Back to Blogging: Reflections on the Movies of 2013 (plus a few from 2012 and 2011)

I’m back! After nine months I’m finally adding another post. Did I stop watching movies for nine months? Certainly not! Here’s the hustlescoop: none of the movies over the summer inspired me to write anything. When the good movies started rolling out in the fall, I was out of the blogging habit. I fell behind, but slowly added reflections on my 2013 rankings page. I finally have those rankings up to date. I’ve also added films to the 2011 and 2012 rankings, but not all of those gravityhave comments yet. In total, I added 32 movies from 2013, including American Hustle, Gravity, 12 Years a Slave, Nebraska, Wolf of Wall Street, Fruitvale Station, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, August: Osage County, and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. I added 14 movies from 2012 and 5 from 2011, including Cloud Atlas, Killing Them Softly, A Late Quartet, and Incendies. Check out my rankings pages and be looking for my annual Oscar predictions coming soon.

Steve’s First Rankings of 2013: Star Trek Into Darkness, Iron Man 3, Mud, and Place Beyond the Pines

trekIt took me until the end of April to see my first 2013 movie, but now I’ve seen four in two weeks. That’s enough to start my 2013 Rankings page. Check out what I have to say about Star Trek Into Darkness, Iron Man 3, Mud, and The Place Beyond the Pines.

Steve Adds Seven Movies to 2012 Rankings

perksI’ve added The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Chronicle, Magic Mike, Flight, The Paperboy, Frankenweenie, and Premium Rush to my 2012 rankings. They range from an unexpected delight to the weakest movie I’ve seen from 2012. Check out my 2012 Ranking page.

Steve Adds Six Movies to His 2012 Rankings

I’ve added Django Unchained, Zero Dark Thirty, The Master, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Arbitrage, and Salmon Fishing in the Yemen to my django22012 rankings. They range from one of my favorites of the year to one of the greatest disappointments. Check out the rankings page to see where I place them and what I have to say about them.

Lincoln and Les Miserables Added to Steve’s 2012 Rankings

lincolnles misI’ve added Lincoln and Les Miserables to my 2012 rankings. One lands in my great movie category, the other much lower. Check out my rankings to see which is where and let me know what you think.

Three Movies Added to Steve’s 2012 Rankings

The Life of Pi, The Hobbit, and Seeking a Friend for the End of the World have been added to my 2012 rankings, but I have also decided to change how I do my rankings. Rather than try to put all of them in order, I am simply pigoing to break them into categories, ranging from the great films to the weak ones. Within a particular category I will put them in the order that I saw them, from earliest to most recent. I made this decision while hobbit_posterpondering the top movies on my list. How do you rank Moonrise Kingdom, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Looper, and Argo when they are such different types of movies? I suppose you could argue that it foolish to rank movies at all, that each movie is simply what it is, yet these films are clearly better than anything else I’ve seen this year, regardless of style of movie, and I think they should be recognized as such. So, I’m going to give this type of ranking system a shot. Let me know what you think.

Seven Movies Added to Steve’s 2011 Rankings

It’s time to catch up on 2011 movies that I’ve seen recently. I’ve added seven to may rankings, including one great one ( A Separation),  one much better than expected (Paul), one much worse than expected (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), a couple worth seeing even if they’re not particularly strong (Horrible Bosses, Margin Call), and two to skip unless you’ve run out of all other options (Like Crazy, Puss in Boots). Is there anything from 2011 that I’ve missed and you would recommend? Leave a comment!

Looper, Argo, Skyfall and Six More Added to Steve’s 2012 Rankings

Looper, Argo, Seven Psychopaths, Skyfall, Cabin in the Woods, The Odd Life of Timothy Green, Lawless, Safety Not Guaranteed, and Bernie have been added to my 2012 rankings page. Check it out! Write a comment. What’s your favorite movie of the year?

Four Added to Steve’s 2012 Rankings

While on vacation I was able to see three movies, Ruby Sparks, Hope Springs, and Beasts of the Southern Wild. They were all difficult movies in their own ways, but they were also all well worth seeing. You can find them, along with The Bourne Legacy in my updated 2012 rankings.

Brief Grief: Steve’s Quick Reviews of 3 2011 Films

I’ve recently viewed three more movies released in 2011: We Bought a Zoo, We Need to Talk About Kevin, and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. Interestingly, they all dealt in some way with issues of grief. I’ll give them each a short review here and also add them to my 2011 rankings.

The most entertaining of the three was We Bought a Zoo. This is a family film in the best sense, a movie for families to watch together and talk about afterward. The grief dealt with here is the death of the wife/mother, which has happened before the movie begins. Matt Damon plays the father and delivers his usual strong, likable performance. The family is trying to come to terms with life without mom. As the title indicates they buy a rundown zoo and their determination to save the zoo (with help from the zoo staff) serves as a metaphor for their own restoration of life. The story contains no surprises, but it works. It had my tears flowing a number of times. There are no standout performances, but the rest of the cast, along with Damon, do a good job of delivering this delightful and life-affirming tale.

We Need to Talk About Kevin is a much, much darker movie. In a number of ways it is a better movie than Zoo, but not nearly as entertaining. Kevin is a high school boy who apparently kills a number of his classmates. The precise nature of his crime is never made clear. The movie focuses on Eva, Kevin’s mother, powerfully portrayed by Tilda Swinton. The story is set in the time after Kevin’s conviction as Eva deals with her grief over the horrendous deed of her son, the disintegration of her family, and the community’s anger at her for what her son did. Much of the story is told through flashbacks to her struggles raising Kevin. The constantly shifting time-frames gives the movie an appropriately edgy feel, but sometimes seems over-directed. The early struggles of a parent wondering what to do with a difficult child ring true, but as Kevin ages, he seemed more and more to simply be an evil person and I felt less engaged by the movie.

The most incredible thing about Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is that it was nominated for Best Picture. It simply is not that good. On the other hand, though, I wouldn’t quite say that it is a bad movie. This time it is the father, Thomas, played by Tom Hanks, who dies. He dies in the World Trade Center on 9/11. The movie just doesn’t carry the emotional weight necessary for a film that draws a connection to that event. Thomas Horn plays Oskar, Thomas’ son. He is a social misfit. A discovery in his father’s closet sets him off on a search through New York for an answer that he hopes will help him make sense of the tragedy that took his father’s life. The story doesn’t quite work, especially the twist at the end involving his mom, played by Sandra Bullock. The biggest drawback to the film was that I didn’t like Oskar. He is rude and self-centered in a way that didn’t work for me. This was clearly meant to be a tearjerker, but I didn’t shed a single drop. The greatest strength of the movie is Max von Sydow’s performance as a renter in Oskar’s grandma’s apartment.