Opinion: The top ten movies of 2013
Both are round, orb-like fruits, while one is usually red on the outside (though green, yellow and even orange are possibilities), its smooth, thin skin usually eaten, with firm, off-white flesh that ranges from sweet to sweet with varying degrees of tartness in flavor, with small brown seeds found inside the core of the fruit, while one is orange, obviously, with dimpled, but still smooth to the touch skin that, while edible, is rarely eaten directly, with much juicier flesh that is usually tarter, but not always, and still very sweet, with small tannish seeds throughout.
What am I doing? Oh, just comparing apples to oranges. Anyway, here are ten movies from 2014 you should watch sometime.
A few words before the countdown
Firstly, as I like to pretend I am a “for real, you guys!” movie critic, this is the top ten movies of 2013, not the top ten furry movies, though there will of course be a number of movies that made it in the top ten that are either furry, or contain furry elements. This year, even in my non-furry picks, there are scenes of a dog who gains sentience after accidentally ingesting an otherworldly drug, a group of My Little Pony fans going on a crime spree and, finally, Sandra Bullock barking like a dog. No, really.
Secondly, this is a top ten list as picked by me, crossaffliction, so don’t ascribe my grievous lapses of taste to Flayrah in general. I’m only counting 2013 theatrical releases, so there are a couple of 2012 festival holdovers, plus a couple that had 2012 video on demand releases before their 2013 theatrical releases, and one that has a debatable theatrical release in some quarters, though I saw it in a theater, so there.
I didn’t see all the movies in theaters, and though it wasn’t a condition, all the movies were released in America; it’s impractical for me to see, say, French theatrical releases.
As per usual, here is a bit of an appetizer before the show proper where I throw out a couple bests in various categories.
Best Furry Movie: My Little Pony: Equestria Girls (The ABCs of Death runner up)
Best Non-Furry Movie: Gravity (This Is the End runner up)
Best Re-Release: Jurassic Park 3D
Best Sequel, Prequel, Spin-Off or other Franchise Movie: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (Star Trek into Darkness runner up)
Best Adaptation: My Little Pony: Equestria Girls (John Dies at the End runner up)
Best Completely Original Movie: Gravity (This Is the End runner up)
Movie I Liked No One Else Did: The Lone Ranger (Star Trek into Darkness runner up)
Guilty Pleasure: Star Trek into Darkness (Free Birds runner up)
Most Pleasantly Surprising Movie: My Little Pony: Equestria Girls (12 Years a Slave runner up)
Most Disappointing Movie: Pacific Rim (The World’s End runner up)
Worst Movie: Epic (Frozen runner up)
Franchise I Can’t Wait for the Next Installment Of: My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (The Hobbit runner up)
Franchise That Needs to Die: DC Cinematic Universe (Monsters Inc. runner up)
Best Hero: Dr. Ryan Stone, Gravity (Craig Robinson, This Is the End runner up)
Best Villain: The Lords of Salem, The Lords of Salem (Danny McBride, This Is the End runner up)
Cutest Vixen: Fraulein Scheiss, The ABCs of Death
Best Song: “Equestria Girls”, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (“Camel Holocaust,” John Dies at the End runner up)
Too Late for Last Year’s List: Zero Dark Thirty (Seven Psychopaths runner up)
Most Anticipated for 2014: Guardians of the Galaxy (Godzilla runner up)
10 Best Moments:
In My Little Pony, they say “pony” instead of body. Hence, “somepony,” “nopony” or “let the ponies hit the floor”…
10. John Dies at the End
Have I died yet?
Directed by Don Coscarelli
Theatrical release date: 1/25/2013 – Watch the trailer
This is a movie I really like despite the fact that I really like the novel by Jason “David Wong” Pargins so much the fact that a character pukes up a cockroach instead of a centipede really actually bothers me. And that’s hardly the only thing the movie changes; both the book and the movie open with a bizarre monologue about an axe that is both creepy as all get out and funny as heck at the same time. In the movie, it’s just a great mood setter, while in the book it’s foreshadowing for – well, I wouldn’t want to spoil the ending, now would I?
That’s movies, folks; there’s time, and a budget, and a whole lot of other limits, but the point is that this movie is often just as funny and scary as the book it mutilates. But then, there’s lots of mutilation to go around.
9. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
I am fire. I am death.
Directed by Peter Jackson
Theatrical release: 12/13/2013 – Watch the trailer
Then again, sometimes you have a movie that has to add a whole lot to be the movie it needs to be. At this point, it’s been repeated ad nauseum that this novel maybe did not need to be three movies long. I could argue for two, maybe. But three?
We work with what we got. This second installment is a lot of fun, and a big improvement on the surprisingly unmemorable first one. It still feels like less than the sum of its parts, but when some of those parts are as good as they are, well, that works too.
8. 12 Years a Slave
My name is Solomon Northrup.
Directed by Steve McQueen
Theatrical release: 11/8/2013 – Watch the trailer
I should hate this movie. This is the movie that was supposed to win the Best Picture Oscar (and did), when I actually have a dog in this fight this year in the form of a movie that is a bit farther down the list. But when the local theaters decided to play it, undoubtedly because of that early Oscar buzz, I was still excited, because I’m an Oscar fan; at the very least, I need to scope out the competition, right?
Well, surprise, surprise, this turned out to be a really good movie. Yes, the subject matter is hard, and I find myself almost apologizing for saying I like it. I have to say something like “well, ‘like’ isn’t the right word for my feelings for this movie” but that’s a lie. I like this movie. I’m still disappointed it won Best Picture, but not angry. Good choice.
7. Spring Breakers
Just think of it like a movie, or a video game.
