To complete my year-end posts, I’ve compiled a list of my fifteen favorite movies I saw in 2013 (though they may not all have come out in 2013). Considering I saw 158 new movies this year, this will be a tough ranking, but I’ll do my best. What movies did you enjoy in 2013?
1. Django Unchained, Quentin Tarantino, 2012
I’ve not seen many Tarantino films, but I saw this one twice in theaters. The cast is great, the story is great, the performances are great. Aside from all the crazy violence, what’s not to like? (Side note: Jamie Foxx and Kerry Washington are the cutest together.)
2. The Sessions, Ben Lewin, 2012
Can I just say that John Hawkes was completely robbed of nominations for this performance? I’m glad Helen Hunt was consistently recognized, but Hawkes was overlooked for this fantastic performance. This is great movie with the perfect blend of sweet and sad. Even though it’s a movie about sex, it’s really not about sex at all. Go watch it.
3. Beautiful Creatures, Richard LaGravenese, 2013
This may seem like a strange choice, but I totally loved this movie. I finished reading this series this year and was intrigued by the movie, so when I watched it over the summer, I was very pleasantly surprised. Though it’s not totally accurate to the books, it’s very entertaining, and Alden Ehrenreich is really, really adorable as the male lead. If you’re looking for some girly, silly amusement, this is your movie. On the plus side, it features performances by Hollywood greats Emma Thompson, Viola Davis, and Jeremy Irons, so it can’t be all bad.
4. Psycho, Alfred Hitchcock, 1960
Everyone should see this classic thriller. This is Hitchcock at his best, and despite being over fifty years old, the thrills are still exciting. It’s just an added bonus that the TV show Bates Motel now exists as a modern day prequel to this story.
5. Atonement, Joe Wright, 2007
This is one of my friend Ryan’s favorites, so I borrowed it this summer to finally see what all the fuss was about. It’s a beautiful film visually, and the story is beautifully heartbreaking. Also, James McAvoy is the cutest ever. And he speaks French in this, so it’s basically perfect.
6. The Way, Way Back, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, 2013
This is a perfect summer movie. It features a great cast and story, and the young lead Liam James is perfectly awkward as a sweet fifteen-year-old. This movie makes you feel nostalgic, even if you have no similar experiences. The only bad thing is that Steve Carell plays a jerk, which is just really upsetting.
7. The Giant Mechanical Man, Lee Kirk, 2012
This is an adorable indie film that is totally worth watching. I developed a small obsession with Chris Messina this summer, so I watched a lot of his movies, and this one was by far my favorite. He’s adorable in it, as is Jenna Fischer. It’s a sweet story and an easy movie to watch. Go for it.
8. Some Like It Hot, Billy Wilder, 1959
This was the first time I’ve seen Marilyn Monroe in anything, and I kind of get the obsession now. She’s stunning in this classic, perfect comedy, and Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis complete this perfect trio. Don’t let the age fool you; the laughs are not lost since the movie’s original release date. There’s a reason why this is called the greatest comedy of all time.
9. Blue Jasmine, Woody Allen, 2013
I’ve now seen a solid handful of Woody Allen’s films, and this one ranks up there as one of my favorites. Cate Blanchett is AMAZING as Jasmine, a woman whose lost everything since her husband was arrested for laundering money. Another great cast full of great performances, and I won’t be surprised in Blanchett takes home an Oscar for this performance.
10. Enough Said, Nicole Holofcener, 2013
This is such a great movie. It’s a smart romantic comedy with heart, full of great performances. I’m so glad Julia Louis-Dreyfus was nominated for a Golden Globe for this role, and I hope she and the late James Gandolfini receive Oscar attention.
11. Gravity, Alfonso Cuaron, 2013
This is an amazing, stressful movie that I think will be remembered for a long time. The effects are brilliant, and Sandra Bullock is great as the leading (and only) lady. As far as I can tell, the top prizes at most award shows will be split between this and 12 Years a Slave, so it’ll be interesting to see how that pans out.
12. An Officer and a Gentleman, Taylor Hackford, 1982
This is one of those great romantic 1980s movies everyone should see. It’s not the greatest ever, but it’s so fun to watch, and Richard Gere is super attractive in it.
13. Emma, Douglas McGrath, 1996
This is such a fun British film, full of many familiar faces. Gwyneth Paltrow is great in the titular role, the story of this Jane Austen adaptation is too sweet and entertaining to dislike. Perfect for a wintry day at home.
14. 12 Years a Slave, Steve McQueen, 2013
Like Gravity, I think this will be an important film for years to come. This devastating story is often very difficult to watch, but it’s also so very important to understanding American history. It features great performances coupled with stunning visuals and a beautiful soundtrack, and is sure to take home a slew of awards this season.
15. Nebraska, Alexander Payne, 2013
As a pseudo-Nebraskan, I would say Payne, a Nebraskan himself, hit the nail on the head with the cultural representation of the region. It’s enjoyable how familiar many of these characters feel. Apart from that, though, is an absolutely amazing performance by Bruce Dern, and great supporting performances by June Squibb, Will Forte, and Bob Odenkirk, as well as a great story. The movie is hilarious at times and heartbreaking at others, and the combination is great. As far as I’m concerned, this is a must see before awards shows in January.