Top 20 Films of 2013 (#15-11)

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Let’s keep this going, next five are up.

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15. Iron Man 3
The ‘unofficial’ sequel to the Avengers works best as a stand-alone film. In this day and age of setting up franchises and crossovers, it is extremely rare how this superhero movie managed to tell a complete story. Now, there’s no doubt that this is the biggest Iron Man film to date, yet it doesn’t really feel that way.
Why does this film work? Well, it humbles Tony Stark. We still have the smart-ass, one-liner king that Robert Downey Jr. excels and annoys at, but this time it’s more of a mask than anything else. This time, there are doubts and fears in Tony, and more importantly, things he does not understand. The effects from the Avengers are felt, or as multiple characters refer to it in this film, “the battle of New York.”
Tony Stark is dealing with some serious PTSD, and that’s certainly as it should be. The Marvel Cinematic Universe at times downplays the world it has created: alien worlds, Gods, huge green monsters, etc. but with the events that led to Iron Man falling from outer space, it grounds things (just a bit).
The Mandarin reveal I felt was brilliant. I love how director Shane Black, Marvel and Robert Downey Jr. proved to be no slaves to the comic books. Film is its own things and so I hate it when movies suffer because of having to be faithful to the source material.
Where do we go from here? Tony Stark is damaged, but he is also healed. Watching Stark declare that he is Iron Man immediately after being healed leaves it a bit open as to where we are headed. It feels like a conclusive end to the franchise. It is however such a lucrative franchise to I doubt that’s the case, after all, the credits do promise that Tony Stark will return. Whether Robert Downey Jr. returns, however is another thing altogether.

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14. The Wolf of Wall Street
This film is absolutely ridiculous. That is the point. There are girls, there are drugs, and then there are more girls and more drugs. You can repeat that cycle for 3 hours. Some people seem to be missing the point however. I find it hard to see how some people believe that director Martin Scorsese and star Leonardo Dicaprio are glorifying this lifestyle and these characters.
Jordan Belfort, the main character and not the protagonist, is a douchebag. Dicaprio goes all out, holding nothing back, to show that. Belfort and his associates were charismatic men, but they were in no way likeable. They lived out a twisted version of the American dream. The argument is made that Scorsese doesn’t really show Belfort get punished for all the damage he caused.
How can Scorsese punish Belfort when society or the government hasn’t really punished him? The 22 months that Belfort served in prison was nothing more than a slap on the wrist. The man is still out there, and Scorsese attempted to show what a joke that is. It is in no way glorifying that lifestyle.
At no point am I saying that I want to do the things that characters are doing. Is Belfort displayed as a hero when he slaps his wife across the face or punches her in the stomach? Most of this stuff actually happened, and it is never not gasp-inducing and ridiculous. It’s certainly not something to aspire to, even if young kids may chase this warped American dream. Belfort is such a weasel, such a con-artist that it’s hard to believe anything this man says. The fact that the film comes from the book that Belfort himself wrote, puts even more of the actions in question. Scorsese and Dicaprio show that in the film. “A man kills himself three days later…anyways,” that’s dialogue from the film proving that they are aware of what they are doing. Belfort believes that he caused no damage while ‘driving under the influence,’ minutes later the truth is revealed. There is the biggest metaphor for the entire film. The Wolf of Wall Street is ridiculous, and points a finger at the people who just stood back and let all these things happen.

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13. The Wolverine
The ending of the film prevented it from being a great one as it settled to generic superhero stuff. Everything that happens before we get to the Silver Samurai feels brand new for these types of films and so it’s that much more of a disappointment that the film is unable to stick the landing.
Even with the big misfire that was the ending, the film remains high on this list because of the overall theme of immortality as well as moments that just stay with you. The opening of the film with the bombing of Nagasaki is as horrific as it should be. The dream sequences between Logan and Jean Grey are beautifully haunting. At the beginning of the film, we see a ‘man’ forced to live with his past and unable to escape life or himself.
I also love that the film sticks with a majority Japanese cast. The female characters are strong Asian woman, one is even known as ‘Wolverine’s bodyguard.’ This is another superhero film that manages to be a stand-alone film, except for that amazing post-credits teaser.
Immortality can be a curse, I love the theme. Of course, if you gave me the choice it is a curse I’d welcome anytime. A chance to live forever, especially with that fear of the unknown, would make people do crazy things which is my attempt to justify that ending. The Silver Samurai proves that bigger is not always better, as I felt that the fight between Logan and the Samurai’s son was a much better, more invested one. Despite the fumble at the end, the film contained more than enough to leave a lasting impression.

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12. Gravity
If you had just the score and no dialogue to go along with it, Gravity would still be one of the most influential and beautiful films of all time. It’s a very simple story of survival, there is nothing extraordinary, no science-fiction element, but when you have the awe and wonder, and fear of outer space, well what else is needed?
Space can be terrifying and stomach-churning without aliens and battles or anything of the sort. You have Sandra Bullock, George Clooney and some debris from a space station that is traveling at extremely high speeds. That’s the premise of the story, two people trying to stay alive and trying to make it back home.
Director Alfonso Cuaron pushes the boundaries of modern technology and creates something brand new. The viewer gets a first class seat and feels like he or she is in outer space. We feel the fear of the astronaut’s and we know what is possible as Sandra Bullock’s character floats away into the darkness of space. Cuaron delivers something in between 2001 and Star Trek, and it a treat to watch.
Gravity deserves to be seen on the biggest TV screen possible. The background shots of Earth are breath-taking and make you realize how small man really is when it comes to vastness of space. Never has Earth looked so close yet so far. Sandra Bullock has always provided an everywoman of sorts so she provided the perfect character to follow and we are with her every step of the way. It is terrifying and beautiful, simple yet revolutionary.

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11. Frozen
Place this film right next to any of the films from the Disney renaissance, and it would fit right it. The visuals are gorgeous, the characters are memorable and the songs are instantly catchy. Yes, this would fit perfectly in between The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast.
For the second year in a row, Disney animation outdoes Pixar. That’s not a knock on Pixar since I did like Monsters University a lot, way more than I thought I would, but it’s just a credit on how much Disney animation is on it at the moment. This is a throwback without being repetitive or derivative. Not only that but it shows extreme progress.
The two main characters are not only sisters, but they are both strong females. The film has drops of heartbreak and loneliness that push it beyond your average animated film. Of course there are also the slapstick moments since it is a family film, but it doesn’t take away from the beautiful film.
As I mentioned, the songs are instantly contagious. You have the hilariously tragic song, “In Summer” in which Olaf the Snowman sings about wanting to get a tan and relax on the beach. There’s beautiful songs like: For the First Time in Forever, Some People are Worth Melting For, Love is an Open Door and the powerful ‘Let it Go.’
The movie really does fire on all cylinders. There is no hesitation at all in placing an animated film this high on the list, especially when an animated film delivers so much emotional depth like this one does. It really goes to show you that a great movie is a great movie regardless of genre.

For #20-16 click here:
https://straightedgeisbeautiful.wordpress.com/2013/12/30/top-20-films-of-the-year-20-16/

For #10-6 click here:
https://straightedgeisbeautiful.wordpress.com/2014/01/01/top-20-films-of-the-year-10-6/

For #5-1 click here:
https://straightedgeisbeautiful.wordpress.com/2014/01/03/top-20-of-the-year-5-1/

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