Last year, I started doing a “Top 10” list of the year’s best movies (in my opinion). I loved it because it was a great way to tell people about movies that they might not have seen (or didn’t know they wanted to see). I must say, this year’s list was much harder, as there were so many good movies that came out. Please enjoy!
(Author’s Note: Just because a movie got an A+ in my review doesn’t mean it will make my Top 10. This is a list of movies that I personally thought were great because they stuck with me after the year ended.)
Thor is a harder character to sell than superheroes like Iron Man and Captain America because he’s a hunky, Scandinavian, space dude with a personality that ranges from brooding to more brooding. But Thor: The Dark World was a step-up from Thor (which I liked). Its budget was better, which you could see in the Asgardian scenes that required lots of CGI, and the tone was a good balance between dark action and light humor.
While I wish this movie had shown more of Thor and his warrior buddies kicking ass around the nine realms, what we got was arguably more awesome. And what was that exactly? The bromance between Thor and Loki. Their relationship not only grew deeper throughout this movie’s storyline, but it also provided us with some hilarious bickering. Oh, hell…I can’t even pretend like I care about Thor and Loki’s bromance anymore. This movie made my list because I have a major Loki boner, and this movie was ALL THE LOKI.
12 Years A Slave is probably one of the more violent and depressing slavery-themed films I’ve seen. Not that slavery wasn’t already violent and depressing. This movie just took it to a new, unapologetic level to get its point across. Based on an autobiography by free man-turned-slave Solomon Northup in 1853, the heart of 12 Years A Slave‘s story is about the value of life and the injustice of degrading another human being.
For such a brutal film, it’s actually quite beautiful. The message, the music, the story, the acting—it’s a movie that you can see once and never forget (unlike Lee Daniels’ The Butler). I know 12 Years A Slave will be a frontrunner this awards season based on a lot of the talk I’ve read and heard. We’re probably looking at nominations for Best Picture, Best Actor for Chitwetel Ejiofor, and Best Supporting Actress for Lupita Nyong’o.
Looking back at this year’s animated films, there were a few that I thought were great, but none of them were as memorable (or as funny) as Despicable Me 2. It was a wonderful follow-up to the first film, and it ventured into a different territory than I expected. Instead of repeating the villain-turned-soft story featured in Despicable Me, the sequel focused more on Gru’s life after adopting his daughters, specifically the lessons he learned about being a good father.
Now, the Despicable Me creators aren’t stupid. They’re very much aware that the wacky minions are loved by kids and adults alike. And we get just enough minions in this movie that it doesn’t feel like they’re the entire movie. Truly, the minions’ slapstick pairs nicely with the sugary bubbliness of Elsie Kate Fisher’s Agnes, the peppy enthusiasm of Kristen Wiig’s Lucy, and the grumpy rantings of Steve Carell’s Gru.
This one might not have made a lot of people’s end of the year lists, but I really, really liked this movie. I don’t know if it was just the dreamer in me that loved it, or if it was because this movie was a lot deeper than the typical Ben Stiller film, and I liked the surprise. Either way, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty was a film I won’t forget.
The film is, at its simplest, about embracing life, not pretending to live it. And who couldn’t use that inspiration? An adventurous journey, a downtrodden protagonist who climbs his way to the top, and a serious life lesson about basking in the moment—it’s as beautiful as the wide shots of Greenland, Iceland, and Afghanistan, where Walter ventures to find a lost photo from his photography hero. Seriously, give this feel-good movie a chance.
What will probably go down in history as the movie with the best marketing was also the sequel to one of the greatest comedies of all time. Was it as funny as Anchorman? Arguable (but yes). Was it as original? Well, no, but you can’t expect that with a sequel (or at least you shouldn’t, knowing Hollywood).
With weird perms, snappy new suits, Ron being melodramatic (“I TOLD YOU, I’M BLIND!”), and a sequence jabbing at CNN’s incompetence, this movie is definitely worth seeing. Not to mention, if you liked the news team battle in the first film, you’re bound to roll on the floor and possibly pee your pants with this movie’s news team battle, which brings in awesome new cameos and a few WTF moments (Ghost of Stonewall Jackson, anyone?).
