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The Fried Critic's Favorite Movies of 2013

It's the end of the year, and that means it's high time for lists of "the best" movies, books, games, albums, and just about anything else you can think of. But really, isn't that just a matter of opinion? So, instead of holding things up to universal standards when fulfilling my contractual obligation to make lists as a person on the internet with opinions, I figured the best thing to do is instead look at what my favorite things this year were, and make lists based on that. Some of these are great things, and some of them are pretty iffy, but ones I enjoyed nonetheless.

So, let's jump right into the wonderful world of films, and see what I felt was worth paying to see this year!

The World's End


I think we can all agree that Shaun of the Dead is a classic, Hot Fuzz is pretty damn great, and that Scott Pilgrim vs The World was at least trying something interesting, even if didn't totally pan out. They were all by the same skilled madman, Edgar Wright, and this year, he brought us his take on the tried-and-true "end of the world" flick with The World's End. Only, he did in a way that was entirely unpredictable. For the first thirty minutes, this movie looked to be a boring drag of patently British comedy about drinking and growing old. Then Simon Pegg's character rips somebody's arm off in a bathroom brawl, only to find that his assailant is bleeding blue paint, and quickly makes the discovery that his entire hometown has been replaced by clones. What was supposed to be a gathering of old pals and great beer turns into a fight to escape and survive, interspersed with some brilliant slapstick and clever dialogue.

Once this film got going, it was never boring, and kept me guessing until the very end. It was a rollicking thrill ride crashed into some truly great comedy, and spiced up with elements of horror and hard sci-fi. Not only that, but it was one of the most original movies I've seen in ages, unwilling to compromise into fitting inside of any kinds of standard movie molds. With The World's End, Wright proved himself competent enough a director to take a tired sub-genre and breathe new life into it, which is no easy feat. It's a fantastic comedy-action film, and was well worth the price of admission.


Evil Dead


I wanted to hate this movie. No, really, I did. As a massive fan of the original trilogy, and devout follower of The Church of Bruce Campbell, the idea of remaking Sam Raimi's cult classic made my skin crawl, and the initial trailers made it look like complete torture porn. Still, I went to the theater decked out in my Evil Dead shirt and tried to leave my bias at the door, and after the credits had rolled, my metaphorical hat was eaten. This is one of the only reboots that has truly floored me, not only being a faithful reimagining of the trilogy, but also an implied piece of series canon. The special effects, none of which were achieved with CGI, are truly beautiful and disgusting in equal amounts. Not only that, but it did something no movie in recent years has, and that is bringing back old-school horror aesthetics. It's a total throwback to the 80's heyday of horror flicks, a complete gorefest loaded with jump scares and gross-out laughs.

For fans of the series, or for newcomers simply looking for good horror, Evil Dead delivers in spades. It's gory, funny, scary and about a billion other similar superlatives. In short, it's a kickass film that stands an anti-thesis to torture porn and found-footage garbage, and I hope to see more from the series in the future... especially with what's teased after the credits.


Pacific Rim


Movies based on anime series suck. They suck really, really hard. Occasionally, an okay one will pop up, like Guyver 2: Dark Hero or Speed Racer, but for the most part, they're fucking terrible. But as Guillermo Del Toro proved this year, ones that are inspired by anime and manga, as well as Japanese monster movies, don't have to suck. Cue Pacific Rim, which is hands-down the best action movie of this year, despite the year being filled with quite a few good ones. Following humanity's struggle to destroy giant beasts known as Kaiju by piloting huge mech suits called Jaegers, Del Toro's nearly three-hour epic manages to consistently delight, with a cast of diverse and likable characters propelling the action sequences into something way beyond typical Michael Bay fare. Everything is so well-designed and choreographed that you'll be on the edge of your seat every second of this film, something that most directors can't manage to do for such a long running time (looking at you, Peter Jackson.)

This is a truly special film, one that excites as much as it engages, surprises as much as it panders. It's something that doesn't come along very often, and when it does, it isn't truly appreciated by the masses, as seen by this excellent movie getting trounced in the box office by comedy/watersports bestiality porn Grown Ups 2. It's nice to see this film getting a second lease on life thanks to strong home video sales, because it's easily one of my new favorites, and by default, one of my favorites of this year.


Gravity


Alfonso Cuaron is truly a curious director. On the one hand, he directed a Harry Potter flick, and my favorite one at that. On the other, he made the incredibly grim and gritty Children of Men, a haunting and controversial futuristic parable. It's always interesting to see what he turns out next, but honestly, I wasn't quite ready for Gravity, emotionally speaking. A minimalist thriller set in the vacuum of space, it follows the struggle of two astronauts to simply stay alive against all odds, after a storm of space trash leaves them stranded with barely any chances of escape. Without any lengthy exposition or tear-jerking backstory, it builds on their characters organically, in pretty much real time to boot. Not only that, but it manages to excite and terrify without any loud special effects or pumping music, relying solely on great acting, phenomenal storytelling and beautiful visuals to propel the movie forward.

Gravity is a movie that deserves every accolade it's gotten, and then some. Bullock and Clooney turn in splendid performances, and the set pieces are top-notch. With a killer script and superb direction, it's a movie that truly defined moviegoing in 2013, and served as a triumphant middle finger to other blockbuster thriller movies that are nothing but soulless cashgrabs. Honestly, I wouldn't be shocked if it won Best Picture at many award ceremonies, and it would honestly deserve it every single time.

But to me, there was one movie that came across as timeless, artistic and all-around perfect, coming out of nowhere and beating out Gravity by a decent margin to be my favorite movie of 2013.


Frozen


I saw Frozen two times in a row. To be more specific, I was so awe-stricken by seeing it in 2D that I walked out of the theater, got out my wallet, and paid for another ticket to the 3D showing. On top of that, I enjoyed it just as much the second time through, if not a little more. Both times, the movie had me in tears regularly, had my hairs standing up on end constantly, and even managed to surprise me despite knowing what was going to happen on my rewatching of it. Disney, with this wonderful tale of two sisters and their struggle to communicate, has outdone themselves, and produced their finest effort since the beginnings of their 1980's Renaissance. Every trope you'd expect, every plot twist you'd predict, and every character type you think you'd recognize are all subverted brilliantly in this film, making for an experience that is unlike anything I've seen in... well, I honestly can't remember the last time I've seen something quite like this.

Even as a movie buff, versed in everything from 1920's expressionism to Lynchian surrealism to post-modern indies, Frozen is a definitive masterpiece in my book. Years to come, I feel it will be looked back upon as a new start for Disney, and as a landmark for what the animated medium can accomplish. It made me laugh and cry, sure, but most importantly, it reminded me why I still go to the movies, more so than any other film on this list. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why this fantastic feature is my favorite movie of 2013.

Any personal favorites this year? Sound off in the comments, and look forward to my next list in a few days!

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