Saturday, December 28, 2013

A Year in Movies: 2013 edition

Much like I did in 2012, this year I gave myself the goal of seeing 52 new movies released in the U.S. in the current calendar year. Thanks to the fact that movies get released on DVD and VOD much faster these days, I did do a better job of staying on track this year - I even wrote about some of my favorites a few months ago.

When it came down to it though, I once again cut it close to the deadline in terms of reaching my goal, and became less discerning in my selections in order to ensure I reached my objective. Honestly, I found it hard to keep up with new movies as well as TV shows and book reading and web shows and hanging out having quality time with other human beings. (And unfortunately, I don't get paid to watch movies, so my job took up some valuable time as well.) Let me say completing my goal would have been much, much easier if I had allowed myself to count cable movies, thanks to my compulsion to watch horrible holiday movies every year. Plus, I could count Behind the Candelabra as one of my favs. But despite that handicap, I did it! And before the December 31st deadline! I even went OVER, movie marathoning two weekends here at the end.

Below is a summary of the 2013 movies I have seen up to this point, sorted alphabetically (although I did a simple computer sort so all the movies that start with "the" are clumped together) and a short summary of my impression on each. (A review of each would make this post even longer - so if I mention a movie you've never heard of, I encourage you to look up to learn more. I also linked to the trailers of several.) My favorites are in bold.

