2013 has been an okay year for movies.  Not great.  Not terrible.  But decent.  For me, the year was marked with high expectations on a few choice picks that crashed upon viewage (which, funny enough, rhymes with “sewage”).  I was preparing for movies like Elysium and Pacific Rim to be great.  When they were only okay, I sat in the theater stunned, dogged by memories of The Phantom Menace premiere, when I learned that fateful lesson that movies can crush your dreams if you expect too much from them.  Oh well, we can’t win them all, right?

I’m sure my picks today will, in some cases, stun you.  That’s because I don’t conform to the reviewing consensus.  I never look at Rotten Tomatoes before I see a movie.  I want to form my own opinion, something fewer and fewer people seem to be doing these days.  Just because something was made by an acclaimed filmmaker doesn’t mean that filmmaker will succeed.   And just because an Oscar marketing campaign says a movie is great, it doesn’t mean you’re wrong when you think it isn’t.  Like what you like, hate what you hate, and don’t be apologetic about it.

I should note that there are a few movies I haven’t seen this year yet. Those include Her (can’t wait to see), Walter Mitty (very excited to see), 12 Years A Slave (do not like this director so probably won’t see), Dallas Buyers Club (maybe DVD), American Hustle (will probably see), so factor that into these choices.  Can’t wait to hear your reactions as well as what you guys liked.  Oh, and some of these movies may have come out in late 2012.  Hope you have your “Carson, you’re insane!” comments prepped and ready to go.  Let’s begin!



10) Drinking Buddies – No script?  No problem!  Who needs a script when you can have four actors mumble endlessly about really boring shit?  Oh, don’t forget to record the audio with bad microphones so the ambient noise drowns out 20% of the dialogue.  Speaking of dialogue, this movie was a freaking advertisement for why we need writers.  Without them, dialogue is general, cliche, rambling, and dull.  I guess it shouldn’t be surprising that a movie without a script made a screenwriting site’s “10 Worst” list, but come on, I mean this is basic knowledge.  A movie needs a screenplay.

9) All is Bright – Wanna watch a holiday movie this Christmas?  Don’t rent this one!  I’m not lying when I say at one point, I thought the writer was purposefully trying to make the most boring choices possible for some sort of social experiment or performance art.  There wasn’t a single interesting moment in this script.  Not one!  The two main characters were beyond dull.  The dialogue was on-the-nose and boring.  The story was way too basic.  And everything was laced with this over-the-top depression that sucked any and all energy these two great actors could’ve provided to save some percentage of this film.

8) The Hangover 3 – I thought that the prerequisite for doing comedy these days was that you had to be funny.  Who wrote this again?  I wish people would’ve seen this poster before they walked into the theater, read that tagline at the top, assumed it literally, then left.  That’s the only thing that would’ve saved this film – people not seeing it and imagining funnier versions of the scenes that actually happened.  I mean, I’ve seen cash grabs before, but it’s been awhile since I’ve seen one this blatant.  Nobody working on this film seemed to care AT ALL.


7) The Counselor – Rule number 1 when writing a movie: Make sure it makes sense!  Rule number 36: Don’t write 10 page scenes that don’t have a point.  Rule number 95: A movie should build in momentum until it reaches its climax, not slow down until nothing’s happening.  The Counselor could’ve been a cool movie if it had a professional screenwriter come in and rewrite this vague treatment of an idea Cormac McCarthy came up with.  This was never a script to begin with, so it serves everyone right for not dealing with that problem ahead of time.

6) Iron Man 3 – I don’t know what to say about these superhero sequels anymore.  It’s not like they didn’t know they were making Iron Man 3 as they were making Iron Man 2.  So wouldn’t you take advantage of all that time, get a writer to start writing the third film, and that way have a decent script by the time production started?  Iron Man 3 was so damn MESSY and so tonally off, I could never get into it.  This movie, with its juvenile humor, was so obviously made for ten year olds, they might as well have had everyone get slimed by Kenan Thompson at the end.  And hey, I have no problem with films made for 10 year olds.  Just don’t sell it as a film for adults, conning us out of our money.

5) Man of Steel – Okay, so maybe Superman doesn’t deserve to be so high on this list.  In a vacuum, it’s probably mediocre (as opposed to “terrible”).  But I had such high hopes for this one, I was devastated by what unraveled.  The number one problem with this film?  Melodrama.  Scenes (Clark hiding in closet, Clark’s dad getting swept up in a tornado) were taken so over the top, milked so far beyond their saturation point, that you threw up a little each time they happened.  It was also too long and too messy (why spend so much time on a planet that isn’t a part of the main storyline?).  I wanted this to be so awesome, and it so wasn’t.  I’m devastated.

4) Escape from Tomorrow – The only escape you’re going to find in this movie is the exit door you’re looking for ten minutes into it.  Such an amazing idea flattened by the thinnest script this side of Michael Cera’s biceps.  Literally, the plot was: follow the teenage girls.  That was the plot!  Two young girls in a park and a guy follows them for 90 minutes.  Random things happen for no reason.  Writer wraps it up ambiguously, even though it’s clear he did so because he had no idea how to wrap it up because, OH YEAH, there was NO PLOT!

3)Movie 43 – I really only need to say one thing here.  Hugh Jackman has giant testicles hanging from his neck in this movie.  Whoever wrote this needs to be shipped to a far away island with no return ferry.


2)Upstream Color – Aha!  You guys thought this was going to be my number 1 most hated movie of the year!  You were wrong!  Yes, yes, I didn’t think it was possible I’d find something worse than Upstream Color either.  But lucky for Shane Carruth, a woman named Stephanie Meyer exists.  Here’s my issue with Upstream Color. If there was a poster boy for pretension, Shane Carruth is on that poster (Wait a minute, Shane Carruth IS on that poster!) This work wants to be taken so seriously and exudes such a false claim of depth and complexity, that it’s impossible to take it as anything but a joke.  I would love to see the version of this movie where Shane simply tells a story as opposed to trying to impress the uber-snobby independent film scene.  I’m guessing it wouldn’t be half-bad.

1) The Host – Okay, I’m actually laughing as I write this because this movie was sooooooooooooo bad.  I mean it is so bad.  And I don’t know what the heck happened to Andrew Niccol, who I’m pretty sure penned Gattaca before he had a cinematic lobotomy, but how could he not see that there was no way this movie would work?  We have a girl running around having valley-girl like arguments with an alien, who’s fluent in English mind you, stuck inside of her.  A girl is having arguments WITH HERSELF the whole movie!  And it’s not a comedy!  And it’s an alien!  And we’re supposed to take it seriously!  And someone thought this was going to work!  It’s just so bad, you have to see it to believe it.  Grab a case of beer beforehand.  Trust me, you’ll need it.





10) You’re Next/The Call/Admission – Expectations work both ways!  There are some movies you’re sure will be terrible, yet end up being way better than logic dictates.   You’re Next is the best B-horror film you’ll see all year.  The Call was the tightest written thriller of 2013 (it’s “Taken” for the world of 9-1-1 operators) and Admission has some really great character development wrapped in an unexpectedly fun story.


9) Oz The Great and Powerful – Expectations definitely played a part in this one as well.  I thought this was going to be horrrrrr-ible.  But James Franco found a role that fit him perfectly and ran with it (or floated on a balloon with it).   I just remember sitting there at the end of this film and feeling happy.  No, there wasn’t as much imagination as its sequel, which premiered 74 years earlier, but there was enough to feel like your money was well spent.


8) We’re The Millers – We’re The Millers surprised the comedy space this year by beating out its much more heavily-hyped counterparts like Hangover 3 and The Heat (as the best comedy – I don’t know if it beat them at the box office).  Every once in awhile, the actors understand the material so well and have such amazing chemistry together that if you do your job as a writer and guide them with a great story, they’re going to deliver for you.  That’s what happened here.  Especially with Will Poulter.  I mean this guy tore it up.  Can’t wait to see what he does next.

7) The Great Gatsby – Dream scenario for a producer: Get some great source material and a director with vision who wants to take that material to a new place, and you got a shot at making something special.  See this is the problem with this book.  It’s too old fashioned.  It doesn’t translate well to modern audiences.  But Baz Luhrmann seemed to know all the little nooks and cracks the film could’ve fallen into and went about filling them with his genius caulk beforehand.  He focused on the glitz, the glamour, the drama, the betrayal, the scandal, the anger – the things that get people’s blood flowing no matter what decade they’re in.  A nice early-year treat!

7) The Spectacular Now – I’m not sure this movie is as great as everyone wants it to be, but it’s good.  And I think what makes it good is the honesty of the performances.  This is the funny thing.  This script and Drinking Buddies essentially tried the same approach, to “let its actors go” and create these “honest performances.”  The big difference is that THE SPECTACULAR NOW ACTUALLY HAD A SCRIPT.  It had lines for its leads to speak, which they could then improvise off of, instead of having to make up everything on their own.  The difference was quite spectacular.


5) Don Jon – Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s smile kinda creeps me out sometimes.  But it didn’t bother me here.  With so much on his soldiers, he knew this was going to be a pivotal role in his career, and he nailed it.  This is a great film for writers to study when it comes to character transformation.  We see Don’s character arc, but not in that obvious in-your-face amateur screenwriter way.  It feels natural and real.  Add a story that never quite goes where you think it will, and that’s why this film cracked my top 5.


4) Mama – Mama!  I don’t know what it was about this movie that got me but something about it was just… different from other horror films I’d seen.  Not only did we get a creepy ass ghost in this Mama character, but we saw a superb character piece about the intense bond between a mother and her daughters.  Note to horror writers – focus more on your characters than your scares!  Oh, and freaking Jessica Chastain tore up this role as a reluctant girlfriend who gets stuck with two girls she doesn’t want after her boyfriend goes into a coma.


3) World War Z – World War Z and Lindelof haters — LOOK AWAY NOW!  This is two Lindelof scripts in my last two Yearly Top 10s.  From everything that I’ve heard, this man SAVED this movie from being a total disaster.  Ironic since it was a disaster movie!  Not only did I love this film, I loved how the producers got it right.  I read the early draft WITHOUT the urgency (everything was being investigated AFTER the zombie infestation was over) and it was so not going to work.  They brought another writer on, added that immediacy, and we got the best blockbuster of the year.  Thank you, Brad Pitt, for saving me and the rest of the world.

2) Gravity – Could they have made Sandra Bullock’s character more interesting?  Sure.  Were there some aspects of this script that were repetitive?  Sure.  But once you put on your 3-D glasses and sit down to watch Gravity, none of that really mattered.  This is pure GSU.  It’s ticking time bombs on top of ticking time bombs.  If you want to write a great screenplay, start by putting your character in a situation that’s IMPOSSIBLE to get out of, then keep throwing things at them to make it impossibler.  That’s what they did here and dammit if they didn’t execute it flawlessly.

