2013 was a year with a lot of cinematic potential! New Pixar film, new Tarantino film, new Wachowski film, new Disney Princess film (I really like Disney Princesses!) and a whole lot more. Did it live up to my (high) expectations? Find out below, in:
Peter’s Top 6 Films of 2013
- Django Unchained. For many years I’ve been trying to being the ultimate aspiring-filmmaker clichè, but with Django Unchained, Tarantino finally forced my hand, moving into top position and becoming my favourite director. (Overtaking Matthew Vaughn and Edgar Wright, who had previously shared the #1 spot for many years). He’d made amazing cinema before, but Django is the first one I’d really call a film, rather than just a series of incredible scenes – it follows characters as they grow and learn and go on a sequential journey. I loved everything about this movie, from the rap music to the dodgy Australian accents.
- Frozen. I was impressed when Tangled managed to overtake The Little Mermaid as my favourite Disney film, so you can imagine how blown away I was when Disney managed to top themselves again with this beautiful, hilarious, and above all – feminist – piece. It was that last point that pushed this over the top for me – I couldn’t believe how well they subverted everything we (I) expected about Disney princess films. Plus, y’know, Olaf. Oh and the soundtrack. Yeah, this film was just generally pretty perfect in my eyes.
- Monster’s University. Prequels make me nervous. Pixar had shown they could rock the sequel with Toy Story 2 and 3, but I’d never seen a good prequel before, and so….yeah. Nervous. But Pixar seem to have their “quality” hat back on, giving an important moral that no movie had ever given before, let alone a kid’s film. Amazing.
- Cloud Atlas. This is where the list shifts from “Peter raving about near-perfect films” to “Peter admitting slightly-guilty pleasures”. Cloud Atlas isn’t perfect – far from it. There are huge sequences that should have been cut, or at the very least tightened up a bit. Several of the storylines are stupid and pointless, and the film as a whole doesn’t really work.But I still loved it. Partially for the ambition, partially for when it does get things right, and largely for the world after world the directors manage to create and suck you into. It’s a film I picked up on DVD as soon as it came out, and watched again and again and again. It’s beautiful and flawed and clumsy and elegant and I just love it. The incredible cast certainly doesn’t hurt, either.
- Gravity. Everyone loved Gravity. Everyone. Turns out that’s because it’s a masterpiece. There are a few scenes where the script-writing seams show (sitting in the audience, I literally said “Okay, this is the part where they need to add some emotional weight…” and immediately, Sandra Bullock started talking about her child) but everyone loves this film for a reason: it’s just really good. (Fun fact: this is both George Clooney and Sandra Bullock’s highest-grossing film!)
- Hitchcock. Hitchcock‘s place on the list comes from my obsession with genius, particularly creative genius. If a film starts exploring how an artist put their masterpiece together (see also: The Social Network) I’m in. Everything else (the performances, the humour, the fun behind-the-scenes facts) was just the cherry on top.
These are films that almost made the top 6, but just missed out.
- The Great Gatsby. I really like Baz Luhrman. I even liked Australia, which was pretty widely hated. And while I certainly enjoyed The Great Gatsby (especially since I never read the book, and always kind of wondered what it was about) there was something just a little bit shallow about it. I watched it a second time when it came out on DVD, and realized that I could quite happily never watch it again – there’s nothing more for me to get out of it. A pity, because it’s truly gorgeous.
- Life of Pi. This was a film with a message. What’s more, this was a film with a message that it delivered perfectly. I walked out of Life of Pi thinking “Wow, I’ve never before seen a film so effectively make a point.”Unfortunately, it was a point that I completely and utterly disagreed with. Otherwise, this would be close to my #1 film for the year.
- This Is The End. Fun, crude, rude, but I felt that – considering the talent – they could have done slightly more. Also, boo to anyone who puts Emma Watson on the poster (to say “look, women can be funny!”), and then criminally underuses her. Boo to you.
- Pacific Rim. Pacific Rim was very big, and very fun, and very stupid. If you like big, fun, stupid films, it’s basically perfect. Unfortunately…I don’t. Like Life of Pi, this film excelled at what it was trying to do – but what it was trying to do isn’t something that particularly interests me.
For one reason or another, these are films that I never got a chance to see.
- Hunger Games 2. Another film that literally everyone I know raved about…and so, knowing it ended on a cliff-hanger, I decided to give a miss. I go mad waiting between TV seasons – I have no need to extend that frustration to the big screen. When the trilogy (series?) is finished, I’ll sit down and watch them, but until then I’m happier not knowing what happens in any of them than I would be knowing what happens in some of them.
- The Hobbit 2. The first one was loooooooong, and not worth the 16 hours it took to watch. Reviews of the second suggested it was more of the same. I’m hoping for an Abbreviated Cut, which cuts the trilogy down to one, less-than-2-hours film. That, I will happily watch.
- Thor: The Dark World. See The Hobbit 2 – same reasoning.
- The Wolverine. I have well and truly decided that the X-Men (and spinoff) films aren’t for me. I haven’t hated any of them, but six months after watching all of them (except The Wolverine, I can barely tell you a single plot detail from any one of them.
- The Lone Ranger. This was sort of an interesting idea to me – an old cowboy franchise, updated for the modern day – but again, I couldn’t find a single person to recommend it, and so I skipped it.
- The Internship. Since I originally made this list (10+ months ago, at the end of 2013) I’ve seen this film, and trust me: the only reason you ever want to see it is so you can get every joke in this. And that’s…almost worth it, honestly.
