonze's films, this one is chalked full of symbolism to it's story content that you can't help but admire how creative this movie truly is. Not only is the concept original, but it brings up so many thought provoking questions about the nature of relationships in general. It also acts a social commentary about social media, and some of the issues concerning online dating these days. It's a very interesting film to say the least, and it's arguably one of the greatest love stories of our generation.

© 2014 Steven Escareno

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