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These sorts of lists are certainly arbitrary but they aren’t meaningless. It’s generally accepted that history teaches us about the good and the bad of who we are. Looking back at the movies that we’ve seen over the last year likewise teaches us much about the future of film. Ok sure maybe this idea is placing to much importance on simple entertainment but if movies mean as much to you as they do us the idea isn’t that far fetched. So cutting out the hyperbole it’s still nice to look back on the great movies we saw this year and maybe recommend some movies that you may have missed throughout the year.

There are seven full time writers here at CultureSmash and while there is some crossover we all come from such different perspectives that our lists do offer a lot of variety. We are breaking these movies down in depth and arguing about them on our weekly webcast/podcast which you can participate with us on here or grab from iTunes or Stitcher Radio. Episode 294 of the show covers 10 down to 6 on each of our lists. Episode 295 covers 5 to 1 (Doors song anybody?) Here are those films and each of our thoughts about them. For more detail, check out the show!

Dwayne Pate

My process for picking the best films of the year started with a list of every film that I saw this year.  I don’t always feel compelled to see critically acclaimed films, I’ll save those and see them after I’ve seen everything that I think will have a high entertainment value for me, and in all fairness, my list suffers for this shortcoming. The other problem is for the most part, I really liked the films that I saw this year. I started considering each film for the emotional response it provoked, if the film made a long lasting impression and remains memorable after watching, and finally if I would consider the film worth repeated viewing.

10. Upstream Color

I like unconventional films, and Upstream Color provides that experience. Following the life cycle of a parasitic worm that can assist with mind control, the plot focuses on two characters that have had their lives destroyed after coming into contact with the parasite. Very little of this is ever explained to the viewer. From the beginning of the film, the viewer observes a series of events, with minimal dialogue, and left to connect the dots on their own to understand what is transpiring.

9. Movie 43

Movie 43 is one of a number of short films that are linked through the story of a screenwriter (played by Dennis Quaid) pitching each vignette as a script idea to an executive (Greg Kinnear). It is not good cinema, nor do I expect it ever to be at the center of a film class study. It’s a movie full of raunchy, grotesque humor performed by talented Hollywood A-listers It just happens to be the funniest film I watched this year.

8. Iron Man 3

Tony Stark returns to the suit in this first Marvel Phase II film. This movie is a departure from the first two movies, and a really strong interesting Iron Man tale that introduces us to a villain that has interest outside of destroying Stark Industries. What works for this movie is a second act with very little Iron Man, yet we see the resourcefulness, ingenuity, and wit that make Tony Stark a hero.

7. Evil Dead

Five young adults travel to a remote cabin to take part in a drug detox for one of their number. As is prone to happen in these situations, one of them summons a demon from an ancient Sumerian tome, and all hell breaks loose. No, it’s not better than the original. However, this remake of Sam Rami’s horror classic is able to hold it’s own and was a fun, gory ride. The final encounter is one of those scenes that will stay with you. I’m looking forward to having time to watch both films back to back for a more detailed comparison.

6. John Dies at the End

An inter-dimensional journey for two friends that is born out contact with a drug called “soy sauce.” Don Coscarelli lands the ending of this interesting tale by letting the movie be a surreal fantasy instead of trying to bring everything to a logical conclusion.

5. Way Way Back

Teenager Duncan spends his summer vacation with his mom, her jerk boyfriend Trent (played perfectly by Steve Carell) and Trent’s over-indulged daughter. He soon finds reprieve at a nearby water park, and a mentor in the parks man-child manager (Sam Rockwell) A coming of age dramedy that has the right blend of emotion and angst. There’s not much here story wise that we haven’t seen before, but the whole package is done very well.

4. The Conjuring

The Conjuring succeeds in the areas most horror films fail. It has a great cast of capable actors, tells a believable story, and has the characters reacting in a way that seems reasonable most of the time. The story involves paranormal investigators Ed and Lorranie Warren,who assist the Perron family with the strange happenings in their new residence. This movie also features what might be the creepiest doll in cinema history! Chucky’s got nothing on Annabell!

3. Man of Steel

An interesting telling of Superman’s origin story. I liked seeing a portrayal of Jonathan Kent that was so protective of his son that he would put other’s at risk to keep Clark safe. General Zod was an excellent choice as the Big Bad, and a nice reprieve from Lex Luthor, who just can’t seem to be captured correctly in film.

2. Before Midnight

Not only number two on my list, but one of my three all time favorite films abount two people walking around foriegn cites having conversations. (The other two being Before Sunrise and Before Sunset.) This film finds Jesse and Céline in their early forties during a difficult time in their relationship while on holiday in Greece. Before Midnight captures a few hours of these characters lives and lets you bear witness to that time, flaws and all.

1. Frozen

An instant Disney classic. Although I still miss the days of cell animation, the animation here was beautiful. The songs were what you’d expect from Disney; some funny, some emotional. Every one of these songs seems like they belong in a Broadway musical, which I’m sure we’ll get eventually.

Nicholas Qualls

10. Saving Mr. Banks

Directed by John Lee Hancock
Starring Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson

Sometime’s I’m a sucker for emotional period pieces, and Saving Mr. Banks is a two in one. The movie is about how Walt Disney himself got the rights to produce Mary Poppins from its author P.L. Travers, but in doing so, it reveals Travers’ childhood as a young girl in early 1900s Australia and the struggles she had to endure with her alcoholic father. The film follows as the pre-production of the film brings back these memories, and Disney learns that these memories are the key to working with the hostile Travers and making the film.

Sure, it’s emotionally manipulative and sugar coats the actual relationship between Travers and the Disney company, but it’s a feel-good film within itself with great performances from Tom Hanks as Disney, Emma Thompson as Travers, and Colin Ferrell as Travers’ father. Part of me really hopes Hanks continues his Disney performance into a biopic because he was spot on, even down to the cleverly hidden smoking and hacking cough.

9. Ender’s Game

Directed by Gavin Hood
Starring Asa Butterfield and Harrison Ford

Filming this Orson Scott Card book as a sci-fi movie for the mainstream masses is a difficult challenge, given how much of it is the about the brutality of children caused by the manipulation of adults. While definitely toned down to an extent, the film still succeeds at capturing Ender’s struggles as he has to compete against his fellow students (especially those who want him dead) and maintain his identity without becoming a mindless war machine of the adults in his life like Coronel Graff.

