Favorite films of 2013

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The Conjuring 2013,  R)
The Conjuring
James Wan has delivered yet another phenomenal achievement with The Conjuring. He has come a long way since his debut feature Saw which was released in 2004. James Wan strength lies in the fact that he can craft a truly intense and creepy ghost tale, which is what we have here. Everything about the film is grand in scope. The plot is well constructed and the film boasts a powerful and tense atmosphere that will chill and terrify you. This is horror the way it's supposed to be. The cast do a fine job in their parts and the direction is superb. The film takes its time to build up the tension; therefore it's more harrowing, because you don't know when the scares will start. Everything you have in the film is unpredictable and is a harrowing intense and unforgettable film that is one of the finest examples of real terror that I have seen in a long time. The Conjuring is terrifying from start to finish and it is a film that will stay with you long after you've seen it. This is a fine picture that is the best genre film since The Cabin in the Woods. If you want something truly disturbing, then give this film a shot. James Wan has directed one of the finest films of his career, and he is quickly becoming one of modern horrors finest filmmakers. This is a superbly well executed picture that will delight die hard horror fans and give you a few sleepless nights. The Conjuring represents a bright future for the genre, where nowadays, it's mostly remakes and films that rely on clichés to create terror. This on the other hand is a smart horror will with a well written script, great cast and directing from a director who clearly understands how the horror formula works.
Gravity 2013,  PG-13)
Director Alfonso Cuaron who previously directed Children of Men directs this epic Sci Fi drama. Bright from the opening shot, you have a feeling that this movie will be something special. Beautifully shot, Gravity grabs a hold of you and gives you a sense that you really are in Space. What surprised me about the film is that it relies on a minimal cast and a fairly simple story to tell its story. However its execution is perfect. George Clooney and Sandra Bullock deliver Oscar worthy performances, and director Alfonso Cuaron crafts the strongest picture of the year. Not since Stanley Kubrick 2001 A Space Odyssey has a Sci Fi movie been this good. Gravity is a terrific piece of cinema that deserves all the accolades that it has garnered. Although Sandra Bullock was great in The Blind Side, a role that got her Oscar win, I feel that this is the strongest performance of her career. This is a well crafted movie that will entertain the most demanding film buffs. Everything about the film is great, the performances, and the direction are immaculate and will keep you captivated from start to finish. Add to that, that Gravity has a powerful use of visuals, and you have a truly unique and engrossing film going experience, one that you soon won't forget. If you're looking for one of this year's finest films, definitely check out Gravity, it's easily a contender or for a few Academy Awards, and it likely to become a genre classic in the years to come. Gravity is tense, harrowing experience that is adds so much to the Science Fiction genre. I really loved the film, and I think it's definitely one of finest pictures of the year. Visually appealing, brilliantly acted and directed, and relying on a well constructed plot that is fairly simple, this is a movie that shows that you're able to pull something great with barely anything. I feel that this will stand the test of time, very much like 2001 and Star Wars before it. With the release of Gravity, I have a feeling that future genre films will have a lot on their plates to even craft something near as spectacular.
Rush 2013,  R)
Chris Hemsworth has had a very good career and he is a talent actor who has shown that he can act in various genres. With Rush, he delivers the finest performance of his career, and he is just perfect for the role. Hemsworth looks like James Hunt. In terms of a biopic, Rush is among the finest in the genre, and what surprised me is that it was a movie that took a different route. Ron Howard has crafted a thrilling movie that tears across the screen, and you're drawn towards the intensity of the story. Rush is among the finest films this year, and this is among Ron Howard's strongest efforts. In terms of accuracy, this film was very accurate, a statement reinforced by Niki Lauda. This is a film that tells the story of an intense rivalry, but also underneath it all, both drivers had respect and you clearly see that in a few scenes. Hemsworth is wonderful in his performance and Daniel Bruhl, who previously played Fredrick Zoller in Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds plays Niki Lauda and he is perfect for the part because he really does look like the real Driver. Brilliantly directed and acted, Rush has minimal flaws, and it succeeds at overcoming its limitations due to a strong script and effective direction from Ron Howard. If you're looking for a thrilling, drama, then this is a film not to miss. I've seen many great films this year, but this is among the best. The real life story brought to life by a great director who manages to create a different type of biopic is what makes Rush so engaging and ultimately satisfying. Don't expect anything with big explosions or mindless thrills, Rush is a story about overcoming the impossible, and though it shows the rivalry between Lauda and Hunt, Ron Howard decided to focus more on Hunt's dedication to win, and that's what makes Rush such an exciting experience.
