2013-Year in Review

Previously Published

 

 

First up, 15 Top Television Shows of 2013

(As always, these are my opinions…anyone who would like to question my choices are welcome to comment…but no insult is intended)

#15 The Killing.  The Killing returned to AMC after nearly receiving the axe and provided a much more interesting season three than season two.  And it learned from its failed first mystery and did not stretch out the story too long.

#14 Hostages.  This CBS show is one of the new, shorter season series where an FBI agent tries to get the President’s doctor to kill the president on the operating table.  Strong performances from Dylan McDermott and Toni Collette help minimize some serious plotholes and silly situations.  This might have been better as a shorter mini-series than 13 episodes.

#13 Under the Dome.  Speaking of mini-series, the adaption of Stephen King’s novel was a mini-series that wasn’t.  Fans were outraged when Under the Dome ended with a cliffhanger.  Many fans were unaware that the series was no longer a mini-series and had been renewed by CBS for a second season.  Under the Dome had some very good moments, but the characters were not very complex.

#12 Sleepy Hallow.  This was one I just came into late.  Catching up on the season on Hulu, I enjoyed the new take on the classic tale of the Legend of Sleepy Hallow.  Yes, there are several contrivances on this show, but the thoroughly entertaining Ichabod Crane and his partner Lt. Abbie Mills are a hoot, and Crane’s fish-out-of-water character is very funny.

#11 Grimm.  This show just continues to improve, as our heroic Grimm, Nick, continues to compile his own Scooby gang (much like the slayer, Buffy did.)

#10 The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.  This show did not even miss a beat when Jon Stewart took several months off to direct a movie.  John Oliver stepped in and handled the hosting gig admirably.  However, few do this as well as Stewart, whose combination of humor, sharp wit and satire is unapologetic to anyone unfortunate to find themselves in the DS crosshairs.

#9 Once Upon a Time.  Much of the third season of Once Upon a Time felt a little off.  With most of the main characters traveling to Wonderland to try to save Henry from the ever young Peter Pan, the show seemed to be spinning its wheels a bit.  And then the story began to wind up, and there were tons of amazing pay offs (Pan is Rumple’s father… Rumple is caught in Pandora’s Box… Pan rips out Henry’s heart).  With the show returning to Storybrook, the second half of the season promises to be excellent.

#8 The Big Bang Theory.  Few shows are consistently as funny as the Big Bang Theory, although there have been a couple of clunkers this season.  However, the episode where Wolowitz sings a song to Bernadette who has been quarantined, is one of the best in the series.

Love this so much.

#7 Agents of SHIELD.  This show started with a lot of hype and never quite lived up to it.  But it has been improving each week as we get to know the characters and they develop relationships with each other.  And the mystery of what truly happened to Agent Coulson is compelling.  Tahiti is indeed a magic place.

#6 Whose Line is it Anyway.  The CW did a great thing.  It brought back one of my favorite television programs of all time.  Drew Carey was replaced with Aisha Tyler, but Wayne Brady, Ryan Stiles and Colin Mochrie returned as the kings of improvization.  There were too many “guest stars” on the show and there was a noticeable lack of hoedowns, but Whose Line was once again a can’t miss laugh riot.

#5 Blacklist.  The new NBC Monday night show starring James Spader was just a fantastic romp.  As soon as wanted criminal Raymond “Red” Reddington marched himself into FBI headquarters and surrendered himself, this show has been firing on all cylinders.  The most recent two-part episode was as intense as network tv gets.  James Spader could be up for another Emmy after this sensational show.

#4 Bates Motel.  A surprise from A & E.  The re-imagining of the story of Norman Bates was way better than it had any right to be.  But the performances of its two main leads, Vera Farmiga and Freddie Highmore, really set this series apart from the others.  Plus, LOST’s Carleton Cuse is at the helm.  Bates Motel is a combination of Twin Peaks and LOST, with some teen drama tossed in.  Farmiga deserves an Emmy nomination for her performance as the eventually doomed Norma Bates.

#3 American Horror Story.  Whether it be Asylum or Coven, Ryan Murphy creates the most original and continually disturbing program on television.  If it is cruel nun Sister Jude in a dream sequence singing The Name Game or Emmy winner James Cromwell taking a ride into a cremation oven to a group of witches resurrecting the dead and fighting over control of a coven, AHS is as good as TV gets.  Jessica Lange is brilliant in every role that she has played and this season’s addition of Kathy Bates is inspired.  I can’t wait to see what the next warped idea comes out of Ryan Murphy’s mind will be.

#2 Castle.  Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic have successfully avoided the “Moonlighting Curse”.  Some thought that maybe when Rick and Kate consummated their relationship, the duo would lose steam.  That has not happened.  The writing of this show is consistently clever and funny, and the two main actors continue to have mad chemistry, while Rick and Kate continue to build a believable and fun to watch relationship.  When Castle proposed to Beckett last season, there was no way she was accepting.  And then she did.  And the show took another turn.  The pairing of Fillion and Katic is gold, and continues to pay off richly in this show.

and…for a second year in a row, the #1 show….

The Walking Dead.

The end of season three was thrilling and season four has really dived into character unlike any past season.  But it is anything but slow.  And the mid-season finale where… Herschel is beheaded and the Governor dies and baby Judith disappears (perhaps Zombie chow) and the prison is destroyed and… well, it was just epic.  Few shows do cliffhangers better than The Walking Dead.  And Daryl Dixon proved what a badass he is by taking on (and beating) a tank! With the midseason finale in the books, I can’t wait to see what happens in February.  If it continues it’s excellent, perhaps The Walking Dead will make it a three-peat in 2014.

 

 

 

Villains!

It is well known that I have been a fan of the villain for many years.  It is easy to state that a great hero is never going to reach his true destiny unless he/she has a classic villain to oppose.

And these are the ten top villains from 2013:

#10  Muse (Barkhad Abdi) from Captain Phillips.  It takes a true actor to be stride for stride with Tom Hanks.  And as brilliant as Hanks was in Captain Phillips (the last half hour may have been Hanks’ best work to date), fresh faced Barkhad Abdi was right there with him.  Captain Phillips is nowhere near the classic it is without the Somali pirate.

#9 Bloody Face, American Horror Story: Asylum.  Whether it was the 1960’s version (Zachary Quinto) or the present day version (Dylan McDermott), Bloody Face tormented the people of American Horror Story: Asylum.  Killing people and wearing their skin as a mask is creepy enough.  But when the killer is also a psychological terror, well…

#8 Thanos.  Marvel Comics’ fall crossover event featured the return of Thanos in search of his son.  Infinity saw the heroes from the Avengers take off planet earth to head out into space after a race of entities known as the Builders.  This opened the planet up for Thanos.  Sure he wound up failing, but it was good to see the big ol’ chaos agent and death worshiper again.

#7 Peter Pan, Once Upon a Time.  The twist?  Our heroes (and villains actually) from Storybrook had to try to save Henry by following him across the dimensions.  Which dimension did he wind up in?  Neverland.  And in Neverland, Pan is everything.  Taking the beloved childhood character and warping it for Once Upon a Time is not new, but this was more than that.  Pan was then revealed to be Rumpelstiltskin’s father.  Whoa!  And now, Pan is in Storybrook in control of Henry’s body.  What is next?

