What a strange year. A weeks-long moviegoing break was absolutely not planned and was terribly painful in many ways, but the end result was worthwhile on all fronts: Lucy almost fully recovered (the vet used the word "miracle" to describe our feisty little dog), while I got some healthy time away from the silver screen.
Don't get me wrong, there's almost nothing better in the world than spending time in a movie theater. But after a summer of ear-deafening, sometimes soul-crushing sameness to one superhero movie after another, to an endless supply of "blockbusters," the quiet time was appreciated.
And when I got back to the movies, I did it with a vengeance. Of course, I'm just another guy with a laptop, I'm not paid to do this, and I rarely get into the movies for free -- though frequently they are helpful, even necessary, to my full-time job. But every time I go to the movies, like the vast majority of people in the world, I plunk down real, hard-earned money, and that gives me a right to expect something of value for it.
For a lot of people, that means mindless, fast-paced action, the louder the better. Nevermind that most of these movies make little narrative sense, that they're edited with such a frenzy that it makes me suspect (just what are they trying to hide?). For me, the "something of value" comes down to this: Do I forget I'm in a movie theater? Do I lose myself in the story that's being told? Do I come away feeling like my life's a little better for the couple of hours I just gave away?
In all 10 of these cases, the answer is a resounding yes. Interestingly, none of these movies is on the list of 10 highest-grossing films of the year. Does that make me a cultural snob? I hope not, because here's something I can absolutely guarantee (if you can tell me convincingly that I'm wrong, I'll be surprised): Every one of these films is worthwhile, illuminating, insightful, inspiring, fascinating, or just downright entertaining.
These are my 10 favorite films of the year because I think they're terrific, and I think you'll feel the same. Don't feel badly if you have to talk yourself into seeing some of them -- not all of them are easy or instantly appealing. I won't tell you which, but I resisted at least a couple of them. I'm glad I gave my time to all of them, and hope you will be, too.
In life, 2013 may have been a mildly crappy year. At the movies, it was great. Here's to 2014!
#10 - Dallas Buyers Club
#9 - Before Midnight
#8 - Room 237
#7 - Inside Llewyn Davis
#6 - The Wolf of Wall Street
#5 - The Way, Way Back
#4 - Saving Mr. Banks
#3 - Blackfish
#2 - Her
#1 - Fruitvale Station
If only every movie were as worthwhile as these 10. Alas, it's just not so. While I still hold true to my conviction that two hours in a theater is almost always time well-spent, these three movies made me seriously doubt that belief:
All Is Lost
Man of Steel