I watched a few movies in 2013. 320 to be exact! Yeah! I’m happy with that. (Matt is a dick for beating me by 5!). It was a really good movie-watching year for me. This blog and podcast that Matt, Mike and I do is about movies and TV, but for me, the greater of the two is movies. A lot of the TV I watch is escapism. It’s fun to dive into shows and get lost in their worlds. TV is sort of an outlet for me. However, watching a movie is more like a calling. I feel at peace. Not to say I never escape into a movie, but I treat it more like a relationship.
So I’m almost always more excited about the film side of our little endeavor here. Ironically some of my favorite episodes of ours are the TV ones, but I feel like I have a better knack for analyzing, critiquing and enjoying films. So I inevitably lean towards that side of our podcast and blog, and I’m excited to break down my 2013 Year in Movies publicly.
Here are some of my stats for the year:
320 Total Viewings
25 Theater Viewings (A new record for me!)
158 First Viewings
74 From DVD/BR Collection
Best First Viewing of the Year: 12 Years a Slave
You read my love note to movies at the beginning of this post. I’ve seen, literally, thousands of movies. So know that what I’m about to say is not something I say lightly and is quite a statement: 12 Years a Slave might be the best movie I’ve ever seen. It had such an impact on me that even after six weeks of thinking about it I don’t know how to qualitatively analyze the film.
I’ve always said that to make a perfect film is impossible. I still believe that, but 12 Years a Slave may have gotten closer to perfection than any other film I’ve ever seen. Every artistic and creative aspect of the film was spot on. I honestly have no criticism of the film whatsoever. I don’t think it could be better.
I do need to see it again, though. That’s the one caveat I’ll mention. I remember thinking that Brad Pitt was too “Brad Pitt” in his performance, but maybe it was all in my mind. I wish I could elaborate on my opinion, but I’m having trouble with it. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to process it fully. I’m going to attempt to put more thoughts together for our “2013 Year in Review” episode of the podcast. So be sure to check that out for my thoughts. Just know that you need to see this film. You NEED to. It is important and worth your time.
Worst First Viewing of the Year: Halloween III: The Season of the Witch
I feel kind of weird putting a thirty year-old movie in this category (I don’t know if it’s actually 30 years old. I’m not going to IMDB it because I don’t want to ever think of this movie again.) I’m making this my selection for Worst First Viewing because it was genuinely the worst movie I watched in 2013 that I had never seen before. This movie was the exact opposite of 12 Years a Slave. Every artistic and creative aspect of the movie was awful.
The performances were bad, the music was atrocious “3 more days to Halloween, Halloween, HalloweOHMYGODSHOOTMEPLEASE!!!!”, the script had nothing to offer and the story was stupid. I would go further into it, but I seriously don’t want to think about this steaming pile of movie. I’d rather watch an abortion.
Returning Champion for the Year: Schindler’s List
“Returning Champion” is a movie that I’ve seen before but really love. I picked a movie every month for my returning champion, and of the 12 from 2013 Schindler’s List was my Favorite. This is another odd selection, though. Schindler’s List is not a joyous movie at all. It’s honestly not a movie I really enjoy watching that much because it’s centered around the worst thing that’s ever happened. There’s no denying, however, that it is an incredible film. I talked about this movie at length in our “Tragedy On the Screen” episode of the podcast. Give that episode a listen for a deeper exploration of my love for Schindler’s List.
Biggest Letdown of the Year: World War Z
World War Z by Max Brooks is one of my favorite books. It’s the best zombie themed story that the genre has given us. Eat your heart out Romero! Of course, they completely failed to capture any essence of the book in the film. It was a travesty. The movie wasn’t bad, but it was an epic letdown and a massive failure of an adaptation. It ruined the experience and I will never forgive the creative team behind it for ruining such a rich and unique piece of art.
Biggest Surprise: Jack Reacher
Where the hell did this movie come from? Seriously. I had never heard of the book series or the character or anything. When I saw the trailers for it I almost immediately dismissed it as standard thriller fare. I have to say I was so wrong. They marketed the movie terribly. The trailer made it look like a re-hash of Knight and Day when really it was a clever mystery story with surprising depth.
These are the kinds of roles I love Tom Cruise for. He’s a similar actor to Brad Pitt in that it’s almost impossible for them to escape their celebrity personas. It seems like they tend to play minor variations of themselves. Thankfully, that was okay for the character of Jack Reacher. The character was surprisingly humble but so potently adept at his skill-set, and Tom Cruise slid into the role with ease and poise.
I will say that the title of the movie was awful. That was another aspect of the poor marketing of the movie. Apparently the character of Jack Reacher has been in several books. I hope this film was successful enough and found enough of an audience for a sequel and maybe a trilogy. So I recommend putting aside any preconceptions you have of Jack Reacher and see if you like the movie.
Best Newcomer: Derek Cianfrance: Blue Valentine and The Place Beyond the Pines (Director and Writer)
The Best Newcomer category is the person (or sometimes people) who I have never seen before that impresses me, or maybe I have seen them in something, but I didn’t notice them until now. Some of the honorable mentions from this year were Sam Claflin from The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Nat Wolff from Admission, Jai Courtney from Jack Reacher and A Good Day to Die Hard, and Fedor Bondarchuk the writer and director of 9th Company (a Russian film). Some of these people have been around for a while, but I just haven’t seen them till now.
My overall pick for 2013 is Derek Cianfrance. Ironically he didn’t even have a movie come out in 2013, but I didn’t see Blue Valentine or The Place Beyond the Pines until this year. I was very impressed with both films. Blue Valentine had a remarkable script. That was a film contingent on wonderful performances from the lead actors, which it had; but what was most impressive to me was the dialogue. The downfall of the relationship and the erosion of the character’s adoration for one another was so heart-breaking. Illustrating such drama through words is not a skill that many script-writers have.
The Place Beyond the Pines also had a strong script, but was mostly notable for another reason. Cianfrance directed the film like it was an action/thriller at times, only to turn around and grip the audience with the intense dialogue scenes. There is a pursuit scene in the movie that’s straight out of a Lethal Weapon movie that Cianfrance shot better than any Lethal Weapon director could. It had me on the edge of my seat. I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen. The pursuit scenes had a mandate to them that was irrefutable even though they were hard to watch; which is a skill that Cianfrance has quickly mastered as evidenced by these two films.
Derek Cianfrance’s next film, Metalhead, has me excited for multiple reasons. It sounds like a great premise that Cianfrance will more than likely nail and the movie involves heavy metal music. I have a feeling that Derek Cianfrance will be around for a long time. I think he’s a comparable director to David O. Russell, who I feel is somewhat overrated. I wish the industry would move their attention to Cianfrance. I think they’d be more satisfied. Either way, I can’t wait to see what this filmmaker does in the future.
My 2013 was a great year for movies. My second best, actually. One of my ultimate goals is to someday have 365 viewings in one year just to say that I watched at least one movie every day. That is a tall order, though. My best year to date was 2009 when I had 335 viewings. I’m certainly not disappointed with any of my numbers, but we all have to have goals. Thanks for reading the blog and listening to the podcast in 2013. It certainly helped make it the most special year I’ve had when it comes to my obsession with movies. Here’s to an incredible 2014!