Elysium 2013,  R)
Neil Blomkamp proves once again that he is a terrific filmmaker with this follow up to his Sci Fi action Horror drama, District 9. Elysium is a brilliant and engaging Sci Fi film that secures Blomkamp as a talented director who can craft something truly memorable. After seeing Elysium, I was very much impressed with the film, and it is a terrific picture that is engaging from start to finish. Blomkamp directs an impressive cast that really stands out. The plot is well structured and keeps you on the edge of your seat from start to finish. The performances of Matt Damon and Jodie Foster are incredible in terms of delivery and they have both done their best work in a while with this film. In terms of action, this one certainly delivers and I really loved the movie and thought it was a far superior work compared to Oblivion, which I felt was decent, but not memorable. At least with Neil Blomkamp's film we get something truly engaging with great performances, wonderful set pieces and a storyline that is really engaging and memorable. Blomkamp is a talented director, and with two great films under his belt, I really can't wait what he'll be directing next. Any viewers looking for effective action film should give this one a shot. This ranks among the best actioners of the year and it is a smartly crafted movie that will delight film fans. This is a perfect movie, and I would say that it is among my favorite this year. What keeps Elysium interesting is that it uses a relatively simple idea, and adds a lot to it due to the new ideas and brilliant talent involved. The results clearly show on-screen, and Elysium is a powerful and unforgettable action picture that is among the finest in the genre in recent years.
Prisoners 2013,  R)
Denis Villeneuve has made some terrific films in the past, however with Prisoners he crafts the best film of his career to date. With a powerful script and great cast of varied talent, Prisoners is one of the year's finest dramas. The film features a stunning performance by Hugh Jackman, who delivers something of Oscar worthy caliber. The film relies on a story that we've seen before, but through Villeneuve's lense, he makes a compelling, engaging picture that is simply brilliant. There film is filled with tension, and you are left guessing what will happen next. The plot keeps you on the edge of your seat, and it along with The Place Beyond the Pines, it's the best drama I've seen this year. Villeneuve is a great director, and he clearly demonstrates this film. Prisoners has a well written script, a great cast, and every ingredient necessary to make it a standout picture. This is one of the finest films that I've seen in quite some time, and with that being said, I can't wait to see what Denis Villeneuve will be directing next. Every actor here brings something to the screen that elevates the already strong material. If you enjoy well constructed crime dramas, then you definitely will enjoy the film. The tone of the film is tense and riveting and it succeeds on many levels. Prisoner is a stunning work that blazes across the screen, and though it's over two hours long, it moves quickly enough and you are sucked it due to the powerful performances. I wouldn't be surprised if Hugh Jackman would be nominated for an Oscar, as I personally felt that this was the greatest performance of his career. This is truly a film that you shouldn't miss.
Star Trek Into Darkness 2013,  PG-13)
Star Trek Into Darkness
Star Trek: Into the Darkness along with Iron Man 3 starts off the summer blockbuster season with a bang. This is a great follow-up to J.J Abrams action packed reboot of Star Trek, which was one of the finest Sci Fi films in recent memory. This is one of those rare films that are better than the original. This is a step above Abram's original. I really enjoyed this film, and with this film in mind, we are finally getting the great films that are well acted and entertaining from start to fi9nish. Every cast member brings something to the screen. The film is a must see for fans of Star Trek new and old and it has something for everyone to enjoy. Into the Darkness is a much better take on the first Abrams film, and it expands and improves on where it was a bit lacking. What makes this such an exciting film going experience is the varied cast of actors, most notably Peter Weller, who I find to be a great actor, but one who is underrated. Fans of the remake will certainly enjoy this sequel, and for me anyways, this is easily as impressive as when The Dark Knight was released and out did Batman Begins. Abrams successfully captivates you with great direction and amazing storytelling, and Into the Darkness in many ways is a much more ambitious picture than Star Trek because now, Abrams feels more confident with the material, and he proved himself with his first Trek film. This film will appeal to common filmgoers as much as fans of the series because it is simply put an action packed ride that is highly entertaining and exciting from the first frame onwards. Although the year got off to a sketchy start with plenty of duds, now we get to see awesome and worthwhile movies that are thrilling and mind blowing. Love the series or hate it, if you want to be entertained, definitely give this follow-up a shot. This is an action film with flair and a great story to boot.
