Top 10 Best Movies of 2013

Honorable mentions:
Before Midnight
Lone Survivor
Gravity
Monsters University
The Conjuring
The World’s End
This is the End
Pacific Rim
Man of Steel

10. “The Wolf of Wall Street”
Martin Scorsese’s latest movie was not without its flaws. The film went on a tad too long, coming in at a full three hours, and it could have used some focus on other characters. Still, this was a really well made film by Scorsese and the performances by both Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill were fantastic.

9. “Don Jon”
Joseph Gordon-Levitt acted, directed and wrote the movie “Don Jon,” and it shows what kind of talent he has. The film does a very good job breaking down and exploring a relationship, similar to Gordon-Levitt’s last romantic comedy outing in 2009’s “500 Days of Summer.” The film was also one of the funniest movies of the year and featured good performances from Gordon-Levitt, Scarlett Johansson and Julianne Moore. Tony Danza also had a couple of hilarious scenes.

8. “12 Years a Slave”
One of, if not the most brutal films of the year was “12 Years a Slave,” and it was also one of the best. The film is very upfront about the horrors of slavery and didn’t shy away from showing the audience what it was like. Lead actor Chiwetel Ejiofor is stellar in the lead role of Solomon, a free black man who is captured and forced into slavery. He was also surrounded by good performances from Michael Fassbender, Paul Giamatti and Benedict Cumberbatch.

7. “Her”
Director Spike Jonze’s latest film, “Her,” is a great, heartfelt romance, drama and comedy film, but it is also a fantastic sci-fi movie as well. Many times the science fiction genre is told through action or disaster film formats, however, Jonze explores the style in a different fashion. The movie does a great job analyzing a possible, and even likely, future where many people are obsessed with technology and use it for almost everything in life. The movie also features great writing and nice performances by Joaquin Phoenix, Scarlett Johansson and Amy Adams.

6. “Nebraska”
Alexander Payne has become a solid favorite director of mine after making “The Descendants” in 2011 and now “Nebraska” in 2013. What’s great about both films, especially “Nebraska,” is how well Payne is able to explore the dynamics of a family and do so through a balanced usage of both comedy and drama. The movie also features a great performance from Bruce Dern and a surprisingly solid portrayal from “Saturday Night Live” alum Will Forte.

5. “Dallas Buyers Club”
Matthew McConaughey is finally taking his place at the top of the acting world after a career resurgence that started with “The Lincoln Lawyer” and now continues in the great “Dallas Buyers Club.” McConaughey is phenomenal in the film, portraying so much emotion and giving his character both personality and depth. Co-star Jared Leto also gives a powerful performance and worked very well alongside McConaughey.

4. “Frozen”
Since John Lasseter took over Walt Disney Animation Studios in 2006, the company has experienced a great track record and it continues with “Frozen.” Featuring gorgeous animation, fantastic songs, a well structured story and fun characters with great voice acting, the film was an easy choice to put in the top five movies of 2013.

3. “Captain Phillips”
Director Paul Greengrass had easily one of the most thrilling and exciting films of 2013 with “Captain Phillips.” The movie, which was inspired by the true story was very well made, detailed and phenomenally acted. Tom Hanks was fantastic as usual, but the one who was really surprising was newcomer Barkhad Abdi who played the pirate captain. Another great feature of the movie was how it showed the interaction and background of the two captains in the film.

2. “Inside Llewyn Davis”
The Coen brothers are back and they brought a great film with them. “Inside Llewyn Davis” is an honest, real movie that explores the difficulties of being an artist and how much an artist believes in his or her work. Despite being rather bleak in tone, the movie is still heartfelt and relates the main character’s emotions. Oscar Isaac does a great job as the title character. Plus, the film features great comedy, with some of the best humorous lines delivered by veteran actor John Goodman.

1. “Prisoners”
One of the more underrated films of the year was my definite favorite. “Prisoners” was a heart-pounding thriller that used a phenomenal slow build-up to make for a great, suspenseful experience. The story takes some unexpected twists and turns and provides a great deal of depth by exploring morality. The film also featured two easily Oscar caliber performances from stars Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal.

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Author: Matthew Liedke

My name is Matthew Liedke. I'm a reporter for the Bemidji Pioneer in Minnesota, but I also have a passion for the art of film. This passion led me to start writing about film in 2008. From 2008-2016 I wrote pieces at my own website, After the Movie Reviews. Then, from 2016-May 2018, my write-ups were featured on AreaVoices, a blog network run by Forum Communications Company. Today, I now write film reviews and other pieces here on Word Press. More about me: I'm a 2012 graduate of Minnesota State University Moorhead where I studied journalism and film. Outside of film, I enjoy sports, video games, anime and craft beers.

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