With 2013 about to officially bite the dust later today, I decided to reach out to my friends here in the Latino-Review familia and ask them to chime in with what their five favorite movies were this year. Not everyone had time to drop their two cents in but below you'll get lists and notes from myself, Da7e, Gig, and our Editor-in-Chief Kellvin. Being that we all have our unique takes on things, we each found our own way to add some extra perspective. Enjoy!
Space is awesome. Take it from me, a guy who went to Space Camp and really considered being an astronaut until I realized how much of my life I'd have to dedicate to studying high science and fitness only to have a slight chance at...nope, we cancelled NASA Space Flights. So not only does Alfonzo Cuaron's outer space thriller make space as cool and scary as I always knew it was, but it's technical mastery is on full display, especially if you got to see it in IMAX 3D.
4. Frances Ha
I live in Brooklyn, I don't make enough money, I want to be making more things. There is a lot in my life that is reflected back at me in Frances Ha (go ahead, commenters, say you knew I was a dirty Hipster all along). But the idea that romantic and financial isolation can lead to the kind of interactions where you're talking because it's about time someone said something only to have them reply with: "I don't know you." Made me realize I did know them, all the characters in this movie.
3. Before Midnight
Relationships are hard. Or that's what I've learned. Most relationships in movies wrap up in a nice package one way or another. Either it's Happily Ever After over and over again like Love Actually or it's a plunge over the cliff in Thelma and Louise, that special relationship in your life is trivialized so you'll pay to see it. Richard Linklater's trilogy capper finds Ethan Hawke's Jesse and Julie Delpy's Celine nine years after the conclusion of their storybook romance. They're still together, but they know how to fight each other and the conversations have a pacing so realisitc in coupledom, it's often scary to see it reflected back at us by characters we love.
2. Inside Llewyn Davis
You could be really talented at what you do, but that doesn't mean you won't get caught in a loop of failure as you try to do better. Even with the best intentions, what you do can't be sold and maybe it shouldn't be, but you're getting tired of being homeless and not having a winter coat and sometimes you don't want to chase the cat. That's either what I think about Inside Llewyn Davis or my daily affirmation. You decide.
1. The Wolf of Wall Street
3. Captain Phillips
4. 12 Years of Slave
Runners-Up: Fast & Furious 6, The Man of Steel, Spring Breakers, Blue Jasmine, The Spectacular Now
Movies I Wished I Saw But Haven't: Her, Inside Llewyn Davis, Nebraska, The Act of Killing, Short Term 12
Gig's Top Five
#1 – Gravity
This is the only movie this year that I saw three times and all in 3D. It had it all. Tension. Special effects. Excitement. Sure, there’s minor problems with science, but it’s a good science fiction.
#2 - 12 Years a Slave
It’s a good movie if you still remember many scenes from the movie, especially with Chiwetel Ejiofor getting tortured in many ways. It’s difficult to watch…..thus memorable.
#3 - Captain Phillips
Based on a true story with Tom Hanks? Nothing went wrong here. It was gripping all the way to the end.
#4 - Frozen
It will definitely go down as a Disney classic. It returned to its 90s musical form of “Little Mermaid,” “Lion King” and “Aladdin.” It just simply brought back the singing child in me.
#5 - This is the End
I’m throwing this out here, because it was nothing I’ve expected. The laughs started at the beginning to the end. And it’s been a while that I’ve laughed out loud in the movie theater.
MFR's Top Five & Then Some...
5. 12 Years A Slave
Simply put: Powerful, gripping, and unrelenting. Director Steve McQueen took me on a journey the night I saw this, and the authenticity of it all just blew me away.
4. This Is The End
This was a blast. I haven't laughed this hard at a movie in a very long time. All the in-jokes, the crazy scenario, the cameos- This was a smart, well-made riot. While Anchorman 2 and Bad Grandpa had their moments, this was definitely the comedy of the year for me.
See, I'm not into cars. Don't care about racing. Never played Gran Turismo, or gave a crap about Mario Andretti. So I went into this sheerly for the hell of it. My cousin wanted to see it. I had an open night, and I heard this was Ron Howard's most exciting movie in years, so I decided to give it a shot. I'm glad I did. I was riveted. The filmmaking was bold and intense. The performances felt real and organic. The pacing kept me hooked. I just loved the style of the thing.
Considering I wrote a review on this less than two weeks ago, I don't think there's too much more to say. I was blown away by how such a small movie could have such big ideas. It spoke to me on a very personal level- one that I doubt everyone else will feel. But similar to how Frances Ha seemed to hit Da7e right where he lives, this one jammed a spike right into a part of me that I haven't thought about in a while. I put it right up there with Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind as a brilliant, subversive, modern love story that takes a look at real relationships- not the Hollywood "love stories" we get in every cliché rom-com.
It's funny. To some, this was a movie about nothing. I've heard its detractors tell me it was boring; that nothing happened; that it's just about Sandra Bullock floating in space. To me, it was an incredible, poetic metaphor. Just below the very attractive surface of special effects and cutting edge filmmaking is a story about loss, depression, hitting bottom, self-reliance, redemption, and being reborn. Alfonso Cuaron uses the larger than life setting to tell a very simple, human story- kind of the inverse of what Spike Jonze did with Her. It's another film that spoke directly to a part of me I've been wrestling with lately, and it happened to do it with some of the coolest imagery ever.
I walked out of Gravity with my eyes wide open, excitedly discussing its allegorical themes and how they relate to our daily lives. It's rare to see a movie filled with so many special effects and green screen trickery be so full of true meaning at the same time. It was, hands down, my favorite film experience of the year.
Honorable Mention: American Hustle
Most Underrated: Oblivion
Most Overrated: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Biggest Wasted Opportunity: Man of Steel
Movies I Haven't Seen Yet That I Hope To Soon: The Wolf of Wall Street, All Is Lost, Captain Phillips
Best Superhero Movie: The Wolverine
Best Animated Movie: Frozen
Best Action Flick: Fast & Furious 6
Worst Movie: Jack The Giant Slayer
Now how about you, our faithful readers? I hope to look down in this Comments section later and see it riddled with Top 5 lists. Go!