1) Searching For Sugar Man – Okay, if you don’t know anything about this movie, I’m begging you, DON’T READ ANYTHING ABOUT IT (including the rest of this mini-review) and go see it.  I know some of you are like, “Artsy documentaries.  No thank you, Carson.”  You guys know me.  I hate artsy for artsy’s sake.  I hate pretension.  The reason why this is different is because it isn’t so much a documentary as it is a STORY.  It evolves.  It grows.  It surprises.  It’s both tragic and uplifting.  If it doesn’t make you cry, you are not a real person.  Not only is this film number 1 on the year for me.  It’s NUMBER 1 by 50,000 miles!  Sandra Bullock and Imaginary George Clooney weren’t even close to it.  Come on, jump in my Scriptshadow Van and go search for Sugar Man with me!  I promise to give you lots of Scriptshadow candy!


  • martin_basrawy

    Other than iron man 3 I more or less agree with this list. I’m surprised you didn’t put llewyn davis on the worst list.

  • bob

    You should really think about giving 12 Years a Slave a chance.

  • TheRealMWitty

    Philomena. I read the script last Saturday morning and was moved to tears. Saw the movie that afternoon and was reduced to salt water all over again. Haven’t seen Hustle, W of WS, Llewyn Davis or Her yet, but Philomena has my top spot so far. And it was so instructive for the writer in me. There’s a reason I was on the edge of my seat watching a humiliated journalist walk around an Irish convent without permission, while this summer I was ready to walk out on titan-sized robots fighting dinosaur aliens from another dimension.

    • Ambrose*

      ‘Philomena’ is one of my favorite movies of the year.
      A well told story – it definitely didn’t go where I thought it would go – and wonderful performances from Steve Coogan and the great Judi Dench.

  • Murphy

    I seem to remember on this very website giving my best movies of 2012 and being pretty vocal about Sugarman. I am sure I did because I was busy telling everyone I know to watch it. Not sure it would place number one in any year, though it is a brilliant documentary, however contrived it is (it seems in our modern age the best documentaries are) it is a great film with a great pay off.

  • Murphy

    Anyway, I actually came here to make a post about a movie I have just watched and luckily there is an article here that allows me to make it and stay on-topic – yay!

    One of the best (if not the best) scripts I have ever read courtesy of ScriptShadow was the wonderful ‘Saving Mr Banks’. My next step was to go search out the article and check my thoughts but I am pretty sure I loved it.

    Tonight I have finally got round to seeing the movie and it, absolutely amazingly, was better than the screenplay.

    Okay, it is late on Christmas Eve here, and I have had a few drinks now, so maybe I am a little more sentimental than I should be, but I did pretty much cry through the entire final act of this movie. More than that though I find myself doing something that I very rarely get to do. In fact something I have not done since ‘The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford’…. I have added a new film to my top ten of all time!

    A brilliant film, with loads of heart, a wonderfully intricate screenplay and some great performances. Not only is it easily the best film I have seen this year but it is easily one of the best films I have ever seen.

    Anyway, It is nearly Christmas and there are gifts under the tree. My little boy is now just about enough now to know something weird is going on and in six hours time I will no doubt be sat watching him smash all his new toys to pieces while swallowing the wrapping paper.

    Happy Christmas everyone, best wishes.

    • http://atticofthefilmaddict.blogspot.com/ Matty

      I thought Saving Mr. Banks was okay, but mostly just sanitized melodrama. Much like The Blind Side. It was like a Lifetime movie.

      Good acting from Emma Thompson, not deserving of an Oscar nomination which she will likely receive, but certainly good. Tom Hanks is Tom Hanks. Speaking of Tom Hanks, his work in the final 10 minutes of Captain Phillips may be the best acting I have ever seen. It’s certainly the best work he’s ever done. My God. So powerful and it was all because of his acting.

      But yeah…. Saving Mr. Banks…. meh for me. Biggest thing it could’ve used, I think, is a better director.

      • Linkthis83

        Couldn’t agree more about that moment in Captain Phillips. I also was not prepared for it either. At that point in a film, you just assume all is good now, but man, did Hanks deliver.

        *factoid = the woman treating him that scene was a real Navy soldier. Very cool.

        • http://atticofthefilmaddict.blogspot.com/ Matty

          Yeah and the captain (not the real Captain Phillips, the captain of the ship they were filming on) was behind the camera and when Hanks did that scene with the medic, the captain cried. He said he’d seen a lot of trauma in his life, and that’s exactly what it looks like.

      • garrett_h

        Haven’t seen Mr. Banks, but yeah, Tom Hanks in Captain Phillips… Cried all in my beer at the end of that one.

      • Midnight Luck

        I saw Phillips, wasn’t that impressed, my money is still on CASTAWAY as the best roll Tom Hanks has played…… well, except for BIG of course.

        • garrett_h

          What, no love for Bachelor Party???

          • Midnight Luck

            well, I was going to list all his best: Splash (of course), the Man With One Red Shoe, Joe Vs. The Volcano (which no one seemed to like but I really did), Catch Me If You Can (awesome), and Charlie Wilson’s War (great). I wasn’t a huge fan of Bachelor Party for some reason.

          • garrett_h

            LOL I was jk about Bachelor Party. I did like Joe Vs. The Volcano though! As well as the others you mentioned. Catch Me If You Can is one of my all-time favorite “browsing through the cable channels and you see it’s on so you have to watch it even if you’re not really watching TV” movies lol. No matter what part it’s on I always change it and watch.

            Also, A League of Their Own is probably the most underrated sports movie ever IMO.

          • Ambrose*

            Reportedly, Denis Leary was the first choice for the character of Hanratty in ‘Catch Me If You Can’.

          • Midnight Luck

            wow, that would have been weird.

          • Montana Gillis

            I loved Joe vs The Volcano! So far as I know, that makes three of us! Merry Christmas!

        • http://atticofthefilmaddict.blogspot.com/ Matty

          Castaway was previously what I considered his best. And throughout most of Captain Phillips, he was generally not doing anything truly outstanding acting-wise. But those last ten minutes… truly brilliant acting.

      • http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1888937/ Rick McGovern

        I liked Blindside

      • Guest

        Guess since we’re talking about Captain Philips I’ll share my picture with Bruce Joel Rubin, his wife Blanche, granddaughter Thalia, Billy Ray, his son, and Avery and I this past Saturday.

        Hope everyone had a great Christmas!

      • http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1888937/ Rick McGovern

        I liked The Blindside :)

        • http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1888937/ Rick McGovern

          Wouldn’t let me delete the other comment with the bad picture. Thalia was looking away and Billy Ray’s son was half covered.

          Anyway, I thought Captain Philips was just okay, as well. And the end kind of threw me off… I didn’t think it belonged. I know I’m the only one who probably thinks that… but he keeps his cool throughout the whole movie, and then in the end he just loses it? I didn’t buy it.

          Billy likes the ending, but it wasn’t actually his ending. In his script he had written something else, but the director didn’t like it as much, so came up with what you see on the screen. I don’t know for sure, I’d have to ask, but I bet the scene with the nurse was improv.

          In Billy’s ending, he had Philips in a room by himself working out the ordeal on his own.

          • http://atticofthefilmaddict.blogspot.com/ Matty

            I think that’s very common. You keep your “cool” in the midst of an ordeal, and then when it’s over – you are home free – the reality hits you. Especially when you were an inch away from being murdered, which is what really did it to him. Not to mention three people were just killed in front of him.

            But to each his own. I just thought it was a very powerful way to end a movie that up to that point hadn’t really given me much on the emotional end.

          • http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1888937/ Rick McGovern

            No, I agree. But it started before his ordeal was over. He had faced them in his face threatening his life before. And weren’t they killed with his blindfold on? So he didn’t really know what was going on. Though, I imagine when he felt the blood on his face, he probably had a feeling what it was. Maybe that could have sent him off. I don’t know lol

            I do agree though that his performance was really good… I just didn’t think him breaking down like that fit. But it was definitely emotional.

            They are sending us DVD’s for award season, and that is one of them. I’ll have to watch it again.

          • http://atticofthefilmaddict.blogspot.com/ Matty

            Well, he did start falling apart when he thought he was going to die. But that was fear. Then once it’s over the shock sets in. The breakdown certainly came out of left field, but it fit to me. Different strokes :-)

            Wish I’d get those screeners. So many films I need to see. Going to see Inside Llweyn Davis today I think.

          • http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1888937/ Rick McGovern

            Need to come back to LA ;)

          • http://atticofthefilmaddict.blogspot.com/ Matty

            Fucking A right. I have to drive 40 miles to eastern Cincinnati to see Llweyn Davis, unless I want to wait until January 10th.

          • http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1888937/ Rick McGovern

            Damn! Better get your ass back!

            My high school was actually 40 miles away. Two hour school bus ride every morning. Hour and a half to get home. Spent most of my high school career on the damn bus!

            Why did you move back anyway? It is pretty expensive here. You and Joe Marino should get a place… it hasn’t been easy for him. I’ve had to give him a pep talk to keep his spirits up lol

          • http://atticofthefilmaddict.blogspot.com/ Matty

            A variety of reasons. Cost of living was high. But I was working on some stuff that I didn’t have to be in LA for. I had finished up some of the projects I went out there to do (like production stuff), and so I came back to save money and get more writing done before I go back. I wasn’t getting much writing done out there because of all the other types of work I was doing.

            It won’t be long before I’m back. Love that city. Driving out there is a hell of a lot of fun too. I love traveling.

          • http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1888937/ Rick McGovern

            Well, it is like traveling. It takes two hours to get from one side of town to the other with traffic. Can’t say I love it. But I aside from my truck, I also have a motorcycle, so I spend most of my time in the carpool lane. Or splitting lanes. Plus gas is almost 60mpg vs the 14mpg on my truck.

          • filmklassik

            “Anyway, I thought Captain Philips was just okay, as well. And the end kind of threw me off… I didn’t think it belonged. I know I’m the only one who probably thinks that… but he keeps his cool throughout the whole movie, and then in the end he just loses it? I didn’t buy it.”

            No, I didn’t either, Rick.

            In fact I agree with your overall assessment about the film. It’s pretty good, but certainly not great. Hanks, though, is terrific, as always, up until that final, superfluous (or at least way overlong) scene in the examination room.

            Oh and the dude they got to play the Somali “Captain” was excellent too. Very believable and such a great, achingly sad face. You feel like you know his character’s whole sad history and your heart just breaks for him.

          • http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1888937/ Rick McGovern

            The acting was generally good. Billy actually liked the ending the director came up with better than the one he had in the script.

            Was definitely better than World War Z and The Great Gatsby. And Mama, too. As far as Carson’s top 10. Haven’t seen the other movies yet.

          • filmklassik

            Forgive my ignorance, Rick, but are you and Billy Ray neighbors? Pals? Writing partners? Just wondering. Thanks!

          • http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1888937/ Rick McGovern

            Someone I know.

        • Poe_Serling

          Hey Rick-

          That’s a great pic to post on a screenwriting site… both Billy Ray and Bruce Joel Rubin have written some memorable films.

          My personal favorites of their work: Flightplan and Jacob’s Ladder.

          Just curious – what’s the script in Billy Ray’s hand? Or is that a hush-hush project of some kind? ;-)

          • http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1888937/ Rick McGovern

            No, it’s All The President’s Men lol Bruce had a couple copies, and to Billy, it’s the 3rd best movie ever made, so he wanted it. The picture was taken at Bruce’s house.

          • Poe_Serling

            Just watched this short interview that Billy Ray did with Michael De Luca:

            thought Ray had some wonderful insights into the screenwriting process,
            especially in regard to creating subtext in your story. Plus, he
            touches on the 5 scripts that every aspiring writer should read to
            understand structure/pacing.

