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Autumn’s Top Ten Movies of 2013

Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan in The Great Gatsby. Photo: Warner Brothers
Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan in The Great Gatsby.
Photo: Warner Brothers

It is past the New Year now and while I haven’t seen as many of the 2013 releases as I would have liked, 2013 was a still a great year of entertainment! There were actually a good amount of films that came out, so many that I just haven’t had time to see everything (Blue Jasmine, Gravity, Romeo and Juliet, etc.). And I don’t know about everyone else, but I love to read critics’ top choices of the year to see if I agree or not (usually not). A lot of these lists try to only pick the films they ‘think’ are going to end up on the award winning block. That to me, isn’t particularly interesting because these lists tend to ignore those well-made genre films that were both well written AND fun.

Still, I also love a good character piece so there are those too. Basically, it just comes down to me selecting the 10 movies I loved the most. This year was such a good year, however, that I could have done 20. Nevertheless, I did finally narrow (though on a different day, my mood could have slightly altered the outcome of this list) down to my top ten and I warn that much of my list is rather similar to Amber’s (but we are twins after all…). So starting at the top, I give you the movies I loved best in 2013:

#10: STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS

Benedict Cumberbatch and Chris Pine in Star Trek Into Darkness. Photo: Paramount
Benedict Cumberbatch and Chris Pine in Star Trek Into Darkness.
Photo: Paramount

I have to confess that I have never been a huge Star Trek fan even though I like science fiction for the most part. But something about how J.J. Abrams rewrote it for new people to become invested in these characters just worked. The script was funny, the characters dynamic and interesting, and best of all was Benedict Cumberbatch as Khan. He just makes for a fantastic villain.

#9: WARM BODIES

Nicholas Hoult and Teresa Palmer in Warm Bodies. Photo: Summit Entertainment
Nicholas Hoult and Teresa Palmer in Warm Bodies.
Photo: Summit Entertainment

I love paranormal romances but I especially love paranormal romances that are well done. Inspired slightly by Shakespeare’s, Romeo and Juliet, Warm Bodies tells the story about a zombie named R who starts slowly gaining back his humanity when he falls for Julie, one of the few humans unaffected by the virus. Together, they must try and change the world in order to save it. While I don’t usually love zombies (just a little too gory), this is one that is must see. More than just the forbidden and unlikely romance between R and Julie, however, is the symbolic themes present in the well written script. Warm Bodies is about how to truly live, not sleeping away our time with things that don’t matter. This is truly an underrated gem.

#8: PACIFIC RIM

Charlie Hunnam and Rinko Kikuchi in Pacific Rim. Photo: Warner Brothers
Charlie Hunnam and Rinko Kikuchi in Pacific Rim.
Photo: Warner Brothers

This is one of those films where the trailers didn’t do the movie justice. Based on the trailer alone, it looked like some kind of horrible copy of The Transformers (a movie I truly detest) but I wanted to give it a chance based on the director Guillermo del Toro. Plus, Idris Elba and Charlie Hunnam wouldn’t want to star in something that horrid, right? Well, I was right and my instincts paid off. Instead of some sexist teen boy fest, I got a Sci-Fi love story about how an ex pilot and new trainee must come together to drive a weapon and fight against the monstrous creatures called Kaiju. With great characterization from the three leads, a compelling love story, and plot to back the whole thing up; this is one film that deserves more credit than it gets. But I guess it is a genre flick so it isn’t as deserving…

#7: THOR: THE DARK WORLD

Natalie Portman and Chris Hemsworth in Thor: The Dark World. Photo: Marvel
Natalie Portman and Chris Hemsworth in Thor: The Dark World.
Photo: Marvel

While I loved the first film, my one drawback was the build-up (or lack of one) between Thor and Jane Foster. I enjoyed them but I just wanted a little more development. The Dark World improved ten-fold on this front now that Thor had been gone from Jane’s life for two years (yeah, I’d be pretty peeved watching that whole Avengers thing on TV without even a call). So, Jane’s part in the film begins on a date but she isn’t really doing too well because the guy with the hammer is still on her mind. Who can really blame her after all? Other guys might be a bit of a letdown after that. Once the two reunite, the love story feels more earned and is even reminiscent of the Doctor and Rose. And speaking of Doctor Who, how could I not love Christopher Eccleston as an evil alien invading London? And of course there is also Loki who basically stole the whole film with his snide comments. Ultimately, this is one blockbuster flick I can’t wait to buy on DVD.

#6: ABOUT TIME

Domhnall Gleeson and Bill Nighy in About Time. Photo: Universal Pictures
Domhnall Gleeson and Bill Nighy in About Time.
Photo: Universal Pictures

Confession time: I did not love The Time Traveler’s Wife (which is odd considering how much I like stories about time travel) so as much as I like Rachel McAdams, I was a bit wary of this film just because I didn’t want a repeat of a movie that I didn’t like the first time around. Needless to say, I finally sucked it up because the film was written by Richard Curtis (Notting Hill, Love Actually) after all. He did not disappoint me. In fact, he did quite the opposite. And while I liked the love story and all the time traveling bits (he could only go back into his own timeline), this movie was all about the father and son relationship and living life to the fullest one day at a time. If the academy wasn’t so snobbish, I’d say that Bill Nighy was sure to be nominated for best supporting actor. His performance was just moving. From the masterful script writing, insights into what it is to be human, inspired performances and characters that are every bit as real as close friends, this is definitely one of the best films of 2013.