In a year where two apocalyptic comedies came out within months of each other, it was hard to choose which one was my favorite, especially since they’re both very different. But I had to go with Edgar Wright’s The World’s End. It’s the third film in Wright’s Cornetto trilogy (following Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz). I’ve said this hundreds of times: I sincerely believe that Wright, Pegg, Frost, and their circle are the modern Monty Python.
So what’s it about? Friendship. Mid-life crises. Drinking. And robots. Because you can’t have a good apocalypse without murderous robots. The World’s End is weird in the cult-classic way, and my god does Wright know how to write clever one-liners and badass fight sequences. And did I mention the entire movie gives the plot away in the names of the 12 bars that the group visits? Yeah, that’s Wright’s thing. But you have to pay attention, otherwise you’ll miss it. Also, I would unashamedly bone Simon Pegg’s Gary King.
4. Warm Bodies
Warm Bodies was this year’s “dark horse.” Not a lot of people saw it because it was released in February (where movies go to die), and initial assumptions seemed hell-bent on the fact that this was yet another supernatural romance derivative (the pimping of which has died down). But it was so different than what was expected. In fact, I’d argue that it was this year’s best romantic comedy (Yes, romantic comedy).
Based on the 2010 novel by Isaac Marion, Warm Bodies is what Zombieland combined with Sixteen Candles would look like. There was an awkward protagonist, trying to win over the girl of his dreams (literally); a great soundtrack filled with ’80s hits and indie tunes; and a fresh concept that stood out in the oversaturated zombie horror market. It’s the perfect mix of flesh-eating action and hilarious dialogue to make this Romeo & Juliet story a must-see. And hello? Rob Corddry is in it. You can’t go wrong.
Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity garnered the most hype of all of the movies released this year and for good reason. It’s a beautiful and thought-provoking panic attack that runs for 90 minutes and only stars two people (technically). How such a simple movie could end up being so complex had me in awe.
You know how some movies feel like things are just done for shock-value? Gravity isn’t like that. Everything was calculated, from the endless shots of Earth’s magnificence to the intensifying music (which was used in moments that needed it) and unnerving silence. But cinematography and special effects weren’t the only things that made this movie unique. It was also one of the few female-driven films this year, and Sandra Bullock knocked it out of the park. This movie will win awards. Of that, I’m certain.
2. Iron Man 3
Damn, this really was the year of sequels, wasn’t it? Unsurprisingly, one of the sequels leading the pack was Marvel’s Iron Man 3. Even if this summer hadn’t been filled with tedious and underwhelming blockbusters, Iron Man 3 still would’ve been the best. Honestly, I thought it was the best of the three Iron Man films, too.
Following The Avengers (which earned my top spot last year) is a daunting task, but if any member of The Avengers was going to hold their own, it was going to be Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man. Part of that success can be attributed to director and screenwriter Shane Black. But we all know that a lot of it comes back to RDJ, who was born to play Tony Stark. In Iron Man 3, RDJ created new dimensions for Stark’s character in his relationship with Gwyneth Paltrow’s Pepper Potts and his abilities as a superhero. Can he please come back for more?
This year’s top film was The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (another sequel). Holy wow. As I said in my review, this is how production companies should make sequels in young adult franchises. Sequels should expand their characters’ stories rather than copying and pasting the success of the first film. Catching Fire did just that.
After seeing this film, I’m actually worried about how well Mockingjay: Part 1 & 2 will do. The Catching Fire novel, itself, was the best of the trilogy, and its film adaptation was leagues better than The Hunger Games in terms of overall look, character development, acting, and plot growth. I just don’t see how Mockingjay will be able to recreate the intensity and sympathy that is Catching Fire‘s story.
What movies would make YOUR “Top 10” list this year? Discuss in the comments!