Critics have been calling 2013 a “vintage year” for films, and judging by the number of remarkable new movies I saw this past year, I have to agree. Here are my favorites (again, in noncommittal alphabetical order):
Loosely based on an FBI operation in the ‘70s, this film has a little bit of everything—outrageous, yet believable characters, dysfunctional relationships, and endless amounts of smart humor.
Cate Blanchett impeccably plays an incorrigible snob who completely loses it after discovering that her privileged life and marriage were a sham. Her portrayal has even been compared to Blanche DuBois of A Streetcar Named Desire.
Together, the ever-hilarious Julia Louis-Dreyfus and, in one of his final roles, James Gandolfini comprise the cutest “grown-up” couple I’ve ever observed. This movie is laugh-out-loud funny, which is quite rare for me.
Hitting dangerously close to home, this black-and-white film follows a 20-something New Yorker, as she experiences a falling-out with her best friend, impersonates a Modern dancer, despite having no talent, and tries to figure out her life before it passes her by. Perfect for all fans of the TV show Girls.
Based on the rivalry between two drivers in the 1976 Formula One season, this biographical film actually made me care about car racing. Captivating performances, thrilling race scenes, and, again, my favorite era. I’m still shocked by how much I liked this one, though Chris Hemsworth may be partially to blame…
Based on the events that led to Mary Poppins becoming a book and, evenutally, a movie, this is the most simultaneously sad, yet uplifting story I’ve seen in recent memory. Everyone in my movie theater was in tears (of sorrow or joy or both) for the duration of the film.
I don’t think I’ve ever felt so sympathetic towards a high-school couple (both in movies or in real life). The chemistry between Shailene Woodley and Miles Teller is so effortless that their characters’ relationship seems exceptionally real.
This movie follows a family, each member of which is, in one way or another, stuck in love. Not a huge hit with the critics, but I personally connected with the soundtrack (Indie gems), the somewhat excessive literary-name-dropping (the family mostly consists of writers), and the brilliant individual performances by the cast.
Based on the novel by Henry James, this heartbreaking story shows life through the eyes of a six-year-old, caught in the middle of her parents’ bitter custody battle. I’d say the girl who plays the young protagonist deserves an Oscar.
This dramatization of the events that led to the elimination of Osama bin Laden is more intense and nerve-wracking than most horror films. Instead of bringing relief, the conclusion conveyed the haunting sense that the world was worse off than before.
Honorable mentions: 12 Years a Slave, About Time, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, All Is Lost, Before Midnight, The Bling Ring, Dallas Buyers Club, Fruitvale Station, Gravity, The Great Gatsby, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Monsters University, Mud, Now You See Me, The Way Way Back
Let me know if there are any great movies that I missed. And while this vintage year may be over, the 2014 lineup looks very promising!