- Jack the Giant Slayer. Bryan. Bryan Singer. What…what happened, man? What happened? Do you need to talk to someone? Why did you think this film was a good idea? And why did you convince Warner Brothers to lose so, so much money on it? Does someone need a hug?
- Iron Man 3. For whatever reason, Iron Man has never pushed my buttons. Sometimes when I avoid huge movies like this, I feel like I’m missing out on all kinds of pop-culture references. Not so with Iron Man 2 or 3 – for some reason, they never really seem to come up.
- A Good Day to Die Hard. I only discovered this film existed while making this list. How did I miss a new Die Hard film being made and released? Shouldn’t that be a fairly big deal?
- Evil Dead. My cousin and I watched through all the Evil Dead films a few years ago (and I did get a bunch more pop-culture references as a result!) and so I was certainly interested in seeing this one, but the opportunity never really came up.
- Scary Movie 5. We also watched through all of the increasingly-awful Scary Movie films, but even if I’d had the time to see this, I probably wouldn’t have.
- The Hangover Part III. Wasn’t nuts about the first one, gave the second one a miss, and apparently everyone hated the third one – even the people who made it.
- World War Z. This one was actually really interesting to me, but I was incredibly busy when it came out, and then the reviews were decidedly mixed.
- Jobs. See above, re: genius/my obsession with it. I heard this was a bit of a hack job* though – watching the trailer was literally as rewarding as watching the film, but without wasting nearly as much time.
*no pun intended.
- Bad Grandpa. The latest in the “Bad” series, which have – in my experience – been pretty bad.
Would’ve Liked to have Seen:
These are films that I would have definitely checked out, had 2013 not been an incredibly busy year for me.
- Anchorman 2. It was never going to be the first one – we all knew that. But going in with those expectations should have resulted in a pleasant enough experience, right? Right?
- Saving Mr Banks. Clash of the creatives + Disney + actually pretty good reviews (from friends, at least) = I really wish I’d gotten a chance to see this one!
- Elysium. I was a big fan of District 9 (despite my 2009 List apparently being pretty down on it) and so I was keen to see what the director made next.
- We’re The Millers. This actually had one of the best trailers I’ve seen for a long time. Would have been interesting to see whether the film managed to live up to it, even slightly.
- The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Ben Stiller doing a semi-serious film, which got an intriguing mix of “Loved it” and “Hated it” reviews from my friends, in roughly equal quantities.
- Kick-Ass 2. The first one blew my socks off, and despite Matthew Vaughn only producing (and not directing) the second, Jim Carrey as a villain was enough to sell it. Definitely plan on seeing this.
- Despicable Me 2. I finally got around to seeing the first one this year, specifically in preparation for the second. I can totally see why Despicable Me 1 was the huge hit it was – now that I’ve seen the first 5 minutes of Mega Mind (which actually do make it a worse film), I’ve shifted my appreciation from Mega Mind to Despicable Me. And yes, you do have to choose. (Bonus: the minions weren’t nearly as annoying as I expected in the first film. Curious to see if the second manages to keep that trend going.)
- Ender’s Game. Love the book, and the adaptation has been coming for what – 30 years now? Harrison Ford alone is enough reason to check it out.
- Oz the Great and Powerful. I’m a public domain sucker, and while I don’t actually enjoy the classic Wizard of Oz film, I loved the books as a kid. Also, Sam Raimi!
- John Dies at the End. Mostly because I’m amazed this film got made at all.
- Identity Thief. Bridesmaids was so good, I’ll see any Melissa McCarthy film just in the hopes that she manages to strike gold again. Jason Bateman is a nice bonus though.
- Star Trek: Into Darkness. Liked the first one plenty, curious to see where the universe goes.
- Much Ado About Nothing. One word: Whedon.
Films I saw that didn’t belong in my top 6 OR the runners-up list.
- Man of Steel. I understand it’s hard to make a good Superman movie. Having him spend an hour masturbating to the amazingness of the US Army is not the way to overcome this.
- The World’s End. Oh Edgar Wright/Simon Pegg…what happened? I wanted to love this film so much. And huge chunks of it were great. But ultimately it failed for all the reasons Hot Fuzz succeeded – incompetent, unlikeable characters, a poorly thought-out world, and a celebration of being ambitionless that just never sits well with me. (see also: Wayne’s World 2, Shaun of the Dead).
- The Incredible Burt Wonderstone. I actually liked parts of this film, but ultimately it fell apart with its completely inconsistent characters. Burt himself goes straight from not understanding how washing dishes work to being able to get – and keep – a job in sales. Plus the fact that he’s what, 20 years older than Olivia Wilde’s character? Never questioned once. I understand it’s how Hollywood works, but at least lampshade it a little.
- Looper. This is one that a few people expected to see on my top 6 list, but ultimately I just found the ending dissatisfying. I won’t go into details, but the director made a deliberate choice to go with an emotionally resonant ending instead of one that logically followed the rules he’d set up, and I found that disappointing enough to ruin the film for me.
- Silver Linings Playbook. I actually don’t understand what anyone saw in this film. Like, at all. People loved it, and I just sat staring at the screen in bewilderment the whole time. One example: at the end, when they bet everything on the results of a football game. Not a football game they were in, or involved with in any way – a football game that happens off-screen, with players we neither know nor care about. What the hell, film?