I'm giving special honourable mention to Much Ado About Nothing, directed by Joss Whedon. It was technically released in 2012, but it was a limited release, and didn't come to theatres in Calgary until 2013. I really love a well-done Shakespeare movie, and this is definitely one of them. It's completely different from the Kenneth Brannagh adaptation of the 90s, and I couldn't choose between them.
I’m also going to give a shout-out to my review of Les Miserables, because while it came out in 2012, I didn’t see it in theatres until 2013.
It was very hard to number my list. I liked them all quite a lot, for varying reasons, and it’s difficult to choose one over the other. 1, 9, and 10 I’m sure about, but other than that, really, they all tie for an equal number of stars. I was going to rate them out of so many tears, but my tears for 12 Years a Slave and The Book Thief were totally different than my tears for Despicable Me 2, for instance, so that doesn’t work either…
So, be assured that I think all of the movies on my top 10 list are worth seeing, and if you’re someone who was involved in making a movie that’s lower on the list, just remember that you’re competing with The Hobbit for number 1. If you had thought to have Freeman and Cumberbatch together in YOUR movie it might have edged it out. :)
10. Iron Man 3
I watched the first two Iron Man chapters on DVD in preparation for seeing the Avengers, and I liked the second one better then the first one, and liked the character of Iron Man a lot better after seeing the Avengers, so I had high hopes for IM3, and I’m still not really sure what I thought of it. Pepper Potts is amazing, and I really liked that they tackled PTSD so head-on, and it had funny moments, but I think the PTSD thing made me so sad that it stole some of the joy out of the movie going experience. I should probably watch it again, just to make sure...
9. Jack the Giant Slayer
I liked Jack so much that I came home and reviewed it relatively quickly, basically hoping that other people would go see it and love it’s quirk and charm as much as I. Not sure if that worked, since I’m pretty sure my list is the only one you’ll see Jack on...
8. The World's End
Simon Pegg is hilarious, and I love Hot Fuzz, so The World’s End was definitely on my to-watch list. We went to see it in a dinky theatre in the middle of nowhere BC, and it was a great escape from the rain. With a fantastic cast of British talent, including Martin Freeman as a BlackBerry addicted businessman, I loved nearly every minute of it. If you like quirky British humour, I highly recommend it!
7. 12 Years a Slave
What a fantastically heart-breaking movie. Not since watching the Help have I been so conflicted about a movie. On one hand, it should win all the Oscars. On the other hand, I’m definitely never watching it again. It crossed my radar because of some of the brilliant acting talent in it; I wasn’t expecting it to be so horrific. And the kicker is, as horrific as the movie was; it probably wasn’t as realistic as life as a slave would have been. It unflinchingly shows the brutality of slave life in the American south, and it’s history that everyone should be familiar with, but not wallow in. It was violent, but not gratuitous – every blow told the story of a million other ones that went unrecorded. Such heartbreak!
6. The Book Thief
And speaking of heartbreak, on a different scale...I just saw this movie this week. So beautiful – so sad! It’s not very often in the West that you see a movie set in Germany during the Nazi regime, and this is a very well-done take on it. The Book Thief is a little girl adopted by a German couple who hide a Jew in their basement. It’s haunting. I haven’t read the book it’s based on, so I don’t know how it compares, but I highly recommend it.
5. Thor: The Dark World
Thor 2 was fantastic. Thor’s Mom totally kicks butt, and I totally fell for Loki’s trickery. I was a bit frustrated with Jane’s character, but overall I was thoroughly satisfied with this installment, and I’m really looking forward to seeing how they deal with the things they left set up for Thor 3!
4. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
I only briefly mentioned my first experiences with the Hunger Games on my blog, which I regret a bit now, because I wish I'd taken the time to really capture my impressions. I saw the first movie before I read the books, and it blew my socks off. I didn’t like it particularly, but it was thoroughly engrossing. So I read the books. Back to back, staying up till all hours of the night to finish. And then I cried tears of rage and frustration over how it all ended and how the third book was written. But since the second book was my favourite of the series, I went to see Catching Fire. What a good decision! The brilliant person who adapted the script smoothed over a lot of the things that had annoyed me, and the movie was incredible. I’m so stoked for the third one, because I’m hoping that the screenwriter will fix that one, too. :)
3. Despicable Me 2
I loved the first one so much, and the second one topped it for sure. There were happy tears, and all the minions! I’m so excited for the minions getting their own movie – they are totally the best hench-creatures ever invented. It’s just such an all-around brilliant series, with humour and heart.
2. Star Trek Into Darkness
I’ve already done a very thorough review of Into Darkness, so I won’t say much else about it, except that for all of my peeves about it, I still adore it!
1. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
I loved the Unexpected Journey, and now I’m waiting for the Desolation of Smaug to hit the cheap theatre so I can see it again. We went on opening day to see it in IMAX 3D, which was glorious, but I also want to watch it again to absorb more of the plot, too. The only thing I remember from reading the Hobbit years and years ago was the dwarves escaping in barrels, and that was my favourite scene in the movie. Funny and tense, it was an exciting ride. I’ve heard people complaining that they don’t really need three movies to tell Tolkien’s story, to which I say SHUT UP AND LET PETER JACKSON TAKE MY MONEY! Because I’m enjoying the HECK out of the trilogy, and would way rather see these than more Expendables or Fast and Furious, for example...I think the Hobbit is perfect! It ended on a hell of a cliff hanger though!
And the song for over the closing credits is so powerful – if you haven’t seen it yet, you can watch it here now!
These are the other four movies I saw in-theatre this year, that I don’t recommend and that didn’t make the top ten, from bad to worst:
4. Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters
When I saw the first Percy Jackson movie, I hadn’t read the books yet, and in the intervening years I’ve read pretty much everything that the author has written, and LOVE it. So Sea of Monsters fell hideously flat for me, unfortunately. The only good thing was Nathan Fillion, and sadly his scene was only a few minutes long. Although he managed to squeeze in both a Firefly AND a Castle reference, so that was almost the cost of admission right there. :)
3. The Great Gatsby
Gatsby was a bit of a disappointment for me. I knew it’s a literary classic, so I don’t know why I was expecting some sort of happy ending, but that’s definitely not what I got! I think I was projecting too much or something – so while it was sumptuous and well-done, I just couldn’t identify with any of the characters or their motivations, so I had a hard time getting into it.
Yah, Gravity is only THE MOST STRESSFUL MOVIE I’VE EVER SEEN. My ulcer hurt by the time it was over, and I now have a phobia of lack of gravity. I really don’t know why everyone’s so chuffed about it. (shudder)
1. American Hustle
Again, not so sure why everyone’s so chuffed about this one, either. I won tickets to a free screening this week, and I was not impressed. The scriptwriter wouldn’t have had to do a lot of work, because every other word was a profanity, and it was so slow-moving I actually kept checking my watch – something I’ve NEVER done in a movie theatre before. The ending was pretty clever – I hadn’t seen that coming – but it was not quite fair to someone who had initially only wanted justice to prevail. And all of the characters were so unlikeable! The only one I felt sorry for was the kid. I just couldn’t get into it - it's probably the worst movie I've ever seen in a theatre.
So, there it is! I'm still hoping to see Saving Mr. Banks, August: Osage County, and the new Jack Ryan one this year, and I didn't get to see Philomena, Frozen, Austenland, Lone Ranger, or Pacific Rim, but I did manage to see one or two! Hopefully this will inspire you to see one or two that you haven’t gotten around to yet.
Merry Christmas! :)