          • fragglewriter

            Thanks for posting this video.

            I liked his point as saying that he learns from reading bad scripts is learning what not to do, which this site discusses which is great.

            Is Dilemma the same as conflict?

          • Poe_Serling

            “conflict is the main problem or the problem you find at the beginning of a piece of literature and the dilemma is the problems you get while coming to a climax of a story”

          • fragglewriter


          • Poe_Serling

            Here’s an article that looks at story structure and dilemma:


          • fragglewriter

            I’ve read both articles. Conflict (drama) and dilemma (rock and a hard place) in the first act that defines if it can carry an entire script and how the consequences play out in Act 2.

            I’ve looked at Billy Ray’s filmography and his films are mostly mixed /negative reviews, but he’s still in the game so that counts.

          • http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1888937/ Rick McGovern

            I recorded a talk he gave a couple of us in November on my iPhone if you want me to send it to you. It’s about 3 hours long. Still have to piece it together as it’s in 5 parts right now.

            But he really does have an awesome gift for teaching. And it’s something he’s passionate about. And he likes helping writers.

      • filmklassik

        Okay I’m probably going to hell for this one. I thought Hanks did terrific work as CAPTAIN PHILLIPS (although the movie for me was only so-so) but that final sequence in the examination room? Sorry but it just felt… forced to me. I understood what it was doing in the movie (although it should’ve been half as long as it was) but I’m sorry, folks, Hanks performance in that particular scene fell just shy of credible for me.

        But everyone else’s (nautical) mileage may vary. And probably does.

    • kidbaron

      You should check out what Harlan Ellison had to say about the movie. It’s on YouTube.

  • Panos Tsapanidis

    Wow! I agree with both best #1 and #2. I would definitely add The Conjuring in the Best list. One of the best horror films I’ve seen in a while.

    Double-love for putting Gravity in. I thought screenwriters would hate it because it’s more cinematic/director’s project.

    • Marija ZombiGirl

      “Double-love for putting Gravity in. I thought screenwriters would hate it because it’s more cinematic/director’s project.”

      I don’t agree with this at all :) I understand that this movie won’t “speak” to everyone but it’s a perfect example of metaphor, of putting emotions into images. People find it repetitive but it’s just like life where the same painful situations will keep repeating themselves until we learn the lesson and accept to let go of the destructive debris of our past in order to choose to live. Which is exactly what happens here.

      • Murphy

        Gravity was THE movie this year that I told people to watch thinking that it was an easy accessible film with enough action and movie stars to appeal to just about anyone.

        I was therefore amazed by the number of people who came back and told me it was crap! I mean, I’m supposed to be the “film snob” of my group of friends and yet I really bought into this. There is more going on here than meets the eye, and I need to watch it again, but I can totally buy into your explanation.

        • Marija ZombiGirl

          I’ve heard the same thing several times, that’s it’s empty and visually interesting only :)
          To me, it’s the kind of movie that appeals to people according to their sensibilites. This is going to sound super pretentious but it’s not meant to be : without getting into the details, I felt like I was watching the past 14 years of my life on the screen and myself in Bullock’s character. But that’s me so I’m not very objective…
          Still, Cuaron has said himself that the movie is just that, a metaphor for life – set in outer space where life is impossible… Such a beautiful idea !

          • http://atticofthefilmaddict.blogspot.com/ Matty

            I certainly wouldn’t call it empty at all. Like, I understand where those people are coming from, but I just disagree with that assessment. Visuals ARE story. There’s that saying “style over substance” but I don’t really like that saying because the two are not (always) separate concepts. Style CAN be substance. “Drive” is a good example – most people loved that, but some accused it of “style over substance.” But in that film, for me, the style WAS substance. The style had a backbone, it’s just as much responsible for the film being awesome as the “story” is. As opposed to, let’s say, Only God Forgives, which is style without substance; an instance where the style is just style and means absolutely nothing and contributes absolutely nothing.

            But anyway, back to Gravity… certainly not empty, great film, stunning to watch, best experience I’ve had in the theatre in years, the only film I’ve seen where I thought the 3D added something…. and yet I don’t feel like ever rewatching it. To me, it’s one of those films where you get everything you need the first go-around. And there’s nothing wrong with that, but personally my favorite films are ones that I love to rewatch. I love rewatching films. There’s something about already knowing what’s coming so I can sit back and see how the pieces building up to that function that’s so appealing to me.

            Still, great film nonetheless.

      • Panos Tsapanidis

        I agree with your comment, but to be honest, Gravity is the only movie so far I would like to revisit a year or two later, but ONLY in 3D version.

        That’s what I found magical and brilliant.

      • Mike.H

        oh yeah, how come THE CONJURING isn’t on the top ten list. The movie’s exemplary B.O. paid for a new beach front abode for a few of the executives. Some got Porsches.

        • Marija ZombiGirl

          Haha :D
          Seriously though, THE CONJURING should’ve been on the list instead of the crappy YOU’RE NEXT :/

  • brenkilco

    I’ll take issue with a few of your opinions. The Call is an object lesson in the perils of believing a premise is sufficient to create a good movie. Or that even a good first act is sufficient. This is the sort of material where a writer needs to be focused and clever all the way through. And to be his most ingenious at the climax. This movie becomes progressively sloppier and less believable as it goes along till it reaches it’s tediously by the numbers resolution. What’s worse than a movie that’s bad all the way? One that starts well and turns bad. At least the pure clunker doesn’t dash your expectations

    Gatsby didn’t fail because it was old fashioned. That’s simply foolish. The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo (books a hundred years older than Gatsby) get remade or reworked every twenty years and generally do just fine. Gatsby is cinematic quicksand for directors. There isn’t much story or dialogue. And the magic of Fitzgerald’s prose, the mood and atmosphere he creates, simply can’t be translated to the screen. You might get an interesting column by considering the elements that are inevitably lost when a novel is adapted to a script. Why do some like The Maltese Falcon and No Country For Old Men work so well while others are DOA.

    Mama is elaborate, inexplicable junk. Ghost stories work better when the ghost has an agenda (1944’s The Uninvited is the template) but the agenda needs to make sense. Chastain is talented, but bluntly she’s not attractive enough that she can afford to keep playing characters as unattractive as the one here. She needs a romcom stat. And since you liked it would you mind telling me how Chastain and her boyfriend explain the dead/disapeared child to the authorities after the fadeout.

    • Poe_Serling

      “Ghost stories work better when the ghost has an agenda (1944’s The
      Uninvited is the template) but the agenda needs to make sense.”

      The Uninvited (The Criterion Collection) was my one and only Christmas gift to myself this year. It is such a great ghost story. I once read that Marty Scorsese and Guillermo del Toro are both big fans of the film, too.

      • brenkilco

        Great movie. Used to be little known and under rated. The kind of movie you’d trip across late at night and wonder why you’d never heard of it. But now, as you note, it’s a favorite of lots of people. The way it makes the eradication of the ghost dependent on the solution of a terrestrial mystery, just nicely crafted.

      • garrett_h

        Please tell me it’s on Netflix…

        • Poe_Serling

          Hey Garrett-

          I don’t have Netflix… so I’m not sure of its availability on that service. I do know that TCM shows it occasionally.

          I bought my Criterion copy for $15 and some change just around Halloween when it was released by the company.

          • garrett_h

            I think I’ve seen you mention Changeling before. Definitely on my list! Gonna check it out when I get a chance.

          • brenkilco

            Saw Changeling years ago and remembered it as being genuinely frightening. Saw it more recently and was disappointed. It’s good. Just not as good as I remembered. And oddly Scott is kind of weak link. Sometime around the late seventies the fire just went out of him as an actor.

        • brenkilco

          Netflix lost the entire Criterion collection to Hulu a while back. Presently Netflix seems to have a deal with Kino. So if you’re a fan of silent movies you’re in luck. Otherwise it’s classic film selection is pathetic.

          • garrett_h

            Well that sucks. Thanks for the info!

      • Midnight Luck

        is the Criterion on Laser Disc? I love my Laser Disc player.
        Too bad I have to use it as a booster seat now.

    • http://atticofthefilmaddict.blogspot.com/ Matty

      Jessica Chastain isn’t attractive enough?

      I’m not sure I want to live in a world where Jessica Chastain is considered not attractive enough to do something – no matter what it is.

      • Marija ZombiGirl

        She’s in a French perfume ad right now where she rolls around in paint.
        Not quite a mud fight and she’s on her own but still… :)

        • http://atticofthefilmaddict.blogspot.com/ Matty

          …..goes to google…..

    • Linkthis83

      I wouldn’t rate the movie overall as one of the best. However, the actual 911 call scenes = very intense and supremely well done.

      • garrett_h

        Those scenes were awesome. The third act turns into a slasher almost. That was a bit of a letdown. But considering I went into it expecting to HATE the movie, I was pleasantly surprised when the first half or so turned out to be pretty good.

  • Kosta K

    Is it gay if I wanna know more about Baz Luhrmann’s genius caulk?

    • Mike.H

      is “caulk” dirty or real?

      • Kosta K

        Probably depends on which end you’re on.

  • Alex Palmer

    Nice list. I may not agree with all of your picks, but I understand the reasoning. I agree with every film (that I’ve seen) on the worst-of list.

    Mind you, including films like We’re the Millers and Oz: The Great and the Powerful makes 2013 seem like a bit of a pedestrian year. I felt they were both so… average. I’ve forgotten most of both already.

    My Top 5 would be::

    5) Spring Breakers (how the hell did that happen?!)
    4) Side Effects
    3) Sightseers
    2) The Act of Killing
    1) Gravity

    Need to see: Room 237, Captain Phillips, All is Lost, Blue Jasmine, Upstream Colour, Her among others.

    Merry Christmas one and all! Its that magical time of year when you get to rewatch Die Hard.

    • http://atticofthefilmaddict.blogspot.com/ Matty

      Good to see some love for Spring Breakers, though I certainly can’t fault anybody who hates that film.

      And Side Effects too, that seems to have been forgotten by now. But it’s a greatly entertaining homage to Hitchcock pictures.

      My top 5 (so far):

      5) Place Beyond the Pines
      4) Mud (or as Carson calls it, “the most overrated film of the year”)
      3) The Spectacular Now
      2) Before Midnight
      1) 12 Years a Slave

      • http://insideechenrysbrain.typepad.com/inside_the_brain_of_ec_he/ E.C. Henry

        Matty, I missed it; how is “Mud” overrated? Didn’t that move come and go with NO FANFARE whatsoever. Up here in the state of Washington that movie was in the theatres for two weeks and then it was gone.

        Why do rank it so high? I saw “Mud” and was ho hum about it. Thought it kinda had a lackluster conflict, and what about Reece Witherspoon’s character? Completely under-used, in my opinion.

        • http://atticofthefilmaddict.blogspot.com/ Matty

          I mean, I can’t tell you why Carson thinks it’s overrated. Maybe just the great reviews, 98% on RT. Definitely wasn’t a huge hit or anything, so he probably says that because of the reviews.

