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Brandon’s Rendition Of The Top 10 Films Of 2013

Brandon Top 10It started off kind of weak and had a slightly mediocre summer (for mainstream movies), but overall 2013 was a really great year for movies.  I say that because this Top 10 list was an incredibly difficult task to put together.  One of the most challenging things every year is we are so hyped up and “in the now” with the December Oscar hopefuls rush that I think we forget or discount films from the first ¾ of the year that are just as worthy, we just haven’t had them in discussion for so long or watched them in almost a year that we tend to forget them when it comes to the end of the year list.  We seem to go off the buzz we just got.  In culminating my personal list I sat and focused real hard on trying to not let that aspect of end of the year list making consume me.  I factored in what films I’d watched the most times this year, what films I thought were truly just well done, what I had actual “fun” with, what ones grabbed me an never let me go.  I wanted my list to reflect all of those things and not just sit and pick the expected prestigious films that make every critic’s list look the same and have no personal flavor to it.  Now, yes, my list will contain a few of those, because those films are just that good.

There was one aspect I really liked about 2013 that I wanted to point out.  The year featured 2 films that absolutely demanded you go and see them in the theater.  And while they both utilized the 3D gimmick, that was only a small factor in their enjoyment.  It was the fact that we had two directors who full understood and crafted films that realized their scale and were at their most impactful when seen on a the biggest screen you could possibly get a ticket to.  I hope Hollywood takes some notes and doesn’t just think “Oh, 3D works again!” and gives us more moves that demand we get out of our homes and go plunk down money to see them in the theater.  I prefer the theater, but I’m talking here for mainstream common audiences who seem to like to wait for home video or crappy quality streaming services.

So, its list time.  To preface, there are some films that might have been worthy of the list that I wasn’t able to view in time for crafting it (and thank god, it was already tough enough).  One regret, which is one I’ve noticed from many other critics this year, is that I didn’t see very many foreign pictures at all.  I think Man of Tai Chi might’ve been the closest I had.  The notable films that I wasn’t able to get to: Captain Phillips, Short Term 12, Her, Blue Jasmine, In A World, The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty, The Hunt, The Way Way Back and The Dallas Buyer’s Club.

In addition, I’ve been doing some “End Of Year” lists on my blog leading up to this Top 10 which you can check out following these links here

Funniest Scene In A Non-Comedy Film

5 Films That Surprised Me

10 Best New Characters

10 Best Movies You Probably Didn’t See

Worst Films of 2013

Honorable Mentions

Here we go.  Please feel free to tell me how wrong I am in the comments below!

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Brandon Top 10 - Furious 610. Furious 6 – I did not become a fan of this franchise until this year and now I’m a full fledged fanatic of it.  I did a retrospective series on the films for my blog and worked my way from doubter to lover.  After going through the films one by one leading up to the release of 6, this new one felt like the ultimate reward.  The film featured many of my favorite action sequences from the entire year and I had a great crowd in the theater when watching it.  I love the over the top stunt sequences that this series has decided to relish itself in.  I think 6 also had the series’ best villain, too.  And the mid credits tease might go down as one of my all time favorites for any film.  What a way to build incredible excitement for 7.  I’m not going to go into the loss of Paul Walker and what will happen with the future of the franchise, as I’m here to celebrate this film.  The Fast & Furious franchise is THE pure action franchise going on right now.  If you’re a doubter or hater, you’ve obviously not seen the last 2 installments.

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Brandon Top 10 - Mud9. Mud – I fell pretty hard for this little coming of age tale.  It felt like a modern Stand By Me in many ways.  McConaughey continues his hot streak he’s had the last couple years once again in 2013.  He’s become an actor that we avoided seeing his movies to someone who…we don’t care what it is, if he’s in it we are buying a ticket.  Mud was so damn good with its characters the movie became an absolute suspense powerhouse in its closing moments.  Matthew delivers one of his many fantastic performances (that the Academy needs to start recognizing him for) as the supposed wanted criminal that goes by “Mud” living on a little island who befriends a young man who wants to help him get his life on track.  From the setting, to the story, to the performances, you can’t help but be drawn in by this film and find a lot of emotional investment was the dominoes start to fall in the end.

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Brandon Top 10 - Spectacular8. The Spectacular Now – Coming of age tales are starting to become to indie films what the found footage gimmick has been to horror.  This one was the best of the bunch this year.  It feels like a modern Say Anything (a favorite of mine).  I don’t know who you are Miles Teller, I’ve never seen you in anything before this, but I now want to see you in EVERYTHING.  You have my attention and are my pick for best up and comer this year.  Shailene Wooldey also continues to put in great world.  Screw Spider-Man fans, I really love what this girl brings.  She’s better off without it.  This film follows an alcoholic high schooler who fears commitment that decides to go for an unseen smart girl after his girlfriend breaks up with him.  While he seems to be teaching her to stand up for herself and become a more confident person, he’s discovering a lot out about himself and discovering who he is and what he doesn’t want to be.  The movie is full of laughs but features a great character study of someone who just lights up every frame he appears in.