Asa Butterfield is a fantastic child actor, capturing Ender’s brilliance, confidence, and emotional vulnerability. More happily surprising is seeing Harrison Ford in a good sci-fi role again, with his Graff as cold, stern, and committed as he should be. A couple of disappointing performances – sadly including Ben Kingsley – and the ending’s failure to deliver on the emotional impact it should have keeps this lower on the list, but it’s still a good film that could have easily gone the other way.

8. Thor: The Dark World

Directed by Alan Taylor
Starring Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston

Thor returns to Midgard as Jane Foster discovers an ancient weapon. Now it’s up to the god of thunder to protect his human girlfriend from the evil elf Malekith who seeks to plunge the universe into darkness. Who else knows about darkness? Loki, of course. Let’s bust him out of jail and bring him along for the ride.

I wouldn’t have expected to put Thor here over Iron Man, who I’m not even placing on the list, but I had so much fun with this movie and with the Asgardian adventures with Thor and Loki. It has a grand sense of adventure and fun, with a reasonable amount of whimsy added in. Great performances from Chris Hemsworth and fan-favorite Tom Hiddleston as Thor and Loki lead the way, but the show is often stolen by the Warriors Three and a particularly badass scene by Thor and Loki’s mother Frigga, played by Rene Russo. Unfortunately, Hiddleston’s Loki makes it difficult for any other villain to make a notable impression, and Christopher Eccleston’s Malekith is no exception.

7. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Directed by Francis Lawrence
Starring Jennifer Lawrence and Philip Seymour Hoffman

The second film in the Hunger Games franchise revisits last film’s winners Katniss and Peeta (Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson respectively) as they try to maintaining the facade of a happy couple, but the Capitol and Donald Sutherland’s President Snow want to see Katniss crushed before she causes a full rebellion. Solution: let’s bring them back for a Hunger Games “best of” edition.

The story and action are captivating throughout the film, as the political intrigue and threat to her family’s weigh constantly over Katniss. The film does a good job breaking that off in time and switching to the games, keeping the audience’s attention as the combat begins. Those who haven’t read ahead should be surprised at some of the character turns by the end of the film, stopping at a good cliffhanger for the next installment next year. (Or is it now this year?)

6. The Wolverine

Directed by James Mangold
Starring Hugh Jackman and Tao Okamoto

I too am shocked to place a non-Marvel-Studios-produced Marvel film higher than one they did themselves. This is how much The Wolverine impressed me. Logan’s dissent into isolation after the unmentionable third X-Men film is a surprisingly true-to-form character development, as is his Japanese adventure to return his honor and his sense of living.

Hugh Jackman does a great Wolverine in the worst of movies, and here he really gets to let his character shine. Wolverine fights hunters, ninjas, and yakuza hit men throughout the entire film. Instead of a super-powered epic, this is a smaller-focused character drama that has Wolverine fighting simply for his life and of those around him. It’s a refreshing break that still maintains its feel of importance. The Silver Samurai big bad at the end unfortunately splits away from that, but the journey to get to the end, and the set up for what happens next, are incredibly enjoyable.

5. Much Ado About Nothing

Directed by Joss Whedon
Starring Alexis Denisof and Amy Acker

I’m not typically a Shakespeare fan, but I’m always a Whedon fan. The Shakespeare tale of the braggart Benedict and the stand-offish Beatrice falling for each other through the manipulations of their friends receives an update in setting to modern day (Whedon’s own house, in fact), as the characters gather and hijinks ensue. I am not a fan of Shakespearean dialog in modern works, where depending on which play it feels like it muddies the actual story with sometimes incomprehensible dialog. This is absolutely not the case here where following along is surprisingly easy.

The success of this film isn’t just from Whedon’s pure directorial ability, which make no mistake is in top form to be able to shoot this entire film simply over a weekend at his house. The film is great because Whedon knows how to build a cast, how to bring these people that he constantly works with together and bring out the best in them. Whedon and cast maintain the comedy of this romantic comedy perfectly.

4. Prisoners

Directed by Denis Villeneuve
Starring Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal

Definitely switching gears from comedic, Prisoners is a dreary and grim exploration into the depths of desperation. Hugh Jackman plays a father whose daughter mysteriously disappears, and Jake Gyllenhaal is the detective on the case. We follow both characters’ investigations as the father kidnaps and tortures the man he believes to have kidnapped his daughter, and Gyllenhaal pieces the clues together to find just how demented this case is.

This film feels long but captivating, with such intensity that you can’t look away. Jackman and Gyllenhaal turn in great performances as their weariness and desperation grow throughout the week’s time this film takes place in. You’ll be as relieved with the cathartic release of the good news as the characters, just as you’ll be as devastated with the bad. Just as the film starts at a Thanksgiving dinner, this film is just as filling, and your emotional investment pays off at the end.

3. Pacific Rim

Directed by Guillermo del Toro
Starring Charlie Hunnam and Idris Elba

Few films this year were as all out fun for me this year as Pacific Rim. Giant monsters from another dimension rise from the Pacific, and our only defense are giant robots too powerful to be piloted simply by one person. Sure, the science and the logic don’t work, but who cares? This film, style isn’t over substance. Style is substance.

The performances of these larger-than-life hero characters make them easy to root for. I especially love Idris Elba’s Stacker Pentecost with a great name and a stern and tough character. Also enjoyable is the always fun Ron Perlman as a gaudy and egotistical black market dealer with great shoes. But of course, the stars are the fight scenes with the robots and monsters, each one unique and spectacular. I cheered with glee in every fight, from the reveal of the sword to using a shipping ship as a club and all the fun in between.

2. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Directed by Peter Jackson
Starring Martin Freeman and Ian McKellen

I love Peter Jackson’s second excursion into The Hobbit. The hobbit Bilbo Baggins and the merry band of dwarves continue their journey to the Lonely Mountain to face the dragon Smaug and take back their homeland, dealing with all manners of humans, elves, orcs, and spiders in between. If the first one felt too slow, this second installment starts off on the run and keeps going all the way to the climactic battle with Smaug.

All the performances are top notch. Martin Freeman’s Bilbo is just as I’d imagined him from the book. Gandalf’s magic battle was everything I’ve wanted to see him do since Ian McKellen first put on the gray robes in the first Lord of the Rings film. Benedict Cumberbatch was absolutely spot on for the ferociousness and verboseness of the dragon Smaug. The sole disappointment in the entire movie was that Bilbo’s fight with the spiders in Mirkwood isn’t nearly as whimsical or fun as the book, but the barrel riding scene more than makes up for that as I couldn’t stop laughing throughout.

