Wednesday, January 15, 2014

11 Favorite Films From 2013

Once again, for your interneting pleasure, a list of my favorite movies that I saw for the first time last year. Most of them are recent flicks, but there's a few oldies tucked in here too. And yes, there is more than one animated film on the list...
Argo (2012; dir. Ben Affleck)
Political thrillers aren't usually my thing, but this tight little flick had me gasping for air and on the edge of my seat. What's more is the playful undertone of the whole film about a government plot to rescue a handful of Americans during the 1980 Iran hostage crisis. Ben Affleck masterfully directs and stars along an all-star cast. The film won the Best Picture award at last year's Oscars.
Batman Begins (2005, dir. Christopher Nolan)
I'm going to go on record as saying that "Batman and Robin" is still my favorite Batman movie, but I was finally able to bring myself to watch this darker more adult reincarnation of the Caped Crusader and I really liked it. I plan on hitting up the other two in the Dark Knight trilogy very soon.

Blackfish (2013; dir. Gabriela Cowperthwaite)
Who knew CNN had a film releasing arm? Well, they do and they put out this utterly fascinating and deeply moving documentary which chronicles the horrible lives of the many killer whales who play Shamu at Sea World. I'm not really an animal person but after watching this jaw-dropping film I wanted to go out and hug a whale. I found the inhumane way animals are treated appalling and the behind the scenes look at amusement parks utterly enthralling. Blackfish was just added to Netflix Streaming.
Frozen (2013; dirs. Chris Buck & Jennifer Lee)
Frozen is, perhaps, Disney Animation's return to perfection in the art of animated film making. While 2009's The Princess and the Frog was beautifully hand animated, it lacked in the story department. And 2011's Tangled was wonderful but felt a little tinged by modern, sarcastic humor and computer animation. Now we come to Frozen which is computer animated but absolutely lovely to look at. The animation compliments a story that is full of twists and turns, great music and some solid laughs. This is the only film I saw in the theater this year that I wanted to go back and see again almost immediately.
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984; dir. Steven Spielberg)
Hard to believe I didn't see Indy 2 until almost 30 years after it came out. I probably don't need to tell you - it's great fun. At this point I should see Last Crusade in 2018.

Iron Man 2 (2010; dir. Jon Favreau)
This is the year that I really embraced the Super Hero movie, especially the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I've loved all the Marvel movies but this one especially struck a cord in me. Tony Stark's (Iron Man) father in this movie is an obvious homage to Walt Disney - done so well! 

The Noose Hangs High (1948; Charles Barton)
I've seen a ton of Abbott and Costello's films but this one stood out a really good outing for the boys. There's a ton of their top-notch routines hung on a pretty solid story about A&C getting mixed up with the mob.

Planes (2013; dir. Klay Hall)
Here's something of a rarity in today's movie marketplace - a low key animated film. Disney wasn't trying to make a huge blockbuster film with this Cars spin-off, in fact they were making a direct-to-DVD movie. Without the pressure to produce a mega blockbuster, Disney turned out an almost quiet and very charming little cartoon...and it still went on to make them a ton of money. (There's a sequel on the way this summer.)

Rock of Ages (2012; dir. Adam Shankman)
If you were around in the 80's then you can't help but at least tap your feet to this jukebox musical which takes at least a dozen and a half chart topping tunes from the Me Decade and weaves them into a rock and roll saga. Great cast, great fun!

Scooby-Doo! The Mask of the Blue Falcon (2012; dir. Michael Goguen)
These Scooby-Doo DVD movies keep getting better and better. In the gang's 19th animated flick, they find themselves wrapped up in mystery at Comic-Con. Not only are they so many neat references to the entire Hanna-Barbera stable of characters, the film also cleverly parodies comic book culture, modern adaptions of classic properties and the current state of internet users obsessing over every detail of a movie before it comes out. This cartoon is much more sophisticated than you'd think.

This Is The End (2013; dir. Seth Rogan & Evan Goldberg)
Probably the funniest movie of the year.

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