#6 Ultron.  The villainous robot was in a massive Marvel crossover series, entitled Age of Ultron, where the Marvel timeline was broken.  And even more cool… Joss Whedon announced that Ultron would be the villain in the next Avengers movie, and it would be entitled Avengers: Age of Ultron.  And then, Ultron will be played by James Spader.  I never would have connected Spader to Ultron, but as soon as I heard the casting news, I thought to myself…perfect.  Ultron looks to be ready to be a mainstay on this list in the next few years.

#5 The Mandarin from Iron Man 3.  I know plenty of people who were mad about this twist.  The fact that Sir Ben Kingsley was playing the Mandarin was beloved news, but then the film came out, and those people who knew of the Mandarin was filled with hate.  Even I wondered a moment.  But in reflection, it was a great twist that caught people off guard, and Iron Man 3 made like 1.2 billion dollars.  It has to be considered a success.  And the word is that Trevor (the name of the “Mandarin”) is returning for a Marvel short.  maybe there is a real Mandarin out there that was one of the pissed viewers.  Hm…

#4  Raymond “Red” Reddington, Blacklist.  Red is not really the villain, and yet he is.  Red is one of the protagonists of the new NBC series Blacklist, but he is an unapologetic criminal who is remaining with his law breaking ways.  He just happens to also give tips to the FBI.  Reddington has been clearly playing both ends and he has a secret about him.  Could he be the father of FBI agent Elizabeth Keen?  He told her no in the last episode when she asked…but of course, he is a liar.  Played by the fantastic James Spader, Reddington is the most three dimensional characters on this list.  And that is fabulous when a villain can be that well developed.

#3 Khan, Star Trek Into Darkness  Benedict Cumberbatch was not playing Khan in Star Trek Into Darkness.  That’s what the show runners said about the mysterious character.  But, much like Raymond Reddington… they lie.  Cumberbatch was indeed playing an updated version of Khan Noonien Singh, originally played by Ricardo Montalbán.  And Cumberbatch does a great job bringing the evil to the new Star Trek film.  Khaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan!

#2 The Governor, The Walking Dead.  The arrival of the villainous Governor, a staple of the comic, to AMC’s The Walking Dead sent the fans into a frenzy.  And the character did not disappoint.  We were not introduced to the already demented version in the comics.  Instead, we got to witness his fall.  And how he lost his eye (hi Michonne).  And his slow decent into madness.  And then this season, we got to see him try to find himself again.  He almost did it.  But he couldn’t, and wound up chopping off Herschel’s head.  Sadly (ok…not so sadly) the Governor met his end at the hands of Rick, Michoone and the woman the Governor had been with.  As they said on the Talking Dead, “Goodbye Governor, burn in Hell”.  What better sentiment for a villain?

and the #1 villain of the year…

“SAY MY NAME”

Loki!!!!

“SAY MY NAME”

LOKI!!!

Tom Hiddleston came to San Diego Comic Con this year, dressed in his alter ego’s outfit, and completely controlled the people of Hall H.  He had no clips.  He had nothing more than his presence.

And Loki ruled them all.

Add to the fact that Loki is easily the best thing in the Thor 2 sequel, and that he is the number one villain in the Marvel Cinematic Universe… and don’t tell me that the next Thor movie won’t have Loki front and center (my bet is on the title of the film being Thor;  The Rise of Loki)  Hiddleston is indeed as charismatic a figure as Loki should be, and Marvel struck cinematic gold with the actor.  Loki is heads and shoulders above any other villain in 2013.

SAY HIS NAME!

 

More Television…

Best Actor: James Spader, Blacklist.  One of the main reasons why this show is as compelling has it has been is James Spader as Raymond Reddington.  Without him, Blacklist would be just another failed NBC show.  With him, huge hit.

Best ActressVera Farmiga, Bates Motel  The mother of Norman Bates showed to be more than just a stuffed corpse in a rocking chair.  Norma was a major reason to watch this A & E Show.

Best Late Night ShowThe Daily Show with Jon Stewart.  Yes, this is a repeat winner.  Jon Stewart is fantastic, but this year, we found a new, fresh face.  John Oliver took over for Stewart while he was out directing a movie, and The Daily Show rolled right along.  It may have lost the Emmy for the first time in a decade (to the well deserving Colbert Report) but the Daily Show is still king.

Best Daytime ShowGeneral Hospital.  This show is a consistent hoot.  This year saw all kinds of returning favorites, from Robert Scorpio to Robin to Faison.  Plus, the League of Doom (Jerry Jax, Faison, Dr. Olbrecht, Helena Cassadine etc) became a thing…(Thanks Luke).  Great stories and fun characters.  GH is rockin’ again. (Heather Webber coming out of her grave is my newest favorite moment of the year.)

Best Couple:  Glen and Maggie, The Walking Dead.  I almost went with Castle and Beckett again, but the lovebirds from the zombie apocalypse were great this season.  And I truly thought there would be a tragic separation with Glen.  I was preparing, but they survived.

Best DeathHerschel Greene.  For a second year in a row, a death on the Walking Dead takes the top honor.  There was little more that was as shocking as watching the Governor cut off the beloved Herschel’s head.  That horror showed how much these characters mean to the viewers.

Best Animated Series: None.  I have not been impressed with any animated series this year.  Maybe next year.

Looking forward to most:  The second half of the season of the Walking Dead.  What could be next for our survivors?  Is Baby Judith really dead?  Where’s Carol?  Can Daryl Dixon keep being awesome?  We’ll find out in February.

Show that fell flat; Once Upon A Time in Wonderland.  It sounded like a good idea.  But I just couldn’t get into it.  It didn’t help that the show runners wanted me to see Sayid from LOST as a villain (Jafar, no less).  I couldn’t do it.

Best Show that I didn’t watch:  Breaking Bad.  I heard it was great.  I had friends who loved it.  Maybe Netflix.

 

 

Best Thing Ever:  Neil Patrick Harris and his Tony opening song.  Brilliant!

 

The World of WWE…

Wrestler of the Year

  1. Daniel Bryan
  2. John Cena
  3. CM Punk

Bryan had the best year of anyone.  The crowds are completely behind him, and the YES YES YES chants are deafening.  Now if the WWE would just get out of the way and push him.  Cena won the main event at Wrestlemania and then became World Champ.  I am not a huge fan, but you can’t argue with his success.  CM Punk turned face and continued to be the Best in the World.

Tag Team of the Year

  1. The SHIELD
  2. The Rhodes Brothers
  3. The Usos

The Shield dominated all year long.  These three are as good as it gets and they have a huge future.  Goldust and Cody Rhodes had a great comeback and a strong storyline to boot.  The Usos have good chemistry with the crowd and could be an awesome team.

