Here are my top ten films of 2013:

12 Years a Slave

Photo courtesy of Fox Searchlight

1).  “12 Years a Slave”  (2013)

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Based on a true story, this film is about Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free Black man living in upstate New York with his wife and child in the year 1841.  On a business trip, he is kidnapped and sold into slavery.  His life is filled with misery and hard work as he is shipped from plantation to plantation in Louisiana at the mercy and whim of the plantation owners.  This incredibly moving film has some of the year’s best performances in it.  Ejiofor is stunning in a role of a lifetime, but it’s the supporting cast that makes this such an outstanding film.  Lupita Nyong’o is astonishing as the defiant slave Patsey and Michael Fassbender gives a spellbinding performance as a sadistic slave owner.  This is a film that is going to stay with me for a long time. 12 Years a Slave Website


Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures

2).  “Nebraska”  (2013)

Woody (Bruce Dern) is convinced that he has won a million dollars and wants to travel from Montana, where he lives, to Nebraska to collect the winnings. Against the wishes of Woody’s wife, Kate (June Squibb), and brother, Ross (Bob Odenkirk). David (Will Forte), Woody’s youngest son, decides to take his father cross-country to the company that has issued the ticket. Bruce Dern gives a brilliant, understated performance.  The surprise of the film is what a great job Will Forte does as the son who desperately wants to reconnect with his father.  This is road trip film where the people in the movie don’t seem to ever move. Nebraska Website           (Read my full review here)

Short Term 12

Photo courtesy of Cinedigm

3).  “Short Term 12”  (2013)

Grace (Brie Larson) works as a supervisor at a foster-care facility for at-risk teenagers.  Her boyfriend, Mason (John Gallagher Jr.), works with her at the home.  Grace’s world is changed when Jayden (Kaitlyn Dever), a troubled teenage girl  enters the facility and Grace sees herself in Jayden.  Brie Larson gives my favorite performance of this year.  She has a nice, comfortable chemistry with John Gallagher Jr., making us feel that this couple has been together for quite awhile.  The film has a great message about finding family anywhere you can. Short Term 12 Website     (Read my full review here)


Photo courtesy of Warner Brothers

4). “Her” (2013)

A writer (Joaquin Phoenix) who is still mourning the breakup of his marriage, installs a new operating system on his computer that is designed to learn about him and respond to his needs.  Very soon he finds that he has fallen in love with his computer. The premise is based on if a man can fall in love with his operating system, in this case played in voice only by Scarlett Johansson.  I say yes because I also fell in love with Johansson’s character.  This is a wonderful, unconventional film about falling love. Her Website

The Spectacular Now

Photo courtesy of A24

5).  “The Spectacular Now”  (2013)

Sutter (Miles Teller) is a high school senior who is just happy living in the present. He seems to have everything you would want – he’s popular, has a good job and his girlfriend is the prettiest girl in high school. Suddenly, everything comes crashing down around Sutter when his girlfriend dumps him and leaves his once promising world now in tatters. Sutter then meets Aimee (Shailene Woodley) who isn’t like anyone he has ever met before and just might be the person to get him back on track.  I felt that the dialogue in this film was incredibly realistic and the chemistry between Teller and Woodley was perfect. The Spectacular Now Website        (Read my full review here)

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Captain Phillips

Photo courtesy of Columbia Pictures

6).  “Captain Philips”  (2013)

Based on a true story, the American ship, Maersk Alabama, captained by Richard Philips (Tom Hanks), becomes the first U.S. ship in two hundred years to be hijacked by pirates.  The Somali pirates want millions of dollars to return the ship and its crew.  Can Capt. Philips and his crew stall long enough for help to arrive?  Hanks is perfect in the role, but it’s Barkhad Dbdi, who plays one of the pirates that makes this movie work so well as he gives an amazing performance.  I absolutely loved the final scene in this film as it takes it from a good film to a great one. Captain Phillips Website

The Way Way Back

Photo courtesy of Fox Searchlight

7).  “The Way Way Back” (2013)

Duncan (Liam James) is not having the best of summers. Instead of spending his summer vacation with his father in California, he is forced to spend it with his mom (Toni Collette) and her new boyfriend (Steve Carell) at his summer beach house. When Duncan discovers a water park called Water Wizz, that’s where his summer finally starts to get a little better, as he meets Owen (Sam Rockwell) the manager.  I loved the interaction between James and Rockwell.  This is a fun, funny film that has a heart as big as the monster slide in the park. The Way Way Back Facebook Page       (Read my full review here)

The Kings of Summer

Photo courtesy of CBS Films

8).  “The Kings of Summer”  (2013)

Three teenage boys (Nick Robinson, Gabriel Basso, Moises Arias) decide to get away from their rather strange and controlling parents by running away to build a house in the middle of the woods.  While viewers will see this film for the supporting cast, which is full of great comedians like Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally, it’s the three lead boys (Robinson, Basso and Arias) that make this film so exceptional and a joy to watch.  Nick Robinson, playing the leader of the gang, Joe, is absolutely perfect in the role of a kid who is so tired of his life that he just wants to run away.  The film is a wonderful coming of age film where the boys find out that running away doesn’t always solve life’s problems. The Kings of Summer Website


Photo Courtesy of Warner Brothers

9). “Gravity”  (2013)

A medical engineer, Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock), and a veteran astronaut Matt Kowalsky (George Clooney), are on a space mission. During a spacewalk, satellite debris crashes into the Space Shuttle and sends Dr. Stone adrift into space with limited oxygen.  This was the most beautiful film I saw this year. and I hope everyone went to the theatre to see it on the big screen.  This is a film that couldn’t have been made 20 years ago and I give credit to director / co-writer Alfonso Cuaron on bringing us an astonishing movie-going experience. Gravity Website

Fruitvale Station

Photo courtesy of The Weinstein Company

10).  “Fruitvale Station”  (2013)

This is the true story of the last day in the life of Oscar (Michael B. Jordan), a 22-year old man who was killed by transit cops in the Bay area of California one New Year’s morning. This film will make you angry and sad at the same time and is sure to start conversations up as soon as the film ends.  I loved Jordan’s performance as the flawed but likeable Oscar.  This is a film that you know how it’s going to end but hope someway that it won’t. Fruitvale Station Website        (Read my full review here)

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Almost on the list:  “Drinking Buddies”, “The Conjuring”, “Enough Said”, “The Stories We Tell”, “20 Feet From Stardom”, “Cutie and the Boxer”, “Upstream Color”, “All is Lost”, “Inside Llewyn Davis”, “Frozen”, “The World’s End”, “A Band Called Death”, “Dallas Buyers Club”,”Mud”, “The Heat”.