Top 10 Movies of 2013


Nick Hamden [email protected]

Iowa State Daily movie reviewer Nick Hamden counts down his top 10 films of 2013, as of December 19. 

Nick Hamden

Author’s Note: This guide was made before the entirety of the year 2013, so unfortunately some potential greats were not yet seen for this list. This includes: “Her,” “The Wolf Of Wall Street,” “The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty,” “Lone Survivor,” “Dallas Buyers Club,” “Blue Is The Warmest Color,” and “American Hustle.”

It’s that time of the year, where top 10 lists fill your screens, as everyone begins to shout about who’s opinion is “righter” than everyone else’s opinion — and here it is no different. The list below is purely my own opinion, but the opinion of someone who has seen every theatrical release this year (that came to Ames), and even more movies from their DVD releases later on. 

Honorable Mentions: It was very difficult to choose which movies I would place here, as quite a few just missed out on the top 10. Knowing this, I am placing “The Way, Way Back,” and “Disconnect” as my honorable mentions. The former finds that fine line between comedy and drama and walks it straighter than any other movie this year, while the later gives us three powerful and intertwined stories about how technology connects and breaks apart relationships in today’s world.

10. Rush (Sports/Drama/Biography)

The best part about “Rush” making the top 10 list is that it adds diversity. Technically, it fits into the sports movie category, and usually a sports movie has to be about boxing to make any sort of top film list. Ron Howard has created an instant masterpiece, telling the true story of two Formula 1 drives in the 1970s. He recreated the races perfectly, every turn, every crash, as they actually happened in real life. Add in great acting, and you get a wonderful movie. 

9. The Conjuring (Horror)

Horror in 2013 had a pretty rough year. Heck, October only had one major horror release. There were a few decent new movies and remakes, but overall it was nothing special. “The Conjuring,” however, not only brought horror films back to their eerie roots, but did it without the excess. It was rated R, not for sex, or drugs, or language, or gore, but for being intensely scary. It was so popular and well loved, is is not only getting a sequel, but also three spinoffs.

8. This Is The End (Comedy)

I never said this would be a prestigious list in any way, which explains why this movie is here. Hands down, in terms of laughs per minute, this film had me giggling the most of any other movie in 2013. It is raunchy, it is wrong, it is dark, and yet I could not get enough of it. Once the Apocalypse begins, everything hits the fan and becomes nonstop ridiculous scene after ridiculous scene. More than half of this film was probably ad libbed, as the actors involved have some of the best chemistry together, given their real life friendships.

7. The Place Beyond The Pines (Drama)

“The Place Beyond The Pines” came out all the way back in March, so it has been forgotten by a lot of people at this point. However, it has the distinction of being the first film this year I truly loved and appreciated. There were a lot of bombs and disappointments in March, but this three act story was so well put together, it is hard not to get emotional along the way. Fantastic performances by Bradley Cooper, Ryan Gosling, and the two kids involved. 

6. Pain & Gain (Action/Comedy)

This one is probably going to be the biggest surprise to you all. A Michael Bay movie? On a top 10 list? Hey, I am just as surprised as you, but I was completely blown away with this movie when it came out in theaters in April. It is a strange mix of action and dark comedy that just seems to work. It also shows the range of depth that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson actually possess as an actor. It was a wild ride and one that became more bumpier and more extreme the further and further it went. 

5. Prisoners (Thriller/Drama)

When I first saw the trailer for “Prisoners,” it looked like a joke of a movie. It almost seemed like it was just Hugh Jackman yelling at everyone after his child goes missing. Instead, it was a 2.5 hour well thought out and well acted thriller, with great acting from everyone in the cast. “Prisoners” did not dumb down the plot for its viewers, requiring them to keep up to understand all of the ins and outs of its very intricate story line. It is an incredible journey and one that kept me on the edge of my seat until the very end. 

4. Frozen (Animated/Musical)

“Frozen” gets the distinction of being the only animated movie and the only musical on this list. The summer in particular felt void of any truly great animated films, bad release or sequel after sequel. Of the handful of actually great animated films, “Frozen” wins by a landslide. An original plot, a wonderful score, great voice work, great animation, and a beautifully created world that will invite viewers back over and over again. Keep it up, Walt Disney Animation Studios.

3. Gravity  (Sci-Fi/Drama)

The last time there was a must see 3D movie, it changed the future of 3D films forever. “Gravity” takes it one step further than “Avatar” by actually having a wonderful plot and acting to go along with it. My one fear with “Gravity” is that when I own it and watch it at home on Blu-Ray, it will lose some of the magic that it had in theaters. If you haven’t seen the short film companion piece, “Aningaaq,” then you are in for another emotional treat, as it forces you to relive one of the sadder parts of the movie. 

2. Before Midnight (Drama/Romance)

If you have not heard about this movie, then you are missing out on probably the best drama/romance trilogy of our time. “Before Midnight” is the third film by Richard Linklater, detailing the relationship between Jesse and Celine, set and filmed 9 years apart between installments. It was a bold undertaking and it paid off. This movie not only featured incredibly realistic acting, but one of the more realistic movie relationships I have ever seen. It was definitely worth the 18 year wait. 

1. 12 Years A Slave (Drama/Biography)

I had a lot of hard decisions when making this list, but I knew the entire time what deserved to be number one overall. “12 Years A Slave” is not only the most powerful movie of the year, but probably one of the more powerful movies I have ever seen. Steve McQueen doesn’t hold back any punches as he shot amazing and heart pounding scenes, telling the story as it was written. For those with weak stomachs, they might find a few scenes unsettling. I never thought “another movie about slavery” would have such an impact on me, but I am glad it did and I am glad this story has gained recognition. Look out for the nominations coming Chiwetel Ejiofor‘s way for his role in this film.

Did your top movies not make the list? Do you disagree completely? Comment below and tell me what’s missing / what shouldn’t make the grade, and I will see you at the Oscars!