1. The World’s End

Directed by Edgar Wright
Starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost

Having just rewatched this movie yet again, I’m still amazed how much I love this alien invasion/drinking comedy. Simon Pegg plays Gary King, a washed-out alcoholic pushing his 40s and dying to recreate the enjoyment of his youth. To relive the greatest night of his life, when he and his friends attempted the golden mile of 12 pubs in one night, he re-enlists their hesitant help. Only it turns out that their hometown has been replaces with alien duplicates. The best course of action is, of course, to continue the golden mile to its end at The World’s End.

The third in the “Cornetto Trilogy” from Wright, Pegg, and Frost, this is also their finest. I like Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz just fine, and they’re definitely hilarious, but I don’t love them because the genres they’re parodying overshadow the depth of the story. The World’s End fixes that for me, with the alien invasion genre tropes taking a backseat to the more fulfilling and interesting story of these childhood friends on one last nostalgia filled adventure.

The climactic scene in The World’s End bar seals the deal with the emotional complexity happening between Simon Pegg and Nick Frost’s characters, who in the middle of an all-out alien assault bearing down outside, they find time to have a big fight and confessional scene that feels entirely appropriate. The familiar bonds between these characters seem stronger than ever. I laughed, and I felt all warm and fuzzy inside. This film is the most emotionally rewarding, cleverly written, and hilarious film I’ve seen all year long, and as such, it’s my top film of 2013.

Nate Seiveno

Another year gone and here is my list of the top ten movies of 2013. For a movie to rank on my list, it has to somehow impact me in a good way and make me want to make others watch and experience what I did. I am a hard critic when it comes to movies, especially horror films which are my favorite. Overall though, I am open to watching all genres but something has to click in my inner being that will make me want to watch the films over and over again, it must be something memorable. Whether it’s laughing, crying, screaming, or yelling all of these films on my list have made this year in cinema enjoyable for me and thus I must share with you all.

10. Sharknado

This was such a horrible movie, but it was so bad that it was so good. It was not just a shark it was a SHARKNADO. I love it when you can watch something and not take it at all serious, like this film. First off you have a 90210 heart throb and a fake boob d-list celebrity battling an army of flying sea monsters… BRILLIANT! If you want a good laugh you need to watch this movie. The writing sucks, the acting sucks, the special effects suck… overall this film sucks but it was so memorable and still makes me chuckle when thinking about it.

9. Olympus Has Fallen

A president and his house taken captive by terrorist… wow kind of a hidden fear held by Americans like myself. This was not just a full on action movie, there was a plot which I never thought I would see based on the movies trailer. One of the reasons why I never saw this film in theaters, but when it came out on redbox I thought I would try it and it was no disappointment. You can’t help to think about government issues since 9/11 and this film kind of established similar feelings and thoughts. The acting in this was also phenomenal.

8. Iron Man 3

Tony Stark came back, and he did not disappoint at all. Of the Iron Man franchise this was my favorite installment. There were so many powerful aspects to this movie. The characterizations where overall better, you got to see a more dimensional side to Tony Stark and his girlfriend Piper. Overall the plot was just amazing and was easy to follow. I saw this film twice in theaters and I think of the last 10 years this is now my favorite hero storyline. I was never a comic book kid or superhero fan, but this film kind of opened a door for me.

7. The Conjuring

Nothing can compare to that feeling when a movie leaves you scared to walk in your house alone. The Conjuring did that for me. It is not your typical paranormal movie where you know things will jump out or the music is set up so you know something is about to happen. This film was set up to make you believe in ghost, demons, witchcraft. If you were the type of kid who liked to sit around a campfire or go to a sleepover and tell ghost stories, this would be your type of film. This film makes you think about classic movies like The Exorcist and Amityville Horror, good plot and fear provoking horror movies.

6. The Purge

An interesting idea, make all crime legal for one night out of the year and make the country a better place for the rest of the year… hmmm interesting and eerie concept. Could it happen? YES I think it can. This film held a believability that was just spooky to think about. It was a pretty gory film but it also provided a very thought provoking message about individual anger and stress release. I did not find this film to be very scary but I cannot stop thinking about this movie. Mental stimulation and fear is the main reason this is one of my favorite films of the year.

5. The Sapphires

Music stories can be sappy, happy, and overly blissful, unless you’re an aboriginal girl group. This is a story of race, perseverance, and dream chasing. It’s a time piece taking place back in the Vietnam War; it is also based on a true story. I have not felt more inspired to chase my own dreams until I saw this movie. Empowerment is a great quality to feel while watching movies and when they motivate too it’s a shoe in to be on a top ten list. Great relatable characters and an awesome story help too.

4. Bridegroom

A documentary has never before made it onto my top ten lists before and when I watched this one I did not expect it to be as good as it was. Even though it is a quote “gay story” and I am a gay man, it hit me on such an emotional level and it was not because of how I relate to main guy. I will admit I cried for a good hour, because we don’t realize how much a person’s rights mean or how when we are blocked from our rights the impact it can have on the masses. Love is a huge part of this story, so if you ever loved someone or have love for someone I encourage you to watch this story.

3. Hunger Games: Catching Fire

This was made from my all time favorite book series. The first movie was on my list last year, but I will say I enjoyed this one much more. When it comes to movies based off books you often have a preconceived biased because the book is always better. One thing about this movie is it stuck exactly to the book and I can honestly say that it was just as good as the written text. It made me feel like I did when I was reading the series and I will go as far to say that it heightened my love for this franchise even more.


2. Frozen

I’m a Disney kid from head to toe and it has been sad that we have not had a exceptional disney movie in years. Well now I have seen what I must say is the best Disney movie since Beauty and the Beast and Little Mermaid. The songs and characters are AMAZING. I have seen this film in theaters twice and oh my goodness I immidately bought the soundtrack after the first viewing. If you like good family stories with wholesome messages this is the movie for you. Not to mention the animation on this movie was sickening, when the characters sang you could see there entire body movements especially in the face. It was the most entertaing thing to watch.


1. Prisoners

Hands down the best movie of this year. Watching this film will send you on a rollercoater ride of darkness and emotion. This was by far the only movie that turn me into a loud black woman. The casting and acting in this film was such a key element to its success and I will say I am not a huge Jake Gyllenhaal fan but this is by far his best role. If I was a parent this film would impact me a whole lot more emotionally but this story had touched me on such a level that I had mixed feelings for days after watching this. I am telling you all this is the MUST SEE film of the year. I would have it on my top ten for the last 5 years.