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Brandon Top 10 - Stoker7. Stoker – This one held on to the title of best movie for me for a lot of the year (some that came out around this time, I didn’t see until Blu-ray).  A lot of foreign directors that have a lot of esteem and great movies under their belt come to America and either make crappy movies or get stuck with them.  Chan Wook-Park bucked that trend and made his best film in many years.  Wentworth Miller (yes, the guy from Prison Break and Resident Evil’s Chris Redford) writes the script which is a unique play on Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece Shadow Of A Doubt.  This is how remakes should be done.  A movie that takes the premise, but in all reality is its own thing and becomes its own movie.  It is the most respectful and best crafted homage to one of his works we have likely ever seen.  There were few productions that looked as gorgeous as Stoker and the film had a cast with performances that harmonized the two things.  This arthouse horror film was a dark pleasure and provided some great imagery and a completely unexpected turn at one point.  This was easily the year’s best film for quite a bit of the year.

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Brandon Top 10 - Upstream6. Upstream Color – I remembered seeing Primer back when it came out on DVD many years ago, but I don’t recall much from it.  And I had no idea Shane Carruth hadn’t made a film since.  But, his return this year was a grand one.  I became kind of entranced with this film.  I don’t have the time to watch movies over and over but I did watch this one 3-4 times and twice in one week.  There are so many layers at play here and the film keeps you on your toes and has your brain functioning on overload.  I love it.  It also has you thinking well past the movie, making you go back and further study it seeing new things.  This is one film I’m going to definitely remember from 2013 and probably revisit quite a bit.  It also stars Amy Seimetz, who has become one of my favorite working actresses in the past couple years.  She’s an absolutely terrific and hard working talent (she is always busy, writing/directing/acting, and you should definitely check out more of her work where you can find it.

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Brandon Top 10 - Maniac5. Maniac – This film sucked me in right from the start.  The original was a classic piece of sleeze cinema that featured a leading role for one of my all time favorite character actors Joe Spinell, but this one absolutely crushed it.  This experimental film takes the camera and puts it in the perspective of the film’s killer for the entire duration of the film.  What seemed like something that would run out of steam actually stays fresh and captivating throughout.  Elijah Wood is the perfect choice for this role as he plays creepy, but actually has the look and appeal of a guy the females might be attracted to.  The deaths may be gruesome but it’s handled in such a way it comes across as very artful.  One of the biggest stars of the film is my pick for the best score of 2013 by Rob.  This score harkens back to old Dario Argento, giallo films with music by such acts as Goblin.  Some cite it as John Carpenter , and while I hear some of that I think its more the former.  Its also a little similar to the score of Paul Schrader’s Cat People too.  All these factors had me totally engrossed and loving every minute of this unique slasher tale.  They absolutely nailed it with this one.

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Brandon Top 10 - Llewyn Davis4. Inside Llewyn Davis – Never doubt the Coen Bros?  Nope, they’ve had their little rough patch (Ladykillers and Intolerable Cruelty) and haven’t looked back.  This folk tale actually went a little unexpected for me.  This one tells of the guy that doesn’t make it.  And he’s actually not a very likeable fellow either.  With the music, the Coens do for folk what they did for bluegrass with O Brother Where Art Thou as it’s absolutely exceptional.  The side players are all grand.  I like these little offbeat indies the Coens do in-between films.  I’ll admit, when I first heard the subject matter of the film I was kind of “eh” but it’s the Coens so I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and yeah, they made a damn good film.  It’s well shot, has a distinct look and keeps you kind of wondering as to where you’re actually going to go with this story.

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Brandon Top 10 - Wolf3. The Wolf Of Wall Street – 
This and the next film on the list were pretty neck and neck for the #2 spot.  This film and Pain & Gain would make for one hell of a double feature night.  You’ve heard all about this one by now and everybody here at Why So Blu has listed it so far.  I’m no different.  This is a 3 hour film that I honestly could’ve gone with for an additional fourth hour.  It’s THAT entertaining.  I don’t know what more to add to what my colleagues have raved about this movie the movie so far.  I’m dumbfounded at the general audiences’ reaction to it, considering when I went to look at showtimes on Fandango and then I see the “Audiences Say OH NO” rating.  I find that absolutely baffling.  So, chalk me up as one of the masses of critics/movie reviewers/film buffs telling you that you MUST check out Wolf while it’s still playing.