Captain Phillips 2013,  PG-13)
Captain Phillips
Captain Philips is yet another powerful film from director Paul Greengrass. Based on the real life high jacking of the cargo ship Maersk Alabama, this movie is an intense, riveting action thriller that is highly entertaining from the first frame. Brilliantly directed by Greengrass, Captain Phillips is one of the strongest films of the year. Tom Hanks delivers one of his best performances in years and new comer Barkhad Abdi is very good in his performance as Muse, the lead Pirate who takes control Maersk Alabama and ends up taking Captain Richard Phillips hostage. I remember first reading about the ordeal in Mark Owen's book No Easy Day, and was very interested in the subject. What Greengrass does with his film is telling both sides of the story, and you really get the motivation as to why Somalians resort to piracy. You don't end sympathizing with them, but you get a broader picture. Aside from Rush and Gravity, Captain Phillips is the most entertaining film I've seen this year, and it is a well crafted picture that is sure to thrill anyone looking for the ultimate action thriller. Paul Greengrass has made some great movies throughout his career, but this one really stands out as one of his strongest and that's saying something. Tom Hanks is terrific here, and he really shines as Richard Phillips. The film moves at a quick pace, and it's always edge of your seat due to the subject matter. Paul Greengrass has made one of the year's finest films, it's easily one of the best acted, and directed films I've seen in quite some time. Barkhad Abdi was phenomenal here that he should get noticed at the Academy Awards. He clearly has talent, even with his limited English, he just commands the screen, and he's intimidating as Muse, and he deserves praise. 2013 has started off with a very rocky start in terms of film quality. Now as the year has progressed, 2013 has been a highly memorable year for cinema. This is an exciting film that will thrill you right up to its riveting climax. Just brilliant filmmaking, Paul Greengrass has done it again.
Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom 2013,  PG-13)
Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
Nelson Mandela 1918-2013 RIP, Icon, human rights activist and anti-Apartheid revolutionary who succeeded on unifying his nation and becoming a shining example of hope. Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom is a stunning biopic of the late leader that is beautifully acted and tells an important story of how Mandela became a figure of equality. The part of Nelson Mandela is played by Idris Elba, who easily delivers the most captivating performance of his career. This is the most engaging g biopic that I have seen in recent memory, and it's a film that is powerful and memorable due to its subject. I've heard that this film received mixed reviews, and I think it's unfair because this is such an engaging drama. This is probably the most engaging biopic in quite some time. The film has its flaws, but it gets the ideas of Mandela's struggles right, and in that regard the film works well enough for viewers interested in Nelson Mandela's incredible legacy. This a well crafted film with a cast that has definitely exceeded my expectations. I have to say that considering its message and unique story, this is a picture that will stay with you for a long time to come. There have been quite a few stunning films that have surfaced this year, but Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom is another addition to a great list of memorable films of 2013. Elba should definitely get a nod at the Oscars for his entrancing performance, and like I said, Elba delivers his strongest performance here, and he clearly puts everything he's got in portraying Nelson Mandela. Although it's a slightly long film, it's worth seeing because of the significance of Mandela's impact on history. The film also has the power to spark even more interest in Nelson Mandela, and it is a film that tells a terrific, unforgettable story that definitely is on e of the highlights in modern history. Even if the film has a few weak moments, Idris Elba keeps you enthralled at what you are seeing, and you can easily forget its mistakes. Long Walk To Freedom is a stunning picture well worth seeing, and it doesn't deserve the flack it has received.
Fruitvale Station 2013,  R)
Fruitvale Station
Very good drama with some fine performances and an engaging storyline, Fruitvale Station is one of those films that takes its time to take off, but when it does, you can't tear yourself away from the screen. Based on a real life incident, Fruitvale Station is a memorable drama that will stay with you for a while long after you finished seeing it. Effectively directed by first time director by Ryan Coogler, who at a young age proves that he is a future talent behind the camera. With that being said, after this impressive first feature, I can't wait to see what he'll direct next. The film has the power to really question certain things, and you can\'t tear yourself away, as when you think it's going to be dull and boring, the pacing of the picture changes abruptly halfway through and the tone is much darker. In terms of drama, this is one of the most riveting films of the year, and honestly, I think expect that this one would be any good, however I was pleasantly surprised with the film, and it was a very well acted picture, that was straight forward and didn't sugar coat what really happened. Of course they probably forgot a few elements to make it your typical Hollywood film, but as a whole, Fruitvale Station is a stunning directorial effort, from a director who has plenty of potential in the medium. With that being said, his next film will certainly be something just as good, if not better. Fruitvale Station has a few weak moments, but it's elevated by powerful performances and effective direction that really makes this one stand out.