Catherine Holder

I really can’t stand pretentiousness. Seriously, it’s one of the biggest bummers in my life. I LOVE good food, music, art, and film, but at the end of the day, I like what I like. But this list isn’t about what I like because if that were the case, then White House Down would be on my list along with The Heat for fun movies of the year, but the movies on my top ten list are the movies that I can’t stop thinking about. The movies that haunt my dreams… sometimes in a good and sometimes in a bad way. When people mention these movies, I immediately jump into their conversation and have to give my two cents. THAT is what filmmaking is all about… it might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it leaves a long lasting impression. My criteria is a story that keeps me invested and a distinct style. As one of my vocal professors said in college, “Style is the god that we worship in this business.” And it’s so true. Every single of of these movies has an insanely different style. Plus, I need to be entertained. So, that’s it, I guess. Entertain me and make me think about you long after I’m through… in a nutshell.

10. Muscle Shoals


Coming in at #10 is a documentary about the music movement that came out of a little town in Alabama called Muscle Shoals. I saw this film with two other friends who are huge soul music fans as well. We geeked out over the legendary interviews and the even more legendary soundtrack starting from Percy Sledge’s “When a Man Loves a Woman,” to Lynard Skynard’s “Stairway to Heaven.” This delightful piece of cinematography captured great anecdotes from the stars and the players. One of my favorites is when the Muscle Shoal players talk about their experiences with the Rolling Stones. One of the players said that they were so focused on the music that there wasn’t any drug use. We then cut to Keith Richards and Mick Jagger saying, “No, I’m afraid we were lit the whole time, but we were still very focused on the music.” HA! Also, it showed how music truly helped blur the lines in race in the south. I love when they talk about Wilson Picket and how he came down to see the players in Muscle Shoals, but was taken aback to see four country white boys playing soul like nobody’s business. Heck, even I geeked out when the B-52 organ player told of how he came up with the beginning hook of Aretha Franklin’s hit “Never Loved a Man.” My only complaint is that after they finished with the 1960’s area of music, I started looking at my watch and realized, “Oh crap, we still have the 1970’s and Southern Rock to get through!” But despite this being a little long, it’s still a must see for any American music fan.

9. The English Teacher


This delightful little film was sadly a sleeper at the box office. Set in a small town in PA, it follows Julianne Moore as a hopelessly romantic, but cold English teacher. An old student comes back into her life. He lets her read his play, and she falls in love with his play… and him. She then invests all of her time and money to get the play produced by the flamboyant High School Theatre teacher, played by Nathan Lane, as if anyone else could play him. The fun part about this movie is how it is told. I LOVE really going into a character’s head and truly seeing how they see the world, and we get that in The English Teacher. In the beginning of the film, our heroine goes on several first dates. While on these dates, we see her grade each man as if he were a student, in red ink, and give them a grade at the end of the night. Also, she has a staunch English woman narrating her whole life, as if it was a Jane Austen novel. It reminded me a lot of one of my favorite shows, that was sadly strewn by the way-side, Pushing Daisies, where the story felt like a great big fairy tale plopped down in modern times. But I will say, although this film has a voice, and was a great ride from beginning to end, it was super predictable… especially the ending, but it is a modern day fairy tale after all.

8. Sharknado

Now before you crucify me for putting a terrible Sci Fi Channel, Made For TV movie on this list, re-read my criteria. This had a FUN story. It kept me engaged. And it kept true to its style- super awful camp. I mean, Kevin McCalister’s Dad from Home Alone ran around the interstate with a bar stool for the first third of the movie! And Tara Reid! Tara Reid is epically awful now. If she plays her cards right, she could be the next Pamela Anderson and just make horrible movies for the rest of her life and be a huge pop culture icon. The script, acting, and special effects are laughable and ludicrous, but so much fun that you can’t help but love it… just as long as you’re watching with your funniest friends, and your strongest liquor. Oh, and if you’d like a good synopsis/ a good laugh check out our hilarious parody of Sharknado:

7. Frances Ha

I’ve been told to see this movie for a while… and not just by hipster-like friends, but others as well. Luckily, this bad boy is on Netflix now. Starring Greta Gerwig, Frances Ha tells the story of a girl in her late 20’s living in New York, pursuing her dream as a modern dancer. It took me a couple of times for me to watch the whole thing. It gets really awkward, as our protagonist makes terrible life choices, flouncing from friend to friend, job to job, and apartment to apartment. But then you can’t stop thinking about the film, and you must return to it. Frances’s story is comic and tragic, and to be quite honest, like a lot of girls I know… including me. It’s all about growing up, even when you’re technically a grown up. There are lots of cringe-worthy moments in the film, but if you keep with it, you get to a satisfying ending where you finally can breathe!

6. The Great Gatsby

I love the original Gatsby. Robert Redford is a FOX, red hair and all, but I love Baz Luhrman’s spin on the classic tale. One, Lurhman is such a wonderfully stylized director that you either love or hate. I love him, and think that he would be the director of my life- it’s overly saturated with color, has large musical sequences, and is overly acted a lot of the time. It’s a style, just like Tim Burton, Quinten Terrintino, or Sophia Coppola. Two, I loved the soundtrack, and listen to it everyday. Music Supervisor, Jay-Z, is amazing, and I listen to Beyonce and Andre 3000’s cover of Amy Winehouse’s “Back to Black” on loop. Three, I finally got Daisy’s plight. The original Daisy, Mia Farrow, is laughable, annoying, and not attractive in the least bit, but Carrie Mulligan gives Daisy some depth, showing that she’s just a scared little girl who’s had her life planned out for her since day one. What does she know of true love when it’s never been shown to her? It’s a completely different movie from the original, and although I still love the original more, this is a viable and entertaining version of F. Scott’s classic tale.


5. The Hunger Games Catching Fire

Catching Fire is my favorite out of the trilogy and so I was quite excited to see the film adaptation. We get more of the characters we have grown to love from the original story (mine being Effie Trinket and Haymitch), and we get the Quarter Quell, which is far more exciting than the games that we saw in the first installment. The graphics are by far some of the best I’ve seen in a long time, and the interpretation of the clock and all of the awful things happening is really exquisite. Not to mention the near perfect casting. Jennifer Lawrence is by far everyone’s favorite human being in Hollywood right now, and carries the movie on her beautifully muscular shoulders. Banks and Harrellson are perfection as the constantly bickering Haymitch and Effie, and I could not have found anyone better to play President Snow rather than Donald Sutherland. My only complaints are Gale, Peta, and Cinna. Sadly, these boys were miscast in my opinion. Still I loved this movie, and cannot wait to own it!

