Movie of the Year: Star Trek: Into Darkness
First, I need to state that I haven’t been able to see a lot of the movies that recently came out, so my favorite is more screwed for this summer’s releases. That being said, I still loved Star Trek. The continued journey of Spock and Kirk really knocked it out of the park this summer, with an enjoyable cast, fantastic villain (thanks to Mr. Cumberbatch), and some of the best special effects I’ve seen all year. Now that Star Trek is taking a backseat to a certain War franchise, I can say that they left me on a great note.
Favorite Scene: This Is The End – The Beginning of the End of the World
It was just too damn funny.
Favorite Surprise: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
This is by no means the funniest comedy out there today, nor is it the best drama. Ben Stiller found this middle that makes Walter Mitty just a satisfying experience to watch. The everyman story helps put us into his shoes, and the journey he takes is something that we all can imagine not only doing, but loving. Not to mention the amazing backdrops of Greenland, Afghanistan, and Iceland are gorgeous to look at. It’s not the best out there, but it certainly is good.
Worst Movie of the Year: 21 And Over
I’m sick and tired of this concept – you’re twenty one, let’s go drinking. I get that most people can find that enjoyable, but I find it stupid, repetitive, and just flat out boring. Ever since The Hangover made it cool to have party all night movies, they have tanked in how funny they can be. 21 And Over has nothing going for it, and I regret ever renting it.
Film of the Year: Upstream Color
Don’t expect to be able to play Candy Crush while watching this one. It seems that when discussing Shane Carruth’s films, ‘non-linear’ is an understatement. While I enjoyed his previous film (Primer), Carruth introduced a fantastic cinematic vision in Upstream Color. The film is packed full of beautiful images that provide clues for the shattered narrative. This fascinating film is part intriguing, part horrifying, and part inspiring. This film is not for some people. Patience is required for unwrapping the complicated elements, and not all of your questions will be answered.
To me, the best film of the year should leave you astonished as the credits roll. At the conclusion of Upstream Color I was in awe and I sought out discussion about how others interpreted the abstract film. By comparison, my other favorites of the year were held back by a variety of factors:
- Inside Llewyn Davis was great, but lacked the humor needed to counterbalance the depressing narrative.
- Captain Phillips was gripping and effective, but suffers from a limited depth.
- Gravity was stunning and compelling, but needed a couple screenplay rewrites to complement the film’s technological achievements.
- American Hustle had great acting and directing but seemed to lack the innovative elements needed to create a remarkable film.
- Mud was a great film that was diminished by a clumsy third act.
So, while I really enjoyed those films, they were less effective than Upstream Color. It is also possible that I have not yet seen the 2013 film that will be my favorite. I still need to catch up with 12 Years a Slave, The Wolf of Wall Street, and a couple others.
Most Enjoyable Film of the Year: The World’s End
This film was just as funny as it’s American apocalyptic counterpart (This is the End), however, The World’s End featured Edgar Wright’s great vision and an emotional depth anchored by great performances by Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. Wright has maintained his unblemished record, and I look forward to re-watching this film so I can catch everything I missed. An example of Wright’s amazing attention to detail is the pub names, each name foreshadows the film’s ensuing action. The themes of nostalgia, forgiveness, addiction, and independence provide comments on contemporary culture and provide refreshing insights.
Biggest Surprise of the Year: In a World…
Lake Bell wrote, directed, and starred in this heartfelt and hilarious film. Bell successfully built an ensemble cast of talented comedians, mostly from the cast of Childrens Hospital. The film also featured a “retarded sounding” Eva Longoria! I hope to see more features from Lake Bell, Rob Corddry, and company.
Biggest Disappointment of the Year: Action Films
Where are this year’s compelling action films? Last year we had great action films led by: The Avengers, Dredd, Skyfall, and The Dark Knight Rises. By comparison, this year we got RIPD, Hansel and Gretel, After Earth, and A Good Day to Die Hard. I was looking forward to Pacific Rim, The Wolverine, Man of Steel, and World War Z, but these films were all somewhat disappointing. I would recommend watching the Honest Trailer for Pacific Rim, it proves my point and it is hilarious.
