As movie years go, 2013 was a very good year. As I looked back over my list of movies and their scores I found I could have made a top 20. That is not the usual case as in past years I have had to scramble to come up with ten films worthy of being called a "top 10." This year there was a huge number of big movies and a comparable number of little movies that all could have ended up on the list in one way or another. Still as I went through my memories of the year past I decided in most instances to go with the smaller film.
So here is my list beginning with the number ten film and working my way up to the number one film, at least as far as I am concerned, for 2013.
#10 - AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY. This movie has not played in large segments of the country but it should arrive sooner or later. It is a wild ride of a story concerning a dysfunctional family. Streep plays the matriarch and she has three daughters, played by Julia Roberts, Julianne Nicholson and Juliette Lewis. Streep has problems with all three but it is Roberts' character who leads the charge against her. And when these two clash it s a clash of titans. Love these people or hate them you will have to admit they are fascinating.
#9 - BEFORE MIDNIGHT. This is the third in a series of movies about two characters played by Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. They have now been together for several years and have twin girls. But even in this somewhat happy state they still discuss everything and anything concerning their relationship. As they talk, talk and talk some more the audience is fascinated with everything they say. The acting is first rate and the script by the two leads and director Richard Linklater is brilliant.
#8 - FRUITVALE STATION. The true story of Oscar Grant III, a Bay area resident who was killed by a metro officer. Michael B Jordan is excellent as Oscar and Octavia Spencer is superb as his mother. The film doesn't try to make Oscar into a saint but rather paints a picture of a conflicted young man who didn't deserve to die. The film should have gotten a wider audience than it did but there is hope the DVD will be seen by more people who will discover a film gem.
#7 - THE BOOK THIEF. The film version of Markus Zusak's young adult novel of the same name elated all who saw it. This story of a young girl, Liesel (Sophie Nelisse), and her experiences in Germany at the start of World War II created a world of hope amid horror. Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson as her "adoptive" parents capture audience's hearts and add to the wonder of the film.
#6 - FROZEN. This Disney movie about princesses combines music, comedy and amazing animation. It is a throwback to the times of "Beauty and the Beast," "The Little Mermaid" and "Aladdin." Plus any movie that features the glorious singing voice of Idina Menzel has to be something special and "Frozen" is.
#5 - ENOUGH SAID. The late, great James Gandolfini received an unexpected topper to his career with a sweet, romantic role in this comedy about mature love. Acting opposite Julia Louis-Dreyfus these two actors spun the dialogue of writer/ director Nicole Holofcener and captured audiences' hearts. It was a surprise out of left field that was easily one of the best movies of the year.
#4 - THE WAY WAY BACK. It could have been just another coming of age story but this movie deepened that usual story with complex characters who piqued our interest and attention. Plus Sam Rockwell made his water park manager a Pied Piper for modern times. Also imagine Steve Carell as the heavy in the film. Think he couldn't do it, well he can and did. Add in Liam James as the boy who is the center of it all and you have a near perfect cast in a fascinating movie.
#3 - INSTRUCTIONS NOT INCLUDED. Another unexpected surprise of the movie year. This Mexican movie held audiences rapt even though it required subtitles for half of the film. The storyline concerns a man named Valentin (Eugenio Derben) who raises his daughter Maggie (Loreto Peralta) as a single parent until his ex-girlfriend appears to reclaim her. The movie makes you laugh and it will definitely make you cry. It also has an ending that took me completely by surprise.
#2 - 42. The best sports movie of this and many previous years. Jackie Robinson comes to life vividly as played by Chadwick Boseman. His incredible performance is matched and maybe even exceeded by Harrison Ford as Branch Rickey. The film itself is a study in human dignity and race relations that shows how much our country has progressed. This movie entertains and educates.
#1 - NEBRASKA. Bruce Dern gives the performance of the year as Woody Grant, a man in his later years who still has a dream to pursue. Will Forte is gentle stability as his son David. Add in a super performance by June Squibb as his patience losing wife and you have the combination for a movie that will touch your heart like no other did this year. It may not grasp your interest right from the start but stick with it and you will become completely absorbed by this one man's quest.
So there you have it. 2013 was a very good year for movies.
Jackie K Cooper