It’s been a few years since there have been so many movies I’ve actually really wanted to see. But there was a deluge of fantastic films out this year, from simple, observational comedies, to a few wildly over-the-top spectacles.
Here are the 13 best movies of 2013, in my opinion. (Keep in mind that I am correct approximately 95 percent of the time, so any other “best of” movies list has a really big chance of being inferior to mine.)
13. “Drinking Buddies”
With the exception of a couple of pages worth of plot points, there was no script for this observational, mumblecore comedy about what happens when two, platonic coworkers who work together in a craft brewery may — or may not — cross the line into something more. All of the dialogue throughout the entire movie is improvised, which makes this small romantic-ish comedy even more impressive. The cast (the gorgeous Olivia Wilde, perfectly deadpan Jake Johnson, the likable Anna Kendrick and the comedic vet Ron Livingston) doesn’t hurt, either.
12. “Side Effects”
Many people — movie critics and normals — didn’t like this movie at all, including the person I watched it with. But I think that Steven Soderbergh’s psychological thriller about what happens to a woman after she is prescribed a new antidepressant is the best thriller of the year.
11. “Dallas Buyer’s Club”
Both Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto — who lost at least 50 pounds each for their respective parts — are stellar in this semi-true story about the real-life Ron Woodruff, a homophobic rodeo cowboy who is given a few weeks to live after he is diagnosed with AIDS. But he goes on a crusade to bring experimental — and illegal — medication to the U.S. The movie drags a little at times, but as a whole it is a great film about the fear and hopelessness of an AIDS diagnosis back in the eighties and what this man was willing to do to help himself — and others — survive.
10. “12 Years a Slave”
Yes, this is a beautifully shot and accurate description of slavery in the United States. Yes, Chiwetel Ejiofor is great as the real-life Solomon Northrup, a free man who is trapped back into slavery. Yes, Michael Fassbender is grossly mesmerizing as an evil slave owner. Does that mean that I want to see this movie ever again? Definitely not! But it certainly is a very well-made film and a great feat of writing, acting and directing, and I can only recommend it if you want your stomach to churn for two-and-a-half hours. But it undoubtedly deserves a place on every list of best films of this year.
9. “Fruitvale Station”
A fair warning: Watching this movie is like being sucker-punched in the gut. With that out the way, allow me to explain how great of a film it actually is. “Fruitvale Station” is a dramatization of the last day of Oscar Grant’s life, a young man who was shot to death by a BART officer in Oakland, Calif. after a scuffle at the Fruitvale Station stop got out of hand on New Year’s Day 2009.
The movie follows Grant on the day before his death as he tries to get things right with his girlfriend and mother of his daughter after he cheats on her, get his job back and stop selling weed. The film avoids the trappings of a morality play – Oh, look how amazing this person was and how sad it is that he died — but depicts both the good and bad sides of Grant. “Fruitvale Station” is about a family and what happens when a family is torn apart by a tragic accident.