Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Best Films of 2013

People often ask me how they can become a film critic.  I (somewhat flippantly) tell them to watch a movie, express an opinion on it and, voila, they can declare themselves a film critic.  But it's true!  Of course, getting someone to pay you as a film critic or to even just give you an opportunity for no pay in print, broadcast, or online is a horse of a completely different color.  That's a mystery to all of us, and surely luck is a key factor.  But a good start might be to listen to all the buzz that comes out of the Telluride, Toronto, and New York film festivals in September and October, and declare those movies your favorites of the year.  Don't worry if you haven't seen them.  That's a minor detail.  (And I suspect some awards voters who voted for them haven't either.)  It doesn't matter!  People will think you're a real film critic because your taste just happens to exactly coincide with the general film critic consensus of which films best look the part to bestow their honors upon.  To get real street cred this year it seems that all you need to say is that the best movies of the year are '12 Years a Slave', 'Gravity', 'Inside Llewyn Davis', 'Her', 'Nebraska', 'American Hustle', 'The Wolf of Wall Street', 'Saving Mr, Banks', 'Captain Phillips', and then throw in one more that's slightly less expected to show that you have your own mind.  There, now you know how to be a proper film critic and you don't even have to see any movies!

I, however, take a slightly different and somewhat radical approach to all of this.  I express what I truly believe in my heart of hearts to be the best movies of the year, even if they are met by a smirk from my esteemed colleagues and fellow film buffs.  What can I say?  I'm a renegade.  And offering my honest opinions may in fact limit my career growth as a film critic. 

Below are my personal favorites of 2013.  I don't know how any film critic limits their list to 10.  I saw 303 releases in 2013.  If I only loved 10 of them, I wouldn't really be much of a movie fan, now would I?  I gave 66 of them an A- or above, so those are what I show below.  If this seems overwhelming to you then you should probably refer to my Best Films of 2013 by Genre post to help you zone in on what you will probably like most.  Or, if you want to see where everything else landed, check out my Rank of all Films Reviewed in 2013 list.

Undoubtedly this list will be quite different than anyone else's.  But these are the films that moved me, made me think, made me feel, and resonated with me the most.  These are the films that made me the most grateful to get to impersonate a film critic on Good Day Orlando every week, and to get to see every film before it comes out so that I can form my own opinions before the consensus drills them into my head.  These are the films I add to my personal DVD library.  And I hope you enjoy them every bit as much as I did.

  1. About Time     Grade: A+
  2. Prisoners     Grade: A+
  3. World War Z     Grade: A+
  4. Philomena     Grade: A+
  5. The Short Game     Grade: A+
  6. Before Midnight     Grade: A+
  7. The East     Grade: A
  8. Star Trek Into Darkness     Grade: A
  9. Hunger Games: Catching Fire     Grade: A
  10. Lee Daniels' The Butler     Grade: A
  11. Blood     Grade: A
  12. August: Osage County    Grade: A
  13. Pain & Gain     Grade: A
  14. Trance     Grade: A
  15. Dallas Buyers Club     Grade: A
  16. Captain Phillips     Grade: A
  17. The Call     Grade: A
  18. Side Effects     Grade: A
  19. Enough Said     Grade: A
  20. Broken     Grade: A
  21. Short Term 12     Grade: A
  22. The Wolf of Wall Street     Grade: A
  23. Disconnect     Grade: A
  24. American Hustle      Grade: A
  25. The Spectacular Now     Grade: A
  26. 12 Years a Slave     Grade: A
  27. Blue Jasmine     Grade: A
  28. Broken City      Grade: A
  29. Some Velvet Morning      Grade: A
  30. The Sweeney     Grade: A
  31. Kick-Ass 2     Grade: A
  32. Simon Killer     Grade: A
  33. 20 Feet from Stardom     Grade: A
  34. 56 Up     Grade: A
  35. In a World ...     Grade: A
  36. Jobs     Grade: A
  37. Still Mine     Grade: A
  38. Don Jon     Grade: A
  39. Some Girl(s)     Grade: A
  40. This is the End     Grade: A-
  41. Blackfish     Grade: A-
  42. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty     Grade: A-
  43. The To Do List     Grade: A-
  44. A Single Shot     Grade: A-
  45. The World's End     Grade: A-
  46. Mud     Grade: A-
  47. Saving Mr. Banks     Grade: A-
  48. Rush     Grade: A-
  49. Prince Avalanche     Grade: A-
  50. Koch     Grade: A-
  51. Deceptive Practice: The Mysteries and Mentors of Ricky Jay     Grade: A-
  52. Let the Fire Burn     Grade: A-
  53. Seduced and Abandoned     Grade: A-
  54. The Brass Teapot     Grade: A-
  55. The Hangover Part III     Grade: A-
  56. Don't Stop Believin': Everyman's Journey     Grade: A-
  57. The Silence     Grade: A-
  58. Blue is the Warmest Color     Grade: A-
  59. The Hunt     Grade: A-
  60. It's a Disaster     Grade: A-
  61. A Case of You     Grade: A-
  62. Life According to Sam     Grade: A-
  63. Broken Circle Breakdown     Grade: A-
  64. Pacific Rim     Grade: A-
  65. The Family     Grade: A-
  66. Frances Ha     Grade: A-


  1. I think your viewpoint as a critic is consistent and therefore helpful as a general guide. I like reading your reviews whether I agree with them or not.

    Oh and you forgot one other type of critic - the critic who will put a positive spin on any piece of crap in order to get their name on the advertising for said film.

    1. Thanks John! And you're right! I forgot about the sell-outs like Peter Travers!