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Spoiler Alert’s Top Nine Films of 2013

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Last week, I listed my top ten games of 2013. This week, I’ll be listing my favorite films of 2013. The trouble with films, more than games, is that it’s sometimes hard to see a certain film. Living in a town like Fairbanks means we don’t always get every film that comes out. Before I get into my list, I just wanted to name a couple of films I wanted to check out but didn’t have the opportunity to do so.

[divider][one_half] Stoker

Image from rogerebert.com
Image from rogerebert.com

[/one_half][one_half_last]Blue Jasmine

Image from imdb.com
Image from imdb.com

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[one_half]Francis Ha

Frances Ha Film Poster
Image from imdb.com

[/one_half][one_half_last]Blue is the Warmest Color

Blue is the Warmest Color Film Poster
Image from impawards.com

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2013 was kind of a weak year for films. While there were plenty of good films, the number of great films was few and far between, up to the point that it was challenging to even make a top ten. Instead of forcing something in, here are nine standout films I saw in 2013. [divider][one_half]

Little Witch Academia
Image from amazonaws.com
Director: Yoh Yoshinari
Studio: Trigger

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9. Little Witch Academia

From the same people that brought us “Gurren Lagann” and “Kill La Kill” comes a short film that was created out of the Anime Mirai 2013 project. The 30-minutes-short film revolves around a young witch in training at Luna Nova Academy, who dreams to be like her idol. While not being the best, her resolve will have her stop at nothing to become a top-notch witch. Telling a complete story, I was left wishing there was more. Having top notch animation along with wonderful effects, radiant colors, and fun characters, “Little Witch Academia” shows such joy and wonder that it rivals Studio Ghibli and Toei Animation. With the successful Kickstarter of a second short, I can’t wait to see more adventures at Luna Nova Academy. The complete short can be found on Youtube and Crunchyroll.com [/one_half_last][divider]

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Blackfish Film Poster
Image from imdb.com
Director: Gabriela Cowperthwaite
Studio: CNN Films
Distributed: Magnolia Pictures

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8. Blackfish

I love going to zoos, but there is always that nagging feeling in the back of my mind, wondering if the animals I’m watching are really taken care of. Blackfish is the culmination of my worst fears come to life. Director Gabriela Cowperthwaite began work on “Blackfish” after the death and cover-up of a Sea-World trainer. Seeing how Sea-World obtains its whales, and how the company treats its animals and employees is utterly disgusting. As someone who had fond memories of going to Sea-World at a young age, it’s heartbreaking. Definitely an eye opening film, and the best documentary I’ve seen this year. [/one_half_last][divider]

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This is the End Film Poster
Image from imdb.com
Director: Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg
Starring: Jay Baruchel, Seth Rogen, Craig Robinson, James Franco and Jonah Hill
Distributed: Columbia Pictures

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7. This is the End

Already loving previous work from Evan Goldberg and the Seth Rogen crew, “This is the End” didn’t disappoint. Flying into LA, Jay Baruchel just wants to have a weekend hangout out with his best friend, Seth Rogen, but Rogen wants Baruchel to meet his other friends. They go to a party hosted by James Franco and while the party carries on, the apocalypse starts. leaving only a few survivors locked in Franco’s house. This was my favorite comedy of 2013, with tons of laugh-out-loud moments. If you’re not a fan of this group’s past formula, it’s not going to change your mind, but I think this may be the best comedy they’ve done yet. [/one_half_last][divider]

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Spring Breakers Film Poster
Image from ign.com
Director: Harmony Korine
Starring: Vanessa Hudgens, Selena Gomez, Ashley Benson, Rachel Korine and James Franco
Distributed: A24

 

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6. Spring Breakers

When I first watched “Spring Breakers,” I had no idea what to think. The story is about four friends going on Spring Break and trying to obtain the “MTV dream” they’ve been promised since they were young: a drug-and-alcohol-fueled dream filled with hedonism, blaring dubstep and blinding neon that’s reminiscent of a “Girls Gone Wild” video. When they meet their very own pied piper in a second-rate rapper named Alien (James Franco), they fall to a point of no return. Hudgens, Gomez, and Benson all give terrific performances of twisted versions of their past Disney characters. Franco steals the show as the enigmatic Alien, who manipulates the female cast but has no grasp on the situation. I cringed as the film continued because it’s evident how out of their element everybody is. With an amazing soundrack from Cliff Martinez, Skrillex, Gucci Mane and Ellie Goulding, Spring Breakers is going to become a cult classic where you’ll always find something new about it. Spring Break forever.

