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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

My Favorite Movies of 2013

I didn't go out to the movies much this year, due to being busy a lot with work and school, and watching films on Netflix a lot. So these are my favorite films of 2013, in no particular order:

Don Jon - an interesting romantic comedy that explored unrealistic expectations in relationships, both with a guy's views on sex shaped by pornography and a girl's views on love shaped by romantic movies. I really liked the script and performances by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Scarlett Johansson, and Julianne Moore, and found the film fascinating, talking about it with my boyfriend afterwards.

Prisoners - an incredible thriller. Even if I figured out who the culprit was midway through the film, it was still a well-paced and lengthy film that was focused on police investigative work rather than torture scenes (though there were a few grisly ones) and shock horror. Jake Gyllenhaal always continues to amaze me with his acting, and his dedication to portraying realistic and thoughtful characters, and Hugh Jackman is as versatile and talented as ever. I want to watch it again, just to get invested in the story because the performances were so good.

Now You See Me - such a fun and twisty movie, with a talented cast of comedic actors. I was surprised by where the story went, and how my expectations didn't go where I thought they would. I loved seeing the magic scenes and how the magicians pulled off their heist, it reminded me of my childhood memories of watching magic shows on TV and being amazed.

Pacific Rim - While I felt this film was lacking in some areas plot-wise and with the lead performances, I thought the CGI was fantastic, the battle scenes were fun, and Charlie Day was a major highlight of the film. There is a good reason that he is the breakout star of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, because, though he often plays crazy and loud characters, he has a sweet humility to him that makes him likable. I appreciated seeing him play an intelligent character after playing variations on "Charlie" in movies like Going the Distanceand Horrible Bosses.

Homefront - It's not a great movie, but I liked the classic story of revenge, and it felt like an old B-movie, like something Charles Bronson would have been in. Jason Statham did really well playing a dad, and I was impressed by the little girl playing his daughter. She portrayed a character that was intelligent and resourceful, was clearly her father's girl (in terms of smarts and self-defense tactics), and the actors had a sweet chemistry together onscreen. It was also one of the few times I've seen a bully being portrayed in a three-dimensional way, and the audience gets to see why he is a bully due to a crappy home life, and how he has the potential to be a good kid. James Franco and Winona Ryder were ridiculously fun to watch as meth head criminals, especially Ryder's character's ineptitude. This movie is good for a rental for any action movie/Jason Statham fans.

Man of Tai Chi - Keanu Reeves' directorial debut about a Tai Chi expert who joins an underground fight club. The fight scenes are incredible, with so many amazing martial artists, and the best part is that there are few jump cuts. The camera holds on the fight scenes so the audience can see everything in action, like how old-school action movies did it, and not jumbled up. This was a strong directorial debut for Reeves, featuring his friend Tiger Chen (stuntman from The Matrix films), and was a fantastic action film to see this year.

Fast & Furious 6 - I didn't realize until recently that I am a fan of this franchise. I've seen all the movies except for the fourth one, and my favorites have been the fifth and sixth films. The cast has such a great chemistry together, and the audience really gets the sense of them being a family, despite all being criminals who pull off crazy heists. I appreciate that it's a very racially diverse cast without calling attention or making a big deal out of it (the cast is made up of actors who are White, Black, biracial, Asian, and Hispanic), that they don't overload on CGI and use real car stunts and stuntpeople for incredible scenes. The fight scene between Michelle Rodriguez and Gina Carano was brutal, in a good way. They fought hard, and were more like guys having a brawl than women going for hits and kicks from a distance. Their scene was easily one of my favorites of the film. I am looking forward to seeing the 7th film, though it will be hard for the filmmakers to work around the death of Paul Walker, since he plays one of the main characters and has close relationships with the leads played by Vin Diesel and Jordana Brewster. Plus, Jason Statham plays a villain in it, and I'd love to see that when it comes out. 

I'm sure there were many other great movies, I just didn't go out to the movies much this year. For honorable mentions, I enjoyed This is the End, and thought it was hilarious, but it's not my favorite. And The Hunger Games: Catching Fire had some really good performances by Jena Malone and Elizabeth Banks, and improved on the first film.

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