While I have already made my list of summer blockbusters from 2013, I wanted to do an overall list of all the films I have seen so far this year. While only one of those blockbusters made the list, a lot of fantastic films did and so far 2013 has blown me away with many more to come. I’m excited to see this list in January when it could be completely different.
5) Star Trek: Into Darkness
Not to harp more from my previous article, I found J.J. Abrams’ follow-up to his 2009 revival of the series to be fantastic. The cast was great, direction was superb, and it gave me an overall feeling of action/adventure that I seek when going to a summer blockbuster. Abrams crafted a blockbuster that was just all-around fun. I found the chemistry of Pine and Quinto to be more engaging than in the first film. In this film, they are friends but lack any real conviction to care for each other. I liked how their plot was built around finding the true friendship rather than the getting to know each other portion that made up the first one. While it may not be perfect, I found it to be the most well-rounded of the blockbusters and an absolute blast ala classic Spielberg.
4) Prince Avalanche
This one took me by surprise. I went in knowing that it was supposed to be pretty solid and came out blown away with just how great a film it was. The story follows Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch as workers in Texas who are painting lines on a new road during the summer. What works so masterfully in the film is the feeling of seclusion that director David Gordon Green makes you feel while watching this. The two men are out in the middle of nowhere with little to no interaction outside of a few people. Gordon Green also directs this as if it were a more artsy, Malick-like film with detailed shots and longer takes of scenes. This added detail to the overall film makes it less a comedy and more of a character study and drama. Rudd gives a standout performance as the kind of hermit-like character while Hirsch wants to go out and live life. The way these characters interact and grow over the course of the film is mesmerizing and overall the film was well-made.
3) The Place Beyond the Pines
If you want a whirlwind of a film that also is a masterpiece, here it is. Not only is this a fantastic film but also something special when it comes to telling a story. That is probably what I took most out of this film, the way director Derek Cianfrance told the story. To give you a bare idea, you begin with the story of Luke (Gosling), then you move to Avery (Bradley Cooper), and conclude with the kids of both men. All involved give fantastic performances with young Dane DeHaan blowing me away in the third story. It is multi-layered, complex, and moving and something that will take a few viewings to probably completely respect but it was an absolute masterpiece of storytelling.
I have begun to gain a new perspective on Matthew McConaughey, the guy can straight up act and that acting was on full display in director Jeff Nichol’s Mud. McConaughey morphs into the role of Mud unlike any role he has taken to date. This tall tale plays so well and has a few merits of a coming of age story coupled with the drama and action that comes with Mud and Juniper (Reese Witherspoon)’s tale. Nichols continues to be a hidden gem in the sphere of American directing and he weaves another tale that keeps you utterly entertained and immersed in the story and growth of Ellis (Tye Sheridan) as a character throughout. Sheridan plays the character superbly and pulls of the task of giving us a relatable kid that takes you on a ride of nostalgia as you root for him and feel for him. While it may get overlooked when it comes to the Oscars, this gem was an absolute pleasure and one that deserves praise for being so enjoyable and well-done, it is one of those films that you can go back and visit and become engulfed again like you were the first time.
1) Before Midnight
There hasn’t been a film that has touched me as much as Before Midnight this year. Being so well done all around and outdoing the other two films of the trilogy is hard task but director Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, and Ethan Hawke pull it off and pulled it off masterfully. The story picks up another nine years after the events of Before Sunset and this time the two are in Greece. The film was expertly directed by Linklater who continues to master the long takes with dialogue, the most impressive being the one that happened during the picture above. Delpy and Hawke have a 20 minute conversation in the car driving back from the airport and we watch the entire conversation and ride without much interruption. It was insane how fluid Linklater made the scene go but the real winner from this film has to be the writing. Delpy, Linklater, and Hawke construct an even better story than the past two and one that was delightfully funny. It had me laughing throughout with a sprinkle of intense drama and the staple long conversations. One that stuck with me was a conversation at the dinner table in Greece. The dialogue is perfect and the stories and moments from it are some of the best I have seen this year. I truly hope this film gets recognized at the Oscars for at least writing because the work done by the trio is outstanding and continuing to be some of the best in cinema today.
The Way, Way Back
From Up on Poppy Hill