10 Best Movies of 2013
2013 brought us an eclectic whirlwind of great movies, from sci-fi thrillers to animated classics; poignant remakes to raunchy comedies. But above all, there were 10 movies that had a touch of something special that separated them from all the rest.
So take a seat, bust out the popcorn and see which films made the cut on our list of the 10 Best Movies of 2013.
Ever since Melissa McCarthy broke out in 2011's 'Bridesmaids,' she has been unstoppably funny -- and never moreso than in 'The Heat,' where she plays Shannon Mullins, a tough, dirty-mouthed Bostonian cop, who is in complete contrast from Sandra Bullock's proper, by-the-book FBI Agent Sarah Ashburn. McCarthy's best lines are peppered with plenty of "choice" words and crude motions, but it is her delivery that will have you in a fit of falling-out-of-your-seat kind of laughter. Despite her rough exterior, Mullins isn't a one-dimensional character -- and McCarthy shines in her more vulnerable moments. Ultimately, it is the friendship between the two misfit detectives that drives 'The Heat' home (and onto our list of the best movies of 2013).
'42,' subtitled 'The Jackie Robinson Story,' is the inspirational story of minor league baseball's first black player as he gets recruited to the Brooklyn Dodgers. There is no question that Robinson (played by Chadwick Boseman) battles racism throughout the film. But the most interesting part of '42' is Robinson's struggle within himself -- his fight to remain composed against a world who is against him -- that gives this movie a spot on our 10 Best Movies of 2013 list.
Any movie that features the likes of Harrison Ford, Viola Davis and Ben Kingsley cannot possibly go wrong. The latest science-fiction-book-turned-thriller film, 'Ender's Game,' is set in the future and tells the story of the precocious Ender (portrayed by the talented Asa Butterfield) who goes off to military school in outer space to prepare to fight aliens called the Formics. The movie, while faulted for leaving out some of the book's key elements, offers enough solid performances, intense special effects and impressive space battle scenes to make it onto our best movies of 2013 picks.
Disney's newest animated masterpiece, 'Frozen,' is the story of two sisters, Anna (Kristen Bell) and Elsa (the incredibly talented Idina Menzel), the latter of whom has the power to freeze things with a touch when she becomes emotional. When Elsa is set to inherit the throne, she accidentally turns the entire kingdom into an eternal winter and banishes herself for what she has done (slightly reminiscent to Menzel's turn as Elphaba in 'Wicked'). Anna then sets out on a moving journey to find her sister and save the kingdom, and the two learn that the bond between sisters is one not easily broken. With beautiful musical numbers (especially from a powerhouse like Menzel), and a moral that will warm your heart, 'Frozen' is a Disney classic that audiences of all ages will love.
With a cast as overwhelming as its story ('The Butler' stars Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Robin Williams, Liev Schrieber, Alan Rickman and Jane Fonda, among others) there is no way that a film with this caliber could go overlooked. Whitaker plays Cecil Gaines, 'The Butler' himself, a determined man raised on a plantation who rises through the ranks to become a butler at the White House. Whitaker's incredibly moving performance is just one of the many, many reasons 'The Butler' will give you chills. Oprah's turn as Cecil's alcoholic wife, Gloria, David Oyelowo's performance as Cecil's volatile son, Louis, and -- last but not least -- the fact that the film is based on the true story of White House butler Eugene Allen, are the others.
'Star Trek: Into Darkness' is the kind of movie that makes you realize that when executed brilliantly, the entire franchise can reach a much wider audience than just Trekkies. The sequel to 2009's 'Star Trek' remake, 'Into Darkness' is action-packed and filled to the brim with gorgeous special effects -- but it is the camaraderie of the crew of the Enterprise and their relationships that make the film so compelling and inspirational. (Plus, it never hurts to look at Chris Pine and his baby blues for two and a half hours.)
The second animated film on our list, 'Monsters University' -- the prequel to Disney/Pixar's 2001 blockbuster, 'Monsters Inc.' -- was so delightfully funny that it may even be better than the original. Featuring the same all-star cast that made the first movie such a hit (Billy Crystal pretty much steals the show as Mike Wazowski), 'Monsters U' also brought some new voices to the table, including Nathan Fillion, Sean Hayes and Helen Mirren. As Mike and Sully try and make it through college without suffering the wrath of dragon Dean Hardscrabble, they join a fraternity comprised of the most hilariously off-beat characters that are, without a doubt, the highlight of the film, one of our favorites of 2013.
'The Great Gatsby' was set during the boom of the 1920s, and Baz Luhrmann did everything in his power to ensure the film roared as loud as the decade. The screen glittered with a vibrant, luxurious, champagne-filled sparkle that would make Jay Gatsby proud. But in stark contrast to the vivid imagery lies the dark, not-so-secret desires of the characters: all wealthy in money, but shattered in their hearts. It is this juxtaposition, which all comes to a head in that pivotal scene in a sweltering Manhattan apartment, that makes 'Gatsby' the quality film that it is.
It is a testament to the Academy Award-winning Sandra Bullock that she carried the majority of 'Gravity' herself, with minimal dialogue. Her highly acclaimed performance -- in a film that had been getting Oscar buzz long before it hit theaters -- is one that proves that a truly great actress can move audiences with nothing but her range of emotion. 'Gravity' is not only visually stunning (the shots of Earth from space are spectacular), but it has the kind of effect that will leave you on the edge of your seat long after you have left the theater.
There has been an incredible amount of hype surrounding 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,' but to say that it lives up to expectations is a bold understatement; it surpasses them, and it tops our list of the best movies of 2013. In one of the truest book-to-movie adaptations ever done, 'Catching Fire' dives into the abomination that is post-Hunger Games Panem, allowing the audience to see the true devastation of the country and each of its districts. Jennifer Lawrence, who has the range of an actress beyond her years, instills Katniss with an underlying strength that far outweighs her vulnerability (though Lawrence portrays both beautifully), leaving the audience in awe of Katniss' courage, despite (or, perhaps, due to) the horror she has seen.