Saturday, December 28, 2013
My 2013: The 10 Best Movies You Probably Didn't See
In order to offset my Worst Of list (coming later today) I'd like to add something positive, so here's a look at 10 movies that, judging by box office, you likely didn't go check out but were well worth your time. These are ones that specifically won't make my overall Top 10 list. Pictured above is The Lone Ranger, which isn't on this list, but I don't think is as heinous as you may have heard. It's biggest crime is being unnecessarily too damn long. It does however, provide a fantastic final action sequence. Just wanted to drop that tid bit while I'm here. Without further adieu and, of course, in alphabetical order here's the Top 10 best movies you probably didn't see this year.
This is minimal minimal stuff going on here. Yes, its a zombie movie and we're flooded with them in pop culture right now (seriously...Walking Dead scratch off lottery tickets anyone?). The Battery only follows two characters who were both professional (maybe minor league) baseball players prior to the zombie outbreak. Its a testament to writer/director/star Jeremy Gardner that he was able to keep this movie moving along and interesting while utilizing the bare minimum. Gardener manages, with virtually no budget, to give a completely real sense of a post-apocalyptic world. His patience and silence in the score allows the film to become haunting and discomforting claustrophobic leading to a very chilling and pulse pounding climax that just features just two dudes in a car. If you're a fan of zombies at all, you're doing yourself a disservice by not checking this one out.
The final(?) piece to Richard Linklater's brilliant Before Trilogy wound up with us actually having our couple together. Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy have proven to be one of the greatest on screen duos of all time with this little trilogy. Their chemistry is so good its almost disappointing they're not together in real life. This movie takes you through an emotional whirl as you realize you really love these characters and it almost feels like two people you know when they get into some deeper and dark conflict between each other. It's wonderful capper to one of cinema's greatest trilogies proving a part 3 can be just as strong as the rest of its predecessors.
I expected myself to have fun with this B-action movie starring Jason Stathom and written by Sylvester Stallone. What I didn't expect, was to think it was incredibly well done. Don't get me wrong, this is a B picture through and through. However, its contains possibly the most fully realized group of characters in any movie you'll see this year. Everything about everyone makes sense. You absolutely understand where every person in this movie is coming from and never question the choices they make, good guy or bad guy. Everyone in the movie also gives a top notch performance to add to the already strong script. Also, noteworthy, I'm pretty sure this is a career best from Kate Bosworth, someone I've not really care much for in the past but is rock solid in this movie. Please folks, rent or blind buy this movie when it becomes available for home viewing, its a lot of fun and really rich at the same time.
The Last Stand
From late January to early February it felt like the late 80s to early 90s all over again. We had one-man action vehicles with classic stars opening each week. Who was the winner of it all? Arnold Schwarzenegger with ease. Not only was this a fun, rock solid action film, but I'd also argue its a top 10 all time Schwarzenegger movie too. It was the American debut of director Kim Jee-Woon and featured a number of cool shootouts and chases. The movie doesn't have "save the world" stakes, but that's becoming a breath of fresh air with the over abundance of comic book movies we have nowadays. This one isn't going to light the world on fire, but hot damn was it a good time.
Man Of Tai Chi
I recently just reviewed this one on Blu-ray for Why So Blu, which you can check out in depth HERE. In short, I've kind of fallen in love with Keanu Reeves' directorial debut. Its a modern throwback to Kung Fu movies of the 70s. Almost a love letter. Its a film that is a bunch of fun and sticks to its guns in terms of theme and dedication to fighting styles. Plus, Keanu is just a badass in this. This is one that will definitely be getting repeat watching from me in the future.
I don't want to spoil this one at all. To lay the base for this horror-thriller picture, a guy goes out to his friend's cabin in the woods to help him kick his meth addiction. He handcuffs him to a pipe and decides he's going to stay with him until he finishes out having his withdrawls. Ohhh...but there's so much more here than meets the eye. This film got down right spine tingling creepy. And the fun part of it, its a horror film that feels pretty wholly original. I'm really excited to see more from writer/directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhood as this was a pretty awesome introduction to them for me and I've put them on the map as a people to watch going forward.
This psycho-sexual little trip to Florida is one of just evoking your feelings and trying its best to shock you. While I think the first act spent too much time trying to hammer in its point, the final two acts are an unpredictable and thrilling heist adventure. The main reason to see this as I pointed out yesterday is James Franco, but the rest of the film is no slouch either. Once the girls in the film meet up with him, I'm fully on board with the movie then. There was a lot of disdain for this movie when it came out because I think kids thought this was going to be some sort of teen comedy and turned out to be some sort of social commentary and psychotic picture revolving around them. Just because the movie wasn't what you thought it was, doesn't mean what you got is bad, folks.
The To Do List
This is easily one of the year's best comedies and it kinda sucks it isn't making the cut for my Top 10 (or even 20) but that's how things turned out. I'm a big fan of Aubrey Plaza (super gorgeous AND super talented) and she continues to prove how much game she has in this little indie films each year. This one surely had me rolling in many moments and really loving the story at hand. At times I felt like I was watching a sexual version of Napoleon Dynamite. It also latched onto my nostalgia taking place in the 90s during the time I grew up as a teen. As the years go by, I can see this climbing up the charts as one of my favorites from this year. You know, after the smoke clears and all those amazing one-shots that I never watch again I've distanced myself from.
The second addition to the found footage anthology series was a massive leap in improvement over the first film. It has characters and filmmakers doing a much better job of realizing their stories, giving us much better and less detestable characters as well as a far less misogynistic approach. One of the shorts in the film is also one of the most downright creepy and disturbing things I've seen in quite a while. They've trimmed the fat in this one and tightened things up for a much more enjoyable/dreadful experience. I reviewed the movie here on Naptown Nerd. Check that out HERE.
Quite possibly the most disappointing box office "bomb"(though I argue this movie was so inexpensive that I don't think it could classify as that, but alas that's what "experts" say) of the year. You're Next was an absolute joyful horror-comedy that horror fans had been waiting 2 years to see. This was a cleverly crafted take on the home invasion subgenre featuring an all star cast of indie "mumblecore"(hate that term, btw) actors trapped by three guys in masks. What starts out as horrific, delivers plenty of laughs, interesting turns, a song that'll be stuck in your head for days and some creative kills with just the right amount of gore. This is another one I'll be popping in for years to come. If you're a horror fan, do yourself a favor and blind buy it next month on Blu-ray.
Please check back later today as I unveil the films I did not like in 2013.