Match of the Year will be named after this Sunday and the TLC PPV…

Most Boring Wrestler of the Year

  1. Ryback
  2. The Great Khali
  3. The Miz

Best Talker

  1. CM Punk
  2. Paul Heyman
  3. The Rock

Best Heel

  1. CM Punk  (He was great before the face turn)
  2. Alberto Del Rio
  3. Antonio Cesaro

Most Underused Performer

  1. Dolph Ziggler
  2. Zack Ryder
  3. Antonio Cesaro

Best Diva

  1. AJ Lee
  2. Natalya
  3. Kaitlyn

Best Commentator

  1. JBL

 

 

Comic Books of the Year.

To be fair, I mostly (almost exclusively) read Marvel, so my list will trend that way.  I take nothing away from DC or the countless other companies out there, but I have wanted to MAKE MINE MARVEL for as long as I can remember.  So here we go:

  1. Thor God of Thunder. An excellent story, specifically the Godbomb storyline.  It carried Thor through time and space and multiple versions of himself, and was tense and exciting and beautifully drawn.  Jason Aaron wrote a compelling series that worked with Esad Ribic’s art.  Then, it was followed up with Malaketh.  The God of Thunder has brought Thor to the forefront of the Marvel Universe.
  2. Cataclysm.  I have never been a fan of the Ultimate Universe (outside of the new Ultimate Spider-man) so, after the events of The Age of Ultron, when Marvel 616’s Galactus wound up in the Ultimate Universe, I sat up and took notice.  This limited series has been very good so far, and my hope that this brings about the consumption of the Ultimate Universe makes me a happy camper.
  3. Wolverine & The X-Men.  I have really enjoyed this series because this series felt more like a school and less like an army.  I liked that because Marvel tends to focus too much on the militaristic (or governmental) aspect of super heroes.  The tale of the Hellfire Saga.  And this is easily the most entertaining Wolverine is.  I like Quentin Quire.  And the staff of the Jean Grey School is exceptional.  It was also a big part of the Battle of the Atom crossover event, which was one of the better crossovers Marvel had this year.
  4. Daredevil.  This has been outstanding all year long.  In fact, it has been outstanding since Mark Waid took over the reigns.  Waid has brought back the humor and the light-heartedness of DD while keeping the drama.  In fact, Daredevil #28 may be the best single issue of any comic this year.
  5. Superior Spider-man Team-Up.  I almost moved this above the Superior Spider-man in the rankings because I believe that Otto has been written more consistently in this series than he has in his own.  Plus, the capturing of the Sinister Six and transformation into the Superior Six took some real gusto.
  6. The All-New X-Men.  This has been my favorite X book for awhile now.  And as the focal point of the Battle of the Atom, the All-New X-Men has been an great read each issue.  I am not as fond of the idea of the original X-Men heading off to join up with Cyclops and his rogue team of Uncanny X-Men, but I am willing to give it a chance.  There has been great characterization and surprises galore in this as Brian Michael Bendis has shown his ability in the world of mutants.
  7. Superior Spider-Man.  It pains me to put this here, but it has been an enjoyable comic.  It is not a Spider-man comic… but the tale of Otto Octavius taking control of Peter Parker’s body has been one well written story.  Mind you, I am ready to get rid of Otto, because he is hard to like as a character, no matter how well written it is.  And there have been some hints that maybe things are happening.  Please, please, please…
  8. Avengers Arena.  When this idea was originally introduced, it was clearly a rip off of the Hunger Games (and Battle Royale), but that did not make me dislike it.  In fact, the hook really grabbed me.  There were characters who I cared about that I didn’t want to see die, but each death had a reason, and each one told the story.  This really became more than just a copy of the Hunger Games.  This became one of the best comics of the year.
  9. Marvel Knights Spider-man.  This is so high on the list because of how desperate I am for Peter Parker.  I am a huge Spider-man fan and I have missed him so much since Doc Ock took over Peter’s body.  This series tells an untold Parker  story with fabulous art.  99 of Peter’s worst enemies in one series?  Yes, please.  It is the most original and different Spider-man story I have read in a long time.  Now if we could just get Peter back into his own head.
  10. Nova.  One of the freshest new series on the market, Nova does many things right.  I truly enjoy the characterization of Sam Alexander, the latest Nova, with his humor and his struggles with his secret identity and his joining of the New Warriors (a book I am really looking forward to in 2014).  Nova feels like a different book and I love reading it each month.

Top of Form

 

I said that I would wait until after TLC to name my matches of the year in the world of Pro Wrestling.  As it turned out, that was completely unnecessary.  Nothing on that show was anywhere near this list.  However, an honorable mention should go to the match between Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton the next night on RAW.  The finish was the only thing that kept it out of the top ten, even though the finish did a great job building what it was supposed to do.

Anyway, here are the ten top matches in the WWE for 2013.

  1. Rob Van Dam vs. Chris Jericho, RAW, July 15th
  2. Daniel Bryan vs.Seth Rollins, RAW June 10
  3. Cody Rhodes & Goldust vs. the Shield, Battleground
  4. The Shield loses for the first time vs. Daniel Bryan, Kane & Randy Orton, Smackdown, June
  5. Chris Jericho vs. CM Punk, WWE Payback
  6. Antonio Cesaro vs. Sami Zayn, NXT, August 21.  This was a 2/3 falls match and it showed not only how awesome Sami Zayn (the former El Generico) is, but also what a brute Antonio Cesaro is.  The ending sequence in this match was just astonishing, and I had to watch it several times to actually believe what I saw Cesaro do.  Pretty good for a match nobody saw.
  7. Daniel Bryan vs. John Cena, SummerSlam.  Daniel Bryan’s rise to the top of the WWE ended with a running knee into John Cena’s face.  Cena, who was leaving for surgery on his elbow, was pinned cleanly in the middle of the ring by the top wrestler of the year.  It’s too bad that Randy Orton and HHH spoiled the moment.
  8. CM Punk vs. Brock Lesnar, SummerSlam.  This was truly brutal.  The beast Brock Lesnar against the Best CM Punk  And Lesnar and Punk battled for over 20 minutes in a classic big man vs. little man war.  Brock won but Punk came out looking like the star that he is.
  9. CM Punk vs. The Undertaker, Wrestlemania, April 7th.  I don’t care what the WWE says, this was the true match of the night at Wrestlemania.  Punk to Taker to the limit and it seemed like the streak could conceivably come to an end.  It didn’t, but Punk looked like he belonged.
  10. CM Punk vs. John Cena, RAW, February 25.  CM Punk was involved in the top three matches this year, but he lost all three.  This was the best match of the year, with the right to go to Wrestlemania on the line.  Cena finally got the big win over the heel Punk, but it took everything he had.  Cena and Punk have amazing chemistry and every time they wrestle, there is magic.  This one was no exception.

 

Top Geek Moments of the Year

#10  Benedict Cumberbatch is actually Khan.

Despite the denials by Cumberbatch himself, when Star Trek Into Darkness came out, the villain turned out not to be John Donovan, but was Khan.  Many did not like this twist, and some Trekkies were up in arms over it, but I loved it.  And Star Trek Into Darkness was one of my favorite movies of the year.  And Benedict Cumberbatch continued to become a huge star in the movies.

#9  The new Doctor is…

Peter Capaldi.  Every time there is a new Doctor Who, the world goes nuts.  And replacing Matt Smith would be tough.  But Capaldi is up for the battle.

