Keith’s Top Ten Movies of 2013

The Oscars are over, so it’s time for me to weigh in on what the best movies of 2013 really were.  Unfortunately, of the 289 feature films released in the US last year, I’ve seen only 36.  I wish it were more!

All in all, it was a disappointing year for blockbuster cinema, but a very strong year for smaller films.  Here are my favorites:

#1: Her


Intimate, searching, visionary, and heartfelt – a gorgeous and many-layered movie.

#2: Mud


Proof that a simple story artfully told can be rich, seductive, and memorable.  Featuring this year’s other great Matthew McConaughey performance.

#3: American Hustle


A deeply enjoyable film.  Gutsy, rough, irreverent, and acted to the hilt.

#4: Nebraska


Almost monastically spare, but full of warmth, nostalgia, and wry humor.  A wonderfully modest and evocative movie.

#5: Inside Llewyn Davis


One of the Coen Brothers’ most expertly realized works.  A cautionary fable, packed with dead-on musical selections, and with a chilly beauty all its own.

#6: Frozen


Satisfyingly epic, with plenty of humor and tenderness.  The movie that Brave should have been.

#7: World War Z


The first act is some of the most riveting, up-for-grabs action I’ve ever seen.  The rest ain’t bad, either.

#8: Philomena


A far sharper and more trenchant movie than we were led to expect.  Not that it doesn’t inspire a tear or two also – but it earns those tears.

#9: Ender’s Game


There’s a fair amount of awkward kid acting in this movie – but if you get the big stuff right, you can get away with a lot.  Ender’s Game gets the big stuff right.  Story is king!

#1o: Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom


Idris Elba could easily have landed an Oscar nomination for his powerful turn as Nelson Mandela.  Unfortunately – as Tom Hanks, Robert Redford, Joaquin Phoenix, and Oscar Isaac will attest – it was a pretty tough year.


Honorable Mention: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.  Twisty and exciting, with a great sequel hook at the end.

Worst Movie of the Year: The Counselor – a movie so thoroughly despicable that I’d rather not say anything more about it.

Most Overrated: Gravity.  Boring, shallow, and inept.


Just for reference, here’s the full list of movies I saw last year:

About Time
American Hustle
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues
Blue Caprice
Blue Jasmine
Captain Phillips
The Counselor
Dallas Buyers Club
Ender’s Game
Frances Ha
G.I. Joe: Retaliation
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
In a World …
Inside Llewyn Davis
Iron Man 3
Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
Man of Steel
The Place Beyond the Pines
Red 2
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Star Trek: Into Darkness
Stories We Tell
This Is Martin Bonner
Thor: The Dark World
12 Years a Slave
The Wolverine
World War Z

Published in: on March 3, 2014 at 11:50 am  Comments (2)  


(Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee, 2013)

with Aja Nisenson, Union Square Regal, 2/28/14



You know what I like?  I like a movie that surprises me.  And I like a movie that draws me into an original world.  I also like to laugh, and I like to be moved by acts of love and bravery and moments of personal growth.  And I like Frozen, because it does all those things.  And also because it’s charming as hell.

Published in: on March 1, 2014 at 5:17 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Sting

(George Roy Hill, 1970)

alone, IFC Center, 2/22/14



Has there ever been a movie as artfully made, and at the same time as sheerly enjoyable, as The Sting?  If so, it doesn’t spring to mind.  Funnier than most comedies, deeper than most dramas, light but never disposable, serious but never solemn, here is a movie that exemplifies the idea of art as a form of entertainment – or perhaps entertainment as a form of art.

Published in: on March 1, 2014 at 5:12 pm  Leave a Comment  

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

(Justin Chadwick, 2013)

with Caitlin, DGA Theater, 2/16/14



The light in this movie is phenomenal.  Rich, subtle, and golden, it suffuses scenes of misery and scenes of grace with equal indifferent beauty.  Also phenomenal: Idris Elba, who has the gravitas, the charisma, and the range to play Mandela from his fiery early days to the mellow wisdom of his autumn years.  Mandela is a bit long and a bit repetitive, but we can forgive those faults.  Considering how much ground it covers, the movie is remarkably focused, and the Nelson Mandela that emerges from it is as human as he is impressive.  Powerful stuff.

Published in: on March 1, 2014 at 4:53 pm  Leave a Comment