4. Gravity

The must see movie of the year that I didn’t see coming. OK, actually I knew that it would be a really good film, I just had no idea that America would love it the way that it did. Just goes to show how much America loves Sandra Bullock! This film was crazy amounts of innovative. Not only did it finally use the 3D technology perfectly, but it also had a beautifully crafted story that was like a more intense and poignant Cast Away. Plus, no offense Tom Hanks, but I’d much rather look at Sandra Bullock for an entire movie rather than you my friend… she’s just prettier is all. The movie is claustrophobic yet spacious, scary yet serene, and preachy without bringing us all down, and just like Lawrence in Catching Fire, I attribute a large part of it’s success, both critically and in the box office, to Bullock. Just Give Sandra The Oscar Already! Sadly, this would not be a film that I would want to own and watch over and over again. Although I love re-watching movies that move me and scare me, I found that this film was a little too intense to be higher on my list.

3. Frozen

“Do You Wanna Build a Snowman?” Seriously, this song has not left my head since I left the theatre. A lot of that might be because I saw it with my sister and my brother, who are both Disney nerds and when we get home after work we pour a glass of wine and watch clips from Frozen on YouTube. Clearly, you see how much I love this movie. Between the unconventional sister story to the fantastical songs to the self aware state of the film’s sense of humor, this is everything you could ever want in an animated musical film. Heck, Disney is setting a new precedent. They are bringing the humor and satire of cartoons like Family Guy and The Simpsons to their fairy tale genre to keep everything fresh and new. Competitors beware! I did feel that it was a little long in the middle, and that there were at least one too many songs, but this is going to be a classic in the same fashion as The Little Mermaid and Aladdin.

2. Much Ado About Nothing

I have a degree in Theater, and so I know a thing or two about Shakespeare. But here’s the thing, he has to be done right. I thought that Kennith Branaugh’s version of Much Ado About Nothing was the best Shakespearean adaptation I had ever seen. It was a great way to bring Shakespeare to the masses. Aaaand, I was wrong. Joss Whedon is a genius. Everything he touches is GOLD! While Brannaugh’s version of the classic tale still seems stuffy and unattainable, Whedon’s is most definitely modernized and American, adapting the Prince and his royal family to a prominent politician, and his guards, secret service men. Also, Nathan Fillion as Dogberry is absolutely brilliant, as he plays the bumbling policeman more like Horatio from CSI: Miami rather than the fall down comic relief that Keaton portrayed in Brannaugh’s version. This is by far the best Shakespearean adaptation I’ve ever seen, and probably will ever see.

1. The Sapphires

My parents introduced me to this film, and THANK GOODNESS! The Sapphires has quickly become one of my favorite films, not just of the year, but of all time. It has everything you could ever ask for: a great soundtrack, a GOOD love story that doesn’t make you want to throw up, and a strong political statement that nearly everyone can get behind. PLUS it’s all based on a true story. Chris O’Dowd stars as the man who helps four aborigine girls from Australia become the most sought after USO soul group during the Vietnam war. The girls are beyond fantastic performers, all of them being true triple threats. This is indeed a musical, but it’s not your typical, “I’ll break into song at anytime.” Rather, its a look at the lives of musicians. From beginning to finish, this film never drags, never feels forced, and brings out true emotion from it’s audience. In my eyes, one of the most perfect films ever made, and I am more than happy to put my big happy stamp upon it.

Zach Martin

10. Inside Llewyn Davis

“Folk singer with a cat. Does he cough up a hairball every time you play a G Major?”

The Coen brothers have done it again by crafting this lonesome, cold and bleak journey of a single man and his dream of becoming a folk singer. While I think this film has yet to find its audience I believe it will go on and will definitely be seen at the Oscars this year.

9. Frozen

“The cold never bothered me anyway.”

Where the hell did this come from? I will say that whoever has been making the trailers for this film should get fired for their false advertising. I was never much of a fan of musicals, aside from the Disney renaissance of the 90’s, so for this film to come out and completely blow me away and want to buy it is quite impressive. It’s a shame I had to bootleg it though cause it had to come out in the “logjam” portion of the year and this one just got lost in the shuffle.

8. Blue is the Warmest Color

“You don’t love me anymore?”

It should be noted here that I did not see this film because of its subject matter or the reason it was rated NC-17. I will say that its one of the most realistic descriptions of a relationship that just happens to have girls at the forefront. It will be interesting how this film will be remembered once everyone gets over the fact that everyone should love everyone no matter what gender they are. My only complaint is that the three-hour running time pushed it.

7. Mud

“There are fierce powers at work in the world, boys. Good, evil, poor luck, best luck.”

This marks the year where Mathew McConneey came on to screens and I was looking forward to every minute of it. Seriously. Every film he’s been in this year, from Mud, Dallas Buyers Club, Wolf of Wall Street, he’s stealing every scene and loving it. Also this film is great with it being an honest portrayal of the south and a small town. See this.

6. Spring Breakers

“Spring break foreeevvvvaaaaa….”

Now usually when I make a top ten films, my rules usually consist of having seen it in the theatre. For this film, I really had no interest until it came to Redbox where I picked it up one night. What happened when I put it in my player I’m still not sure, cause I usually hate these type films. This film is a Meta critique of generation Y excess and a fascinating portrayal of emptiness and shallow people unleashed across the Florida beach. Id say give it a chance, but if you hate it, I completely understand why. It’s definitely not for everyone.

5. Gravity

“Can anyone hear me? Please…please…”
Speaking of rides, this little gem came out and you bet your ass I was there opening night. In terms of an experience this would be my number one if it was based on my feelings after walking out of the theatre. The 3D was some of the most perfect since Avatar and the special effects looked….real. Add to that a great story and jaw dropping filmmaking and you have a film that will be on my shelf day one.

4. Captain Phillips

“Look at me. I’m the captain now.”
Leave it to Tom Hanks to star in another film, two years in a row that makes me cry at the end. Paul Greengrass and I have never really had a great relationship, mostly because of his film style that had Hollywood trying to make other franchises have that style (COUGH Quantum of Solace COUGH). But as a director I did enjoy his style of a “on the edge, almost as if you were there” cinematography that adds to the tension. Add to that, some close to perfect editing and suspense and you have one hell of a ride.

