We start the Top 7. You finish the Top 10.
I didn't go to Cannes, nor did I visit SXSW. I hit both of those last year. Plans to attend Sundance for the first time ever fell through. I didn't tell you all of this so you could feel sympathy for me (I'm a first-time dad, and work at home while raising my son, which has been great). I'm telling you all of this to explain that I only saw the films you (the typical movie fan living in a good film city) had access to. Last year, I had already seen my favorite film of 2012 (The Cabin in the Woods). I don't feel like that's the case with this crop of films, but as the saying goes, only exactly six months will tell. Now onto the Top 7 Films So Far of 2013. Full disclosure: I haven't seen Upstream Color or Side Effects.
7. Iron Man 3
Recap: A terrorist known as the Mandarin (Kingsley) threatens America and brings the fight to Tony Stark (Downey Jr.). Now Stark must find a way to save Pepper (Paltrow), while also trying to rebuild Iron Man. Reason: This is a really nice upturn after the misfire that was Iron Man 2. Having Tony dealing with the stress of being a superhero, with his world crumbling, was a great call. Upping the humor was an even better decision by Shane Black and company. Now we have two superhero thirds that are worth our time (the other being The Dark Knight Rises). Read my complete review of Iron Man 3.
6. This is the End
Recap: Two stoner actors (Baruchel and Rogen) must survive the apocalypse while stranded at James Franco’s house, along with Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson, and Danny McBride. Reason: It's funny and insane. So far, 2013 looks like an off year for comedy. Besides This is the End and The Heat, nothing feels truly worth spending your time and money on. Thankfully, we have Ron Burgandy (Will Ferrell) coming our way in December. Until then, this will probably remain the funniest film I've seen this year. The buddy survival story feels relatable, even though it's a bunch of celebrities hanging out. It's occasionally bloated (like Jonah Hill's exorcism) but definitely has the highest JPM (jokes per minute) on an comedy this year. Listen to my review of This Is the End.
5. Stories We Tell
Recap: Filmmaker Sarah Polley interviews her family members to discuss a secret that changed her life forever. Reason: It's a documentary that takes you by surprise. Normally, that's not the case. Polley creates something personal, yet she's most definitely creating. It seems as though it will be a straightforward concept about how family members can all have different versions of the same story. It then becomes much more, taking you on a mysterious journey of something you don't feel like you should have access to. Listen to my review of Stories We Tell.
Recap: Chris (Steve Oram) and Tina (Alice Lowe) go on a road trip, but the dream vacation takes some dark twists. Reason: I won't give away any of the bloody excitement, or dead-pan comedy that will take away the surprises of Sightseers. I can't wait to see his first film Down Terrace and everything to come from director Ben Wheatley. Sightseers isn't quite as insane as Kill List, yet somehow it is crazier. Chris and Tina's whacked out relationship is something to enjoy, fear and rewatch. Read my complete review of Sightseers.
3. Spring Breakers
Recap: Four college girls who land in jail, find themselves bailed out by a drug and arms dealer who wants them to do some dirty work. Reason: It's uncomfortable and bizarre, but goes the extra mile to crazy town with a glint in its ... gold-capped tooth from a man named Alien (James Franco). Franco definitely is the most addictive performance of the year so far, proving he will still put forth a great effort to act. Spring Breakers points fingers at our youth, showing what the authentic life of some might be like. Thankfully, there's enough fiction mixed in to that authenticity to entertain. Listen to my review of Spring Breakers.
Recap: Two young men in Arkansas (Tye Sheridan and Jacob Lofland) decide to help a man who is mysteriously hiding from civilization (McConaughey). Reason: I didn't grow up in rural Arkansas, but Mud made me feel like I did. It is such an authentic work that is created, and the performance of Sheridan is my favortie of the year. Yes, that means he's currently my front-runner for Lead Actor. McConaughey continues his transformation, becoming the best character actor in the business (which requires swagger). Listen to my review of Mud.
1. Before Midnight
Recap: We meet Jesse (Hawke) and Celine (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 my complete review of Before Midnight.