If you missed Part I, go HERE and see films one through twenty-five.
Number Twenty-Six: Room 237
This documentary of Stanley Kubrick's The Shining will melt your mind. A series of film scholars sat down and discussed the hidden meaning behind the symbolism of the film, the placement of chairs, the number of cars in the parking lot and how Nazi's and Indians play into it all. You may never look at any film the same way again after uncovering these theories and secrets.
Number Twenty-Seven: This is the End
Watching a bunch of Hollywood stars playing exaggerated versions of themselves (I hope) in this apocalyptic comedy was one of the great theater-going experiences of the year. I am not sure I heard an audience howl as they did during this one. Special props to
Number Twenty-Eight: Life According To Sam
I adore Sam Berns. He is someone we all should aspire to be. Sam died this past January, but not before his family shot this documentary about his struggle with progeria. What his parents do for him and other children with progeria will make you believe in a world where there is hope.
Number Twenty-Nine: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
The first Hobbit movie left me cold and confused. It was entirely too long and lacked the emotional center that made the Lord of the Rings trilogy so rewarding. I am happy to report that they improved every aspect in the sequel. The film flew by in a blink of an eye
Number Thirty: Star Trek Into Darkness
I have loved what J.J. Abrams has done with this franchise. He has reinvented it in ways I am not sure anyone thought was possible. Benedict Cumberbatch is more than a great actor with a key performance, but he reinvents the top-secret character.
Number Thirty-One: Pacific Rim
I am not sure the trailers or posters sold this film, which is a shame because it is an intelligent monster movie with state of the art special effects. Director and writer Guillermo del Toro is a gem of a filmmaker and someone who should always be taken seriously. His futuristic robot-monster dual has more of a human element than imagined. Do not judge a book by its cover on this one and you will be surprised with a wildly entertaining film.
Number Thirty-Two: Monsters University
Pixar may be repeating itself now with a series of sequels, but the charm continues. Each Pixar film can only be experienced for the first time once, but this prequel does an excellent job of satisfying the audience
Number Thirty-Three: Metallica- Through the Never
What does the world's biggest heavy metal band do with a year off? They concoct an over-the-top IMAX film with a subplot that captures the modern horrors of society. Inside the comfort of an arena, Metallica delivers an all-star set list on a stage created just for this movie featuring the highlights of all of their tours in one stage. This was a feast for the eyes in 3D and it is a shame more people did not seek it out, because it was a truly innovative concert film that will not be attempted again anytime soon.
Number Thirty-Four: Trance
Danny Boyle never disappoints. Whether his story involves miracles (Millions) or a game show (Slumdog Millionaire)), he always tells a riveting story and has yet to repeat himself. Trance follows an art dealer who sets up a heist of a valuable painting, only to have him lost his memory leading to a series of unforeseen events and potentially dangerous conflicts. James McAvoy delights and Vincent Cassel may play to type, but does so with a zeal previously not seen by him.
Number Thirty-Five: 20 Feet From Stardom
Imagine giving your whole life to n art form that does not recognize you. This happened to Darlene Love who sang on many Phil Spector produced hits in the 1960s, but never received the proper credit. This Oscar winning film wonderfully illustrates a series of female background singers who have made indescribable contributions to music but are not household names, but they will be after you spend time with them.
Number Thirty-Six: Man of Steel
I felt this Superman reboot was superb even if they went a little over-the-top with the final battle (which is why this film does not rank higher) but Zack Snyder gets so much right, you cannot help but admire it even if some of its faults are glaring.
Number Thirty-Seven: The Bling Ring
Sofia Coppola is a filmmaker always willing to take chances. Here she does a film on a group of teens who broke into celebrity houses, bragged about it and were eventually caught. The film's key fault is there aren't any sympathetic characters, but this is what made me appreciate the film even more, because she manages to grip the audience through and through with a group of teens who sadly look for affirmation and success in all the wrong places.
Number Thirty-Eight: Enough Said
This was a delightful film about dating after divorce. It was also bittersweet to see James Gandolfini be so charming here and knowing he had so many more of these performances inside of him. Julia Louis-Dreyfus also gets high marks for bringing humanity for her character. Considering she was on one of the most iconic television shows of all time, seeing her warmth on display here was refreshing.
Number Thirty-Nine: Short Term 12
Brie Larson (21 Jump Street) is a revelation here as a counselor at a foster-care facility. Her pain is our pain, her joy is our joy and her fears are our fears. She embodies her character with such humanity; you cannot help but feel you are watching a documentary here. We watch her character over a few days deal with some serious life-altering decisions. This is a film that has the potential to inform individuals and heal those in similar situations. A hidden gem not just worthy of your time, but is also essential viewing.