#8 Ultron is announced as villain in next Avengers.

Joss Whedon walked on the stage at the San Diego Comic Con at the end of Marvel’s presentation to make one announcement.  That announcement sent the Geek World into a tizzy.  The villain of the next Avengers movie would be the killer robot, Ultron.  He showed a video where an Iron Man mask is hammered into Ultron, which lead to speculation that Ultron would be coming from Jarvis.  I can’t wait to see it.

#7  John Oliver covers for Jon Stewart on the Daily Show.

With Jon Stewart off to the Middle East to direct his first movie, the British stand up comedian took the main seat.  He may have been an unorthodox choice, but he was fantastic.  Funny, witty …and a great accent, John Oliver showed he was ready for more than just a correspondent job.  And he got one…getting an HBO talk show all his own.  This was another case of the Daily Show making a star.

#6  Netflix announces Marvel Shows

Netflix announced an agreement with Marvel to create four new short term tv programs, Daredevil, Iron Fist, Luke Cage and Jessica Jones, and then the four characters would be used together in a mini-series called The Defenders.  So basically, it is like the Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase One, only on television.  Awesome news.

#5  Couslon Lives…

We learned this prior to the year, but seeing Agent Coulson alive and well on ABC’s new show, Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD was a great moment (as was his line… “Don’t touch Lola”…referring to his car).  Coulson’s resurrection has been one of the best storylines on the show, as the Tahiti (is a magical place) will surely pay off big time.  And Agents of SHIELD will only get better.

#4  The Mandarin is…

Probably nothing (with the exception of the #2 moment) riled up the Geek Nation as much as the reveal that Sir Ben Kingsley was playing … an actor playing the role of the Mandarin in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  There was much hatred over the twist, but many people who had no emotional connection to the Mandarin thought it was great and surprising.  No doubt, marvel took a real risk, but it showed their dedication to telling great stories.  Admittedly, it did bother me at first, but upon second viewing, I enjoyed it.  And there are rumors that Kingsley is not done yet with the character of Trevor.  Maybe there is a real Mandarin after all…

#3 Catching Fire and Frozen set box office records

Over Thanksgiving this year, the world did more than eat.  They went to the movies.  Both the Hunger Games sequel and the newest Disney movie set new records for box office money.  Over the five day holiday weekend, Catching Fire made $110 million while Frozen earned $93 million.  Huge business for both movies.

#2 Batman will be in the next Superman movie and will be played by…

Ben Affleck.  If there was one thing that really sent the Geek Nation over the edge, it was the announcement that the former Daredevil, Ben Affleck would be the next Bruce Wayne in the upcoming sequel to Man of Steel.  This blew the other controversies ( Mandarin, Superman breaking Zod’s neck etc) right out of the water.  This was so wild that many celebrities (including Joss Whedon and Kevin Smith) took to Twitter to voice their support for the casting.  Meanwhile, there was some angry fans.  Still, Affleck was excellent in Argo, (though he was just horrid in Runner Runner this year) and he certainly has the chin to play Batman.  Time will tell who was right.

and #1 Geek moment of the year…

Say My Name!

Tom Hiddleston’s appearance at Comic Con in San Diego as Loki created an incredible buzz, and showed just how much the fans of Marvel’s cinematic universe loved Loki.  In just a few minutes, Hiddleston had the entire Hall H in the palm of his hand.  He had them in total control… much like sheep.  It was an amazing thing.  And Hiddleston was the standout of one of the best movies of the year, Thor: The Dark World.

Here is the arrival of Loki in SDCC…

Stand back you mewling quim!

Marvelous!

Name Game, from American Horror Story:  Asylum

2013 Animated Movies of the Year

2013 was not the best year for animated movies, with most of the movies ranging from meh to downright bad.  In fact, the list of five films that I have compiled contains two direct-to-DVD films.  Why has the year provided us with such an average lot of animated movies to choose from?  That’s hard to say.  Several of the films had animated shorts at the beginning that were better than the main feature.  Maybe there is just a deft of good ideas.  Maybe the animation from the past is just too hard to live up to.  But for whatever reason, the films are just not up to snuff.  I hope this changes as animation has been a staple for decades.

However, the look of the animation has been excellent, even in the lower level films.  It just seems that the story is lacking.  Hopefully 2014 will bring a better list.

With that finished, let’s look at the top five animated films of the year:

#5  Epic. 

A good example of an average film making the top five.  Epic was anything but.  Still, it beat out The Croods, Monsters University and Turbo for this spot.  This is the story of a miniature world existing within our own.  A beautifully animated film, the rest is basic.

#4  Despicable Me 2

The sequel that actually I liked better than the original.  Despicable Me 2 featured an interesting love story (though predictable) and the strong voice work from Steve Carell.  And the Minions certainly stole the show.

#3 The Dark Knight Returns Part Two

The first direct-to-DVD entry on our list features the second part of the adaption of one of the greatest comic mini-series of all time.  The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller redefined Batman, as well as a genre.  And this faithful adaption does it justice.  Michael Emerson as the Joker was an inspired choice for voice work as well.

#2 Frozen

Disney provided us with the best feature film animated movie of the year with Frozen.  Despite the world loving it, I was just a bit underwhelmed by the latest from Disney.  Yes, it was enjoyable, and the animation was brilliant and Olaf the Snowman was very funny, but there were parts that were too predictable and the songs were at best average.  Still, I give Frozen high marks for attempting to take the typical Disney formula and morph it a bit.  It just didn’t quite take it far enough.  Certainly a fun time at the theater for the whole family.

and #1

Flashpoint Paradox

The second direct-to-DVD movie is the best animated film of the year.  The adaption of the DC Comics “Flashpoint” story tells the tale of the Flash accidentally changing the future with his speed powers.  The dark future with the warped heroes is something DC Comics does extremely well, and this is no exception.  DC Animation has been solid for years.  Too bad their live action films do not reach this level.

What I wouldn’t give for animated movies of The Tick and Groo the Wanderer.  I think the time would be right for both of these iconic heroes to shine.  Somebody….

 

2013 EYG Star of the Year

This list includes the biggest of the big.  The most successful stars of the year.

# 6 Matthew McConaughey

McConaughey lost a bunch of weight for his role in Dallas Buyers Club, showing himself to be more of an actor than anyone thought.  Add to this his fantastic performance in Mud and his supporting role in The Wolf of WalStreet, McConaughey has had an unbelievable year.  Bets description I saw online about McCaonaughey’s year was that he went from being “Burt Reynolds to Paul Newman.”

#5 Chris Hemsworth

We at EYG love Hemsworth from his role as the Norse God of Thunder and Avenger Thor, of course.  But this year, Hemsworth proved himself a star with his role in Ron Howard’s Rush.  Then, of course, he returned to Thor.  Anxious to see what is next for Hemsworth.

#4  Tina Fey & Amy Poehler

Who knew these two women could take hosting gigs away from Neil Patrick Harris.  Seriously, Amy & Tina were a hoot at the Golden Globes, and then continued their bits at the Emmys.  The news that the pair will be returning to host the Golden Globes again this year is welcome news indeed.

