Top 10 Movies of 2013 (JimmyO)

Last Updated on August 3, 2021

With 2013 coming to an end, I am once again reminded that there is good out there when it comes to cinema. Early in the year it certainly may have seemed as if we were in for some serious trouble. And once summer came around many were disappointed in the big popcorn flick choices. Yet there was fun to be had even if not one single superhero flick made my best of the year list. MAN OF STEEL, THOR 2: THE DARK WORLD and even IRON MAN 3 entertained many – including myself – however not all audiences were thrilled with their comic book heroes big screen adventures.

When it ultimately came down to my best of the year, it wasn’t the heroes battling their foes; it was an animated Disney musical about a couple of princesses that was far from FROZEN. Then of course there was THE WORLD’S END where a group of friends on a pub crawl realized their home town wasn’t what it used to be. And that all happened BEFORE MIDNIGHT when a married couple who have watched many a sunrise and sunset were now facing a darker and more challenging time in the relationship.

Of course when it came to what eventually would be a terrific fall season there are a number of films which would have very likely found a place on this top ten list. As of this writing I’ve yet to see THE WOLF OF WALL STREET, NEBRASKA, BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR nor did I get the chance to see BLUE JASMINE in the theatres. From what I’ve heard Mr. Martin Scorsese is in top form with WALL STREET and it seems that James Franco rocked it in SPRING BREAKERS. The problem with only covering a few movies a year is that sometimes you miss a gem or two the first time around.

I’m happy to say that putting a top 10 list together this year was a difficult task. Among the many stand out films that almost made my list include THE CONJURING, MUD, UPSTREAM COLOR, STOKER as well as SHORT TERM 12. Perhaps a top twenty would have been easier. Some of my choices you may agree with, others you may think I’m absolutely nuts. What movies inspired you in 2013? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Check out Chris Bumbray’s Top 10 of 2013 here!

3. Gravity

In Alfonso Cuaron’s outstanding feature GRAVITY, the filmmaker creates an excitingly unique viewing experience. The effects are incredible and that sound design is pure genius. If that wasn’t enough the 3D is equally beyond impressive. This modern space opera is a thrilling adventure as a small crew of astronauts find themselves victim to some very scary – as well as slightly plausible – circumstance. George Clooney and Sandra Bullock star, but it is Bullock who gives one of the best performances of her career. Once again this talented director proves to be a modern day cinematic artist with this compelling and action packed feature film.

2. Inside Llewyn Davis

As a music lover, it is hard to not be taken in by The Coen Brothers latest INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS. This beautifully shot and musically vibrant feature about a despondent folk singer trying to make his mark in the 60’s is gorgeously morose. Oscar Isaac is the perfect mix of vulnerable, boorish, infantile and at times hypnotic. And yes, the man has an incredible voice. With a moody soundtrack and an inspired sense of dark humor, looking Inside Llewyn Davis is a challenging yet incredibly moving movie going experience. Look out for a number of great supporting performances including the bizarre dynamic duo of Garrett Hedlund and John Goodman.

4. American Hustle

I loved SILVER LINING PLAYBOOK but I wasn’t sure that David O. Russell could work his magic on a film about criminals and con-artists. I was wrong. AMERICAN HUSTLE is hilarious, suspenseful and even a little bit romantic. Christian Bale, Jeremy Renner, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence are all terrific in this fast-paced crime flick. From the very beginning when it claims that “some of this actually happened” and we see Bale messing with his monstrous toupee, you know you are in for a treat. It’s been quite a year for Lawrence and she certainly proves she’s going to be around for a long while with this scene-stealing role. Great performances, a crackling and smart script, AMERICAN HUSTLE is a blast from start to finish.