          I ranked it so high because I loved it. Every bit of it. I thought it was a great Southern gothic that plunges you into a very unique setting (reminded me of Winter’s Bone in that way), great story, great characters, great acting. Just enjoyed every minute. Seen it four times now. It just has all the elements that my favorite films are made of. And I thought Reese Witherspoon was used just fine. She doesn’t have a huge amount of screen-time, but I didn’t think she needed it, and I was very satisfied with the way she played into the story.

        • Crcbonjour

          Mud was just SLOOOOOW and the only characters with any edge were the kids…,well Tom, & Mud’s Dad who might have livened up the story a bit; instead….we were left wondering. Reese’s part was superfluous ( she wasn’t bad; it just didn’t serve the story well enough….or effectively perhaps) and McConnaughey just seemed to be phoning in it. Though again, perhaps not his fault; seems he was in a trance more often than he was speaking. That didn’t tell me much. By the end, all I really was interested in was……how did they get the boat out of the tree?
          Not “Mud” but “Sludge” good shooting sequence by Dad though! Unexpected. Got me out of my coma….

      • Shaun Snyder

        Before Midnight and 12 Years a Slave were my top 2 of 2013 as well!

    • Linkthis83

      I want to give a shout out to one of the coolest characters of the year:

      Biaggio from Kings of Summer!!!

      Holy shit that kid was awesome.

      • Alex Palmer

        Ah, that was another film I missed :P

        Though I submit Gary King from The World’s End for “coolest character”.

    • garrett_h

      Haaaaated Spring Breakers. I almost snapped the blu-ray over my leg Bo Jackson style instead of returning it to the Red Box. Easily my least favorite movie of the year, and one of my most hated films of all time.

      Glad you liked it though lol.

      • Midnight Luck

        i agree. Spring Breakers was an abomination. I saw it in the theater, almost burned it down. I have so much hate for it this year, it will probably carry over into next. Easily the most brain dead thing to come out.

        Sorry Alex Palmer, I am not saying anything about you, people like what they like, this is just a rant on what I despised.

      • Alex Palmer

        Lol, I certainly can’t fault you on that. It’s a film I never would’ve gotten close to. I was on holiday with my (less discerning :P) brother, and he insisted. Took one look at it, and assumed the worst.

        It was such a weird, sometimes masochistic, experience. It’s the only film on my top 5 I don’t consider truly “great”, but hey: 2013 was a slow year, and it really stuck in my memory.

        • garrett_h

          I gotta admit I was drawn in by the trailers. And it actually had some good reviews. It certainly was original, so I can see why some would like it. But man. I just couldn’t get on board. Definitely memorable, for better or worse lol.

      • Citizen M

        Spring Breakers writer-director Harmony Korine is a weird guy.

        “His 2009 film Trash Humpers is about, well, old men who hump trash, and it was shot on VHS. Again, there was no script. He also starred in that one.”

    • pmlove

      Sightseers? I’m very surprised to see this make the list, I thought it was awful – a classic study in why both your leads shouldn’t be unlikeable. Curious to know why you liked it.

      • Alex Palmer

        I agree that the leads weren’t hugely likeable, but I think their naivety was slightly endearing. After a grisly murder the guy petulantly complains “everyone finds it so easy to express themselves”. I’m am laughing AT him. Maybe its this feeling of superiority that stops me from loathing the character.

        It helped that their murder odyssey has hints of self-fulfilment. Their victims are satirical (and recognizable) depictions of “bad tourists”. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been camping. And I’ve met those people.

        Plus, I thought the film was very funny. The jokes were scarce, but they shone all the more brightly for it. It had the best joke to LOL ratio of any film I saw last year.

        I prefer it to Natural Born Killers in any case.

        I could understand why you might hate it. Ben Wheatley films are divisive as hell. I watched 2/3 of A Field in England before surrendering. Sooooooo pretentious..

  • http://atticofthefilmaddict.blogspot.com/ Matty

    Not as bad as I thought it was going to be. Don’t agree with all of it by any means, but there’s nothing wrong with that at all.

    I do, however, certainly agree with Movie 43 and Hangover III (haven’t seen The Host). How they got all that talent involved in Movie 43 is beyond me… I even heard they weren’t paid that much. Da fuck.

    And I’m not sure I want to know anyone who actually feels like Hangover III is a comedy. That shit was scary. I mean that was straight up, downbeat, dark, scary drama about some seriously disturbed individuals.

    The top 10 list isn’t particularly impressive, especially when I considered this year to be the greatest year for cinema there has EVER been. Yes, ever. And I haven’t even seen everything yet, but I’ve seen enough. So far I’ve seen AT LEAST 15 films that are truly great. Any other year, a list of fifteen best would include a few films that are simply good. No, these are all GREAT. And among those 15 are three absolute masterpieces. Those three? The Spectacular Now. Before Midnight. And… 12 Years a Slave. 12 Years a Slave isn’t just the best film I’ve seen this year, it is quite simply one of the best films I have ever seen. Period. It is hands down in my top 10 of all time. I still think about that film everyday. I’ve never experienced a film that stuck with me so much. It is the most accomplished and fully realized vision of cinema that we are likely to see all year.

    And I say all that without having seen Inside Llweyn Davis, Short Term 12, Wolf of Wall Street, Dallas Buyers Club, and Her (those are the remaining ones I really really want to see).

    And actually, in many ways, Gravity is a masterpiece. It’s certainly a visual masterpiece. And it is certainly great and certainly in that list of 15 films. But, it’s odd – it was probably the best theatre experience I had this year (in fact I’m not sure watching that anywhere BUT the theatre would be worth it), but I really have zero desire to ever rewatch it. It’s not a film where you really get anything out of it upon rewatch, which is an indication of lack of substance. But, it’s really just a film of visual and auditory substance, which you get on the first go-around. Not to mention, I found the non-diagetic music to be a tad offensive, but that’s a minor issue.

    Anyway, good lists, don’t agree with every choice (I certainly wouldn’t have Gatsby, World War Z, Oz, or We’re the Millers anywhere near a top 10, not even a top 20 list), but ain’t nothin’ wrong with that.

    Happy holidays, all.

    • http://atticofthefilmaddict.blogspot.com/ Matty

      Oh, and my worst films of the year? Keep in mind I obviously try to avoid films that I think will be terrible, as anybody, but I also sometimes feel compelled to watch a film that everyone says is so bad simply to see how bad it actually is.

      Worst Films I saw:

      Identity Thief – I was even high when I watched this and it sucked
      Hangover III
      Movie 43
      Only God Forgives (of all these films, this one has the most likable elements)
      As I Lay Dying – no idea what in the fuck James Franco was thinking here, but this is one of the most aesthetically offensive films I have ever seen. Just an assault on my eyes.

      Those are the ones that stuck with me the most as being terrible.

  • Eddie Panta

    Merry Christmas — Happy Holidays!
    I’m in a good mood. So, I won’t go into a long rant about how You’re Next was an awful, tasteless film, with a ridiculous premise. Wait, scratch that. Actually, it didn’t even have a premise.. Just a “plan” that is ridiculous. .It was all spectacle and no content. Devoid of any subtext or social relevance.
    A movie. simply about horror movies and nothing else. Even the masks don’t tie into any concept. Suspense was solely derived from a scene missing. An ending that makes you feel cheated and want your money back. .. You know who the “bad guy” is as soon as you realize that we see the story through every other characters eyes except theirs. That’s why he’s missing from the film for 30 mins.,.while off in the woods somewhere.

    Damn look what you made me do. Now I am on a rant…

    Oh well…

    • Mike.H

      – I thought I was the only one who shared your negative thoughts about YOU’RE NEXT. Apparently the audience rejected it as well. It did lousy B.O. [ I think at times, Carson creates a little bit of controversy to rattle up the debate. It’s also his opinion and he’s entitled.]

      Note to Carson: Thank you for another year of hard work analyzing film work and your 1,000 word daily content. Thank you! Better luck to us all in 2014! :)

      — you may resume your champagne, turkey and yam plus the new X’mas toys you’ve already opened.

      • Deaf Ears

        Add me to the club of people who thought YOU’RE NEXT blew goats. And I’m a sucker for home invasion pics. If you can’t please me, you fucked up.
        As for Carson’s list, I liked THE COUNSELOR and ESCAPE FROM TOMORROW more than he did (although I’d put THE COUNSELOR in the “interesting misfire” category). Glad to see SPRING BREAKERS getting some love here, I think Harmony Korine really came into his own with that one. And even Michael Bay expanded his palette with the hilarious black comedy PAIN AND GAIN – consider my mind blown.
        Difference of opinion is what makes the world go ’round – a Happy Festivus to one and all.

        • Eddie Panta

          Yes, thanks for reminding me. I should’ve mentioned that I am a true horror movie fanatic as well. I;m all about a movie, like the THING, or ALIEN, in which the lead slowly rises out of a group of characters. Unfortunately, You’re Next couldn’t deliver the goods.

  • Eddie Panta


    It was fun. I enjoyed it in the theater…
    But there’s another space movie, about a guy who travels through to infinity and ends up in Liberace’s house which I’ve watched over a dozen times.
    With Gravity, once was enough. Not sure why anyone would watched this one again.

  • successor

    “With so much on his soldiers…” LOL! I think you mean “shoulders.”

    It was a pretty lousy year for movies. The best one I saw was Gravity, followed by Elysium. Man of Steel and Iron Man 3 were the worst. Just terrible disappointments.

    Since it’s almost Christmas, I’d like to make a request. I was wondering if next year you could maybe do another week of unused drafts to movies that were made. I liked reading about the alternate drafts of Rambo II and The Empire Strikes Back. If you do, there’s a perfect script for you to review. Total Recall II by Gary Goldman, Ronald Shusett and Robert Goethals. They took Philip K. Dick’s “The Minority Report” short story to adapt into a sequel to Total Recall, and it turned out to be literally one of the worst scripts I’ve ever read. Here’s how bad it is. They brought Richter back with mechanical arms (WTF?!).

    Merry Christmas!

  • garrett_h

    OK, let me take a stab at this. I’m doing it on the spot, so I’m sure I’m forgetting something. I don’t share the same bleak outlook of 2013 in film as Carson does. So I put more good films than bad. I really had a good time at the movies this year. Also, I haven’t seen American Hustle and a few other top contenders. And I deliberately avoided some of the worst offenders. But here’s my list.


    1) 12 Years A Slave – It will be CRIMINAL if Michael Fassbender doesn’t win Best Supporting Actor and Lupita Nyong’o doesn’t win Best Supporting Actress for this. I’m not even sure if that’s happened before, but the performances were THAT GOOD from both of them. So good you almost forget about the always excellent Chiwetel Ejiofor. Say what you want about Steve McQueen, Carson, but this is an incredible film. And I don’t think I have the stomach to sit through it a second time. That’s how affecting it is.

    2) Captain Phillips – Tom Hanks at his best after a few years of meh performances IMO. Tense and exciting. And hey, they actually gave the bad guys a backstory! They weren’t just nameless faceless red shirts. They had a family, stakes, etc of their own. Great film.

    3) Pacific Rim – IDGAF what anyone says, this movie was awesome. Was it perfect? No. But it sure was a lot of fun. Probably the most fun I had at the theater this year.

    4) Gravity – Not much to say about this that hasn’t already been said. Just a really great time at the movies.

