2013 was a rather mixed affair for Hollywood movies. The summer releases this year were largely underwhelming (Iron man 3, Man Of Steel, Fast and Furious 6 amongst others) if you ask me. Only a few amongst such releases made for enjoyable big screen viewing such as Pacific Rim, Star Trek into Darkness.
However there were also some good films which emerged out of Hollywood this year. As always I was able to watch some of them, while a few still remain unseen. Without wasting further time, here is my list of the Hollywood films I loved watching this year.
Kindly note these films are not rated in any particular order.
And yes let the bouquets and brickbats follow 🙂
Based on a true story, Fruitvale Station tells the tragic tale of Oscar Grant (Michael. B. Jordan in an impressive performance) who got into an unfortunate clash with Police officers of Bay Area, California. Directed by debutante Ryan Coogler, Fruitvale Station made some right noises at Sundance and other film festivals leading to further critical and commercial appreciation. This is one very good indie feature which you must watch at the earliest.
Steven Soderbergh’s sinister thriller- Side Effects which talks about the dark side of the pharmaceutical industry, made for some excellent viewing. Featuring an ensemble of actors such as Jude Law, Channing Tatum, Rooney Mara, Catherine Zeta Jones amongst others. Side effects would easily rank as one of the best thrillers I saw this year and also as one of Soderbergh’s best films to date.
Based on a true story, The Iceman is the story of Richard Kuklinski – a ruthless contract killer who was arrested and imprisoned in the late 80’s. Michael Shannon is brilliant as the cold blooded Kuslinski- who appears as an ideal person esp. to his family, until they learn the truth. Director Ariel Vromen directs a thriller that is tense, gripping and makes for some very good viewing. The supporting cast which includes names such as Ray Liotta, Winona Ryder amongst others chip in with some good performances.
A teenager named Duncan, on a vacation with his mother (Toni Collette) and her boyfriend (Steve Carrell) strikes up a friendship with Owen (Sam Rockwell) which changes his life forever. The film which is leisurely paced has a subtle approach towards the characters and the situations they face in the film. Perhaps this is what makes the film and it’s characters so identifiable. The bond between Owen and Duncan which forms the crux of the film is beautifully handled which has it quirky and largely endearing moments, making it seem so life like. It was also nice to see Carrell play a selfish and a mean character, a far cry from the usually good natured characters he plays. Sam Rockwell in my opinion, once again nails this film with his portrayal of the child like Owen who teaches a few important lessons of life to Duncan. The well written role which he gets to play, also adds a lot to Rockwell’s performance. In a nutshell, this is a delightful coming of age film you should not miss.
Director Denis Villeneuve best known for the acclaimed film Incendies , made an impressive Hollywood debut this year with Prisoners. The film which tells about the story of two fathers searching for their missing daughters is a gripping and an atmospheric thriller which hooks you right till the end. Hugh Jackman proves that when he is not playing Wolverine, he is very good actor and Prisoners is yet another testament to this fact. The film also features Jake Gylenhall, Terence Howard amongst others who give equally impressive performances
Richard Linklater reunites with Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy in the final installment of this lovely trilogy which began with Before Sunrise. Like the earlier two films, this film is essentially yet another long drawn conversation between Jesse (Hawke) and Celine (Delpy). While the first two films saw them meeting for a brief while and reuniting years later, Before Midnight tells their story years after they have got married. They are at a stage of their life wherein life has become monotonous all of a sudden and the romance seems to be fading away. I am generally not too fond of romantic films, but this series is a rare exception. Mainly due to the writing and an inherent charm which the film has. Hawke and Delpy continue to make a lovely pair. Richard Linklater once again proves that he is one of the best directors we have today.
Space can be beautiful and rather scary too, especially if you are alone out there struggling to survive. Director Alfonso Cuaron made a visually splendid film about a lone survivor in the space (Sandra Bullock) which also was one of the most talked about films of the year. Viewers will unanimously agree that Gravity made for some pleasurable viewing especially in the Imax format.
The World’s End
After spoofing the zombie genre (Shaun of the Dead) and Cop movie genre (Hot Fuzz), the zany trio of writer director Edgar Wright and actors Simon Pegg and Nick Frost returned this year with The World’s End – a zany take on the alien genre of movies. This movie was the third installment in the rather hilariously titled Cornetto Trilogy. Edgar Wright brings his zany sense of humour, hilarious dialogues and sharp writing to the film with the usual subtle and brilliant deadpan humour of British films, making it an enjoyable watch. Pegg, Frost and the rest of the cast provide some efficient performances.
Director Ron Howard tells an exciting true story of F1 racers James Hunt (played by Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl). The film is a enthralling and emotionally powerful tale about the relationship shared Hunt and Lauda which is a strange mix of envy, competition and mutual respect. Superb cinematography, a stunning background score by Hans Zimmer and impressive performances by Hemsworth and Bruhl are reasons enough to hail Rush as one of the best films to be made this year.
Other noteworthy films of this year
Director Lous Letterier directs this entertaining film about a group of magicians who rob banks by way of magic acts. The film which sees a rather impressive ensemble (Michael Caine, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg amongst others) is an engaging heist film with its fair share of surprises which will leave you pleasantly surprised.
World War Z faced numerous during production. Director Marc Forster and Brad Pitt were at loggerheads while shooting the film. Besides this, quite a few writers were roped in to rewrite the script. However the end result is a enjoyable and a slightly different take on the zombie genre of movies. The action scenes especially the Jerusalem scene wherein a huge army of zombies attack the people made this quite an enjoyable affair.
After a long while Owen Wilson and Vince Vaugh delivered a pleasant comedy. The film tells the story of two middle aged salesman out of work and desperately seeking to make the best out of an internship offer which they get at Google. The Internship plays out the typical elements of an underdog story rather well, thereby making this film an pleasantly entertaining fare minus the crude humour.
Director Niels Arden Oplev who directed the Swedish version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo made an impressive debut in Hollywood this year with Dead Man Down. The thriller tells the story of a widow (Noomi Rapace) who convinces the right hand man of crime lord (Terence Howard) to go against him. Dead Man Down is an engaging thriller, with a fair share of surprises and plays out well during most of it’s running time. Colin Farrell is in form after a long time, Terence Howard once again proves that he is an underrated actor who has largely been underused by Hollywood.
Pain and gain
Michael Bay takes a break from blowing up cities and creating mayhem to direct this true story about a trio of bodybuilders (Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Anthony Mackie) who make a kidnapping that goes terribly wrong. Pain and Gain is a dark comedy that shows the false expectations America creates amongst it’s people by projecting itself as a land of endless opportunities amongst many other things.
Michael Bay brings his usual hyper kinetic style while directing the film, which largely works but falls flat at a few places. Nevertheless this is a very entertaining film and a much needed deviation for Bay. As the rather idiotic bodybuilders Wahlberg, Johnson and Mackie play their parts well. Whilst amongst other cast members Tony Shalhoub and Ed Harris (seen after a long time) are superb . One hopes that once in a while Bay makes such films which are a deviation from his usual extravagant blockbuster.
You can also read list of Best Bollywood Films of 2013 here