Best Performance of the Year: Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
In Blue Jasmine, Cate Blanchett brilliantly portrays the socialite in exile. Her adjustment to living outside her life of privilege could have easily been overly-dramatic and uninteresting, however Blanchett makes the character fascinating. Similar to Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln last year, the success of Blue Jasmine is a testament to Blanchett’s ability.
Favorite Film: You’re Next
Seeing as my choice for favorite film last year was Cabin in the Woods, it shouldn’t be surprising that this year’s top of the list for me is also a horror film/comedy blend. It’s not to the same extent as Cabin was drenched with what we come to expect from the Whedonverse, but when a family is being killed off during a family reunion it’s sometimes nice to get a laugh or two in, especially when some of these deaths can be pretty disturbing. Best of all, there is a capable female lead to cheer for, bringing me back to my love of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Runners Up: Gravity, Man of Steel
Honorable Mentions: Byzantium, This is the End, Oblivion, Violet & Daisy
Movie I Will Never Stop Defending: Man of Steel
Easily the best superhero film this year for me, I was more than relieved when this entry into the world of Superman films didn’t disappoint in the slightest. Not everyone feels this way about the film, though: superman doesn’t try hard enough to save every single person in danger, Superman wracks up way too many charges in property damage, Superman would never even consider killing someone… The list can go on and on. I understand where many people are coming from when it comes to complaints, but I have enough reasoning in my mind to make me ok with each complaint.
Biggest Surprise: Warm Bodies
You wouldn’t think that a love story between a zombie and a human would be anything other than gross, but Warm Bodies turned out to be pretty charming. Not only do we get to hear the self-conscious inner monologue of a boy crushing on a girl, but the added pressure is on when he also has things like his dead smell and inability to speak with any speed to worry about. Take that Twilight!
Movie I Will Not Apologize For Liking: Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters
I can see how this movie could be nothing more than “stupid” to most, but I just don’t care. Like Prince of Persia, Clash of the Titans, John Carter… There’s just something to it that keeps me entertained from beginning to end. Where Pacific Rim failed in its ability to have the fun override most of my issues with that film, Hansel & Gretel somehow manages to. I can’t explain it, and I feel like I should be embarrassed for liking this one, but I’m just not.
What Just Happened?: Upstream Color
I squeezed this viewing in last night, and I am still not quite sure what I just watched. It’s just so open to interpretation, and that’s OK for those who are willing to take the time to think about it. Zac told me not to strain myself in trying to break it down and find the strand of truth, but I doubt I will be able to practice that advice any time soon.
Most Overrated: The Spectacular Now
I have absolutely no idea how this film is making it onto best of lists in the positive category. I absolutely hated it! Obviously people are allowed to have different opinions about things, but I really just don’t get it. The main character is a selfish jerk ruining the innocent, nerdy girl’s life, and worst of all, she’s letting him. There’s just nothing to connect to here, and the ending manages to make this adaptation even worse than the horrible book it is based on.
Runner-Up: The Heat, Pacific Rim
Biggest Disappointment: All the Boys Love Mandy Lane
Even if it did just look like another horror film where a group of teens gets picked off one by one, there was something about it that had me checking on the release day each and every year. Then it finally happened; Mandy Lane was coming off the shelf! And guess what! It was just another mediocre horror film not worth the anticipation filled wait.
Runner Up: A Good Day to Die Hard, Mama, The Purge
Least Favorite Film: The Spectacular Now
I HATED THIS MOVIE WITH A FIERY PASSION!!! See “Most Overrated” above for more.
Runner Ups: Beautiful Creatures, Movie 43, The Incredible Burt Wonderstone
Top of My “To Watch” List: 12 Years a Slave, About Time, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, The Book Thief, Dallas Buyers Club, Don Jon, How I Live Now, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Inside Llewyn Davis, The Kings of Summer, The Last Days on Mars, Mud, Oldboy, Out of the Furnace, Pain & Gain, Saving Mr. Banks, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Short Term 12, Stoker, The Wolf of Wall Street, The World’s End