    5) The Conjuring – Man o’ man, the best horror film we’ve had in a while that wasn’t a Japanese remake (besides the first half of Insidious). Much better than You’re Next IMO, which I thought was good but kinda ridiculous.

    Best of the Rest: Mama, 42 (I’m a Jackie Robinson fan), Gatsby, Warm Bodies, The Call, Fruitvale Station, Prisoners, The Wolverine, World War Z.

    WORST (in no particular order, except Spring Breakers)

    1) Spring Breakers – This movie was one long WTF experience for me. James Franco, who I’m a huge fan of, was completely ridiculous in this. And also, we’re led to believe that these surburban white girls go Scarface on everyone and take down a house full of thugs. Then Vanessa Hudgens whiny bitchy character is probably the most annoying character we’ve seen on screen in a long time, next to Thorin in The Hobbit. There’s NO PLOT. Scenes aren’t scenes, they’re mini music videos. It’s artsy for artsy sake. I don’t know. I just HATED this movie.

    Dead Man Down/Broken City – Not much to say about these, because I don’t even remember them. And I was sober when I watched them and paid $10. So I wish I had remembered SOMETHING. But no. Two of the most forgettable thrillers ever. We get a couple of these every year. I regret letting myself get dragged to see these.

    Oz – I watched this on Red Box, and fell asleep 3 times before the midpoint and kept having to rewind it. It picks up a little bit in the end. But I was so disappointed in this. I had high expectations, being a James Franco fan (can’t believe I really have 2 of his movies on my least liked list) but I just didn’t like this movie. Wizard of Oz came out decades ago and was somehow darker than this one. Boggles the mind.

    The Place Beyond The Pines – The midpoint to this was just so jarring. So odd. Everyone in my theater groaned. And I was in an artsy theater! The movie was well acted. But that moment was by far the worst single moment for me in a theater this year. So that’s what lands Pines on my list.

    Star Trek Into Darkness – Ugh… So disappointed by this one. Khan? Really? And you copy-paste the script from the original and swap the characters around? So it’s “the same, but different” I guess. And wait, he’s dead, but he’s really not? Just, ugh…

    Iron Man 3 – Agree 100% with Carson. Probably the worst blockbuster of the year. It’s a kids movie. And Iron Man isn’t even in his suit for half the movie. Then, when he IS in his suit, HE REALLY ISN’T! So if the suit gets blown up, who cares?! He has 20 other suits and he wasn’t in the one that got blown up to begin with. So he’s never in danger! He can’t be hurt or killed! Awesome! Then you’ve got the whole Mandarin thing. Just dumb dumb dumb.

    • fragglewriter

      I watched Broken City yesterday as it came on HBO on Saturday night. That movie was so horrible that I didn’t know it was supposed to be a thriller.

      The only character that had a logical motivation was Russell Crowe’s but Mark Walhberg’s backstory was just so stupid and the other characters were just so bad.

      • klmn

        TCM showed Duke Mitchell’s grindhouse classic Massacre Mafia Style last weekend, but it was listed under its alternate title, The Executioner. That one is well worth watching- if you like grindhouse movies.

        • fragglewriter

          I taped it and watched it yesterday. I thought that movie was impressive because that style of storytelling and voice-overs resonates in today’s movies. I thought of Goodfellas while I was watching it.

          I’d rather write a movie like Massacre Mafia Style that has an edge instead of being politically correct (taming the violence).

      • garrett_h

        Broken City was so bad, I had forgotten completely about it, and I had to read the Wikipedia page to remind myself just how bad it was…

        • fragglewriter

          I think that maybe movies turning out bad has to do with how the writer visualizes the pacing and delivery of lines.

          But yeah, Broken City was really bad. I think that a disgraced cop is what triggered Mark to the movie but for the other actors, I just don’t understand what about this script attracted them because it had no sense of a film noir from the 40’s.

          • garrett_h

            All I can think of is they had bills to pay and that’s it. The script languished in development hell until Albert Hughes rescued it. I really like the Hughes brothers, but looking back, it was probably in dev hell for a reason and should have stayed there.

          • fragglewriter

            I read that on wikipedia.

            I was watching The Town again (I hate this movie) since I’m writing a heist movie, and wanted to reexamine the movie script wise. Not enough tough situations, so I’m skimming through the script. There were a lot of revisions. I understand that Ben Affleck and Peter Craig made revisions which improved the original version.

            I think getting a second set of eyes to question the character’s motives would of worked better.

    • Alex Palmer

      I agree that Star Trek Into Darkness was pretty bad. I know that this new Trek franchise is meant to be set in an “alternate dimension” but I didn’t realize that basic logic was different there.

      Why do transporter rules constantly change? Why is the death toll of Khan’s London bombing like, 237 people, when the building has upwards of 20 (busy) floors? What was the point of the throwaway nude scene?

      Oh, and I know Benedict Cucumberpatch is “so hot right now”, giving amazing performances left, right and centre, but I found him rather hammy. Not that its his fault: for all JJ’s talk of Khan being a complex villain of Hannibal Lecter’s calibre, I thought he was rather underwritten.

  • fragglewriter

    I haven’t gone to the movies this year, as there was nothing exciting to pay for except for maybe Wolverine.

    I’ll catch the above movies on HBO/SHO, but I wouldn’t waste a Redbox coupon on it.

    • klmn

      I didn’t go too often this year. I did see Rush, which I enjoyed and a few others whose titles I forget.

      • fragglewriter

        My friend works at a studio and she said that Rush was really good, and it surprised her, as well as The Call. But she did call American Hustle long and boring and she nodded off a few times.

        I do want to see Inside Llewyn Lewis and Saving Mr Banks.

        • Crcbonjour

          Rush WAS really great. I don’t know…maybe one has to like/know/understand cars, racing or that world. It’s not really an American thing….NASCAR is & thank goodness it’s not about that.

          Like many “true” stories, it’s one worth knowing, it’s edgy, intense and the cinematography is simply incredible. Per Ron, very little cgi, mostly all real; actual locations.

          The actors embodied the actual drivers, their rather manic relationship & lives. Quite a ride indeed. Probably will buy ;)

      • Poe_Serling
        • klmn

          Let’s hope this cures Carson of his Star Wars addiction.

          And if he doesn’t review it over the holidays, we can remind him during Star Wars week.

  • Crystal

    Before Midnight was the best movie I saw this year. It may be the smartest movie about long term relationships I’ve ever seen.

    Catching Fire, Saving Mr. Banks, Nebraska, and Her were also great. Still haven’t seen American Hustle, The Spectacular Now, Philomena, Mud, or Dallas Buyers Club.

    The worst movie I saw was Oldboy. I did not care for Side Effects. It was great up until an incomprehensible twist.

  • Ambrose*

    I don’t know why you’ve been hesitant to see ‘The Dallas Buyers Club’, Carson, (maybe just the subject matter) but I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

    It’s one of the best – if not THE best – performances of Matthew McConaughey’s career. The movie is well written, very well directed, all the actors do fine work. Even the editing is impressive.
    If nothing else, especially for screenwriters, the Ron Woodruff character had some big GSU.
    I wholeheartedly endorse it.

    I echo your sentiments on ‘Drinking Buddies’.
    We disagree on ‘The Great Gatsby’, which to me was all flash and little substance.

    And I’m surprised and disappointed that in your list of the top movies of the year you chose a documentary rather than a scripted movie.

    I would have rather you’d given the spot to another movie that had a great script and then also added that your favorite movie was a documentary. But it’s your site so you get to make the rules.

    One movie that’s made some Top 10 lists but was not a favorite of mine and I think is vastly overrated is ‘Frances Ha’.

    But it’s all subjective.

    An interesting part of life is to see someone’s opinion you value be in complete agreement with yours on a movie (or anything else) and then completely disagree on another movie.
    You are so of one mind on one film and then poles apart on the other.

  • Ambrose*

    Well, at least it’s responsible for selling a lot of Dodge trucks.

  • the007napoleon

    I tried to talk about as many movies as possible, cuz I want your thoughts too. PLEASE. Even if it’s just on one movie, like The Call or something. Thx. I really liked Monster Problems til the end. The ending wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. Nightcrawler was a nice little thriller. Movie-form, if done right could make my list I bet. Really disappointed with Holland, MI. Liked The Shark is not Working, but felt there wasn’t enough MEAT. Does that make sense? Sovereign was a nice, tight, sci-fi thriller type. I’d really like to see that movie too.

    I can’t even make a list. The Call, really? Michael Imperioli’s character alone makes you know this movie was dumb. I was rolling my eyes so much watching this.
    This year is so weird for me. I can’t even believe my favorite movies this late in the game. Seriously. I am pretty sure Her and Wolf of Wall Street will top the list once I see them, but right now my favorite movie is Frozen. Frozen?! It’s good, but, favorite of the year? What am I thinking?! I really liked Blackfish. Saw on Netflix. Mud was really good too. Bought that and Pacific Rim. None are really top ten material.
    Gravity was a theatrical experience like Avatar was. Plain and simple. It won’t hold the same replay-value like Children of Men does for me. Which is in my top 20 ALL-TIME.
    (Princess Bride, Jaws, Back to the Future my top 3 ALL-TIME for reference)
    I really liked Man of Steel. I’m sorry, but I did. Oh, I need to see Llewyn Davis too. Coen Bros never go wrong in my book. I know 12 Years a Slave will be great, but it’s not a movie that would make my top list. I usually go with movies I love. Leave that other stuff to critics. I don’t really care for it. I put on my list what appeals to me.
    American Hustle had GREAT performances, but I truly felt let down by everything else. I LOVED Three Kings, not into Huckabees, and found Fighter to be overrated. Silver Linings I have not seen and I fault myself for that one.
    Prisoners was great/intense until the ending?
    Escape Plan, Machete Kills, Gangster Squad, Elysium all major disappointments. The first two probably don’t matter to either of you though.
    Spectacular Now, Fruitvale Station and World’s End overrated. I LOVE Shaun of the Dead. That and Scott Pilgrim are the only films I love from Edgar Wright until he makes Ant-Man. Fruitvale, I know it’s terrible what happened. Terrible stuff happens all the time. I feel horrible for not finding the movie all that interesting, but what can I do? It’s about the last day of one kid. Maybe it was the writing. I dunno.

    Ranking the top Ten movies I Have Seen:

    1. Frozen (yeah, I know, WHAT?!?!)
    2. Man of Steel (sorry, sorry, SORRY! I really liked it! note: I am a fan of anime)
    3. The Way Way Back (Sam Rockwell, like a young Gary Oldman. My two favorite actors)
    4. The Last Stand (Again, What?!?! Such a guilty pleasure for me. Like Last Action Hero)
    5. Mud (Wasn’t a fan of Take Shelter, but Tye Sheridan SOLD me in this movie)
    6. Pacific Rim (For what it was, I enjoyed it more than enough)
    7. This is the End (Borat is one of my favorite comedies. I love this kind of humor)
    8. The Wolverine (some truly POINTLESS characters, and terrible 3rd act, but still good)
    9. World War Z (Surprisingly, not bad. When I see movies, I don’t really notice plot holes as blatantly as others, so this movie didn’t bother me that much)
    10. The Place Beyond the Pines (the best movie I saw for months)

    GRAVITY gets special mention, cuz it was an EXPERIENCE. I may watch it again, maybe not. Nothing beats that big-screen 3D man. Catching Fire was my favorite of the three books. The third is terrible, familiar boring rebellion nonsense. So those last two movies will be a real chore. Despicable Me 2 wrote itself into a corner.