3. The Wolf of Wall Street

“Oh I f#cked her brains out. For twelve seconds.”
I’m still trying to wrap my brain around this film under its cocaine fueled and hypnotic style but damn it’s an experience I cant wait to try again and again. Martin Scoreesee has proven once again that he’s a master at his art, and the proof is in the product. I need to see this one again for sure, but a sick and twisted part of me wants my mom to see it just so I can see her reactions to what happens on screen.

2. The World’s End (my personal favorite film of 2013)

“What the f#ck does WTF mean?”
Edgar Wright has, again and again, proved to me that he is one of my all time favorite directors. Why? Cause he has yet to make a bad film. This is the finale of the Cornetto trilogy about a group of guys trying to do a pub-crawl. To say any more would be a spoiler, which, unfortunately, the trailers have already spoiled. I took my friends to see this, having them not see the trailers, and when the twist came, they kept looking at me going, “what the f#ck Zach!??! What is this!!? What is going on!?” as I had the biggest grin on my face.

1. 12 Years a Slave (The best film of 2013)

“I don’t want to survive, I want to live.”
Well here it is, the big one. What the Internet now refers to as “the Schindler’s List of slave films” and it certainly lives up to that. Everything in this is almost perfect, from its cinematography to the haunting acting, to the exceptional direction from Steve McQueen. I have been a fan of Mr. McQueen’s films from Hunger to Shame, but this proves not only can he take someone else’s material, but transform it to a masterpiece. Expect this one to win at the Oscars this year.

Mike Young

This is where I make a trite comment about how it seems like only a few weeks ago that I was coming up with my top ten list for 2012, but I’m tired of complaining about how quickly time passes by. So let’s just take that as read and move on to my explanation of exactly what this list is. I’m not to claiming that these are the ten best movies of the year. That’s too ambitious a list for me. These are the movies that I could not get out of my head, the ones that I would find myself thinking about at odd times during the day, the ones that moved me the most over the year. There are several movies I expected to be on here that aren’t but when I actually but some thought into the matter the choices were relatively easy except for the order. Ask me a month form now and I’m pretty sure that the same movies would still be in this list but the order might have shuffled around a bit, so enough talking here they are.

10. The History of Future Folk


Don Mclean once asked “can music save your mortal soul” well it can do more than that Baby, it can save the world, specifically bluegrass music, but maybe only when performed by aliens. When General Trius from the doomed planet Hondo arrives on Earth the only thing that keeps him from completing his mission of destruction is his discovery of music. Hondo has no music and Trius in entranced. So instead of carrying out his mission of wiping out humanity to make room for the Hondoians he buys a banjo writes some songs and eventually settles down with a nice girl and starts a family. The only problem is that Hondo is still dying and its inhabitants have to go somewhere so Hondo sends an unlikely assassin to finish the job. The History of Future Folk is a competent enough movie. The story is tight, the performances are good and music is infectious but what put this movie on my list is its heart. The History of Future Folk has enough heart for any twelve lesser movies. Months after I saw this it I could still give my self a case of the warm fuzzies just thinking about it. Heart isn’t everything but when you’ve got this much does count for something.

9. Mud

I like southern movies and I like Matthew McConaughey. I loved the only other Jeff Nichols movie I ever saw (Shotgun Stories). So Mud was looking good to me right out of the gate. IF you look a little deeper though there’s a lot of cliché built into the story. It’s a coming of age story about a young teenage boy who has trouble with girls. Then there is the idyllic rural way of life that is being swept away by progress. There are some more in there as well but I don’t want to give away too much of the plot. None of it matters though. Nichols has a way of twisting such common elements and making them seem interesting again. The story works but what
makes Mud special is the performances by everyone and the poignancy Nichols manages to capture about life in this little Arkansas town.

8. Upstream Color


I’m not a people person. I enjoy solitude. Maybe that’s why a movie like Upstream Color that really brings home how we are all connected in ways we don’t understand can have such a profound impact on me. Upstream Color is also a fantastic example of highbrow science fiction even though there is not a spaceship or ray gun in sight. Again as you would expect from a movie on this list all of the performances are great and the movie is particularly beautiful.

7. Leviathan

Leviathan is a documentary of sorts. It’s a collection of images and sound captured aboard an eighty-foot fishing boat sailing out of New Bedford, Mass. There is no story, no plot, no commentary, just fisherman fishing, fish getting netted and gutted and gulls flying and squawking. I don’t even know if the images are linear or if the footage was just assembled to look and feel and sound right. I assume the later actually. The camera goes down to the deck as guts and fish heads get washed out of the scuppers and it goes into the water and captures the devastation churned up by the nets as they drag though the sea. The camera goes into the hold and the crew’s quarters, but everywhere it goes it captures if not beautiful powerful and interesting images and sound. I’m trying really hard to avoid saying “It’s an assault on the senses” but I think I just failed.

6. The Place Beyond The Pines

I thought I knew what The Place Beyond the Pines was about. I was wrong. There are a couple of very sharp turns in this movie. I don’t want to call them twists because this isn’t a twist movie the story being told just happens to take place in three distinct pieces. To be honest I was a little upset when the first turn was made. I liked the direction the movie was going in and was curios how things would go then Derek Cianfrance throws a whole new cast of characters at me and starts telling a seemingly different story. Before long though I was back on board. The Place Beyond the Pines tells a story of fathers and sons and how the consequences of actions reverberate through the generations.

5. Post Tenebras Lux

When I was younger I loved weird just for weirdness sake, the more bizarre and incomprehensible the better. These days that weirdness has to serve a purpose. Maybe I’m just getting cynical but most of the time a writer or filmmaker pulls the weird card it’s because they don’t have anything interesting to say so they will just bombard you with nonsense and hope no one has the guts to call them on it. Post Tenebras Lux or “light after darkness” is pretty weird. Maybe incomprehensible is a better term. This is not a linear story and certain actions don’t seem to have any impact on events that at least appear to happen in the future. There are scenes that don’t seem to fit the rest of the narrative at all except in a most speculative way. For all that certain themes emerge. The binds of family, karma, the unrelenting passage of time and it’s all told though the most exquisite imagery.

