What was 2013 in Movies? It was great and not great.


Jeremy Fogelman’s biased views on movies in 2013. Is he right? He claims “yes, of course!”


Now that I’ve seen one new movie released in 2014, plus a few more on disk or streaming to catch up on ones I missed, I think I’m finally ready to make broad, sweeping claims about movies in general and their impact on the world viewed through the sociocultural lens of the nonsense we got last year. In 2013 we had more than a few comic book movies, of varying degrees of quality and popularity. Only a few properties utterly bombed, which means that the genre ain’t dead yet. I have my typical list of personal awards and thoughts on why some things worked and other things … didn’t.

Worst Die Hard Movie: A Good Day to Die Hard, with strong runners up White House Down and Olympus Has Fallen.

I was absurdly disappointed by the utter dullness and lack of substance in the fifth “official” Die Hard movie, especially after rewatching the others this year. The truth is, hard as it might to be imagine, but White House Down is better because it has an earnestness behind its dark spectacle and characters who seem to actually get injured, not to mention care about the events of the movie. As for Olympus Has Fallen, it’s a lot more cynical and lot less fun, but if taken as a low quality movie with overwhelming jingoistic nonsense, it’s okay. Die Hard 5, or “From Russia with Mediocrity,” utilized a lack of chemistry and a lack of care from the principal actors — especially Bruce Willis — who barely seemed to be trying.

Best Movie about Teens Having an Adventure in the Summer: The Spectacular Now, pulling ahead of Kings of Summer and The Way, Way Back.

None of these movies were that successful, but is it any surprise that the best one of the bunch had the best male and female characters?

Considering that The Spectacular Now is one of the best of year period, the only reason the others are close is that the adventure isn’t quite as adventurous as these other two, focusing more on the stark and heartbreaking teen romance aspect. Kings of Summer and The Way, Way Back were fun and moving films, albeit with a lack of depth in their female characters, which is kind of par for the course for this sort of movie. None of these movies were that successful, but is it any surprise that the best one of the bunch had the best male and female characters?

Best Movie about College Students Having an Adventure before the Summer: Spring Breakers, jumping far, far ahead of 21 & Over and The Bling Ring.

Spring Breakers is a complicated movie, no question, filled with all sorts of problematic content, but it’s kind of a brilliant mess about the disconnected youth of America. 21 & Over is just a classic style coming of age before graduating college movie, with few pretensions past that, so you aren’t surprised when it doesn’t end up that amazing. The Bling Ring though, is filmed more artistically and tries to tell a message about empty consumerism and nihilistic moral relativism of young people, but ends up being kinda dull.

Most “Important” Movie: Probably 12 Years a Slave.

Is there really any question?

Worst Movie about Faerie Tales: It’s a tie! Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters and Jack the Giant Slayer.

Disappointing, dull looking, CGI-lovefests with a dearth of interesting character development. But that being said, Hansel & Gretel actually made decent money overseas and Jack … well let’s just say I hope the next X-Men movie is an example of Bryan Singer back in form and not back in dullness.

Award for Failure to Waste Robert De Niro: This one’s easy. American Hustle, of course.

Anti-Award for Success at Wasting Robert De Niro: This one’s not so easy. But it’s a tie! Grudge Match and The Big Wedding.

Schwarzenegger, Willis, Stallone, and Statham all had disappointing movies this year, although at least Statham was trying decently in Parker and Arnold was nearly back to his over the top roots with The Last Stand.

Robert De Niro isn’t a bad actor, but he didn’t really do anything amazing this year. He was fun, if very typical, in American Hustle, and he was probably trying about 30% of the time in the meh Grudge Match, one of several examples of older action stars failing to have movies this year. I mean Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham … all had disappointing movies, although at least Statham was trying decently in Parker and Arnold was nearly back to his over the top roots with The Last Stand.

Loudest Movie without Substance: Star Trek Into Darkness
Loudest Movie with Substance: Gravity

This may be a bit controversial, but although I enjoyed the explosions and loud noises of Star Trek, the very instant the credits rolled I realized I had been taken for a ride. That movie made absolutely no sense at all. Gravity, on the other hand, may not have been perfect (characters were a bit thin and the plot was a classic “coming home” motif), but it really just worked so well from beginning to end.

Worst Movie I Saw: Identity Thief
Worst Movie I Didn’t See: A Tie! Movie 43 and Grown Ups 2

I thought that Identity Thief had so many problems, not the least the tonal inconsistencies and lack of understanding of empathy in its protagonists. Real problem, though? I didn’t laugh. But Movie 43 is widely considered to be a horror show and Grown Ups 2 the laziest of lazy comedy sequels.

Would’ve Made Movie a lot Better if Removed: Get ready for controversy! Melissa McCarthy in The Heat
Would’ve Made Movie a lot Worse if Removed: Idris Elba’s Stacker Pentecost in Pacific Rim

Listen, sorry … but I’m kinda over Melissa McCarthy’s angry profane loudmouth archetype. It was sort of funny in those little bits in Bridesmaids but when she’s there constantly, overwhelming the scene with yelling and cursing. It’s just … I’m done with it. It’s not funny. That said, can you imagine Pacific Rim without the Pentecost character? Yeesh.

Most Surprisingly Not as Good as Expected: Admission
Most Surprisingly Not as Bad as Expected: The Wolverine

Tina Fey and Paul Rudd? Sounds like recipe for sharp witted hilarity! Well, it ended up being being decent enough, but not anything that special, with more indifferent emotional subplots than expected and a fairly low count of actual funny lines. I still like the two leads, but I’m waiting for something better. As for The Wolverine, I wasn’t expecting anything that great, but I enjoyed for the most part, despite many structural flaws and a weak ending.

Most Kick-ass Female Character: It’s a tie! Katniss from Catching Fire, Tauriel from The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, and Helen Mirren’s British classy assassin character from RED 2.

Because we’ll do this every year while it seems radical.

And as a bit up of a quick warm up, the rapid fire nerdiest movies of 2013!

Nerdiest Sci-Fi Movie: Ender’s Game

Nerdiest Comic Book Movie: The Wolverine

Nerdiest Theater Movie: Much Ado About Nothing

Nerdiest Robots Punching Monsters Movie: Pacific Rim

Nerdiest Meta Movie: John Dies at the End

Nerdiest Nerdy Movie: The Hobbit Part 2

By the way, the nerdiest thing of all is being pedantic about nerdy things. That’s how I know my list is accurate. And now …

Photo Credit: Mr Blue / WENN, Gary Miereanu, Warner Bros, Sony Pictures, 20th Century Fox, Lionsgate, Paramount Pictures, Columbia Pictures, Universal Studios, Disney, Funny or Die, flickr: Cea, DC Comics

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