    I wanted to put Jurassic Park 3D on here man. Aside from Gravity, it was the ONLY movie that just made my theater-going experience. I don’t usually get to see them award films til January, so this list will be WAY different in two months.

    • Citizen M

      Only saw the trailer of Frozen, but it had the best 3-D, much better than Desolation of Smaug and Free Birds, the other trailers I saw at Gravity. Gravity’s 3-D wasn’t so good, either.

      I don’t think the industry has mastered 3-D technology yet. It’s not good enough to make up for the darker picture and extra expense. I saw Avatar in 2-D a week after seeing it in 3-D. It was just as good.

      • the007napoleon

        I did love the 3D for How to Train your Dragon. Didn’t see Frozen in 3D. I’ve kinda sworn off of it. Usually just films that are the top tier so-to-speak of 3D usage. Like Avatar that started the whole darn thing. It was the first movie I saw in 3D that I could remember, and it blew my mind for some reason. I was able to overlook Giovanni Ribisi’s character, the ‘unobtainium’ nonsense, the by-the-numbers villain, etc. For me, as with Gravity, the 3D added that ‘little’ something for me that my eyes were able to just be entranced by.
        Still really mad that Alice in Wonderland hooey was one of the biggest moneymakers ever. That was terrible.
        And I still refuse to see any Hobbit films because it’s ONE 300pg book. I am jealous of everyone seeing Smaug in all his glory though.

  • http://insideechenrysbrain.typepad.com/inside_the_brain_of_ec_he/ E.C. Henry

    Interesting list, Carson. We agree on some things. And are near polar opposites on others. “The Councillor” and “The Hangover III” were horrible. But putting “Man of Steel” on the worst list? Couldn’t disagree more. “Man of Steel” was my suprise hit of 2013; best movie I saw this year, most fun I had at the movie theatre — by a lot!

    “World War Z” as third best movie of the year? Dude, you must be joking. “World War Z” is gawd aweful, a big budget, complete miss-fire. Just watch “28 Days Later” then “World War Z” and tell me which is the better movie. And get this “28 Days Later” did it better AND at a MUCH lower cost. “World War Z” is a JOKE. Can’t believe they’re actually going to greenlight a sequel. “The Great Gatsby” was likewise a missfire — in my opinion. This despite a nice job turned in by Leonardo DiCaprio. “The Great Gatsby” is a snore machine.

    Still, I’d never say you’re off your rocker. At least you do give reasons why you feel the way you do. It’s just we see the world quite differently.

    Merry Christmass,

    E.C. Henry from Bonney Lake, WA

  • klmn

    OT. Did anyone else enter the Christmas writing contest/exercise on the Done Deal forum? I did, but I won’t mention what my entry is. The scripts are judged anonymously.

    I think they’ll be posted tomorrow.

  • garrett_h

    Midnight Luck and I were talking about cash grabs last week and Anchorman 2 is the posterboy for it right now. All these years later plus the beat-you-over-the-head marketing… Really?

    I’m a HUGE Anchorman fan. Can quote every line from it. But I just can’t bring myself to go see this film. I’ll probably just wait for the DVD.

  • klmn
  • Nathan Labonté

    No one asked for my opinion, but here it is anyway (by the way I have only seen 11 movies of 2013 still waiting to see such movies as Inside Llewyn Davis, 12 Years a Slave, Captain Phillips, American Hustle, and Wolf of Wall Street, so evidently this is not by far my final list).

    11. Iron Man 3
    was not very good. I did not like it very much. That is basically all.

    10. Man of Steel
    I enjoyed this movie, but it was not too good. Too much destruction that was pointless, the flashback structure – although containing some good scenes – was flawed, and the story could use some work. I understand why it was panned by critics.

    9. Star Trek: Into Darkness
    Once again, I enjoyed this movie, but it’s standard action fare. What makes it better than Man of Steel is its competent writing (for the most part), the above average acting (especially Cumberbatch) and assured direction. I think. Better than the first one.

    8. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
    Quite a bit of fun watching, and although it is better than An Unexpected Journey, it still doesn’t measure up to The Lord of the Rings. The best parts are with Martin Freeman and Cumberbatch (as Smaug). Lots of elements felt shoe-horned in, and it was pretty uneven now that I think about it (I just watched it a few hours ago), but it’s hard to counter the logic on exhilaration.

    7. The Kings of Summer
    I thought that this was a pretty unique idea until I watched Into the Wild, but still, I like how this movie was made. My biggest qualm is with some of the montage-style editing, but even so, it was fun watching this. I was intrigued by the fact that it was a coming of age story with older teenagers, as most coming of agers – notable Stand By me and so on – are with younger kids, tweens and such. Also, it was wonderful seeing Nick Offerman and Alison Brie share the screen in scenes, they being from two of my favourite comedy shows.

    6. The Way, Way Back
    I am really liking the Jim Rash/Nat Faxon pairing after having recently seen The Descendants and this. The writing felt honest and true to me, and all of the acting was fitting. Sam Rockwell gets a lot of attention for this, but I thought that Liam James did not only play, but inhabited the idea of awkwardness. Jim rash had a hilarious side role, and I like how the story ended.

    5. Oblivion
    Oblivion is the type of movie that doesn’t often come by: a unique sci-fi idea with an intriguing story and great visuals. Okay, maybe Oblivion wasn’t the most unique sci-fi movie ever, but its twists and turns kept me glued to what was happening, and I found the ending to be melancholic. The music is some of the best of the year.

    4. Mud
    Yes, yet another coming of age movie. I am a sucker for them I suppose. But Mud was something special. It felt mature, even though the characters were not yet that old. The emotional punches packed worked marvellously well, and both McConaughey and Tye Sheridan did wonderful things in their respective roles.

    3. The Place Beyond the Pines
    This is a very divisive movie, many claiming it as great and others as terrible. For me, this is one of the three (so far, at least) masterpieces of 2013. From the opening tracking shot I knew there was something special happening here. Ryan Gosling did well in his role, not overplaying it, being subtle enough. Bradley Cooper played his role, similarly, subtly enough, and while I can’t say the same for Dane DeHaan and his friend (I can’t find his name right now), they were effective. I’m not good at verbalising what I like about movies, but for me this movie clicked. The three-act structure worked for this movie, in my opinion. Some may say that this movie is too ambitious for its own good, but I say that its ambition allowed it to be great.

    2. Before Midnight
    I recently saw the entire “Before” trilogy (my favourite of the three being Before Sunset), and I have to say, I absolutely took a shining to the way these are made, as in a lot of dialogue and little action. I’ve always wondered what’s more interesting than people talking and, while it turns out that space is, Before Midnight surprised me pleasantly. It’s interesting to see the way a relationship evolves over a period of years, and I am intrigued as to whether a fourth will be made. Another thing I like is that the two lead actors were given a chance to write dialogue, which made things all the more authentic.

    Dramatic pause…

    GRAVITY (obviously)

    Now, to be fair, I haven’t seen Searching For Sugar Man, and in any case it’s technically a 2012 movie (It did win last year’s Oscar for best Doc). But this year’s obvious winner thus far is Gravity, the best movie since There Will Be Blood (or Lord of the Rings, pick your choice). I liked it so much, that I included it among my “favourite movies”. The acting is perfect, the cinematography is perfect, the story is perfect, the visual metaphorism (is that a word?) and symbolism is perfect… everything about it, for me, is perfect. No, I do not think that Ryan needed more fleshing out, she proved her character through her actions. And while some dislike some of the dialogue and the backstory, I didn’t find too large a fault with either. This is a great cinematic experience, and I doubt there will be a movie as good as Gravity for a while. Well, we’ll see about Interstellar.

    Now, I will soon see these movies: Prisoners, Elysium, Inside Llewyn David, 12 Years a Slave, Captain Phillips, The Hunt (as in Jagten), The Past, Her, The Wolf of Wall Street, American Hustle, Saving Mr. Banks, Fruitvale Station, Rush, Blue Jasmine, Dallas Buyers Club, and Nebraska. To name a few. Any of these other than Elysium (probably) could replace movies on my top 10 + Iron Man 3, although I am sure that Gravity will stick in first.

    Till next year.

    • K.B. Houston

      I agree with your tops, except for Gravity. I thought Gravity was good, it certainly was an experience and I think every cinema lover should see it, but I also wonder how it’s luster will hold up outside the theater without 3-D glasses on. When people watch it at home 30 years from now will they really be saying, “This is ones of the greatest movies I’ve ever seen!”? I doubt it.

      For me, The Place Beyond the Pines was the best movie I saw this past year — BAR NONE. Derek Cianfrance is a fantastic director. His stylization is very original and only rivaled by Paul Thomas Anderson, if you ask me. People might bicker about the main character being killed off, but they’re not seeing the forest through the trees — err, pines (pun very much intended, sadly). The movie was not character driven. It HAD great characters, yes, but it was not about them. It was about lineage, consequences, DNA, and how our decisions not only affect our lives but the lives of our children and even, maybe even our grandchildren. And yes, there were some cliches throughout, but I’d argue they weren’t glaring and were overshadowed by the brilliancy of the directing, acting and script in general. The Place Beyond the Pines is already one of my all-time favorite movies.

      Mud was good too, but I thought it had it’s fair share of cliches and unlike The Place Beyond the Pines they weren’t overcome by other elements of the film.

      Before Sunrise is one of my top five favorite movies of all time. It’s inspired me to travel and to become a scriptwriter. And though I greatly enjoyed both the sequels, I couldn’t ever get past how neither even remotely compares to the first. Part of the reason Before Sunrise was so magnificent was the ending. The sequels tainted that for me. That said, Richard Linklater is still one of my favorite directors and Before Midnight was still a really good movie, and I’ll still probably buy it when it comes out on DVD.

  • ximan

    Hope you have your “Carson, you’re insane!” comments prepped and ready to go.

    I did.

    And I didn’t even NEED them!! Completely agree with you on these picks (except the docu, but only because I haven’t seen it yet). Gravity is the best film I’ve seen this year, and in many many years.


  • K.B. Houston

    Rotten Tomatoes is a good way to gauge the overall quality of a film, as the aggregation method creates a relative accuracy in determining a consensus — but man, there are times I can’t even believe some of the reviews on that site. Like, for example, there are actually legitimate, well-respected critics working at major newspapers who give movies like It’s a Wonderful Life “rotten” scores. HOW?!?! HOW DOES THAT HAPPEN!?!? HOW DO YOU HAVE A JOB AS A MOVIE CRITIC IF YOU GIVE IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE A ROTTEN SCORE!?!? I just don’t get it…

    As for movies I’ve seen this past year, I have to say, I actually really liked Man of Steel. I’m not a big action movie guy, and I’m especially averse to most superhero movies, but I thought Man of Steel was well directed and entertaining. It didn’t over rely on special effects and it had a nice juxtaposition of exposition and plot.

