I love the experience of heading to the movie theater, filling up a bucket of popcorn, and settling into the dark room with friends, family, or even by myself.
2013 was a great year for movies, and I was more intentional this year about getting to as many great movies as I had the opportunity to see in the theater.
Here’s a list of my favorites from this year.
American Hustle: Just saw this one today. Phenomenal movie. Director David O. Russell sets the perfect tone that’s off-beat and hilarious. Also good performances from all the main cast. Amy Adams sure has come a long way from the “purse girl” on The Office.
Dallas Buyers Club: A man in the mid-1980’s unexpectedly contracts HIV and desperately begins seeking the medical treatment that was so limited during the early years of the AIDS crisis. This film is Matthew McConaughey’s best work that I’ve ever seen. Jared Leto also gave an emotional performance.
Mud: Great coming of age tale set in the deep south that explores life along the river for two young teenage boys and a fugitive they meet by chance. Second-best McConaughey performance I saw this year.
Fruitvale Station: Michael B. Jordan is an actor to watch for the future. In this movie he plays a young Oscar Grant who was unjustly shot and killed by police in the bay area. Jordan does a wonderful job of crafting a complex man who who you learn to root for despite his flaws. This is a great movie to keep the conversation going about the way racism still plays a role in a post-Obama America.
12 Years a Slave: This movie tells the true and epic story of a free Northerner’s journey to get back to his family after being abducted and sold into slavery in the mid-1800’s. A lot of raw emotion in this one and great cinematography.
Frozen: Based on the marketing for this one prior to its release, I didn’t have high expectations for the latest Disney Animated Feature. However, a great soundtrack and unpredictable story saved this one from mediocrity. Not the most original or creative animation style (Tangled, anyone?). But it worked. And some of the songs are still stuck in my head
Prisoners: This suspense thriller tells the disturbing story of how far a man may go to try and save his child. The villains in this movie are quite well done. The storyline kept me guessing and it haunted me after the fact. Good performances from Hugh Jackman, Melissa Leo, and Paul Dano.
The Way Way Back: The second great coming-of-age story on my list. Written and directed by the very funny Nat Faxon and Jim Rash (Dean Pelton from Community), this movie struck a great chord as a laid back, summer story. For the first time, Steve Carell plays a truly unlikable character, and he pulls it off. Sam Rockwell and up-and-coming actor Liam James also are quite memorable in their roles.
Despicable Me 2: I love animated movies. This sequel lived up to all my expectations I built up after the first. Hilariously funny, so much so that I saw it three times. One of those times, I saw it with my friend Shawn… no kids. Don’t judge me. Plus, who doesn’t love the minions?
Gravity: Most unique movie on this list. Sandra Bullock is a shoe-in to be nominated for Best Actress and she deserves it. Seeing this movie in Imax 3D was a movie-going experience that I’ll never forget. Alfonso Cuaron will also likely get the Best Director nomination on this one.
The Place Beyond the Pines: This movie is a look at the complex ways fathers and sons relate to one another. In three acts this film tells the stories of Ryan Gosling’s and Bradley Cooper’s two very different characters. The two leads make choices that deeply impact the course of their lives and the lives of their families and cause their stories to intertwine. This movie kept me thinking long after I left the theater.
Star Trek Into Darkness: As far as summer blockbusters go, this one was excellent. I love me some JJ Abrams story-telling. Hoping the high quality of these new Star Trek films will translate well into the new Star Wars movies.
Catching Fire: It would have been hard to see them screw this one up. The source material for this second Hunger Games story is the best of the trilogy. Thankfully, the director did a great job of capturing the story well and keeping a tight pacing.