Monday, January 6, 2014

Eimer's Best Movie Experiences of 2013

It was a good year for films. I was finally able to catch up with all of the 2012 Academy Award nominees (and winners), was mildly entertained by the summer crop of films and have seen a modest amount of Autumn awards bait to roll in this past November and December – not to mention some movies that have hung out for years in my Netflix queue.

That said, here is a list of my 10 best movie experiences of 2013. Keep in mind, some of these were released in 2012. Plus, I haven’t seen many of the critical darlings including Her, Blue Jasmine, The Act of Killing, Captain Phillips, Philomena 12 Years a Slave, Rush, Dallas Buyers Club, All Is Lost, American Hustle, Inside Llewyn Davis and Frozen – but I plan to.

Also, for those that do not know, please follow my One Sentence Movie Reviews on Twitter. I try to update both old and new movies during the week. 300 posts, and counting.

So, without further adieu (and in no particular order)

One of the better thrillers I've seen in quite some time. This kept me scratching my head from the very beginning. Very dark. Very disturbing. A slight nod to SILENCE OF THE LAMBS. With lots of great acting mixed in. Can't talk enough about the acting in particular Jackman, Gyllenhaal the rest of the supporting cast. Like I said, very tough to watch at times, but a very through-provoking movie about the extent that a family will go to get the answers they need to finally sleep at night. Great editing and direction that continues all the way to the surprise ending.

Jackson, once again, takes us into the world of Middle Earth and mesmerizes with great acting, direction and - yes - special effects. I now see what he's trying to do with the movies. Trying to mend and mold them into a masterful six-part series - and it's working. I'm a fan of the heroes journey adventures and this does not disappoint with twists and turns and plenty of action along the way. And that includes the final scenes with the pompous, prideful dragon Smaug rolling around in his coins and treasures like Scrooge McDuck from Duck Tales. Just a fine movie that sets up a fantastic intro to the final film. Hats off to cinematography, editing, art direction and VFX teams as well for bringing this fantastic land to life. One of the best movies of the year that deserves to be seen in the theater with the full 3D treatment. If I had one little complaint, it would have been to cut it down by 20 minutes. But that's just a minor complaint. Check 'er out nonetheless.

You won't want to visit Sea World again after you view this fantastic documentary. Much like the Academy Award winning 'The Cove', this documentary focuses it's lens not on dolphins, but instead on killer whales in captivity with some crazy unsettling video footage. I personally visited Sea World twice when I was young. I really didn't know any better. But, after watching this documentary (which Sea World refused to be interviewed for by the way) my kids will not step foot in the place. I'm sure a high percentage of people that view this doc will also think twice. Very thought-provoking insights, interviews and great direction by Cowperthwaite. This is a film, which should be nominated - if not win - a best documentary feature Academy Award. Well, it looks like The Act of Killing is growing momentum. But, check this one out nonetheless – and cancel those plans to Sea World while you’re at it.

What GOODFELLAS did for the mafia and violence, this movie does for sex, drugs and penny stocks. Just a great film from start to finish. Sure, it's a bit risque and I'm sure the religious and conservative people in the audience will find plenty of fault with it. But what I watched was a non-stop experiential rat-a-tat-tat-tat film that clipped along like a machine gun. Great editing, great direction, great shot-selection, and the acting; the acting was simply phenomenal with DiCaprio leading the charge for some sort of award. He does a fantastic job that’s both entertaining, filled with tension and laugh-out-loud funny. And let's not forget Jonah Hill and the rest of the rowdy bunch. What a great film. Possibly the best of the year! Check 'er out.

Loved this film. THE SHINING sits in my top ten films of all time. So, to say I was very intrigued and wanted to see this movie was an understatement. The director does not disappoint as he finds these interesting people telling their interesting crazy theories on The Shining. The crazy thing is, they're all freaking plausible. I personally love the idea of the MInotaur and Theseus. Shucks, from the Trail of Tears theory to the Moon landing being faked - I loved all of them. This just goes to show the power of cinema and the different reactions you will get to popular, cult films. Fans of Kubrick, movie lovers and fans of The Shining will adore this movie. All others will moderately enjoy it. Interesting nonetheless. Check er out!