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Brandon Top 10 - World's End2. The World’s End – The capper to the Cornetto/Blood & Ice Cream trilogy.  I decided to gift this one #2 over Wolf in the end as to accommodate the achievement of making a damn near perfect trilogy even if its only in theme.  Some of those are the best though, I’m looking at stuff like the Vengeance trilogy and the Three Colours trilogy for reference.  I had an absolute blast with the final adventure of the Simon Pegg, Edgar Wright and Nick Frost trio.  The role reversals of Pegg and Frost paid out in gangbusters.  The film was also insanely layered, with little easter eggs and such to have the joy of catching something new with each viewing.  The film is also a fun throwback to Invasion of the Body Snatchers and has fun with that story.  One thing I never really thought of before, but Aaron Neuwirth brought to my attention this year, was how great of an action director Edgar Wright is.  His movies we appreciate for their humor, but there’s a lot of really fantastic action work being done here.  I think I may even enjoy this one as equally as I did Shaun of the DeadThe World’s End had me with big belly laughs, action thrills and some eye popping moments.  It was one of the most satisfying and best feelings leaving a theater this year.

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Brandon Top 10 - Gravity1. Gravity – If there is 1 movie that will define 2013 for me, it’s Gravity.  I always talk about movies that come every once in a while that absolutely reaffirm you that going to the theater to see a film can be a magical experience.  Alfonso Cuaron, someone I was already a big fan of, fully realized a film in size and scope that would give the viewer as close an experience as to which the characters were having in the movie.  I’m no fan of 3D, but when it’s properly used it INDEED enhances the experience.  I haven’t really been a big fan of Sandra Bullock in her post-Speed days (but its not like I see her movies to boot), but she has the task of carrying a film soley on her shoulders and does so with flying colors.  Hand her the Oscar right now.  Some people had some fun parts this year, but nobody literally carried an entire film and gave as much as fully realized and powerful performance as she did.  Gravity was an incredibly powerful statement of the power of going and seeing a movie on a big screen.  Its one of the greatest film going experiences I’ve ever had and one of the best movies I think I’ve ever seen.

One thing I’m not excited for with Gravity?  It getting released on home video and crummy quality streaming services.  It is going to be a complete pain in the ass trying to explain to somebody who has watched Gravity on their iPhone and doesn’t see the “big deal” about it.  It’s because you were supposed to see it in the theater dumb dumb!  Just wait, it’s going to suck, but there is going to be a march of complete dumbasses not understanding this movie and bashing it (because its cool to trash something praised, popular and did well) because they saw it on a 4 inch screen.  This movie was meant to be seen in the theater.  If you didn’t see it that way…well…then I’m done talking to you about it.

That’s it for my Top 10.  I don’t know what really much more I have to say.  Thanks for reading!  If you read my blog, I’ll be doing the films I’m looking forward to most in 2014 tomorrow, so tune in for that!

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

10 Responses to “Brandon’s Rendition Of The Top 10 Films Of 2013”


  1. Gerard Iribe

    That’s a mighty fine list, Brandon! I have not seen #’s 10 thru 4, though. Oh, and as far as watching Gravity on your phone: David Lynch would agree. 😉

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wKiIroiCvZ0

  2. Brian White

    Wow! Some impressive stuff. I hit up all the links on your blog too before posting here. I really felt a Lords of Salem was a strong possibility on this list 🙂

    Fast & Furious 6…oh…how I wanted to put this on my list so bad, but as we all know…it’s so hard to cap the list at only 10 titles. Unlike previous years, for me, 2013 had some really great films in it that made dwindling down Top 10 lists insanely hard as we all try to cram in as many future Oscar moments as possible and recount the earlier films in the year that made a great impression on us.

    Loved Mud! It just did not seem to know where it wanted/needed to go for an ending and I felt a bit cheated by it’s too convenient of an ending, but still a great film nonetheless regardless of how I feel about it.

    The Spectacular Now is actually on my list to watch next. It looks heartwarming and grand!

    Can’t agree with you on Stoker, but that’s why this is your list 🙂

    Never seen Upstream Color.

    Maniac!

    I shamefully shied away from Llewyn Davis despite all the critical acclaim. I fear their endings!

    Gotta say I’m mighty mighty surprised to see Wolf take a backseat to The World’s End. While I’ll agree with you it’s a great film, where I liked it a lot more than the previous 2 of the trilogy so to speak, it’s also one of those that was not a Top 10 for me. I will agree with you that he does do very well with the action sequences and looking forward to what he does in the Marvel universe now. Great guy!

    And Gravity…I agree…for me…this, Pacific Rim and Oblivion needed to be seen on the biggest screens possible this year just to take in all the detail, the beauty and the depth of epic space and proportions. However, with that being said, I don’t think this one will suck on the Blu-ray format either. I will concede. If you must watch on the go, watch on the regular iPad, not the iPad Mini or iPhone.