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The Wolf of Wall Street Film Poster
Image from cinemablend.com
Director: Martin Scorsese
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie and Rob Reiner
Distributed: Paramount Pictures

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5. The Wolf of Wall Street

Based on the true story of Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio), “The Wolf of Wall Street” chronicles his career in the stock market as a broker selling useless penny-stocks to clueless investors and making millions while his victims lost more. Belfort is a narcissistic, sadistic, and absolutely deplorable individual under the guise of gaining the American dream, but he does it with a smirk and a gleefulness that makes you smile. DiCaprio as Belfort gives one of the best performances of the year. The character is a disgusting person, but you hang on every piece of wisdom and knowledge he gives the audience. Hill, Robbie and surprisingly, Rob Reiner, also give solid performances in what turns out to be a pretty funny film. I didn’t think Scorsese had this kind of film in him. For all of its funny moments, it’s a depressing look at how much a game Wall Street is and how little brokers care about there clientele. [/one_half_last][divider]

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iron-man-3-poster
image from movies.yahoo.com
Director: Shane Black
Starring: Robert Downey, Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Guy Pearce and Ben Kingsley
Distributed: Walt Disney Studios

 

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4. Iron Man 3

Marvel continued to keep the ball rolling after “The Avengers,” putting out the best superhero film of the year in “Iron Man 3.” After the aftermath of the attack on New York, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) has locked himself away from everybody, still shell-shocked after almost dying. After the near death of a close friend, Stark challenges the terrorist Mandarin and The Extremis super soldiers (created by rival scientist Aldrich Killian) to try and save those close to him. What I loved about “Iron Man 3” was that it was more about the man “outside” the suit. Who is Tony Stark really? And is he defined only by the suit? Gwyneth Paltrow does a fantastic job as Pepper Potts, breaking out of simply being the love interest and has some all-star moments of her own. Guy Pearce and Ben Kingsley are not as good as say, Loki, but they’re pretty close with some very intimidating vignettes from The Mandarin. While “Man of Stee”l was trying to be dark and grim, “Iron Man 3” was pure fun with bits of danger. [/one_half_last][divider]

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Frozen_Poster
Image from b-i.forbesimg.com/
Director: Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee
Starring: Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad and Santino Fontana
Distributed: Walt Disney Studios

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3. Frozen

This was the biggest surprise of the year. Going in, I was very underwhelmed by the trailers and the TV ads which sold the film as something I really wanted no part of. I don’t know what those ads were about, because “Frozen” was way better then they let on. A retelling of the classic Snow Queen story by Hans Christian Andersen, “Frozen” is about two princesses, Elsa and Anna, growing up. Elsa happens to have powers over ice and snow. On the day of Elsa’s coronation, her powers grow out of control and she runs away, plunging their land into a frozen winter. Anna travels to save Elsa and her kingdom. While most Disney princess films rely on the Prince/Princess dynamic, “Frozen” relies heavily on the love of family and the relationship between the two sisters. The music by “Book of Mormon” alum Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez brings a real bombastic, Broadway feel. They’ve created one of the strongest soundtracks since “Mulan,” highlighted by the song “Let it Go.” If “Tangled” was a taste of their new take on the princess formula, “Frozen” is that idea fully-realized and done to near perfection. I can’t wait to see what they do next with the formula. [/one_half_last][divider]

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12-years-a-slave-poster
Image from collider.com
Director: Steve McQueen
Starring: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Lupita Nyong’o, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano, Paul Giamatti and Brad Pitt
Distributed: Fox Searchlight Pictures

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2. 12 Years A Slave

This is, objectively, the best film of the year. Based on the autobiographical novel of the same name, Solomon Northup is a freed man living with his family in 1841 New York. After being tricked, he’s kidnapped and sold back into slavery with his identity stripped. Northrup hopes to return to his family, and the film chronicles his hellacious 12-year-journey home.  Steven McQueen shows slavery in “12 Years a Slave” in the most graphic, disgusting way I’ve ever seen on film. It’s gut wrenching to watch his plight, and it’s disgusting to see that this was part of our nation’s history. Chiwetel Ejiofor gives the performance of the year as the brutally treated Solomon, and you feel his pain being away from the ones he loves and the awful things he must do. There are also spectacular performances from Michael Fassbender, Lupita Nyong’o and Paul Dano. The cruelty and bleakness shown in the film is something I will never forget and is a film that everybody must watch. [/one_half_last][divider]

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pacific-rim-poster-banner
Image from sciencefiction.com
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Starring: Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day and Ron Perlman
Distributed: Warner Bros.

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1. Pacific Rim

This is the most fun I’ve had with a film all year. When a dimensional portal opens at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, it unleashes giant monsters on the world. To combat this threat, the world’s nations team up and create giant, piloted robots named Jaegers to fight and save humanity. This film really could have been done by anybody, but Guillermo Del Toro is masterful in his design of the creatures. The robots and setting are outstanding, with the huge scope of the fights being absolutely breathtaking (even more so in IMAX). The cast is perfect, with Idris Elba as the stalwart leader of the Jaeger Program. Charlie Hunnam and Rinko Kikuchi have great chemistry as the pilot duo of Gypsy Danger. I could gush over this film for hours for being so revolutionary. This film reminds me of when I watched “Jurassic Park” for the first time, falling in love with cinema. This film is destined to become a modern day classic. [/one_half_last]