We start the Top 7. You finish the Top 10.
The year is over and I can’t seem to think straight. While I continued to love films, they took a back seat. I’m a work-at-home dad, and everything else seems properly secondary. Movies became more of an escape than ever. Getting to the theater became my “adult time,” my solitude. The year of 2013 didn’t disappoint, though blockbusters did. Matthew McConaughey didn’t disappoint (he’s in three of my top seven films). I’ll be honest, I’m already looking ahead to 2014, when I will finally attend the Sundance Film Festival, without my kid, for an amazing
vacation work week.
10. The World’s End
9. The Wolf of Wall Street
8. Don Jon
7. Dallas Buyers Club
Recap: After being diagnosed with HIV in the 1980s, red-blooded Texan Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey) begins a small medicinal business to help provide medicine for those who can’t afford what licensed doctors offer. He becomes friends with a transvestite named Rayon (Jared Leto), and strives to earn support from a doctor (Jennifer Garner) who herself is learning about the strange rules in the business of medication.
Reason: McConaughey lost a lot of weight. More importantly, his character doesn’t belong in a passionate story of dealing with HIV in the ’80s. That’s the greatness with this film. You follow a jerk, who has a passion for life.
Listen to Bayer’s review of Dallas Buyers Club
Recap: Two young men in Arkansas (Tye Sheridan and Jacob Lofland) decide to help a man who is mysteriously hiding from civilization (Matthew McConaughey).
Reason: I don’t know what it is like to grow up in rural Arkansas, but now I feel like I do. Sheridan does such a wonderful job as a kid who is trying to figure out what love is, and if it’s worth it.
Listen to Bayer’s review of Mud
5. The Spectacular Now
Recap: Sutter (Miles Teller) parties hard as a high school senior, and he decides to befriend an average girl (Shailene Woodley) after his recent breakup.
Reason: It’s this year’s coming-of-age story that just nailed it. Last year it was The Perks of Being a Wallflower. The film holds up fantastically on second viewing, when you fully understand how everyone views Sutter. Plus, Woodley is as good as it gets right now for young actresses.
Listen to Bayer’s review of The Spectacular Now
Recap: In the near future, a writer (Joaquin Phoenix) begins an unlikely relationship with his newly purchased operating system (voiced by Scarlett Johansson).
Reason: The world that director Spike Jonze creates is fantastic, subtle science fiction. The relationship is shockingly compelling, with Johansson giving us one of her best performances (and is never on-screen). It makes you wonder what you’re actually looking for in life/relationships. Having Arcade Fire perform the musical score doesn’t hurt either.
Listen to Bayer’s review of Her
3. Before Midnight
Recap: We meet Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) nine years later in Greece. It’s been almost 20 years since the two met on a train bound for Vienna, and many things have changed in their lives.
Reason: The Before trilogy is a vacation for me. I am taken away, and it is never for long enough. Good movies typically make me love my wife more, and now my son. That’s what a good escape to a foreign country does as well. With all of that being said, I believe that if the world has one job right now it is to make sure Linklater, Hawke, and Delpy live long enough in order for us to get at least three more Before films; if we have two jobs, world peace.
Read Bayer’s review of Before Midnight
2. 12 Years a Slave
Recap: Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is a free man, who is kidnapped and forced into slavery.
Reason: It’s one of the most powerful films I’ve ever seen, and one of the hardest to watch. There are a handful of moments where I wanted to look away, and was in tears. The tears were different than my usual movie tears. It’s heartbreaking that this was America. It’s heartbreaking that men, women and children would have to endure this treatment. It’s an amazing piece that director Steve McQueen does justice.
Listen to Bayer’s review of 12 Years a Slave
1. Inside Llewyn Davis
Recap: Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac) is a young folk singer, trying to survive and thrive in the Greenwich Village folk scene of 1961.
Reason: I am addicted to the look of this film (vintage colors). I am addicted to the feel of this film (the cold feels cold). I am addicted to the sound of this film (the good and the bad). The Coen brothers are great filmmakers, and for some reason I feel like I forgot that for just a moment.
Listen to Bayer’s review of Inside Llewyn Davis