    Thanks B!

  3. Aaron Neuwirth

    Damn good list B.

    Given how I took it, Upstream Color could be considered the scariest film of the year for me, as it had a weird effect, I just couldn’t quite get there in “loving” it, as opposed to just liking and appreciating it.

    I appreciated Maniac on a technical level, but couldn’t get more into it than that (great score though).

    I agree with Brian about Mud, but certainly a solid modern companion to Stand By Me.

    and if the year was less freaking complicated I would completely have The Spectacular Now and Stoker in my Top Ten.

  4. Brandon Peters

    Thanks for the feedback guys!

    @Gerard – I saw that video a while back. I didn’t think the man could get even more brilliant, but that video was fantastic.

    @Brian – in both my Wolf and World’s End write ups I explained why one was above the other, but also that 2&3 was pretty much interchangeable.

    An important thing when analyzing someone else’s list is to give more credit to what’s included in general and not the order its put in.

    @Aaron – the weird and creepiness to Upstream Color is what drew me in to it. And the fact that my mind just kept working and studying it like crazy. And Maniac was just a complete experience for me, I was just completely lost in it from the opening frames.

  5. Brian White

    I can’t help it. I grew up in the banking industry so the first thing I see is the numbers 🙁

  6. Gregg Senko

    I haven’t seen some of these but I did catch Mud in the theaters and enjoyed it very much. I’m glad to see it made a list for 2013 here. As for the this comment, “It is going to be a complete pain in the ass trying to explain to somebody who has watched Gravity on their iPhone and doesn’t see the ‘big deal’ about it,” I COULDN’T AGREE MORE!!! I tried to stream a Spartacus episode once. Never again. The quality sucked.

  7. Brian White

    Whoa whoa whoa. That sounds like a quality of service issue with your internet and Spartacus. My iPhone streaming looks impeccable. I’m going to watch Gravity on Blu-ray and then iPad in HD and then on Gerard’s Kindle when it comes out.

  8. Brandon Peters

    Has nothing to do with the quality of the stream…its the size of the screen. Gravity was meant to be seen and impacts the way it was intended and on a large theater screen.

  9. Gregg

    @Brian, whatever I stream on my TV via Netflix is never 1080. Also, it starts off slightly pixelated. As the show/movie continues, it slowly starts to come together to a less rough looking picture. This happened when I was in Ohio, happens down here too. Keep the streaming. I’ll take discs. I don’t need to be online to watch them.

  10. Brian White

    @Gregg…I’m not going to argue and say Digital Streaming is better than Blu-ray. No way! No how. Until 4K gets its act together, Blu-ray is the KING.

    However, I too had the same woes you described. Here’s my thoughts as it pertains to your Netflix example. Did you know that in your account info for Netflix they give you options on the quality of how you want to stream when you use your account? I did not know this until I was in it one day (I don’t have Netflix anymore). By default the image quality is less for faster streaming. You can bump that up to better image quality. And second, I will say this. Your results may vary, but unless you are pulling in 20 mbps down in speed, streaming will always choke and stutter IMO.

    Now with that being said. Have you tried out the new Flixster app they put out on Dec 31st (latest software version date). Holy cow! It’s dreamy! Now, regardless of whether your movies were purchased SD or HD, Flixster will give you the option to stream them in HD complete with extra content. I streamed Rock of Ages Extended Edition in HD on Flixster app on iPad Air and it was amazing! It had extras too!

    And…have you ever looked at your UV collection on the Vudu app that’s free on the PS3 store to download. Same deal. It’s amazing! They also let you stream your movies in SD, HD and HDX. In fact, Paramount gave me a UV copy of Bad Grandpa for last night’s viewing party and that’s how I watched it on the PS3 in HDX. Looked great! But as we all know, Bad Grandpa is mostly found footage. So afterwards I put on Pain & Gain on the Vudu app on the PS3 and streamed it in HDX. Kori walked in the room and said wow this movie looks great. Did you grab the Blu-ray when I walked out of the room? I said no. This is streaming. Honest to God, it looked impeccable and fooled me that it was not the Blu-ray, but rather a stream. Now it probably helps that I am pulling about 53 mbps down thanks to my recent contract negotiation with Time Warner Cable, but still…streaming will not be going anywhere soon. It’s here to stay and it’s looking awesome.

    And I love the ability to take movies wherever I go and have instant gratification whenever I am in the mood for whatever that is. But back to Brandon’s point…yes Gravity SHOULD HAVE BEEN seen theatrically on the biggest screen possible. And if not, then hopefully people’s first experience is on the biggest HDTV possible with Blu-ray. I won’t argue that at all. But I could still get into it on a plane on an iPad Air, iPad 2-4, but definitely not a mini. What?! Are you crazy?!