Movies: My Favorites of 2013 | Arts & Culture

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Movies: My Favorites of 2013
Movies: My Favorites of 2013

This will be my final movie review for  For the past three years I’ve greatly enjoyed many hours in darkened theaters and my efforts to explain to you precisely why I did or did not like what I saw there.  I think by now you probably know the kind of movies I like:  ones with good scripts, smart directing and clever casting.

So let’s gather by the electronic fireplace and look back at my favorites from the year that is now ending -- a particularly good one for movies.  Here they are in order of excellence, but all are surely worth seeing.

  1. “Fruitvale Station.”  If this was the year that Hollywood finally confronted America’s racial history, this movie --directed by Ryan Coogler -- is the one I will never forget.  Based on the 2009 police shooting of a young black man on an Oakland subway platform, its protagonist, played by talented Michael B. Jordan, is no saint but is always achingly human.
  2. “American Hustle.”  This hellzapoppin’ account of the con artists and FBI agents behind the 1978 Abscam scandal was directed by David O. Russell and featured a terrific cast of off-the-wall characters, played by Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper.
  3. “Enough Said.”  Jim Gandolfini’s last movie, co-starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus, was a bittersweet adult love story, written and directed by Nicole Holofcener.
  4. “Gravity.”  Alfonso Cuaron’s huge-screen space epic demonstrates the awesome power of today’s movie technology -- while still keeping its frail humans (played by Sandra Bullock and George Clooney) in the foreground.
  5. “20 Feet from Stardom.”  Sheer joy as director Morgan Neville presents some of the great backup singers whose performances gave us all of rock and soul music’s memorable hooks.
  6. “12 Years A Slave.”  What more can be said about this unflinching look at America’s Original Sin?  Director Steve McQueen elicited brilliant performances from his entire cast, particularly Chiwetel Ejiofor.
  7. “Captain Phillips.”  Tom Hanks’ accent was off-key but Paul Greengrass’s documentary-style filmmaking made for a riveting account of modern-day piracy.  A great debut by Barkhad Abdi as the uncertain leader of the Somali pirates.
  8. “Mud.”  Matthew McConaughey (who had a good year, with this one and “The Dallas    Buyer’s Club”) shines as a mysterious fugitive holed up along the Mississippi while pining for the faithless Reese Witherspoon.
  9. “Frances Ha.”  Greta Gerwig teams up with boyfriend/director Noah Baumbach in this tribute to the the French Nouvelle Vague and today’s befuddled urban hipsters.
  10. “Blue Jasmine.”  Woody Allen’s best movie since “Midnight in Paris,” a re-telling of “A Streetcar Named Desire” with Cate Blanchett absolutely brilliant as a disturbed woman adrift in San Francisco.  A surprisingly good supporting role too by former unfunny comedian Andrew Dice Clay.

Well, there you have ‘em, although I’m still waiting to see that new Coen Brothers movie.  If your favorites aren’t on the list, feel free to add them in the comments section.  

It’s been a lot of fun, and let’s hope 2014 brings us another crop of good movies!