  1. 12 Years A Slave: great performances all around. It was tough to watch at times, and I cried, quite a bit, several times throughout the movie. (My tears will be a recurring theme, as they appeared often this year.) Had to roll my eyes over producer Brad Pitt casting himself as the white savior though.
  2. 42: Schmaltzy biopic, but even knowing that going in, I found myself tearing up.
  3. A Place Beyond The Pines: Ugh with this movie. It just seemed too stylized, which I found silly, and I don't think silly was what the director was going for. Major eye rolls throughout….and despite quite a bit of drama, no tears. (Also, there is not enough Ryan Gosling in it.)
  4. Admission: I love Tina Fey, love Paul Rudd, didn't love this one.
  5. American Hustle: Reminded me, in tone, of Casino and Goodfellas, but less murder-y. Also, the hairdresser(s) of this movie should win all the awards, because it’s all about the hair.
  6. Ass Backwards: silly, fun movie, but it felt a little patched together. Reminded me of Romy and Michele's High School Reunion.
  7. Austenland: Enjoyed the book, the movie was frothy fun too. (The DVD of this with the keepsake edition of the Pride & Prejudice miniseries with Colin Firth would make a lovely gift I think. Just saying.)
  8. Before Midnight: Talky and funny and an honest look at a relationship. Great follow-up to Before Sunrise and Before Sunset.
  9. Blackfish: This documentary reminded me of how sad I was the last time I went to SeaWorld about a decade ago, and it hit me that those giant orca whales that I love so much live their whole lives in a pool. Seeing this movie made me even sadder. I cried.
  10. Crystal Fairy and the Magical Cactus: I love Michael Cera, I love that this movie is set in Chile. Did not enjoy the movie at all. I just wanted to wash and comb everyone's hair.
  11. Dallas Buyers Club: Fantastic performances, even if the movie overall was just o.k. Did I shed tears? Of course I did.
  12. Drinking Buddies: Apparently brewery employees are all functioning alcoholics.
  13. Elysium: It was o.k. Still annoyed by Jodi Foster’s weird changing accent in this. 
  14. Frances Ha: didn't get the critical hype for this one. 
  15. Frozen: Princesses that weren't damsels in distress that needed to be saved by a prince. (A Disney movie that that passes the Bechdel test!)  Plus Idina Menzel singing. Really enjoyed it. (And there were tears shed by me, not the 9-year-old sitting next to me.) 
  16. Fruitvale Station: Great performances, and a surprise appearance by Chad Micheal Murray. I want to see Michael B. Jordan star in more movies. And yeah, I cried.
  17. Girl Most Likely: Gotta say, if my parents rented my childhood room to Darren Chris, I’d be much less resistant to hooking up with him than Kristen Wiig's character in this.
  18. Gravity:  Loved it, despite the metaphoric anvils coming at me via the 3D glasses. (I was also distracted by how hairless Sandra Bullock was. Do lady astronauts get electrolysis?) Unsurprisingly, I cried.
  19. Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters: I had a goal of 52 movies to reach. This was one I saw to help me reach that goal. (And it still bugs me that the movie seems to be set in the 19th century but Hansel and Gretel are super modern and Hansel somehow has invented insulin shots to treat his diabetes.)
  20. Identity Thief: Love Melissa McCarthy, love Jason Bateman, didn't love this one.
  21. Instructions Not Included (No Se Aceptan Devoluciones): The little girl lead actress was really good in this. The movie overall was o.k., if more than a little soap-opera-esque. I cried.
  22. Iron Man 3: Really enjoyed it. Saw this one with my parents, and the look of pure unadulterated joy on my father’s face made this even more fun.
  23. Jack the Giant Slayer: I had a goal to reach, this is another one I saw to reach that goal.
  24. Lovelace: Not bad. Wasn't expecting to see The OC's Seth Cohen as a porn star though. 
  25. Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom: I love Idris Elba, but this biopic was kind of a mess. It felt more like a made for TV movie than a feature film. I teared up a little, but considering the subject matter, I was expecting more.
  26. Man of Steel: Henry Cavill is a very, very attractive man. This movie had just too much relentless destruction and not enough shirtless Superman for me.
  27. Movie 43: I love so many of the actors in it, but hated this movie.
  28. Much Ado About Nothing: I liked this one, although I always feel like I need to watch Shakespeare with Cliff Notes, because I don't really understand what people are saying half the time. Thankfully I had seen the Kenneth Branagh version of this so I was already familiar with the plot. (If I sound like the kid who watched the movie instead of reading the book, it's because I am.)
  29. Now You See Me: entertaining caper movie.
  30. Oz: The Great and Powerful: It was very pretty to look atI enjoyed the costumes and makeup. That's about it.
  31. Pain & Gain: The whole time I was watching this, I kept wondering how much protein powder was consumed during filming.
  32. Philomena: Judi Dench is amazing, but I found myself wanting to know more about went down in the flashbacks in the convent. (For that I recommend watching The Magdalene Sisters.) And oh yeah, I cried.
  33. Populaire: Apparently people got really hot and bothered about speed typing competitions back in the 1950s. (Also, this French movie is super cute. And it gave me flashbacks to the ancient army surplus typewriter I learned to type on back in the dark ages, AKA the 1980's.)
  34. Saving Mr. Banks: From the preview I saw before going to see this at a screening, I thought I’d laugh…and I did a bit, but also – I cried. And left the theater wanting to re-watch Mary Poppins.
  35. Side Effects: Enjoyed this psychological thriller more than I thought I would.
  36. Star Trek Into Darkness: It was alright. I've already kind of forgotten the plot.
  37. Stories We Tell: Interesting documentary from Sarah Polley about her family. I shed some tears.
  38. The Book Thief: I sobbed reading the book, I sobbed watching the movie. (The book is way better.)
  39. The English Teacher: Was o.k. Tried too hard to be quirky/cute in tone I think.
  40. The Heat: Love Sandra Bullock, love Melissa McCarthy, really enjoyed this one. Given how fun their drunk dancing scene was, I'm looking forward to The Heat 2: Electric Boogaloo.
  41. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire: Liked it much more than the first film, and it's pretty faithful to the book. (Although I did find some of the changes, mostly having to do with trying to make Peeta look like less of a damsel in distress, amusing.) Yes, I cried.
  42. The Internship: Saw this long form commercial for Google as a free screening. I've seen worse I guess.
  43. The Kings of Summer: Funny coming-of-age story. Enjoyed it.
  44. The Last Stand: Nothing says "small Arizona town sheriff" like Arnold Schwarzenegger. I watched this because I had a goal to reach, and this one already made it to cable when I was running behind on my objective. I’m looking forward to the How Did This Get Made episode on this ridiculousness.
  45. The Lifeguard: I love Kristen Bell, but this movie creeped me out a bit - probably because her adult character hooks up with a teenager..and the actor looked age appropriate. (Also kept wondering how she managed to hold on to her apartment in NYC while having her identity crisis and making slightly more than minimum wage at a community pool.)
  46. The Lone Ranger: Another free screening. Better than my extremely low expectations, but still pretty bad. (Although I did think a 10-year-old boy might love it.) Johnny Depp has really been testing my love for the past couple of years. One more challenge and I think it's over between us.
  47. The Sapphires: Some great music and Chris O'Dowd. I enjoyed…and also, I cried.
  48. The Spectacular Now: Another coming-of-age movie, that also happens to be a realistic teen romance. One of my favorites of the year, and I wish more people I know would see it so we could gush about it together. This one really appealed to my inner teen. I want to have a sleepover and watch this with my friends while eating junk food and talking about how dumb boys are. And duh, of course I cried.
  49. The To Do List: I cringed, I laughed, I cringed some more at this bawdy female-centric coming-of-age comedy.
  50. The Way Way Back: I have a weakness for coming-of-age stories. This one was o.k., with some great performances.
  51. The World’s End: Love Simon Pegg, love Nick Frost, loved this movie. And have I ever mentioned I have a bit of a crush on director Edgar Wright? (I have a soft spot for geeky Brits.)
  52. This Is The End: Highly enjoyable, with a cast full of people I like.
  53. Warm Bodies: I never thought I'd be attracted to a zombie, but then I saw this. It was cute.
  54. We’re the Millers: Fun, silly, and thankfully, no tears.
Overall tear count: 16. (There is a reason I always try to have tissues in my purse.) What can I say, I'm a crier.

There you have it. I've met my goal - but still have a few more to see before all the awards shows, so I can once again complain if/when my favorites don't win. I'm hoping to see Her, August Osage County, The Past/Le passéEnough Said, Short Term 12, and maybe one or two others in the next couple of weeks before awards start being handed out.

Any movies you don't see on the list that you would recommend? Any movie I didn't particular care for that you loved? Any movie I loved that you hated? Let me know!

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