The Place Beyond The Pines 2013,  R)
The Place Beyond The Pines
The Place Beyond The Pines is one of those films that starts off quite good, but gets better as the film progresses. This is one of the first great films of the year that showcases some brilliant acting for the cast. Along with Drive, this is Ryan Gosling's best film. The film has a well crafted story that is engaging from start to finish. This is one of the most memorable crime dramas in recent time, and if you're looking for a great film to watch, then this is the film that you should check out. This is one of the first films that easily be seen as a contender for the next Oscars. A motorcycle daredevil sets out to on robbing banks to support for his son. Gosling plays Luke Glanton, the daredevil that supports his family. Gosling delivers in his performance. There are other terrific performances here such as Bradley Cooper and Ray Liotta. This is a near flawless film that is the first worthwhile drama that stands out above others in the genre. This is a well directed film that showcases the talents of a wonderful filmmaker perfectly. This is a stunning piece of cinema that is raw, gritty and downright in your face. This is what a crime film should look like. I thoroughly enjoyed the film and it is surely destined to rank among the finest films in the genre. The Place Beyond the Pines is so far the finest drama of 2013 and is a must see for viewers that have been disappointed with constant trash that have plagued theatres in the past few months. The film's basic, stripped down plot is the strongest aspect of the film combined with immaculate performances that makes this a near flawless picture.
Iron Man 3 2013,  PG-13)
Iron Man 3
Iron Man 3 is a big improvement over the second film. I very much enjoyed this film, and I thought it was the strongest effort in the series. This film what The Dark Knight was to Batman Begins. This is a brilliant and exciting superhero film that is highly entertaining from start to finish. This for me is a much more serious entry than Iron Man, as I found that film to be too light hearted in nature and that it wasn't the film that it could have been. This is a superbly crafted film that will certainly delight fans of the original who were disappointed with the second one. The film has a great cast that deliver some engaging and immaculate performances and director Shane Black, who wrote the Lethal Weapon films does a great job in the director's chair. It's clear that he has a clear understanding of how to create an effective and exhilarating action film, and the result is a brilliant picture that exceeds expectations. The tone of this film is much darker, much more serious than the first two films, and it adds so much more to the story, and you become immersed into this highly thrilling superhero film that is easily this year's The Dark Knight Rises. The biggest reason that I think that this is the most accomplished film in the trilogy is that it has one of the most realistic and menacing villains in an Iron Man film. Jeff Bridges was great; Mickey Rourke was laughable with his awful Russian accent, but Guy Pierce on the other hand is excellent in his performance as Aldrich Killian. He is one of the finest villains in the series, and he has terrific on-screen presence. Iron Man 3 is almost a near flawless film, and it definitely delivers some great action with a well layered plot. Iron Man 3 is one of the best films so far this year, and it most certainly is a stunning superhero film that will please fans of the original. This is what the second feature should have been, luckily Shane Black fixes the imperfections of Iron Man 2 and delivers a worthwhile third entry that is truly exciting and action packed.
The Iceman 2013,  R)
The Iceman
The Iceman is an intense and well acted biopic of notorious mafia contract killer Richard Kuklinski. Michael Shannon is terrific in the lead role and he on-screen intensity makes this film a stunning film to watch. The film is inaccurate of course, but it is above all a piece of entertainment. The film shows how Kuklinski was ruthless in his methods and was effective in disposing of the victims. This is one of Michael Shannon's most intense performances and he makes the film much better than it actually is. The film also boasts an impressive cast alongside Shannon. Ray Liotta is impressive here as well as James Franco and Chris Evans. This is a dark film that will certainly appeal to crime fans. However it is not accurate and it is clear there were some creative liberties done to the script to make it more thrilling for a viewing audience. I've seen the Iceman interviews and they're quite chilling and graphic details. With this film, viewers can get a glimpse of this notorious hit man, and if they're more interested they can seek out more info on the real Richard Kuklinski. This is a flawed film, but one that is quite entertaining and delivers some intense scenes of mafia hits. The acting is very good, the script is solid enough and the direction is almost immaculate. Give this one a shot; you will be blown away by Michael Shannon's intense performance. This is a worthy crime picture that is sure to please gangster film fans. The film won't be a classic anything time soon, but it is nonetheless a standout film with terrific performances and an engaging storyline.
