Was 2013, an EPIC year for movies?
2013 was an odd year for film; looking ahead to it a year ago one might notice the absence of long awaited blockbusters such as the Avengers or the Dark Knight Rises that littered the 2012 calendar. Instead 2013 boasted a steady diet of what looked to be solid films with none boasting the title of biggest film of the year. Rather, we got a decent mix of new properties and surprising Oscar contenders to go along with the steady diet of superhero and other established tent-pole franchise films. So was 2013 an Epic year for film? Find out in the form of our top 10 films of 2013 after the break...
(Click on the title links for the individual review and rating for each film)
10. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Directed by Francis Lawrence
In Catching Fire, director Francis Lawrence was able to improve on every aspect of it's predecessor while at the same time ratcheting up the political tension with the helpful addition of academy quality actors such as Phillip Seymour Hoffman to provide a commentary on the role of government in our everyday lives that made the Hunger Games sequel just as much of a societal commentary as a popcorn blockbuster.
9. Man of Steel, Directed by Zack Snyder
Christ parallels and all, one of our biggest arguments of 2013 was that Zack Snyder's Superman reboot was not only an epic blockbuster, but a meaningful film. Was it meaningful because of the parallels between Christ and Kal-El? If that's how you choose to see it then YES! However it is just as meaningful from a fan boy context from how it was subtlety able to setup the DC cinematic universe with various nods such as the Lexcorp truck and the Wayne Enterprises satellite. While many still can't get over that wreckless abandon with which Kal-El battled Zod throughout Smallville and Metropolis, we choose to see it as the perfect accountability plot for which to build a Man Steel and Dark Knight rivalry, and for Superman's sakes!: He was a rookie, fan boys and fan girls!
8. Pacific Rim, Directed by Guilermo Del Toro
After the nightmare that has become Michael Bay's Transformers franchise we like many wondered if anyone cared to see giant robots punching anything on a big screen for 2 hours plus during the Summer once again. Well, Guilermo Del Toro proved that people do care when the film is made for something more than a pure desire to make money. Del Toro's love for the classic Kaiju films shined through in the form a diverse and driven blockbuster that filled audiences with the same sense of amazement they felt the first time they saw big scale blockbuster films such as Independence Day (and for some Armageddon!)
7. Saving Mr. Banks, Directed by John Lee Hancock
At the beginning of 2013 who would have thought a film about the making of Mary Poppins would have made our list? It made in a somewhat ironic sense, because we truly believe that a film about the making of a Disney film might just be the best Disney film ever made. Why? Because Saving Mr. Banks gives audiences a true look behind the magic that established the Disney brand and with the help of a probable Oscar performance by Tom Hanks, one of best looks at the man behind Mickey that the world has ever seen.
6. Now You See Me, Directed by Louis Lerterrier
It's hard to impress jaded film critics. It's even harder to both surprise and impress jaded film critics, but that is exactly what Director Louis Lerterrier with Now You See Me in the Summer of 2013. With the best ending since Christopher Nolan's Inception in 2010, provided by the film's Four Horsemen, this one just didn't just magically appear on our list.
Prisoners is perfect example of the type of quality film possible when great performances mesh together perfectly with a great script. Every scene was acted with meaning, but never overacted. Stakes were raised but never to unbelievable or insane heights. All of this made for a suspense driven thrill ride that walked the fine line between a film most audiences should love and a movie the academy should appreciate, but never makes that philosophical jump that Hollywood elites live for, which is exactly the reason it will probably not be nominated for best picture, but if it's any consolation it earns a place on our top five of 2013.
4. The Conjuring, Directed by: James Wan
If you are a horror aficionado you fell in one of two camps when it came to James Wan's The Conjuring: either you thought it was the most well done horror film in quite some time or you thought it did not do anything original enough to warrant the comparisons it was getting to classics horror films like The Exorcist. While perhaps the film's lack of originality keeps it from supplanting the all time classics of the genre, James Wan's perfect execution and incredible performances by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga as the renowned paranormal investigators the Warrens made for probably the best horror film of it's generation. If The Conjuring would have came out in 1973 it would be the measuring stick for the horror genre, so the fact that we got a horror film that well done in 2013 earns it a place on our list.
Ryan Coogler's directorial debut Fruitvale Station was a perfect film at the perfect time for America, but had the wrong timing for Academy Award consideration. What we mean by this is the film was a truly thought provoking commentary on race relations in America in the wake of the Trayvon Martin tragedy, but the Weinsten's rush to provide America with that commentary during the Summer rather than during Awards season will likely keep this film out of the best picture discussion (but not out of our top 10). Fruitvale Station, unlike some Sundance films, lives up to all the hype both it and director Ryan Coogler garnered at the festival in 2013, in large part thanks to the man that might not just end up being the next Johnny Storm but the also the next Denzel, one our favorite actors working today: Michael B. Jordan.
Hard to believe our favorite film of the Summer and most Summer like film of 2013 was not a blockbuster but rather a film from Sundance. The Way Way back was the antithesis of everything Summer movies have become, instead being a heartwarming throwback to what they once were. Directors Nat Faxon and Jim Rash with the help of some great performances by a low key, but still star studded cast, were able to create a coming of age story that made us recall those special Summers we had growing up. That feeling combined with the refreshing break it provided from giant robots and men in tights is why it was our second favorite film of 2013
1. Gravity, Directed by Alfonso Cuaron
While we were not as excited for Alfonso Cuaron's follow up to Children of Men as most critics were heading into 2013, it still managed to be our favorite film of the year. The reason: it does so much with so little. The little being in the form of just one primary performance by Sandra Bullock and a lot in the forms of a visually groundbreaking masterpiece that provided an uplifting commentary on the perseverance of the human race. All of this combined for a film that provided a meaningful societal commentary that had the feel of a classic science fiction film similar Ridley Scott's Alien. Any film that can provide horror and suspense comparable to Alien, an overall commentary on the human race, and the most groundbreaking visuals in cinematic history deserves the spot at the top of our list.
What does 2014, have in store for the world of film?
Looking ahead 2014 seems like the perfect year of film to bridge the gap to the year of super blockbusters that will be 2015. While 2015 will includes the mega blockbusters people like us wait years for such as Star Wars Episode 7, Avengers 2, and Batman Vs. Superman, 2014 looks like a steadier diet of decent films like 2013, but with a few more blockbusters sprinkled in. Blockbusters such as: The Amazing Spiderman 2, X-men Days of Future Past, Godzilla, The Hunger Games: Mocking Jay Part I, and Christopher Nolan's first Post Batman film Interstellar (and part three of The Hobbit). With any luck we here at The Epic Review hope to make 2014 an even more epic year than 2013 was for our readers. Thanks for all of your support in making our inaugural year of 2013 so EPIC!