Solid four-star film (maybe could even creep up into the five star territory). This didn't feel like a movie, it felt like a personal documentary. Great script (simplistic), wicked action, seamless, detailed direction by Bayona (you must see THE ORPHANAGE) and great cinematography by Oscar Faura - are working on all gears to pump out just a great mind-blowing film. The tsunami sequence is just amazing, and the attention to detail is fantastic. And the acting (all of which was pulled from the director) is top notch - moreso than Watts and MacGregor, but the child actors as well. Check this out. Unbelievable film.

So much for that sophomore slump, eh Carruth? Another cool interesting sci-fi flick from Shane Carruth who directed the low-budget, thought-provoking time-travel film PRIMER. Since I’ve seen this film three months ago, I’ve tried to explain this movie to friends and family, but I just couldn't put it to words. Just like Carruth's other film, there's a lot going on and there are layers to each thought. Flowers, pigs, worms, hypnotism and robbery all come together to create a head-scratcher of a film, but in a good way. Not in a negative way. Keep it up Carruth. Keep the creative, thought-provoking films coming. One of the most thought-provoking films I've seen since, well, PRIMER.

This was a movie where I felt utterly flabbergasted, and dare I say jealous, when I left the theater. This is a great movie that not only had you on the edge of your seat from the very beginning, but shook you a little bit and made you take notice of your surroundings. At only 91 minutes, it quickly and efficiently packs a wallop, right in your gut. Everything from the cinematography to direction to plot (and let's not forget the special effects) are thought out in precision and combine to create a truly special film. Sure, the special effects take center stage, but Bullock carries the film as the sole actor, lest we forget Clooney's supporting role. I can't say enough about this film. Kudos to Cuaron for taking on such a crazy project. You can see the dedication and love of the craft in every frame. One more thing I can say, is that as soon as the movie ended, I didn't want to leave the theater, I didn't want to toss my 3D glasses in the bin at the door. I wanted it to start again so I could watch it again, and maybe again. It's been a long time since that's happened to me, let me tell you that.

I really enjoyed this film. Just like Nichols other film (TAKE SHELTER) you have to suspend disbelief a tiny bit to enjoy this special treat. All actors are 100 percent into their characters. Cinematography, dialogue, editing and art direction hit on all cylinders as well. In a sense, this movie is a perfect companion piece to Rob Reiner's STAND BY ME, which was based on a story by Stephen King. In a sense, MUD is a coming-of-age story between two boys in their early teens trying to maintain their youth as they deal with real-life adulthood issues such as divorce, violence, poverty, murder and true love. Again, this movie wouldn't have been as good if wasn't for the acting (e.g. McConaughey, Witherspoon, Sheperd, Shannon and the two youths Sheridan and Lofland). However, and more importantly, kudos should go to director Nichols who has put together two fantastic films that can't quite be placed into any specific genre - which is really cool. Check 'er out.

What a very creative, interesting thought-provoking film. With the exception to SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED and THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU, this is one of the finest science-fiction romantic movies I've seen in quite some time. Very creative direction, screenplay, art direction and visual effects. The story, however, is what makes it stand apart. Two planets. Two loves. It's a like a Romeo and Juliet interplanetary love story. And the acting is just right. Not over the top. Very subtle. It's just a great film all-around. Highly recommended. Check er out.

Other 2013 top movie recommendations:

  • Before Midnight
  • Argo
  • Perks of Being a Wallflower
  • The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
  • Sinister
  • World War Z
  • Pacific Rim
  • Frances Ha
  • Zero Dark Thirty
  • Life of Pi
  • Sound of my voice
  • Looper
  • Trance
  • The Way, Way Back
  • End of Watch
  • Wreck-It-Ralph

  • Eimer's Favorites of 2011

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