Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Best of 2013: Movies


I’ve been stalling on this post, because 2013 wasn’t a great year for movies for me, at least movies on the big screen. I saw a lot of great movies but they were all movies you saw in 2012 and that I saw on DVD.


Remember those? I loved each of them, but by the time I saw them, everyone else was done talking about them. “Lincoln” was my favorite, probably due to low expectations as my father couldn’t get past Daniel Day Lewis’ affectatious voice, my MIL described it as CSPAN in dark rooms, and others seemed ho-hum. I was mesmerized. The personal suffering along side the national suffering has stayed with me.

Expectations play such a role in our enjoyment of movies and life.

“Gravity” was the best movie I saw in 2013, even if I take into consideration post-New-Year’s movies like “American Hustle” (great fun, which isn’t nothing but not much else). I find it fascinating when reactions to a movie can be on such far extremes, and some people I respect strongly disliked “Gravity.” These best of lists are only helpful if you know the person well enough to know where your tastes overlap and when you’re likely to diverge.

*Spoiler Alert* Stop reading if you haven’t seen it yet! What has stayed with me all these months later (I can’t remember the last time I paid to see the same movie twice since I watched “Say Anything” compulsively the summer of 1989, but I took Aidan and fully enjoyed it again), is the shot of her foot when she first places it on earth’s soil. How perfectly titled is this movie, because I left feeling ever so grateful to gravity.


We saw “The Croods” while in Salt Lake City during Spring Break. I anticipated getting a good nap while the boys laughed but instead we were all literally slapping our legs and falling over from side-splitting laughter. I love that moment when you are laughing hilariously and find your loved one looking over at you laughing just as hard.

Like Nemo’s dad, Grug is an overprotective parent using fear to keep his family safe. “Never *not* be afraid!” is his family slogan. The boys loved the silly side kick, Belt and his proclamations of “Dun-dun-dunnnnnn!” We all loved the family story-telling tradition and Guy’s outsider reaction to the end of Grug’s story, “I did NOT see that coming.”

Eep: Dad, you have to stop worrying about us.
Grug: But it's my job to worry! It's my job to follow the rules.
Eep: The rules don't work out here.
Grug: They kept us alive.
Eep: That wasn't LIVING! That was just.... "Not Dying"! There's a difference.

As a rule, we don’t buy movies---just more stuff. But this one, this was one we needed to own.


Above are other movies we saw on the big screen, which says less about my taste than it does about what movies actually play here. I don’t recommend any of them unless you’re a Star Trek/Minion/Katnis fan, in which case, you’ve already seen them.

It seems in remaking The Great Gatsby, they mistook Nick’s line that Gatsby was “worth the whole damn bunch put together” to be high praise. Maybe opulence, like violence, is hard to portray without glamorizing it.


I want to leave you with at least a few titles to add to your Netflix queue. “The Spectacular Now” is at Redbox now. I thought it was going to be a very different movie---and I hope someone still makes that other movie I was hoping to see---but this one is very good. “The Way Way Back” was excellent, though it was physically painful to see Steven Carell be a jerk. Sam Rockwell should have been nominated in my opinion, as the whole film depends on the specific tone he achieves with his character. I liked “Perks of a Wallflower” even better than the book, and since it was written and directed by Stephen Chbosky, the original author, I think he would agree too.

“Searching for Sugar Man” was a delightful surprise, and left us full of questions about artists and tenacity and how art finds its own audience. In many ways, it left too many questions out of the picture but that shouldn’t stop you from asking them. “Looper” was a time-travel action picture, out of my comfort zone, but thanks to Brian, I’ve seen quite a few and found it well done. “42” may have played it safe, but was still incredibly powerful.

Least I forget, some of the best movie moments of 2013 were sharing old favorites with my boys. Aidan and I watched “Untouchables” and “The Bicycle Thief” over the summer. “It’s a Wonderful Life” played while we trimmed our tree, but Sean actually watched it for the first time. And all three boys fell in love with the madness of Jake and Elwood in “The Blues Brothers.”

The list of what we want to see (“Her,” “Before Midnight,” “Philomena,” “12 Years a Slave”) is predictable, but I’d love to hear of a sleeper film, the independent pick we should go rent now. Let me know.

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