#3 Netflix.

This may be a bit of a cheat, but Netflix has changed the direction of television this year with their original series.  Arrested Development, House of Cards, Orange is the new Black… and then announcing an agreement with Marvel to create four new Marvel shows (Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist) to be followed by a Defenders mini series.  Netflix is now the go to place for the best shows.

#2 Benedict Cumberbatch

He was Khan.  He is Sherlock Holmes.  He was Smaug.  He was easily the best part of the movie about Julian Assange, The Fifth Estate.  And there are continuing rumors about Benedict involved either in Star Wars or with Marvel.  Cumberbatch is as hot as you get.

#1 Jennifer Lawrence

Jennifer Lawrence may be the best young actress in Hollywood today.  She was perfect in Catching Fire, the sequel to the Hunger Games.  She received her first Academy Award for her performance in Silver Lining Playbook.  And she will most likely receive another nomination for her amazingly chaotic performance in American Hustle.  She also has returned to the role of Mystique in next year’s mutant spectacular X-Men:  Days of Future Past.  She is gorgeous and talented.  And she is the star of the year.

 

Top Ten Movie Cameos of 2013

Every year, one of the staples of movies are the unexpected arrival of famous people in roles that we did not anticipate.  The familiar face showing up as an Easter Egg can be a wonderful moment.  Sometimes it can be the only wonderful moment in a film (as several of this year’s cameos are).  So here are the ten best cameos of 2013.

And of course….SPOILERS!!!!

#10  Robert DeNiro in American Hustle.

Though he may not be going too far out on a line for this one, the arrival of DeNiro as a mobster from Florida in an uncredited role in American Hustle was a cool moment in the film.  He lent credibility to the scene.  It was short and sweet, and was right in DeNiro’s wheelhouse.

#9 El Cameleon from Machete Kills.

One of the few good moments from this clunker has to be the four actors who gave life to the hitman with the disguise ability known as El Chameleon.  Cuba Gooding Jr., Lady Gaga, Antonio Banderas, and Walter Goggins do a fine job sharing this role.  Honorable mention goes to Mel Gibson as the film’s villain.

#8 Pierce Brosnan from The World’s End

#7 Celebrities from This is the End.

This includes a long list such as Emma Watson (pictured above), Michael Cera, The Backstreet Boys, Paul Rudd, Aziz Ansari, Channing Tatum, and Rihanna.  Tatum’s is one of the more surprising, and Cera’s is one of the funniest.

#6 Stone Cold Steve Austin, Grown Ups 2

This was the only thing I liked about this movie…and Steve’s performance earned the film its 1/2 star rating.  I hope someone thanked him.

#5 Anchorman 2 Cameos

Another one of the few good spots in an otherwise bad movie, the series of cameos from Anchorman 2’s ending fight scene really made for an interesting turn.  Harrison Ford, Liam Neeson, Will Smith, Jim Carrey (hope it wasn’t too violent for him), Kanye West, Vince Vaughn, Kirsten Dunst, Sacha Baron Cohen, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and John C. Reilly.

#4 Stan Lee, Iron Man 3 & Thor; The Dark World

Whether he be dusting armor or handing his shoe in the looney bin, Stan Lee’s cameos in the Marvel movies have a standing spot on this list every year.

#3 Nathan Fillion, Percy Jackson:  Sea of Monsters

Another top moment in a bad movie… Nathan Fillion playing Greek God Hermes.  Fillion showed how charismatic and funny he truly is in the short time he was on screen.  I would have loved to see more Hermes and less Percy.

#2 Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian McKellen, The Wolverine

The awesome moment in the post credits scene in The Wolverine that will help usher in next summer’s huge X-Men event.  Professor X and Magneto together!  Charles Xavier is not dead!  They are coming for help from Logan!  This was a fabulous moment…only to be outdone by…

#1  Chris Evans as Loki being Captain America, Thor the Dark World

After freeing his brother from his prison, Thor is subjected to Loki’s wit…and shape shifting ability.  Loki shifts into Captain America…and Chris Evans makes a surprise cameo, doing a brilliant job of playing Loki playing Cap.

 

Movies:  Best Supporting Actress

We shall begin our look at the best and worst in films this past year with a look at the supporting actress category.   Unlike some of the other categories that we will look at, I have only listed five supporting actresses in this list.

#5 Mary-Louise Parker, Red 2

She was a hoot in this role, and was one of the best parts of Red 2.  She also appeared in RIPD (but that one was not as memorable).

#4 Gwyneth Paltrow, Iron Man 3

Pepper Pots finally got something more to do than just have witty repartee with Tony Stark.  Pepper even went as far as to kick some butt in Iron Man 3.  Gwyneth continued to be blazing hot…excuse the Extremis fueled pun there.

#3 Toni Collette, The Way, Way Back

Toni Collette was outstanding in the under appreciated The Way, Way Back.  She was a mom who was in a bad relationship, but who was hoping for the best.

#2 Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave

A brutal performance in one of the year’s most depressing films.  12 Years a Slave pulled no punches, and Lupita’s performance was shocking and full of emotion.

#1  Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle

Jennifer Lawrence had a great year, and her turn as the wife of Christian Bale in American Hustle was comedic gold.  She played crazy as well as anyone.

 

Movies:  Supporting Actor

Now this category was the one that I had the hardest time with because there were just so many great supporting performances by actors this year.  I did not even include Bradley Cooper from American Hustle or Daniel Brühl from Rush.  Both of them received Golden Globe nominations in this category.  And it was well deserved too.  Matthew McConaughey was special in the Wolf of Wall Street.  Benedict Cumberbatch was great as Khan in Star Trek Into Darkness.  Zachary Quinto as Spock in the same movie was great as well.  Don Cheadle had a bunch to do in Iron Man 3 as Rhodey.  And Nathan Fillion’s turn with Shakespeare in Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing was a highlight.

But with all those great performances, these 8 were head and shoulders above the others.

#8 Dwayne Johnson, Pain & Gain

This was the Rock’s best performance ever.  He was hilarious in this role, and saved the movie.  His character was the most interesting in the based on true events tale, Pain & Gain.

#7  Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave.

Another brutal role from 12 Years A Slave.  Michael Fassbender embodied the evil of Edwin Epps, a real life slaver who was as nasty as they came.  Fassbender helped make 12 Years a Slave extremely difficult to watch.

#6 Tom Hanks, Saving Mr. Banks

Tom Hanks is Walt Disney.  If you look closely, Hanks brings some traits to Uncle Walt that you may not have expected.  And his performance opposite Emma Thompson helped the medicine go down.

#5 Tom Hiddleston, Thor: The Dark World

Loki really stole the show.  Thor: The Dark World really was electric when the Trickster God was on screen.  And his reaction to the death of the All-Mother was heart breaking.  Hiddleston is gold for Marvel.

#4 Sam Rockwell, The Way, Way Back

Sam Rockwell is always underrated as an actor.  And one of his best performances ever was in this year’s comedy/drama The Way, Way Back.  His tenderness and friendship with Duncan showed an unexpected side to the fun-loving Owen.