    On the other hand, Blue is the Warmest Color just about ruined my movie-going experience FOREVER! Holy crap, man. I mean, I’m a pretty liberal dude. I’d argue I’m the most liberal person on this board, the most liberal person I know, maybe the most liberal person you’ll ever meet. And I really enjoy weird movies, movies that are different, that don’t just abide by the traditional structure and protocols. But Blue is the Warmest Color was just too much. The 10-minute lesbian sex scene was the most uncomfortable I’ve ever been in a movie theater. You could hear a popcorn bag ruffle, the slightest movement of someone readjusting in their seat, even the breath of the person sitting next to you — AND IT JUST NEVER ENDED!!! Finally people in the theater just started laughing after about six minutes and it was all good fun, but then again, you have to realize the director (Abdel Kechiche) was in no way going for that. He wanted to be taken seriously and yet the only way people could actually make it through one of the climaxes of his film was by laughing. What exactly does that say about the quality of your film if that’s the case? And even setting the hardcore pornographic scenes aside (which probably accounted for about 15 percent of the total running movie time), you still had a 3-hour long film with no major plot twists or anything to up the stakes. It was just two girls in love who eventually break up, one is sad and the other is not. That’s it. End of story. Granted, the acting was absolutely phenomenal, but this is one movie experience I will never forget — and not in a good way.

  • peisley

    Sugarman was wonderful, but it’s a documentary. All of your other choices are scripted movies. Not to nitpick, but I will, because your site is all about writing a script. I don’t see Oz at all. It was mediocre at best and Franco was miscast. Mama was just stupid with a crappy ending. I won’t see Gatsby because that director gives me a headache just to watch, let alone see and hear a lot of bad acting. Admission was awful with no chemistry between the two leads. Frankly, I don’t know how much longer the superhero trip is going to last when they just keep telling the same story over and over. Ok. I’ve said my peace for 2013. Meanwhile, good luck to all in the New Year.

  • Michaelo

    Thanks for all the hard work Carson. Merry Christmas.

  • Cfrancis1

    Good list. But how the hell did Oz, World War Z and Mama wind up on the best list??

    Oz: Bad script. Clunky dialogue.

    World War Z: Entertaining, yes. Solid story, yes. But as far as Zombie movies go, it played it way safe and wasn’t exactly electrifying in the story/character department. Liked it but it’s more of a nothing-else-on-hey-I’ll-watch-this movie than a top 10 movie.

    Mama: The first ten minutes of this movie was amazing. Then the rest happens. The first hour of the movie makes no sense. Why doesn’t Mama try to get the kids out of the house from the get-go? And as much as I love Jessica Chastain (wonderful actress), she is really miscast in this movie.

    Okay, Iron Man 3 wasn’t great, but it made some interesting choices. One movie that really surprised me was The Wolverine. I thought it was a lot better than it had any right to be. Definitely the best superhero flick of the year, IMHO.

  • Malibo Jackk

    Iron Man 3.
    1.2 Billion.
    Not bad.

  • David Sarnecki

    Iron Man 3 on a worst of screenwriting list?! I DEMAND your screenwriters card be revoked!

    • Marija ZombiGirl

      Maybe not revoked but definitely suspended for a while :)

      I really don’t get the hate for this movie. Ok, so superheroes are definitely not my thing but I had a real blast watching this – twice. We’re in obvious Shane Black territory and there’s so much to like even if I admittedly don’t know the first thing about Iron Man and his universe. I thought it was well written and I really like that Black injected his own personality and vision to a studio project.

      I’m often wondering if watching these movies from an objective point of view gives us the perspective that die-hard fans don’t have. I’m not dissing anyone, just to be clear :) But we all know that reality never lives up to our expectations so obviously, the fantasy movie fans have in their heads will never be anything like what’s up on the screen.

      Same thing with Man of Steel for me. Superman doesn’t make the tiniest blip on my interest radar, I’ve only seen Donner’s movie once when I was a kid. I went to the press screening of this on an early monday morning because I was the only one who could. I almost cancelled, as well. But I loved it to bits ! Sure, there’s action overload in the third act but contrary to Carson, I liked everything about Superman’s home planet and also all the emotional moments. And I especially loved the non-linear structure (from what I’ve heard, that was Nolan’s decision, not Snyder’s and we may get his Director’s Cut on a special edition BluRay).

      • http://atticofthefilmaddict.blogspot.com/ Matty

        I HATED Man of Steel, just so damn boring to me.

        But I loved Iron Man 3. A lot. It’s maybe my favorite Marvel film (can’t choose between it and the original Iron Man). Seriously don’t understand the hate toward it. Dislike? Sure. One of the worst of the year? No. Even Man of Steel wouldn’t be on my worst-of list, despite there being nothing I liked in that movie.

        • http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1888937/ Rick McGovern

          I actually agree. Not my favorite, but by everyone’s comments I was expecting it to be worse than World War Z, which I thought was one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen.

          I also like Shane Black.

          Man of Steel was alright. I might get shot, but I liked it better than the new Spiderman. Now that one I was friggen bored. I couldn’t wait for it to end! lol

  • Tyler

    While I understand not to defend Upstream Color on a screenwriting blog I’d just like to add one person that you’ve mistaken as a “genius” to that poster of pretentiousness: Baz Luhrmann (maybe there’s a nice parallel here with the fact that you hate Carruth while those “uber-snobby independent” people claim him as a genius; and the roles are pretty much reversed with Luhrmann)

    also you mistook coincidence for irony in the World War Z bit

    • wlubake

      I gained a lot of respect for Lurhmann by watching a TV documentary a while back that explored movies of the 90’s. They interviewed Baz on Romeo & Juliet and Moulin Rouge. The guy has a definite vision and purpose for everything he does. I enjoyed both of those movies before hearing him discuss them, but now I want to go back and rewatch with his commentary in mind. He really thinks through the entire artistic experience for his audience. Whether he succeeds is a matter of opinion, but I learned in that interview to really respect his approach.

      Loved the Great Gatsby. Would have been 100x better if they had cut out the sanitorium and recast Nick, though. Thought both the story frame and Maguire brought down everything.

  • jridge32

    “Don Jon” was way better than I was expecting. The Tivo scene was kind of annoying, but the film was overall very good and insightful. I really don’t think that 22 times in one day is even possible, though.

    Merry Christmas, Carson!

  • kidbaron

    Just watched Drinking Buddies last night. It’s a movie that one friend has raved about all year long. Yet, I couldn’t help but think for 80 minutes of its 90 minutes run — If these scenes where written not just improved they would have much more of a punch. Improv can be done. Larry David’s show proves it. However, this movie could have had more of a punch if it was shaped from the bottom up, i.e. a script. I alternated between thinking — “Get on with it.” to “If a writer had… then that would have rocked…”

    And I liked the ending. I got what they trying for.

  • kidbaron

    Guess I must have subconsciously been preparing for this list this week. I saw 2 of Carson’s worst within a 48 hour period (Upstream Color and Drinking Buddies). I liked Upstream Color, even though I don’t understand why the pig farmer had to die. I might have missed something or didn’t assemble the parts correctly. Of course I was open to something out there when I hit “play.” And I liked Man of Steel, even with all it’s faults.

    • wlubake

      I also enjoyed Superman, for the most part. My biggest problem was that once Clark assumed the role of Superman, there seemed to be nothing interesting about him anymore. He just has this instant zen-like understanding of his role as protector of earth. There’s no hesitation. He never seems to have any conflict on whether to protect earth or to help rebuild Krypton. He becomes incredibly boring. Compare him to Sam Rami’s Spiderman – constantly battling internally between wanting a normal life and taking on the responsibility that comes with his powers. Or Nolan’s Batman – wanting to focus on being Batman while having to keep up the appearance of the wealthy playboy.

      I thought “walk the earth” Clark was rather interesting. Using his powers as needed, then moving on. There was the fun moment with the truck driver. But Superman was pretty boring. He got the girl too easily (where Christopher Reeves’ Superman struggled as Clark to win Lois over); he really found the ship too easily (really – just overhearing some military guys talking at the bar?!); every time he was in trouble, daddy’s likeness showed up to help him understand/escape; etc.

      I guess I didn’t like it as much as I thought I did. I had fun, but it all felt half-done. Here’s the thing that really rips my heart out, though: Batman vs. Superman. Ugh. Typically these intro films are a little worse, as they focus on backstory and discovery in the heroes. Then the 2nd movie really explores what makes the character tick. Spiderman 2 and Dark Knight are great examples of what a sequel can be. But now Superman won’t get his sequel. He has to share it with Batman, meaning he can’t be properly mined as a character. A 2nd Superman movie should have been BEFORE Batman vs. Superman. WB blew its load too early, IMO. Not excited for this at all.

  • http://jrkinnard.tumblr.com/ J.R. Kinnard

    I’m such a sucker for a good list!! Seriously, I’m a list geek.

    I’m still trying to cram movies in this week, so I can’t do my top 10 best/worst until next week. But your lists are definitely interesting, Carson.

    I couldn’t agree more about “You’re Next” being terrific. This isn’t a genre that I generally like, but I had a blast at this movie! It’s so interesting to compare this movie to my least favorite movie of the year, “The Evil Dead.” It’s a great way to see what works and what doesn’t.

    In fact, one of my favorite exercises is comparing similar films from the same (sub)genres. This year featured 3 teen coming-of-age comedies, “The Way Way Back,” “The To Do List” and “The Spectacular Now.” You’re right, Carson, that “The Spectacular Now” is a terrific film, but I had so much more fun at “The Way Way Back,” mostly because of Sam Rockwell (who should be in every movie). And “The To Do List”… never mind.

    My most disappointing film of the year is “Elysium,” hands down, game over, case closed. Ugh. I hated that movie! It’s like he took everything that was clever and interesting about “District 9″ and replaced it with boring action film tropes. What a mess.

    My contenders for best film of the year (so far): “Spring Breakers,” “Fruitvale Station,” “American Hustle,” “The Act of Killing” and “Nebraska.”

    “The Evil Dead” wins for worst film, but the (dis)honorable mentions are: “Rush,” “The Book Thief” and “Now You See Me.”

    I’d agree with your assessment about the year in general, Carson. I rate most movies 1-5, and this year I would say that 60% of the movies have been 3 or 3.5. That’s pretty solid. But there haven’t been many 4’s, and I’ve only got one 4.5 so far this year (“Fruitvale Station”).

    • David Sarnecki

      There’s another one I don’t get. Evil Dead as worst? If Evil Dead is one of the worst films you saw in 2013 you’ve had a GREAT year. That was a well made, valiant effort.

      • http://jrkinnard.tumblr.com/ J.R. Kinnard

        Sorry, dude. Evil Dead was a dreadful, boring mess. They didn’t even attempt to make an interesting movie. I almost fell asleep it was so boring. And yes, out of the 125 movies I’ve seen this year, it was THE worst. I’ve seen several terrible films, but Evil Dead was mind-numbingly bad–a cynical, uninteresting gorefest.

        • David Sarnecki

          So the drug addiction angle doesn’t even count as TRYING to make something interesting? You’re a hard man to please. Or the king of hyperbole.

  • BigDeskPictures

    I thought “IN A WORLD” was great. Anyone else?