4. The Act of Killing

This may be the most chilling movie I have ever seen. In 1965 and 66 between half a million and two million people were killed in Indonesia for being communists or being suspected of being communists or getting on the wrong side of the government, military, the media or the self proclaimed gangsters that did most of the actual killings. Now forty years later they talk about it willingly and openly and with no shame. Joshua Oppenheimer and his brave crew spent time with these monsters and had them reconstructing the atrocities they performed with cameras rolling. At any moment I was sure these old gangsters would decide that maybe being this forthright in front of the cameras wasn’t such a good idea. Which must have been a real concern, more than half of the credits were attributed to Anonymous.4

3. Sightseers

Sightseers is a perfect movie about the human condition. The ache of loneliness, the joy of companionship, the satisfaction of betrayal, tram museums, the need to be feared and the euphoria we all feel striking down those who deserve it or at least those we find really annoying. Along with outstanding performances from all of the actors the plot of Sightseers is wrapped around a road trip through Yorkshire that is gorgeous enough to make you want to dig out your passport and start looking up flights to the U.K.

2. The Wolf of Wall Street

Except for the excess there is nothing original about the plot of The Wolf of Wall Street. Without knowing anything about Jordan Belfort, the protagonist of the film, you know from the very first of the movie that Jordan will rise from his humble beginnings to unfathomable levels of riches and success and then he will crash and burn, but the story is not important it’s just an excuse for Scorsese to show off. Scorsese has a perfect partner in crime in Leonardo DiCaprio and together they make decadence look better than it ever has. This isn’t a morality or cautionary tale it’s a love letter to over indulgence and conspicuous consumption and Scorsese and DiCaprio take you along for the ride. We just get to experience it all without the hangovers, STDs and jail time. I don’t think there is anyone out there that questions Scorsese’s mastery of the medium of film but if there were any doubts The Wolf of Wall Street should lay them to rest. Here he has made a movie that is one minute short of three hours, but it passes in the blink of an eye. There are several long bits exposition in the movie which would have been boring and clogged up the flow in the hands of an average filmmaker, a better than average filmmaker would have found a way to do without them, but Scorsese make them interesting, even fun. He takes a bunch of thieves who may have stolen money from our parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles, a bunch of degenerates who spent fortunes on hookers and drugs and made them if not the good guys at least sympathetic.

1. Gravity

Before Gravity I don’t know if a movie has ever literally left me speechless. It took me several minutes to compose myself enough to say, “that was amazing,” or at least something to that effect, I more likely mumbled it. Gravity is another movie that I went into this year with preconceived notions (I need to stop that) that thankfully did not turn out. I thought I knew what kind of movie Gravity was and I was one hundred and eighty degrees wrong. Instead of being a bleak existentialist tale I was expecting Gravity is one of the most uplifting films of the year. Gravity does everything right. There is not an ounce of flab to the story, Sandra Bullock and George Clooney are outstanding and the imagery is breathtaking and actually iconic in places. Gravity is not only the best film of the year it is one of the best films of the century. It is a very simple story but at the same time a deep and moving one. In lesser hands it could have been sappy and melodramatic but Cuarón, Bullock and Clooney manage to pull it back just enough to keep everything on an even keel. And did I mention it is gorgeous?

Stephen Lackey

Every critic has different criteria for how they determine what were the best films of a given time period. For me there are really only two rules; story and innovation. First and foremost a film must tell a good story. The story can be dumb, it can be poignant, it can be scary, or it can be funny as long as it is entertaining. As far as innovation goes what I’m looking for is a film that pushes the story telling form forward whether it is in the writing or presentation of the story or in the delivery of the story via some new visual style or other change that forces reconsideration of the rules of filmmaking or film watching. Avatar was a controversial film on my list the year it came out. The story of that film was a mess but the motion capture, the execution of depth in 3-D, the life brought to the eyes of fully CG characters were all new innovations in film and those innovations changed the way films are executed so Avatar deserved a place on my list. Was Avatar a number one movie? It was not and it shouldn’t have been because the story was a disaster. When thinking of story, a story in film could be something that you just never get tired of; a film you watch over and over or it could be a story that moved you so much you may never need to see the film again. Both type of impact is valid and either type can be considered when talking about best of the best. For me the story that impacts me the most emotionally, the film that leaves that lasting impression and may even be tough to watch is probably the film that will go higher on my list. For me I think making a film that makes you laugh is easier than making a film that truly invests you and causes an emotional effect, not just a tear jerker but something more profound. Some years there aren’t those movies that dig that deep but if you look hard enough you can usually find some truly brave films that do strive for that impact. Irreversible is such a film for me. That film was a stunning triumph but it’s so difficult to watch that I really only own the DVD to loan out to people who have not seen the film. It’s so innovative and so moving it requires at least one viewing and that will probably be enough. So hopefully that sets the tone for how I approached my list of the best films of 2013.

10. The Conjuring

What has James wan been waiting for? The creator of the mediocre Insidious brought us this phenomenal 1970’s style haunted house story that features truly creepy moments and some nice real scares alongside solid performances from very out of the box scream queens Vera Farmiga and Lily Taylor. The Conjuring doesn’t just look like a 70’s film in art direction; the film takes its time with atmosphere and pacing to actually build care for the characters and instill some real creepiness to the story. It’s not often that we get a Hollywood horror film that isn’t cookie cutter or a sequel to some smaller film that made money (Paranormal Activity anyone?). Hopefully this will start a trend not just a franchise.

9. Leviathan


One of the most fascinating documentaries ever made was called STORE. That film had no interviews or set up scenarios. Basically the filmmaker played a fly on the wall and just followed the employees of a major department store as it prepared for the Christmas onslaught. Similarly this film features no interviews or set up situations.The filmmakers basically covered a professional fishing boat with digital cameras, placing some cameras hanging off the side of the boat, some under water, and others actually on the fishermen offering a first person point of view of the things happening on the ship. What follows is a mesmerizing audio and visual feast that simply sticks with these fishermen as they do their work. The film is absolutely gorgeous in every sense, even the scenes that manage to make fish somewhat unappetizing. The film is intimate and real while still being somewhat high brow and artsy; a combination very seldom properly executed in film.