#3 Harrison Ford, 42

Playing Branch Rickey, Harrison Ford was just perfect.  His powerhouse performance set the tone for the biopic on Jackie Robinson’s arrival in major league baseball.  This was early in the year, but we at EYG have not forgotten how great Harrison Ford was.

#2 Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips

Fresh face, Abdi created a compelling character in the Somali pirate leader Muse.  His face showed emotions and confusion as well as any experienced actor.  And he provided Tom Hanks with a great foil.

#1 Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club

Leto is brilliant in Dallas Buyers Club as the AIDS infected transvestite who befriends the hard to friend Ron Woodroof.  In fact, the best part of the movie was the relationship between Ron and Rayon.

 

Surprises & Busts

Every year there are movies that I go to that I think will be dull or boring or stupid, but they turn out to be highly entertaining.  Conversely, every year there are movie that I go to with high expectations that under perform.  Here are the list of positive and negative surprises for 2013

Positive Surprises

  1. Bad Grandpa.  Starring Johnny Knoxville, I went to this not expecting much.  I have never been a fan of the Jackass MTV show, so when I found the movie to be funny and reasonably entertaining, I was surprised.  I especially enjoyed the real people looks the actors received.
  2. The Call.  Starring Halle Berry.  The first hour of The Call was as good as any movie this year.  Unfortunately the last half hour really slipped, but that first hour of tension and drama is enough to get this movie on the surprise list.
  3. Warm Bodies.  A zombie love story?  This had Twilight written all over it.  However, this was sweet and funny and had a relationship that blew Bella and Edward right out of the twinkling sunlight.  This was a huge surprise to me.
  4. We’re the Millers.  I went to this with low expectations and something strange happened.  I laughed through the whole movie.  Yes, it has some raunchy parts, and yes, the story is predictable as can be.  But We’re the Millers is just funny.  And funny trumps everything else.  And this was the biggest surprise of the year.

Negative surprises

There weren’t as many as there may have been.  With the Internet, when a movie is bad, word gets out.

  1. Man of Steel. Not a bad movie, but it was so much less than it could have been.  The entire ending sequence was overlong and out of character.  Why DC has to have all brooding super hero movies is beyond me.
  2. Insidious Chapter 2.  I enjoyed the original to a degree.  This one was very disappointing.  Dull and repetitive, Insidious Chapter 2 does not make me look forward to Chapter three.
  3. After Earth.  I like Will Smith.  But seeing him in this travesty is just wrong.  There were some strong sci fi movies this year, but After Earth was not one of them.

Busts of the Year:  The John Carter Memorial Award

John Carter

This is a list of films that fell flat.  Could we define this as the John Carter Award?

  1. Paranoia. This was going to be the worst opening (until #2 came along) making only 3.5 million in over 2000 theaters.  It was the worst debut for any movie of Harrison Ford’s career.
  2. The Fifth Estate.  This was the worst opening weekend in terms of money of the year.  The Fifth Estate (which was not a good movie, but it was far from the worst either) starring Benedict Cumberbatch made 1.7 million in over 1700 theaters.  It was an epic failure in terms of money.
  3. The Lone Ranger.  This was easily #1.  The budget for this was in excess of 220 million, and it did not make 90 in the states.  Rumors swirled that it lost Disney 190 million dollars.  Wow.  The Lone Ranger was not a terrible movie, as I liked it more than most.  I just wish they would have decided on a type of movie and stuck with it.  It tried to be too many different types of movies (comedy, action, paranormal, western, new Pirates etc).  And they should have focused on The Lone Ranger instead of Tonto.  Sure Johnny Depp was a bigger star than Armie Hammer, but the public did not know who the Lone Ranger was.  Banking on Depp was an error in judgment.  Not that Disney couldn’t afford a bust now and then.  Heck, Iron Man 3 made 1.2 Billion…and Frozen will be another worldwide hit.

 

Movies:  Best Actresses of 2013

There were many great performances for the actresses this year, but these six really stood out to me.

#6  Jennifer Lawrence, Catching Fire

Jennifer Lawrence really has been great, and she has already been all over this Year in Review section here on EYG.  She was named Star of the Year as well as ranked #1 Supporting Actress of the Year for American Hustle.  Add her name to this list for her second go-around as Katniss in Catching Fire.  She was fantastic, and I can’t wait for Mockingjay.

#5  Vera Farmiga, The Conjuring

The Conjuring was one of the top horror movies of the year (more on that later) and one of the big reasons was the performance by Vera Farmiga.  She played paranormal investigator Lorraine Warren, and she really brings it.  She has been doing stellar work on Bates Motel, so her scare chops have been exercised this year.

#4 Judi Dench, Philomena

Dame Judi Dench stepped out of her Skyfall death and into a tender comedy telling the true story of one woman’s search for the son she gave away when she was young.  Dench brings so much life to her role, but she is able to make you love this character.  You feel right along with her as the truth is revealed.  And you marvel at how amazing this woman was.  That is thanks to Dench.

#3 Emma Thompson, Saving Mr. Banks

She could easily have been a horrible woman.  But Emma Thompson’s turn as P.L. Travers, the author and creator of Mary Poppins, took her from a cantankerous British battle axe, to a woman who was wounded as a youth and who was clinging to her creation because of what Mary Poppins and the Bankses meant to her.  The layered performance was exceptional, as was her chemistry with Walt Disney (Tom Hanks).

#2 Amy Adams, American Hustle

Whoa.  Amy Adams turned on the sex charm in this film.  Her outfits were just jaw dropping.  Oh…and she was great in the role as well.  She wasn’t a good person.  But her relationship with Christian Bale carried the film.  And, man does she look good in those outfits.

#1 Sandra Bullock, Gravity

One of the best performances of any year, Sandra Bullock really struggled to shoot Gravity. For most of the film, Sandra was alone without any co-stars.  She said that she suffered from depression during the shoot.  But everything was worth it as she created one of the most beautiful roles of all time.

 

Movies:  Best Actor of 2013

These six actors were the best of the best this year.

#6 Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave.

He was a free man.  And then he was abducted, and sold into slavery in pre-Civil War America.  Chiwetel Ejiofor brought the goods in the seriously depressing film.  He should be up for an Academy Award early next year.

#5 Hugh Jackman, Prisoners

Just how far would YOU go to find your daughter?  Hugh Jackman went really far.  And made everyone watching uncomfortable.  But he showcased his pain and fear unlike he had ever done before.  The rage was palpable.  And it was great.

#4 Asa Butterfield, Ender’s Game

One of the reasons why Ender’s Game worked for me was watching the soulful performance of young Asa Butterfield.  Without him, the movie would not have been as solid as it was.  Adapted from the classic book, Ender’s Game proved that its young star was just getting his best started.

#3 Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club and Mud

This was the year that Matthew McConaughey became more than just a pretty face.  He was fantastic in Mud, and then he went full method, losing 40 pounds, to play an AIDS patient who refuses to bow to the medical community.  It was compelling.