  • http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1888937/ Rick McGovern

    World War Z was a horrible movie. One of the worst movies I’ve ever seen actually. The Great Gatsby wasn’t much better. But that’s just me :)

    • ArabyChic

      If you think World War Z and Great Gatsby are some of the worst movies you’ve ever seen, you need to see more movies.

      • http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1888937/ Rick McGovern

        Or you need to watch better movies lol

        And I was definitely not alone. Z was boring and stupid. Gatsby was better, but it was also not a very good movie. I consider a movie hard to get through as a bad movie.

  • Michael

    Agreed. The character work in this film is miles ahead of any other film this year. The four leads all deserve nominations, if not wins and its not just their acting that gets them there. Singer and Russell take all the characters in the script in directions you never expect. If you are a screenwriter this is the one film you should see this year, it’s a master class in character work.

    As entertainment, the style of filmmaking and the story content might not be your thing. I was put off by the over use of voiceover in the first act. It was a bit of a lazy information dump on the writers part, but once you get past that, the unique and unexpected focus of the story really captures you. Don’t know if it will win best picture, it very well could. It definitely should be near the top end of everyone’s top ten lists.

  • http://atticofthefilmaddict.blogspot.com/ Matty

    I don’t know. There are a decent amount of critics who say it’s messy, despite being entertaining.

    12 Years a Slave looks destined to take the top prize. It’s winning the most awards right now. Gravity is scooping up a lot, but I don’t think it can beat 12 Years.

  • http://atticofthefilmaddict.blogspot.com/ Matty

    We’ll have to agree to disagree on OGF – that is a hollow, empty film for the most part to me.

    And I did mean that “style is substance” applies in general – that’s why I don’t like the phrase “style over substance” because it isn’t one or the other. The only question is HOW much substance the style is.

  • http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1888937/ Rick McGovern

    lol funny guy

  • http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1888937/ Rick McGovern

    Still on my list to watch. It’s actually one of the screeners they’re sending, too. Have only hard good things.

    • http://atticofthefilmaddict.blogspot.com/ Matty

      I’ve heard a few people say it’s messy, that the script is the weakest part. Everyone seems to agree the acting is great. I’m sure I’ll like it, if not love it, though.

      • http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1888937/ Rick McGovern

        Guess we’ll find out!

  • http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1888937/ Rick McGovern

    I liked escape plan. Gatsby did suck though.

  • Kirk Diggler

    Boogie Nights is one of my favorite films ever. Not quite ready to put American Hustle up there with that and Goodfellas and Pulp Fiction. I did thoroughly enjoy it though. Bale is amazing. Made the film for me. There were a few moments where I thought Jen Lawrence was too young for her part. Just doesn’t have that “lived life” look. Too doe-eyed, her skin too smooth. Yet she was still good. Funny as hell. Bradley Cooper did a slight re-tread of his manic Silver Linings character. Amy Adams is always good in everything she does. Jeremy Renner played one of the few sympathetic characters in the film and he made you feel it. I think American Hustle is one of those films I will look back on in a few years after repeated viewings before I’m ready to rank it with the aforementioned favorites.

    And i do think 12 years a Slave will win Best Pic and Best actor.

  • Kirk Diggler

    Place Beyond the Pines had a great 1st act, a good, 2nd act, and just a so-so 3rd act. Hard to see why you think it’s a Ten Worst.

  • blueiis0112

    I saw “Mama” and thought that the story-line regarding the girlfriend not wanting to be mom was interesting. But, the ending was a really interesting twist.

  • klmn

    Will there be a newsletter this week?

  • Brian

    Loved The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. My fave film of 2013 and I got to watch it with my son who loved it too. I clapped at the end and felt like a tool when nobody joined in but oh well.

  • Kirk Diggler

    I agree Gosling’s character was by far the most interesting character.

  • Kay Bryen

    One rainy Monday a year ago I decided I was disillusioned with my job so I went AWOL from work, drove home, stormed into my blankets with my stilettos on, and watched Searching for Sugarman. I don’t know if it was my melancholic state of mind, the gloomy weather or both, but this hypnotically haunting documentary crept under my skin and has never left since. Side note: I was disappointed to later read an expose that pointed out “plot holes” (yep, apparently even a documentary can have those), but all is forgiven. Rodriguez rock on!

    • Citizen M

      I’ve not read the expose, but as a South African who grew up with Rodriguez’s “Sugarman” and “I Wonder” and was astonished to learn he had been forgotten (we all thought he was probably a big stadium act in the States), I have to say that documentary is pretty much the way it went down. It was not quite Elvis returning from the grave, but it was close. Rodriguez was amazingly popular here in the ’70s. His resurrection was a big event.

      • Kay Bryen

        They had me at “set himself ablaze onstage… shot himself in the head.” But here the truth trumps fiction. If I wrote a character who slaved away as a roofer and lived in a one-bedroom shack with his daughters as a single dad, while big labels made a fortune in royalties off his sweat for decades… Carson would say that’s overkill. Such a feel-good and feel-bad tour de force all in one, so I had to invent an emoticon for it :- )(-:

        • klmn

          Getting ripped off by record isn’t uncommon among musicians. That’s one of the reasons Congress amended the copyright act to let creators regain ownership of their rights after (IIRC) 34 years.

          Here, Dick Dale explains the music business.

  • tobban

    Yes, Sugarman won the Oscar for best docu. Probably because of the great characters. Rags to riches and back to rags – and back to success. Never give up. Like; whatever life brings you, have fun with it. And Rodriguez did.
    That film was made on a shoestring and still looked good. Some of it was shot with an Iphone and it worked ! Goes to prove if you have a good story…..etc

    • Crcbonjour

      I need to track this film down ASAP! Art house is usually tight in my wheelhouse; flies right in the face of high concept. Bring it on! :)

  • Nathan

    When you have those ‘down’ days when you’re script isn’t working, when you wonder why you’re writing this story to begin with, when it seems like the road to seeing your ideas up on the big screen is just too long, add this to your crippling doubts: the best things on the big screen this year by a country mile were non-fiction.
    If I wasn’t already “all in” on this screenwriting career, I’d probably get the hell out. And I say this from a place of genuine frustration. Smiley face.

  • Crcbonjour

    Carson you’re NOT crazy.

    I’d never even heard of any of your 10 Worst so, well done. That’s a public service, or bonus as it were, to writers, movie goers, et al.

    One thing: your counting…..there’s 12 on the list but who’s counting. Ten is so…..TEN. a dozen is more cozy. Donuts, eggs, bagels……movies!

    But Midnight in Paris isn’t on there! OK it’s part of a trilogy so maybe it can’t be and not everyone knows Jesse & Celine but they should. Anyway, if that script doesn’t win the Oscar for Best Adapted, then something is very wrong. It’s genius.

    World War Z. Huh?
    Gatsby? Smoke & mirrors….

    Otherwise, nice list….everyone will have a few plus/minuses but this is great stuff. Matter of what floats one’s boat……great isn’t always great to everyone but almost always is.

    Just like “It’s a Wonderful Life” because of the “message” than transcends the wonderful people that made it/were in it. Sometimes the hardest things to see are the things right in front of us……around us. Look!

    Thanks, Carson :)

  • Stephjones

    Do I want to join the discussion? Why the hell not? I have a desperate need to procrastinate that is not being satiated by any other site/blog and my friends have all forgotten my email address. The bastards. But I’ll fix them. Yes, indeed-y.
    So I didn’t see a single movie on the 10 worst. I consider that to be much needed bonus points in my favor, because as a screenwriter, I feel my taste tends to sophomoric, crude humor within an extremely narrow genre window. Ie. i’m a hack at heart.Thank god my mommie still loves me.
    I react to movies on an emotional level fueled by a menopausal fire. You younguns eat your heart out. You can only mimic existential angst. Try doing it with a dry ( removed by moderator)
    Re: The best list
    Oz? Are you fucking kidding me? What a yawn fest.
    Gatsby? A terrible disappointment. I wanted this movie to succeed. It did not.
    We are the millers– I really wanted this to be my new go to. But it wasn’t. I own it. I’ve watched it exactly one time. I love Jason Suckmydickus. I’ve watched Hall Pass a dozen times because of the connection between Jason and Owen. They have onscreen chemistry that makes me lov…lov…love them. We are the millers is a great concept but there is no chemistry between the leads. none! It’s like they been invited to an acting party but no one hooks up.
    Admission. Yuk. I like Paul Rudd and Tina fey. They have zero chemistry together. They are like brother and sister. I fell asleep halfway. I own the frigging movie. I live on a little sailboat so have no TV. I get desperate for entertainment. I keep thinking I should try again and every time I think…nah.
    You know, this disqus thingee sucks. It freezes up on me.
    I want o see Don Jon. Whozzit lacks sufficient manliness to tilt out my whatzzit

  • David Sarnecki

    It really seems like another “The Artist”. A cool little movie that is going to be utterly destroyed by winning the best picture Oscar it never deserved.

  • Montana Gillis

    “Saving Mr. Banks” is far and away number ONE on my list for movies of 2013. There should be multiple Oscar Nominations for this excellent movie!

    • Javier Eliezer Otero

      Think the same as you!!!!

  • blue439

    Carson great choice for #1. Didn’t think it was your kind of movie, but it’s not an artsy doc at all, quite the opposite — it’s very accessible which is why it won the Academy Award. It’s a great story which is why I enjoyed it so much. I know the filmmaker did manipulate the facts (through omission), but I’ll forgive that because it made the story better.

  • blue439

    P.S. I would put Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter on the 10 worst list.

  • blue439

    I haven’t even seen it yet, and I’m sure. David O’Russell is DUE after being nominated for the third year in a row. 12 Years A Slave is too small a movie to win. Could win a Best Actor, but not Best Picture. Gravity deserves to be on the list but it’s basically a popcorn movie thrill ride, not a whole lot of depth to it.

  • blue439

    Oh yeah, The Canyons deserves to be on a list. I won’t say which one.

  • FilmingEJ

    I definitely think it’s overhyped, but I won’t be upset if it wins Best Picture, it’s a good movie.

  • FilmingEJ

    I thought The Call was a mediocre thriller up until the end, when it gets to laughably bad levels.

  • Shaun Snyder

    My top 10:
    10. The Place Beyond the Pines – great characters, interesting structure, awesome performances.
    9. Only God Forgives – I get why people might hate this movie, because it’s not a traditional movie at all, but I loved it. Not nearly as good as Drive, but it’s pure Refn.
    8. American Hustle – great characters and performances, but a tad overrated. Sum is not as good as its parts.
    7. Prisoners – loved the mood of this film. The director was definitely the star.
    6. The World’s End – I’m a biased Edgar Wright fan.
    5. Saving Mr. Banks – did not expect to like this movie as much as I did, and even though Emma Thompson is getting most of the good press (deservedly so, I might add), I was surprised how great Colin Farrell was!
    4. The Way Way Back – Sam Rockwell gives the performance of the year, in my opinion.
    3. Gravity – movies like this are the reason we go to the cinema in the first place.
    2. 12 Years a Slave – BLEW. ME. AWAY.
    1. Before Midnight – this series is the greatest film series of all time, in my opinion. Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy are amazing, and that 30-minute fight scene is legendary. The most well-written film of the year, and should win the Screenplay Oscar if there’s any justice.