Number Forty: Side Effects
Before Steven Soderbergh went into retirement (supposedly), he delivered a psychological thriller that is not anything like you expected. Released early in 2013, it may have escaped people's memories, but Jude Law is top-tier, Channing Tatum plays against type and Rooney Mara is terrifying. Not for the weak hearted.
Number Forty-One: World War Z
Somewhere in time, reshoots were immediately deemed as being bad. I do not understand how extra work being done to fix something is viewed negatively. Brad Pitt's zombie film had a slew of bad press leading up to its release, but guess what? Everything they did improved the film. The final act is a study in subtlety and plays against action film stereotypes. Some of the special effects are amongst the best I have ever seen and the greatest compliment I can give the film is I could not take my eyes off it.
Number Forty-Two: Good Ol' Freda
Freda Kelly was an unassuming, quiet and shy girl from Liverpool, England. She was also the fan club secretary for the Beatles. After four decades, Fred finally decided to get her story on film. Up to now, she has always refused most interviews and went to live a normal life away from Beatle mania. What makes this film work is her unassuming nature and details she provides about what the Beatles were like off the stage. To her the Beatles were not just stars, but they were friends.
Number Forty-Three: Warm Bodies
Jonathan Levine made the cancer comedy 50/50 two years ago and follows it up with a romantic comedy about zombies. Nicholas Hoult is rather brilliant as the zombie who narrates the film and eventually finds a way to change his animal instincts to fall in love. Another film that has more to it than you may believe.
Number Forty-Four: Only God Forgives
I adored Drive and make it my number-one film in 2011, and director Nicolas Winding Refn made a name for himself due to the style and substance of that noir thriller. He followed it up with Only God Forgives that overloads on style and the substance? The jury is still out on it. Ryan Gosling speaks fewer than twenty lines in this film, but somehow his character and the look of the film I have not been able to shake. While it is not the masterpiece I was hoping for, it is a peculiar film that could become a cult classic.
Number Forty-Five: Elysium
Neill Blomkamp created a completely new world of science fiction with District 9 so hopes were high for Elysium. It is a memorable film with standout performances by Matt Damon, Jodie Foster and Sharlto Copley. The future state of Earth is in disarray while the wealthiest live on Elysium, a separate planet where disease and injury are curable. It is a fascinating commentary on American society where we have become more segregated within society than ever before.
Number Forty-Six: Fruitvale Station
A shocking film of a young man in the Bay area who was killed by a BART police officer. He was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. The film follows Oscar Grant III in the final day of his life. Filmmaker Ryan Coogler does not hold back and shows all sides of Grant played with delicate precision by Michael B. Jordan. A heartbreaking film that opens your eyes to the reality that racism is alive and well
Number Forty-Seven: Upstream Color
A twirling ad dizzying experience as we see a young female played by Amy Seimetz kidnapped and infected with a parasite that causes her to fall under a hypnotic state where she allows her life to be thrown upside down and her wealth taken from her. The film slowly unravels as she finds a soul mate that went through the same experience. This indie is not for everyone, but those that do appreciate unconventional filmmaking and smart stories will be entranced.
Number Forty-Eight: Frances Ha
Greta Gerwig is divine in this tale of a young female lost amidst a series of changes she has not prepared herself for. Gerwig plays the role of the aloof twenty-something to perfection. I found myself yelling at the television screen due to her incredulous decisions, but throughout Gerwig plays the role with delight capturing youthful innocence, foolishness and fear perfectly.
Number Forty Nine: The Butler
Oprah Winfrey steals this film. An impressive and affecting film overlooked since its August release.
Number Fifty: The Great Gatsby
This is sliding onto the list because of the sheer glamour of the film. The production design, costumes and cinematography capture the 1920's like never before. Due to the personal nature many have with the book, the film is bound to divide audiences, but regardless of how you feel about it, it's the most eye-catching film of the year.
Also worth seeking out: Nebraska, Inside Llewyn Davis, The East, Oblivion, To The Wonder, August: Osage County, The Wolverine, Special 26, Prisoners, The To Do List, Iron Man 3, Now You See Me .
Anthony Kuzminski is a Chicago based writer and Special Features Editor for the antiMUSIC Network. His daily writings can be read at The Screen Door. He can be contacted at tonyk AT antiMUSIC DOT com and can be followed on Twitter
The Best Films of 2013 - Part II
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