#2 Michael B. Jordan, Fruitville Station

A breakout performance by the young Michael B. Jordan.  Fruitville Station telling the true story of a young African American who was killed by police at Fruitville Station on New Year’s Eve.  Jordan was tugging at my heart strings the entire time.  I literally had tears in my eyes at the end…and I knew what was going to happen.  It was just brilliant, and I hope Academy voters do not forget the early in the year film.

#1 Tom Hanks, Captain Phillips

The last 30 minutes or so of Captain Phillips was as good as Tom Hanks has ever been.  How about that for a statement.  Hanks, a two-time Oscar winner, could not have been better.  Captain Phillips was a thrill ride, and Hanks captained the film perfectly.  This was one of Tom Hanks’s best roles.

 

Best and Worst Horror Movies of 2013

Horror

Best

  1. The Purge
  2. World War Z
  3. The Conjuring

Worst

  1. You’re Next
  2. Evil Dead
  3. Insidious Chapter 2

This was not the best year for the horror genre.  The Conjuring was an awesome surprise.  World War Z was much better than I expected.  The Evil Dead remake made me want to puke.  The Insidious sequel was bad.  It was one of the worst movies of the year (hint… for the upcoming worst film list).

Best and Worst Sci-Fi movies of 2013

Best Sci Fi

There are many movies that could have been considered sci-fi, but I did not allow super heroes like Iron Man, Thor or Superman to be considered in the sci-fi category.  No zombies either.  I debated about RIPD, but in the end, I left it off the list as well.

So here are the Best Sci-fi films...

#4 Elysium

#3 Oblivion

#2 Ender’s Game

#1 Star Trek Into Darkness

Worst Sci-Fi

#4.  Pacific Rim

#3 Riddick

#2 After Earth

#1 The Host

Star Trek Into Darkness was one of my favorite movies this year.  We’ll have to see where it winds up at on the final list.  Ender’s game was driven by a great performance by Asa Butterfield.  Oblivion and Elysium had big name stars (Tom Cruise and Matt Damon) in average sci fi films.  The Host was epically bad…and it had to be to beat out the horrid After Earth.  Riddick and Pacific Rim were not terrible… but they weren’t good either.

 

Top 15 Worst Movies of 2013

Every year there are movies that are just bad.  Whether they are unfunny or boring or too long or childish, there are many movies that are just not worth the price of admission.  I have promised myself that I will not walk out of a movie, no matter how bad it is because I need to review the film.  And a good review needs to see not only the beginning, but also the end.  And I have kept my promise, though I came close once this year.

And as always, this can only include the movies that I have actually seen.  There are some terrible movies that I have not seen, but they cannot make my list.

Here are some bad films from 2013 that did not make the final cut.  Consider these your dishonorable mentions:  You’re Next, Gangster Squad, Evil Dead, Broken City, Closed Circuit, Paranoia, Hangover Part III.

#15  Anchorman 2

I went into this with some hope that, despite my best instincts, I might enjoy this.  I was wrong.  I am really surprised that this film has such a high Rotten Tomato score (74%).  I believe enough people are looking at this with a longing for the original.  I did not have that problem.

#14 Insidious Chapter Two

It was a bad year for horror, but the worst of the worst is the sequel to the watchable Insidious.  Completely forgettable, Insidious Ch. 2 does not make me look forward to the eventual Chapter Three.

#13 Escape from Planet Earth.

2013 was not a stellar year for animation either, but this one, with the voice talent of Brendan Frasier was the worst of the bunch.  Predictable and dull, Escape maybe could be of interest to the youngest viewers, though I would think most of them would be more intelligent than this.

#12 RIPD

Ryan Reynolds has had a downward spiral in his career since Green Lantern.  This blatant rip off of Men in Black had nothing positive about it.  Major plot holes were throughout, and Jeff Bridges played one of the main characters like Yosemite Sam.  And that isn’t as cool as it sounds.

#11 A Good Day to Die Hard

How the mighty have fallen.  The original Die Hard movie is one of my favorite movies of all-time.  The subsequent sequels have had its good and bad moments, but as a whole, they were generally entertaining.  Not this one, however.  John McClane heads to Russia to see his son.  And it was painfully bad as well as being remarkably loud.  This was so bad that it made me wish for one more Die Hard movie so the franchise didn’t go out on this clunker.

and now…the Top Ten….

#10 Hansel & Gretel

This had a promising idea, but the follow through was terrible.  Jeremy Renner starred as Hansel, but he was anything but Hawkeye.  Dialogue that was laughable, and not in a good way, limited action and a one-dimensional villain played by Famke Janssen.  Not a good movie.

#9  The Counselor

Great cast.  Terrible script.  Dull and brooding, The Counselor was a hot mess.  It was depressing and confusing.  Not even Michael Fassbender and Javier Bardem could make this watchable.

#8 Machete Kills

An intentional B movie that takes the level of badness as its status.  I was bored throughout, to the point that I nearly dozed off a few times.  There was no emotional depth to any character and there was no concern for any of them.

#7 The Incredible Burt Wonderstone

Not much magic in this movie starring Steve Carell and Steve Buscemi.  Two Vegas style magicians who have trouble coming into the new world of magic (led by Jim Carrey).  I disliked the two magicians immediately as youths.  The film lost me right there, and it never got me back.  I waited for the end of the film so I could disappear.

#6 The Host

The worst sci-fi movie of the year, The Host is the newest book series from Twilight author Stephenie Meyer to be made into a movie.  And this one made me wish I was watching Twilight.  What does that tell you?

#5  Runner Runner

Ben Affleck plays a Batman-like villain instead of Batman (as he will in the future) stealing money from Justin Timberlake and feeding people to alligators.  There are no characters here worth rooting for, which I continue to wonder why Hollywood keeps making these.  I sure hope Affleck as Bruce Wayne doesn’t wind up like this.

#4 Getaway

It is amazing that this horrible movie starring Ethan Hawke and Selena Gomez only is at #4 on the year end list.  That speaks to how bad #s 3-1 are.  Getaway was at 2% on Rotten Tomatoes.  2%?  I mean, when almost everyone hated the movie, what are the odds that it is bad.  Hawke phoned this one in (he must have needed a house payment or something) and Gomez, who did better acting with Justin Bieber.  #4?  Man…

#3 A Haunted House

I saw this one on Netflix because I knew this one was not going to be one that I wanted to see in the theater.  I was so right.  I did not laugh once.  There was nothing funny in this parody of Paranormal Activity.  The worst news is that there is a sequel coming out in January 2014.  I guess it could be a contender for #1 NEXT YEAR.

#2 Grown Ups 2

I typically don’t go to Adam Sandler movies because I really don’t like them.  But I gave Grown Ups 2 a chance.  And it was terrible.  In fact, I almost left the theater in the middle, breaking my main movie review rule.  But I stuck it out till the end.  And after the film was over, if you had told me that this would be #2 and not #1, I would have called you a fool.  I even considered unseating Batman and Robin as my all time least favorite movie.  It didn’t quite reach that level of horridness, but it was pretty close.

and the worst movie of 2013

#1 Movie 43

Another one that I saw on Netflix, and this one HAS officially passed Batman And Robin as the worst movie I have ever seen.  I mean… Hugh Jackman had testicles on his neck.