8. Side Effects

Steven Soderbergh is easily one of the most experimental directors in Hollywood. Some of his experiments work, and some don’t but you have to give him credit for trying something new. Side Effects is a smaller film shot on a meager budget that is one of his successes. The plot is a so filled with twists and turns if the pace of the movie wasn’t so muted you might feel like you’re on a roller coaster. The story follows a young woman that gets prescribed a new drug that has some unexpected side effects by her psychiatrist. The cast makes up one of the best ensembles of any film this year with Jude Law, Rooney Mara, Channing Tatum, and Catherine Zeta-Jones all doing some really solid work. The pace is slow which can be a little challenging but once you invest in the characters you’ll be completely riveted. Side Effects is an expertly directed and acted mystery that was supposed to be Soderbergh’s retirement film from directing. Let’s hope he changes his mind.

7. Stoker

Director Chan-wook Park is easily one of the greatest modern storytellers making films today. His Vengeance trilogy as one epic experience remains in my top 10 films of all time. Stoker is first wholly American film effort and the limitations of that move to the U.S. are apparent but the good is just so good that the flaws don’t really matter. The film stars Nichole Kidman in what might be her creepiest role to date. She’s not creepy in the traditional genre sense; she’s just a creepy individual in general. The story is about a young girl who has to deal with a mysterious Uncle coming to live with her and her stepmother (Kidman) after the death of her father. The film is a visual feast as is always the case in a Chan-wook Park film and the story is mysterious and it doesn’t go the way you might expect. Stoker has a very retro flare to it with hints of Korean filmmaking influence throughout. The flaws amount to some flat acting here and there but that may be due to a bit of a language barrier.

6. Captain Phillips

Captain Phillips tells the story of a transport freighter traveling through pirate infested waters that of course gets captured. The film is very loosely based on true events. Two things make this film successful: director Paul Greengrass and lead actor Tom Hanks. Without those two elements Captain Phillips could have been a movie of the week. Greengrass still retains some of his documentary filmmaking roots all of these years later and those roots help give this film a feeling of reality and credibility which makes the suspense much more impactful. Even if this film were not based on real events there’s no mystery about how it will which normally would kick the film right off my list but Hanks’ performance in the closing moments of the film is so powerful and effective that the film truly becomes about the journey and not the destination. Overall the acting is top notch in the film which also makes the story that much more real and important. There’s nothing particularly special here as far as breaking new ground. Captain Phillips is the perfect example of a film that you’d simply say is just a damn good movie.

5. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

It says a lot when a movie based off a series of books written for young adult femals makes it onto my best of the year list considering I’m not a young adult female. The movies have been able to balance the young girl romantic fantasy elements though with a young woman hero, which is hwere the focus of the story, belongs. Jennifer Lawrence is mesmerizing in this film playing super hero and vulnerable young woman, smart survivalist, and young girl making mistakes trying to grow up. Her simple attempt to survive and to save her “friend” in the first film has made her a symbol in this one and her every moved is watched and reacted too, not the best place for a maturing young person to be. Her mistakes cost people their lives. Along with her great performance Woody Harelson and Elizabeth Banks bring unqiue characters to life in supporting roles. Unfortunately the other two members of the love triangle situation exist solely on teeth and hair but everything else is so good that slight failing just doesn’t matter. This film also offered the second best IMAX experience of the year.

4. Sightseers

Ben Wheatly’s film sightseers hit theaters internationally in 2012 but we only got the film here over this past summer. The Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead) produced film follows a new couple traveling across country seeing the sites. The problem is there’s a lot more to Chris than Tina might have expected and her reaction to learning about Chris is also surprising. This film is subtly sweet, dark, and incredibly funny. These actors are able to come off as quite realistic people in such unrealistic situations. Sightseers may be one of the most quote worthy films of 2013. This film is different from other summer comedies like This is the End in that it is consistently funny and entertaining from beginning to end. This is the End has some extremely funny parts sandwiched between some draggy not so entertaining segments. Sightseers is simple character drive weird fun.

3. Stories We Tell

One of the gravest mistakes made in documentary filmmaking is the ego of the filmmaker getting in the way of the story they are shooting. The filmmaker should simply not be a part of the film. Michael Moore has ruined his own work by wedging himself into his projects too much. Are we supposed to care about him or the story he’s covering? The only exception to the rule is when the filmmaker is crafting a personal documentary. Personal docs are those that are about one’s family, friends, or some situation directly tied to the filmmaker. Sarah Polley, a talented actress (Go) turned director has made just such a film with Stories We Tell, her third feature film as a director. In the film she investigates an event that in her own words is a tsunami that she and her family are still flailing in. The film is a very traditional documentary lacking any flash but instead focusing on the subject; telling the story with interviews and archival home video footage. Polley is abruptly candid and she doesn’t pull punches when interviewing her family. She wants this story told her as much or more so as she does to the camera. Stories We Tell is a must see for Polley fans and documentary fans alike.

2. The Wolf of Wall Street

Martin Scorsese, at the ripe old age of 72, is still one of the most innovative filmmakers working in Hollywood. With The Wolf of Wall Street he shows and understanding of modern filmmaking while perfectly mixing in tropes of classic grand filmmaking that most current filmmakers just can’t muster (nudge nudge David O’ Russell). Scorsese tends to find actors he likes and work with them for a long time. Robert Di Nero was his acting muse for many years and now it appears to be Leonardo DiCaprio. Well he sure knows how to pick ‘em because DiCaprio carries this movie on his shoulders with little effort. The film pushes the edges of good taste but it does this as a story element as truly part of who these characters are rather than just to simply be gratuitous. Scorsese’ deft hand at using music is also in full effect as his his use of the beautifully executed long dolly shot. This movie is an epic three hour view but it’ll be one of those that you notice some new little thing you hadn’t seen before everytime yopu watch it.

1. Gravity

The director of the interesting but flawed Children of Men brings us a film that’s riveting, visually stunning and innovative, yet simple and moving in story. It’s common for science fiction films riddled with special effects to be weighed down with convoluted storytelling that just makes the whole thing too weighty and boring. Gravity is a character study. It follows the rebirth of a woman as she fights her way through some incredible circumstances both physically and emotionally. Sandra Bullock gives the performance of her career in this film playing an inexperienced astronaut attempting to survive a catastrophe in space floating above Earth. George Clooney is also brilliant in the film even though he is somewhat type cast. The film features the best use of 3-D to date. The 3-D is more than just a gimmick in Gravity it is a story element. Just as a filmmaker might use lighting or sound to convey or enhance emotion and atmosphere the 3-D is used to bring us into the world of Gravity in a way that matters and has emotional impact. Gravity is an absolutely perfect film from subtle character storytelling to innovative film going experience.