The Best of the Rest: More Recommendations from 2013

Did you see my Top 10 of 2013 list from yesterday? Wasn’t that something?

Those 10 movies were all excellent and I recommend them all wholeheartedly, but there were a lot more than 10 good movies this year, ones that I would also suggest people check out if you’re into that kind of thing.

So here is a list of other movies I enjoyed this year that didn’t make my top 10, and a little mini-review so you can quickly see if it’s something you’d want to watch:

Side Effects (Directed by Steven Soderbergh, February 8th): A tense mystery/thriller with a great cast and a great sense of surprise.

Leviathan (Directed by Lucien Casting-Taylor and Verena Paravel, March 1st): Super-weird experimental documentary that will give you the most thought-provoking headache you’ve ever had.

The Place Beyond The Pines (Directed by Derek Cianfrance, March 29th): The utter ambitiousness of the plot and two great performances from Bradley Cooper and Baby Goose is worth seeing despite an overlong middle-section.

42 (Directed by Brian Helgeland, April 12th): Competently made old-fashioned biopic that benefits greatly from the emotion Chadwick Boseman brings to the Jackie Robinson role.

Stories We Tell (Directed by Sarah Polley, May 10th): If you’re interested in documentaries and meta-storytelling like I am, then this will deliver the goods. A documentary in which telling a story helps uncover why we tell stories in the first place.

Frances Ha (Directed by Noah Baumbach, May 17th): Exactly like HBO’s Girls if Lena Dunham knew what the hell she was doing.

Before Midnight (Directed by Richard Linklater, May 24th): The third entry in the greatest film romance ever has an intimate script as jaw-dropping as any special effects this year.

This is The End (Directed by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, June 12th): You probably already saw this. Funny, wasn’t it?

A Hijacking (Directed by Tobias Lindholm, June 21st): It’s exactly like Captain Phillips, except most of it takes place in an office building, and it’s just as exciting. Wait, what?

The Bling Ring (Directed by Sofia Coppola, June 21st): Beautiful, but also vapid and insubstantial — for the most part intentionally so.

World War Z (Directed by Marc Forster, June 21st): Underrated globe-trotting action movie in which Brad Pitt cements himself as an action star.

White House Down (Directed by Roland Emmerich, June 28th): Super-underrated action movie is the best kind of stupid action movie – the kind that knows how stupid it is. Great cast, especially C-Tates and Foxx.

Pacific Rim (Directed by Guillermo del Toro, July 12th): While it’s characters don’t give you much to care about, the fight scenes in this film are some of the most beautiful special effects sequences this year besides for Gravity.

Blackfish (Directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite, July 19th): Persuasive documentary which peppers you with facts and then blindsides you with emotion.

The Act of Killing (Directed by Joshua Oppenheimer, July 19th): The scariest movie of the year was not The Conjuring, but this horrifying documentary that turns the camera back on former Indonesian mass murderers who are celebrated as war heroes.

Blue Jasmine (Directed by Woody Allen, July 26th): Woody Allen drops the ball with a simplistic story and an unrealistic version of reality, but Cate Blanchett’s great performance saves the day.

Fruitvale Station (Directed by Ryan Coogler, July 26th): Powerful movie with great performances, it’ll make you wish it won’t end the way you’ll already know it will.

Prince Avalanche (Directed by David Gordon Green, August 9th): A super weird indie that becomes gently touching, and includes beautiful cinematography and great chemistry between Paul Rudd and Emile Hersch.

The World’s End (Directed by Edgar Wright, August 23rd): The year’s most energetic movie, the third in this sort-of trilogy doesn’t quite live up to its predecessors, but remains packed with surprises and wit.

Enough Said (Directed by Nicole Holofcener, September 18th): Perfectly cast Woody Allen-esque romantic dramedy that will appeal to anyone who has ever been in a relationship, either romantic or platonic.

Prisoners (Directed by Denis Villeneuve, September 20th): It’ll leave you feeling cold and tired on the inside — in the best possible way (as crazy as it sounds).

Rush (Directed by Ron Howard, September 27th): Daniel Bruhl’s performance is a highlight in a beautifully-written story about two people with very different outlooks on life going for the same goal.

All is Lost (Directed by J.C. Chandor, October 18th): An almost wordless allegory of old age may not sound like much, but Robert Redford helps make this lost-at-sea story as gripping as if you were there.

Blue is the Warmest Color (Directed by Abdel Kechiche, October 25th) A super short and wholesome film about – who am I kidding, it’s three hours long and filled with NC-17 lesbian sex. Beyond that, Adele Exarchopoulos (gazunteit) gives a performance for the ages, and it mines its characters with supreme astuteness.

Dallas Buyers Club (Directed by Jean-Marc Vallee, November 1st): Matthew McConaughey rules the day in the this incredible movie that just missed my top 10. Great writing which makes you care about an obnoxious homophobe, and incredible acting from Jared Leto as well.

Nebraska (Directed by Alexander Payne, November 15th): The cinematography is amazing in this simple film that slowly sneaks up on you, and is at its most impactful after it’s over.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (Directed by Francis Lawrence, November 22nd): A big-budget franchise learning from its mistakes while reinforcing what already work? Somebody alert the Hollywood police, because this one is still kicking.

Philomena (Directed by Stephen Frears, November 22nd): One of the most heartwarming movies in a season filled with soul-crushingly depressing one. Judi Dench and Steve Coogan have great chemistry, and the screenplay is top-notch. For added affect, read that again in a British accent. Then watch the movie.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (Directed by Peter Jackson, December 13th): It’s a bit hit-or-miss, but at its best, its an immersive thrill-ride with probably the coolest bad-guy of the year.

Saving Mr. Banks (Directed by John Lee Hancock, December 20th): A bit overly sentimental, but a surprisingly layered true story that celebrates and deconstructs Disney magic while Tom Hanks vividly brings Walt Disney to life.

Happy New Year, and thanks to everyone for the support.

– Sam

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