42 2013,  PG-13)
The sports biopics genre has been overdone many times before, and we know most of them will play out. 42 is the story of baseball legend Jackie Robinson. What makes this biopic different from others is that the story of the person was one of perseverance in the face of discrimination. The film has an effective and talented cast of actors, and Harrison Ford delivers one of his strongest performances in many years. However the actor who steals the show is Chadwick Boseman in the role of Jackie Robinson. The strength of his performance alone makes this one of the better sports dramas in recent memory, and those looking for a very entertaining and well acted biopic will surely enjoy 42. Although at times it does rely on the traditional ingredients of the genre like being inspirational and such, the story is real, and it is told in such a way that it is different due to the tone of story. The cast make the film what it is, and every actor brings something to the screen. 42 at times relies on the sports drama clichés that have plagued many films like this in the past, but it tells a totally different and much compelling story than others in the genre. Although not a perfect film and it could have been improved in some areas, this is well worth seeing. So far, I would say that 42 is one of the best films of the year, and the cast definitely pull off something great. 42 redeems the sheer awful and mediocre that we've seen being released the last few months, and I thought that this was one of the most refreshing genre films in quite some time. Even if you're not a fan of the sport of Baseball, this one is worth seeing as it tells a compelling real life story of overcoming odds. Jackie Robinson was an icon, and he became the first African-American player to play in the Major Leagues. Although this isn't a truly unique Sports drama, the fact that it tells the story of an extraordinary athlete makes this truly a standout picture that soars above the countless others in the genre.
American Hustle 2013,  R)
American Hustle
Multi layered crime film; American Hustle is a brilliantly directed picture with a terrific cast of varied talent that really makes the film standout. Helmed by director David O. Russell, who previously directed Silver Linings Playbook and The Fighter, both of them were standout films, but with this outing, Russell has made the finest film of his career. The story is not new, but what makes it standout is the cast, its chemistry and layered plot that manages to be very entertaining despite the fact that we've seen similar ideas before. The film is well executed and its cast are truly engaging. For me, anyhow there is not one bad performance here, and each actor just elevates the film that much more. The idea is simple, but the way Russell and company craft this film is what makes American Hustle a memorable and engaging ride from start to finish. With that being said, American Hustle will most likely be seen as a modern crime classic in the future. Like I said, this is David O. Russell's finest work yet, and with a cast like this, American Hustle is a must see picture that you won't want to miss. Brilliantly acted and directed, this picture is one of those films that soars above the rest while using a simple, yet well layered plot to create something truly memorable. Russell truly shines here, and saying that, I wonder how he will top this outstanding crime drama. If you love Crime films, American Hustle is a no brainer to watch. The film echoes of the finest films of the genre, And with a stunning cast of phenomenal talent, this film definitely stands out, and is one of the finest films of the year.
12 Years a Slave 2013,  R)
12 Years a Slave
Director Steve McQueen has made two outstanding pictures with Hunger and Shame. 12 Years a Slave being his third directorial effort is yet another sweepi9ng picture from a director who can craft an emotional, engaging story with a great cast. This is a well crafted drama that tells the true life story of Solomon Northup a free black man who was kidnapped and sold into slavery. This is a superb drama that is brilliantly directed by McQueen, and he has yet to make a bad film. His direction is immaculate and he makes a highly memorable movie. The cast that McQueen assembles here deliver some intense performances. Michael Fassbender does some impressive work, and lead actor Chiwetel Ejiofor is well suited for the part of Solomon Northup. This is a flawless Drama, one that is brilliantly directed and acted, and one that uses a great script at its disposal to deliver a unique film going experience. After seeing 12 Years a Slave, it's hard for me to pick the best work by director Steve McQueen, as all his movies are great. However, this is his first period piece, and succeeds greatly at capturing the atmosphere, tension and mood of the era that he tries to display. If you enjoy thought provoking, well acted dramas, then give 12 Years a Slave a viewing, it is one of the most powerful films of the year, and I think that it most certainly deserves a few Oscar nods in the process. What you have here is a film that exposes the sheer brutal truth of Slavery in 1800's. This is an unforgettable piece of cinema, and if you're looking for a film that tells a powerful story, then look no further than this picture. Hard to watch, eye opening, but always engaging due to its performances, 12 Years a Slave is a film not to be misses. Steve McQueen is a phenomenal director, and with this third feature, he proves that he is a filmmaker that he will be seen with some of the finest filmmakers in the business. Brilliant, in its depictions of Slavery, this is an important film that you should watch despite how intense some of the scenes are.

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