1. HER

Spike Jonze latest HER is a complex look at the modern relationship. The story of a man who falls in love with his operating system is never trivial or hokey. Joaquin Phoenix creates a massively compelling character, one who is isolated and lonely after his wife asks for a divorce. He finds an unlikely companion in the operating system “Samantha” (voiced by Scarlett Johansson) who encompasses everything he needs in a partner. HER is a uniquely grounded work of science fiction, one which manages to break your heart, put a smile on your face and make you fall in love. This is a wonderful film that will connect with nearly every single soul it touches.

5. Frozen

Sure it is an animated movie. Hell, it’s a freaking “princess” flick, yet it is one of the most colorful and engaging movies of the year. From the show-stopping sure to be Oscar winning song “Let it Go” to the touching sisterly bond between Queen Elsa and Princess Anna (Idina Menzel and Kristen Bell) there is so much to love in this Disney flick with a super big heart. Beautifully animated, FROZEN is a refreshingly modern twist on the classic fairy tale “The Snow Queen” by Hans Christian Andersen. It also features one of the most excitingly creative pre-show animated shorts I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing with Mickey Mouse and “Get a Horse.” This is a perfect movie going evening for the whole family.

7. Before Midnight

The third film in the collaboration between Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy is a wonderfully deft examination of a modern marriage. Both Hawke and Delpy have grown with these roles and continue to spark as one of cinemas great on-screen duos. The dialogue is honest, heartfelt and very funny as it explores their imperfect marriage with children. This is one of the most satisfying romances I’ve ever witnessed while sitting in a dark theatre. Considering this dialogue heavy film could have easily felt contrived and stale, BEFORE MIDNIGHT manages to enlighten, delight and entertain.

8. The World’s End

Edgar Wright’s final film in “The Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy” is rich with humor as well as thrills. THE WORLD’S END is a funny and insightful look at growing older and saying goodbye to youth. This genre-bending sci-fi flick offers up some brilliant dark comedy yet at the same time it is a savvy character study with a terrific cast lead by Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. This buddy flick is a wonderfully realized look at going home again and finding that everything you held dear has changed. Or maybe the past just wasn’t worth remembering in the first place. This was an incredibly funny, well-written tribute to friendship, pub crawls and science fiction thrillers of old.

6. 12 Years A Slave

Most of my favorite films this year I could easily revisit. Yet I’m not so sure about 12 YEARS A SLAVE. This brutal and heart wrenching look at a free man sold into slavery is disturbing on so many levels. Director Steve McQueen gathers an impressive cast for this powerful yet bleak look back at a very ugly part of American history. The film is made all the more impressive thanks to the fantastic Chiwetel Ejiofor who gives one of this year’s most mesmerizing performances.

9. Dallas Buyers Club

In director Jean-Marc Vallée’s impressive feature film DALLAS BUYERS CLUB there is a moment where we witness a very weak HIV-positive Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey) losing conscious. It is an effective moment simply the way the filmmaker and cinematographer Yves Bélanger convey his deteriorating state. This story of a man who created a buyers club to give medication to help AIDS patients is as inspirational as it is tragic. As powerfully shot and effectively written it is – with a script by Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack – both McConaughey and the incredible Jared Leto as his transgender business partner Rayon help make DALLAS BUYERS CLUB an emotionally moving motion picture.

10. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

The LORD OF THE RINGS Trilogy are among my favorite films which have ever graced the silver screen. With last years THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY I was happy to return to Middle Earth. Yet the first film back didn’t quite reach the impressive heights that RETURN OF THE KING had left us with. Happily, THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG seems to bring much of the daring back into the series while not completely abandoning what AUJ set up. This is a dizzying display of tremendous action and special effects – even though I’d always prefer a little more in the practical department. As well, Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) is most assuredly becoming a favorite character for me, one of the many I have in Peter Jackson’s Tolkien inspired films. And with that cliffhanger ending, I am ecstatic to go THERE AND BACK AGAIN in 2014.

About the Author

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JimmyO is one of’s longest-tenured writers, with him reviewing movies and interviewing celebrities since 2007 as the site’s Los Angeles correspondent.