And why would so many great stars want to participate in this abortion of a movie?  Halle Berry, Richard Gere, Terrence Howard, Uma Thurman, Gerard Butler etc.  Oscar winners and nominees.  Why?

Oh…and Batman and Robin make an appearance in this travesty as well.  Nice to know that they can remain in the #1 slot.  Now Batman and Robin are #1 and #2 on the worst movie ever list.

And since it is the worst movie I have ever seen, Movie 43 is clearly the worst movie of 2013.

 

 

A fond farewell to these wonderful people who left us in 2013.  And to all those who may not have found their way onto this collage, rest in peace.

2013rip

 

And finally… here is the list of the Top 15 Movies of 2013.

The rule continues to be…the only films that qualify for my list are films that I have seen.  There are some films that have really good word of mouth (a good example would be the Robert Redford film, All is Lost) that I have yet to see.  They will not be on this list.

Interestingly enough, this is the third year that I have been doing this list.  The first year I did the top ten.  Last year, I expanded to top 12.  This year it is 15.  I don’t know if that means that the film world is doing better, or if I am just seeing more movies.

So, without further adieu, here are the honorable mentions:  The Wolverine, The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug, Flashpoint: Paradox, Prisoners, Ender’s Game, 12 Years a Slave

Top 15

#15 The Conjuring.

This was my favorite horror movie of the year.  It was surprisingly entertaining.  A bit of a change up on the haunted house genre of horror movies, it is “based” on a true story.  Vera Farmiga does a great job in the film.  There are some real awesomely scary scenes and it does it without blood and gore or jump out scares.  I appreciated that as much as anything since that is how horror tends to go nowadays.

#14 Much Ado About Nothing

Joss Whedon’s love letter to Shakespeare.  Much Ado was stylish, shot beautifully in black and white, with a great cast of old Whedon favorites.  Yes it was challenging to follow at times, but, hey…it’s Shakespeare.  What do you expect?  And it contained one of my favorite lines of the year. Nathan Fillion saying “Naughty Varlet.”  I laugh every time.

#13 Warm Bodies

One of the early films of the year that really surprised me.  I thought the love story between the zombie and the human could have been silly, but it warmed my heart.  I loved every minute of this film, and I found the narration to be hilarious.

#12 The Way, Way Back

A coming of age tale of a young boy who finds employment over a summer vacation at a water park where he meets Sam Rockwell.  Rockwell always gives understated performances, and this was one of his best.  Steve Carell also played against type as the boyfriend of the boy’s mother.  A very enjoyable time at the movies.

#11 Saving Mr. Banks

The Disney story of how Disney made the movie, Mary Poppins.  The success of this film is mainly based upon the work of its two main actors, Emma Thompson as PL Travers and Tom hanks as Walt Disney.  Add to it some truly wonderful scenes full of sentimentality and some real developed characters, and Saving Mr. Banks is a definite winner.

and, into the Top 10 we go….

#10 Fruitville Station.

Michael B. Jordan’s breakout performance occurred in this true story.  The film started with dramatic, real life footage of the tragedy in the subway station on New Year’s Eve, and the film only gets more powerful after that.  Jordan does a brilliant job of showing this young man as more than just a troublemaker.  He had his problems, but he tried to struggle through.  This is heartbreaking and poignant.

#9 The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

The middle film in the series always has some issues.  Basically, the film’s ending is a little less than satisfying.  But that was the only criticism I had of this film.  Jennifer Lawrence is fantastic again as Katniss, and this film has only stoked my anticipation for the two-part Mockingjay finale.

#8 Rush

I had no intentions of seeing this movie.  I had seen the trailer for months, and I had no interest.  I am not a fan of auto racing and I did not want to see this film, even with Chris Hemsworth in the lead role.  Even with Ron Howard manning the director’s chair.  Then, I saw it.  And it was amazing.  I was glued throughout the film.  Not being an auto racing fan did not stop me from enjoying this.  In fact, it may have help me.  A great character piece on one of the great rivalries in sports.And I believe sincerely that Chris Hemsworth is a star.

#7 Mud

Unlike Rush, the trailers for Mud helped excite me to this film.  I was engaged by the scenes, and the strong performances by the young boys at the heart of the film.  Tye Sheridan was very impressive in his role, and might be the young actor of the year.  Matthew McConaughey started his year out with a bang in his portrayal of the drifter known as Mud.

#6 Iron Man 3

Marvel sent the Geek community into a spin when they pulled a twist with Iron Man baddie, the Mandarin, played by Sir Ben Kingsley.  After letting the twist sit, I was able to appreciate it.  I know people who could not, and that spoiled the film for them.  Iron Man 3 was as much about Tony Stark as it was Iron Man.  And Robert Downey Jr. showed again how much of a Marvel MVP he is.  1.2 billion dollars later, iron Man 3 was the most successful movie of the year.

#5 Gravity

Sandra Bullock brought it in this film.  She and George Clooney were, basically, the only actors in this film.  The film was beautifully shot, and was full of tension and drama.  You wondered if anyone would be able to get back home.  When Gravity first was advertised, I wondered how they could sustain a movie with this storyline.  They showed me.  I had my breath held most of the film.

#4 42

The biopic featuring Jackie Robinson’s first year as a member of the Brooklyn Dodgers really took on some heavy material.  And it did not shy away from showing the ugliness of the fans, the other players, his own teammates toward Jackie, simply because of the color of his skin.  It showed what a true hero, not only Jackie Robinson, but also Branch Rickey (played brilliantly by Harrison Ford), was.

#3 Thor:  The Dark World

This continued Marvel Studio’s string of awesomely entertaining films.  The sequel to Thor, The Dark World had something for everyone.  And Tom Hiddleston’s Loki stole the show.  Exciting.  Funny.  Thrilling.  Dramatic.  Twists and turns.  This film is another huge hit for Marvel.  Bring on the Winter Soldier!

#2 Star Trek Into Darkness

I came out of the new Star Trek movie with the same rush of adrenaline that I felt after coming out of the Avengers.  I can’t offer more of a compliment than that.  I loved the new Star Trek movie, and I scoff at those who have nitpicked parts about it.  This made me happy.  And I loved the mirrored story connection to Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan.  Some people complained about this, and some complained about plot and some complained about Khan… I say, Star Trek Into Darkness was the second best movie of the year.  And it was the best until I saw….

The number one movie of the year….

#1 Captain Phillips

I did not believe that I was going to love this movie as much as I did.  And yet, I was engulfed in the film from the minute it started.  Tom Hanks was brilliant.  Young Bankhad Abdi was a powerhouse co-star as Muse.  And I was totally thrilled.  I sat forward in my chair, as if being physically closer to the screen might make the story get to me sooner.  I loved this movie.  I have said that I think the last 30 minutes or so contained the finest performance of Tom Hanks’ career.  This has so much going for it that it was clearly the best movie of 2013.

So there you have it.  The final farewell to 2013.  On a personal note, 2013 was one of my personal favorite years of my life.  I had a lot of positive things happen to me this year, and I can only hope that 2014 will be just as great.

I would wish everyone a Happy New Year, and every positive thought and prayer for 2014.

 

 

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