Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Six Months of 2013, Six Months of Movies

We're at the halfway point of 2013, and since everybody else is doing a "best far" column, I figured I should get in on the fun as well. This year has been so-so in terms of quality, although the summer movie season, as oversaturated with known properties as it is, so far hasn't been too shabby. At least if you don't count "The Hangover Part III" or "The Lone Ranger."

The Top 10:

1. "Before Midnight" - A wonderful, mature look at long-term relationships. Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy return as Jessie and Celine, one of the best on-screen couples known to man. Not as romantic as the previous films in the trilogy, but so much more thoughtful.

2. "John Dies at the End" - It's a travesty this didn't get more of a theatrical run. Don Coscarelli's instant cult classic about two stoners who fight paranormal baddies is also the most fun movie of the year. Netflix is streaming it online. If you like meat monsters, aliens and fun, check it out. If not, then screw you.

3. "Star Trek Into Darkness" - A lot of people are down on "Into Darkness." Obviously I'm not one of them. The last "Trek" was almost afraid to be a "Star Trek" film. This time, J.J. Abrams puts on his big boy pants and ventures further into "Trek" territory. Benedict Cumberbatch is awesome, if underused, as Khan. Maybe my favorite "Star Trek" movie ever.

4. "Mud" - Jeff Nichols, after making a splash with his southern yarn "Take Shelter," has broken through with this superb Matthew McConaughey starrer. McConaughey has been on a tear since dumping the crap romantic comedies, and his turn as an outlaw trying to reunite with his lover may net him awards consideration later this year.

For the ladies
5. "Warm Bodies" - This fun, sweet love story between a girl and a zombie is a delight from start to finish. I was also a big fan of Isacc Marion's novel, on which the film is based. "Bodies" is very much the little brother to "Shaun of the Dead."

6. "Room 237" - Apparently Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining" is a lot of things to a lot of people. Some think its his admission he faked the Apollo moon landing. Others see it as the destruction of Native Americans. I see it as a fascinating exploration into how people interpret films.

7. "Fruitvale Station" - Based on the true story of Oscar Grant, Ryan Coogler's directorial debut follows Oscar (Michael B. Jordan) on the last day of his life. "Fruitvale" opens with real footage of Oscar's death, adding a sense of doom to everything that follows. A heartbreaking film.

8. "This is the End" - Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jay Baruchel and a bunch of their friends play exaggerated versions of themselves in this comedy about the rapture. Come for "The Exorcism of Jonah Hill." Stay for Craig Robinson's hilarious reaction shots.

9. "Iron Man 3" - Picking up shortly after "The Avengers," Shane Black does what he does best; wring every ounce of charm and charisma Robert Downey Jr. is capable of. He did it in "Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang" and he does it again here. Some hate the twist in the middle, but for me its a welcome return to form for Tony Stark.

10. "World War Z" - Mostly because I'm impressed with how the film overcame the black clouds of doom hanging over it before its release. The epic zombie action was awesome, but the fact that "WWZ" turned out to be entertaining despite everything that went wrong adds to the fun.

Honorable Mention:

"The Place Beyond The Pines"
"Much Ado About Nothing"
"Side Effects"
"Behind the Candelabra"
"Evil Dead"
"Fast & Furious 6"

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