Directed by Harmony Corrine
Theatrical release: 3/22/2013 – Watch the trailer
I admit it, I watched this movie for the ponies. And Twilight Sparkle and Spike make a great cameo that makes a point. One college girl is nice and sweet, while three party all night, then watch MLP:FiM while stoned all day. When Spring Break comes, they party all night, then watch MLP:FiM stoned all day. It’s the American Dream. Or something.
The movie makes its points, but it’s the bizarre style of the movie that also stuck with me. Bizarre editing, flashbacks and retreads and flash-forwards stacking one on top of the other. It’s gaudy and excessive and devastatingly pretty and magnificently ugly and I loved it.
6. The ABCs of Death
Q? Seriously? That shows a distinct lack of respect, man.
Directed by over 26 directors
Theatrical release: 3/8/2013 – Watch the trailer/Read full review
I’m putting the next two movies right here in the middle, because they’re a bit odd. The ABCs of Death is odd because, on one hand, yes, I loved this movie, and certain shorts are some of the greatest cinematic moments I witnessed last year; on the other, some were supremely crappy. On the gripping hand, both crappy and great flowed together, so a sixth-place finish seemed appropriate.
Besides the theme of ever present death, is there a connective thread in this anthology? Between the orgasming parakeets, the murderous vixens and man-eating toilets, was there some sort of insight into humanity, into the universe, into anything at all to be found? Hell, no. This movie was one big sick joke without a trace of redemption. Sometimes, I like my movies like that.
5. My Little Pony: Equestria Girls
What are hands?
Directed by Jayson Thiessen
Theatrical release: 6/16/2013 – Watch the trailer/Read full review
What? Honestly, it could be worse. I factored in that I am biased as heck for this movie; I just couldn’t bring myself to lower it beyond the top five. You could even say I went in to see this movie biased against it. I mean, it’s got “pony” in the title. That kind of promises a movie about ponies. And it’s about, well, humans, instead.
But you know what? Wonky, commercially-driven premise be darned; it is what it is, and what it is is another great cartoon, and that’s more than enough for me. It pretty much nailed what made the show great. Turns out, you can take the pony out of My Little Pony, but you can’t take the pony out of My Little Pony. Umm, I think you know what I mean!
Everything gonna be alright, Irish. Everything gonna be alright.
Directed by Paul Greengrass
Theatrical release: 11/11/2013 – Watch the trailer
Here’s another movie where we can go in knowing how it ends; not because of a bizarre, postmodern title this time, but because it’s based on a true story that was a major news event a few years back. Or can we? America wins, yeah, yeah, sure, sure, but if you really think this was just about America winning – well, you may be right again, but it may not be the same way you think you are.
I love Tom Hanks, he’s probably my favorite actor of all time, and he reminded me why with this performance, but the real stars are the quartet of unknown Somalian actors who play the pirates. They assure the captured captain everything is going to be alright. They’re right, but not in the way they think they are. And when the inevitable end comes, well, I wasn’t cheering.
3. The Lords of Salem
Why the goat?
Directed by Rob Zombie
Theatrical release: 4/19/2013 – Watch the trailer
Say what you will, it is an inarguable fact that Rob Zombie is definitely the greatest living director… that owes his career to Beavis and Butthead. This movie tosses together a string of visuals and references to other horror movies, ranging from well-known to even non-fans of horror, to well-known to horror fans, to movies obscure even to horror fans (you know you’re a horror movie fan when Rob Zombie lyrics start to almost make sense). It’s Zombie’s talent that all this cinematic poaching comes together in a way that feels fresh and unique. I mean, this movie features Dee Wallace as a heavy. Hell, yeah!
But it’s more than just a breathless trip through bizarro world; yeah, Sherri Moon-Zombie is cast yet again in an important role, but you have got to give the former stripper credit. She’s previously been a struggling poor mother and a psychotic hillbilly, and now she’s a recovering drug addict radio DJ. That’s an impressive range, and she pulls off this movie’s central role handily. It’s that central performance that gives the movie a truly tragic resonance.
2. This Is the End
Something, uh, very not chill happened last night.
Directed by Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen
Theatrical release: 6/12/2013 – Watch the trailer
If you look back up at my preliminaries, you’ll see At World’s End taking runner-up prize for “Most Disappointing Movie.” It’s not a bad movie, and it basically had a place carved out on my top ten list from its announcement, until This Is the End came along. Same basic plot (a group of friends find themselves facing the end of the world), and you’d expect the foreign, more independent fare from the director with geek cult cred to be riskier with the premise, make more barbed points, and just generally be, well, better. But you’d be wrong.
This movie is breathlessly funny, with a cast of who’s who in modern Hollywood comedy impaling themselves (literally in one case) and their egos. All I can say is Channing Tatum’s cameo is fearless. And yet the movie still manages to have a heart, as the characters learn the value of true friendship. Which allows them to shoot magical beams at a winged demon, for the second time on this list. This movie was one big sick joke with a lot of redemption. Sometimes, I love my movies like that.
I hate space.
Directed by Alfonso Cuaron
Theatrical release: 11/4/2013 – Watch the trailer
I did it again. Basically, this is last year’s number one movie, The Grey, IN SPACE! It even alliterates (and how many movies actually begin with a “gr” sound?). I’m just drawn to this sort of movie. It’s a thrill ride, definitely. This list has been more than a little horror heavy, but I can without doubt say that this is the scariest movie I saw in 2013. It is just terrifying. It is also the first space movie that actually uses the setting of space as more than just a setting; for all intents and purposes, it’s the villain.
Gravity has an emotional core that resonates beyond just the thrill ride. It is a simple movie, the complicated special effects notwithstanding. It doesn’t dally, and why should it? The opening reminds us that in space, survival is nearly impossible. So you’re saying we’ve got a chance? Then take it.