Best (and worst) movies of 2013, Part 1

Half of 2013 has already passed- crazy right?

This also means half of this year’s films have been release (approximately) and while I still worry that the film industry is in decline economically and creatively, it has been somewhat interesting to see the new directions that cinema is taking.  However, in some cases, these directions are either predictable or terribly misguided.

So with that in mind, let’s take a gander at the best and worst movies of the year so far!

Top 7 So far

stoker7.) Stoker- While this movie came and went without much fanfare, I still treasure it as one of the most visually arresting and carefully plotted thrillers of the year. At the very least, it should be acknowledged as a healthy American debut for the fantastically brilliant Chan-Wook Park.

6.) Iron Man 3- While I’m rarely a big comic book fan, I respect a film that can both poke fun at its genre and be a shining example of the genre at its best. This witty, action-packed, and engaging film was a fitting end to a solid trilogy.

Heat 5.) The Heat- Again, a good movie these days needs to understand their genre, acknowledge that almost everything has been done before, and then capitalize on something new and fresh they can offer. This female-driven cop-buddy film is both touching and hilarious with fully developed characters and a healthy dose of summer-blockbuster action.

KingsofSummer4.) Kings of Summer- Perhaps I’m partial as a native of Ohio, but this film was a scenic, tender love letter to a midwest childhood. It felt simultaneously nostalgic and contemporary, like Sandlot or Stand By Me for a new generation.

3.) Great Gatsby- Though hotly contested, I believe this was a very clever and multi-layered film critiquing the dark side of wealth and the existential dilemma of the American Dream. It’s glossy, it’s energetic, and it’s  bizarrely undefinable- exactly what I love to see from Luhrmann.

2.) Mud- While Kings of Summer was a heartwarming redux of a similar concept, Mud takes a new approach to the coming-of-age genre with a much deeper, character-driven adventure drama. This is definitely the most original and well-written films of the year so far.

spring-breakers021.) Spring Breakers- It’s disturbing, gripping, and brilliantly subversive. For its rich cinematography, superbly alienating sound design, and genius use of Disney actresses, this film enthusiastically owns my number one vote. I’ve not been able to get it out of my mind, and I hope the message similarly haunts younger crowds who could learn a thing or two.

What would probably make the list if I’d gotten to see it: Upstream Color, Before Midnight, France Ha.

Bottom 4 So Far

(Keep in mind- if negative reviews are flowing, I typically skip it. So my list is sparse here, thank goodness)

NowYouSeeMeImage-1024x7084.) Now You See Me- Nothing particularly awful here, but the film was lazily produced, glossy in an attempt to distract from its shortcomings, and full of half-developed, entirely wasted big-name actors.  It’s twist was ludicrous, and its somewhat crafty story concept was wasted.

evil-dead

3.) Evil Dead- Again, not so much a disaster as a let-down. Where the original toed the line between camp and terror, the remake relies entirely on blood and guts as a selling point. It’s not fun or risque or even guilty-pleasure gore a la the Final Destination moves (yeah there’s a thing called guilty-pleasure gore).

2.) Lords of Salem- This too was a let-down. Rob Zombie’s previously subversive, gritty style is nowhere to be seen in this slow-moving, poorly acted, pointlessly twisted horror film…if you can call it that.

hangover1.) Hangover 3- This one totally missed the point of its already-exhausted franchise. Its moody to the point of discomfort, hateful towards its characters, and devoid of laughs of any kind. Hopefully they’re done trying to keep this alive.

What may have made this list: Movie 43, After Earth, Safe Haven.

Let’s hope the second half of the year is fruitful enough to make a top 20 of the year list in December! Comment with any additions you may have to either list.

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