#5: AUSTENLAND

Keri Russell, J.J. Feild, and Bret McKenzie in Austenland. Photo: Sony Pictures Classics
Keri Russell, J.J. Feild, and Bret McKenzie in Austenland.
Photo: Sony Pictures Classics

Okay, this is clearly not one of the best films of all time but that doesn’t matter to me because I just adored everything about this romantic comedy about a Mr. Darcy obsessive who goes to England to have the full Jane Austen experience. I laughed throughout the whole film and appreciated that this is not meant to be taken seriously. The love story was particularly engaging between Jane in all of her Felicity fervor and J.J. Feild (who has already played an Austen leading man in Northanger Abbey) as the Mr. Darcy like character. If only there were more movies like this…

#4: THE BOOK THIEF

Emily Watson, Nico Liersch, and Sophie Nelisse in The Book Thief. Photo: Twentieth Century Fox
Emily Watson, Nico Liersch, and Sophie Nelisse in The Book Thief.
Photo: Twentieth Century Fox

Based on one of my favorite books of all time, The Book Thief had a lot to live up to and for the most part it definitely did. More fairytale like than a historical epic, I appreciated the storytelling feel to the movie with Death as narrator. Everything about this movie was magical and memorable from the stunning visuals to the enchanting characters that compelled me and captured my heart just as much as Liesel compelled and intrigued Death. And for those who have read the book, can we just talk about the perfection of Rudy? It was like seeing my own imagination come to life. This is a great film about hope in the midst of darkness and tragedy.

#3: SAVING MR. BANKS

Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson in Saving Mr. Banks. Photo: Disney
Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson in Saving Mr. Banks.
Photo: Disney

If you have been following this blog for a while now, it is probably clear at this point how much I love period dramas and Saving Mr. Banks was a particularly good one. I was also one of those kids who grew up with Mary Poppins so this was definitely one of my most anticipated movies of the year. I even saw it on its first night on the first showing. Thankfully, the movie turned out better than all my hopes. Sure, something like this was never going to be the most accurate movie (though I did some research and there is a lot of accuracy in the story) but that doesn’t matter. The film reminded me of movie magic, that old Disney magic I felt as a child and have not felt in a long time. The characters were so well developed that they just leaped off the stage and the performances by Emma Thompson, Tom Hanks, Colin Farrell, Ruth Wilson, and Paul Giamatti were just spellbinding. There’s still time to see this in theaters if you haven’t already.

#2: THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG

Martin Freeman in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Photo: Warner Brothers
Martin Freeman in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Photo: Warner Brothers

While Peter Jackson was never going to live up to the The Lord of the Rings trilogy of films, the second Hobbit film comes close to capturing the same magic. From the romance between Tauriel and Kili, great performances by Richard Armitage and Lee Pace, to the standout scenes between Bilbo and the dragon Smaug (played by Benedict Cumberbatch), there was a lot to love here. I would even go as far as to say, that Smaug may just be the best dragon we have seen on film thus far. Needless to say, I can’t wait for the final installment!

#1: THE GREAT GATSBY

Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Joel Edgerton, and Carey Mulligan in The Great Gatsby. Photo: Warner Brothers
Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Joel Edgerton, and Carey Mulligan in The Great Gatsby.
Photo: Warner Brothers

When I first read The Great Gatsby in high school, I did not love it. I read it again when I was older and I started to see the story differently and appreciate the genius of Fitzgerald’s work. And until now, there had never been a film (though there are some good adaptations) that lived up equally to the novel. Baz Luhrmann took a classic and remained true to the themes by capturing how we, today still live in what Fitzgerald considered to be the modern age and he did so with style and class. Hopefully, twenty years from now, people will look back at this movie and realize how masterful it truly was. It is also a pity that while Leonardo DiCaprio gave the perfect performance of Gatsby, it remains highly unlikely he will be recognized at any of the award shows. Overall, I picked this as my favorite film of the year because I found it not only an amazing work of art but entertaining at the same time. I look forward to what Baz Luhrmann has next up his sleeve.

What are you favorite movies of 2013? Sound off below…

 


RELATED:

Check out our Film Reviews for The Hobbit: The Desolation of SmaugAbout TimeAustenlandSaving Mr. Banks,  The Book Thief AND Thor: The Dark World

Read the Romantic Moment of the Week: Tauriel and Kili

Don’t miss Amber’s list of her Top Ten Movies of 2013

AND my choices for the TOP 20 TV Picks of 2013

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By on January 5th, 2014

About Autumn Topping

In second grade, Autumn wrote her first story, “The Spinach Monster,” and hasn't stopped writing since. Intrigued by the tales her grandmother told of vampires, witches, and ghosts as a girl, she's always been drawn to the fantastic. Later, Autumn studied English and Creative Writing (continuing her love for classic literature and everything old-fashioned) and graduated with an MA in Children’s Literature and an MS in Library & Information Science from Simmons College. Currently, she co-runs this lovely blog and works as a YA Librarian.

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