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TOP TEN MOVIES OF 2013

BY JEFF BURK

It’s that time again – time for my favorite movies of the year! Like always, if you want to catch up on my previous Top Ten lists, you can check them out here:

2000 to 2009
2010
2011
2012

I know this list is a little late but this time I waited until I saw every movie released in 2013 that I had an interest in seeing. I learned my lesson last list when I missed DJANGO UNCHAINED (which would have most likely placed at spot three). But I’m finally done with movies released in 2013 and saw a shit ton! Some of them were really good!

I’ve heard a lot of negatives about this year in movies and when I first started working on this list I was inclined to agree. Most of the offerings from major studios were pretty crappy (with two notable exceptions – we’ll get to them). But the realm of independent films was crazy awesome. If you knew where to look, you could find a treasure-trove of original and amazing films.

But it wasn’t all good. To get it out of the way, here are the two worst movies I saw in 2013:

ONLY GOD FORGIVES (Nicolas Winding Refn, Denmark/France) – If you want to watch ninety minutes of beautiful people staring blankly in well-shot scenes, this is the movie for you. If you care about pacing, plot, story, originality, or just aren’t a sucker for hipster wankfests, then stay far away.

LORDS OF SALEM (Rob Zombie, United States) – Holy shit, if there’s one person that should not make a tribute to Alejandro Jodorowsky – it’s Rob Zombie. Yet someone allowed him to. It was just a boring mess until the last twenty minutes when it plummeted into a laughably bad attempt at being “deep.” Also, how Zombie managed to get so many details of the music and radio business wrong is totally mind-blowing (and not in a good way).

Enough shit-talking, now let’s be positive!

TOP TEN MOVIES OF 2013

10: AFTERSHOCK (Nicolás López, United States/Chile)

aftershock-movie-poster-2013-eli-rothTaking place in Chile, this is the first torture porn natural-disaster movie (at least that I’ve seen). Considering it was produced, starring, and written by Eli Roth (HOSTEL and CABIN FEVER), that should give you an idea of what it’s like. After an earthquake devastates a major city, the survivors must battle each other and the many aftershocks to stay alive. Vicious, violent, and willing to kill any character at any time – AFTERSHOCK is a fun romp for the viewer with a sadistic-streak.

9: WRONG (Quentin Dupieux, United States/France)

wrongFrom the same twisted genius that gave the world a movie about a sentient car-tire that could make peoples’ heads explode (RUBBER), comes WRONG. This sophomore film is about a man whose dog is petnapped by a company that steals pets to teach the owners to love them more. But when the company loses his dog for real, the man begins a surreal and strange journey to track down his beloved pet. Nowhere near as meta as RUBBER but in many ways just as strange, WRONG is a bizarro film about how much of our heart our pets take with them when they leave.

8: V/H/S/2 (Jason Eisener, Gareth Evans, Timo Tjahjanto, Eduardo Sánchez, Gregg Hale, Simon Barrett and Adam Wingard, Indonesia/Canada/United States)

VHS-2-posterThe past few years have been great for horror anthology films. The sequel to 2012’s found footage horror fan-favorite V/H/S and this one example of the sequel blowing away the original . Almost all of the shorts surpass everything from the first entry in the series but special shout-outs need to go to Timo Tjahjanto and Gareth Evans for the horrifying and intense Satanic-cult thriller “Safe Haven” and to Jason Eisener for the ridiculously original “Slumber Party Alien Abduction” – the only horror film I can name from the POV of a dog.

7: FRANKENSTEIN’S ARMY (Richard Raaphorst, Netherlands)

Amaray Wrap.EPSDuring the end of WWII, a Russian special-forces team infiltrated a top-secret Nazi facility where they were attempting to make grotesque “super-soldiers.” Soon the Russian soldiers are caught in a fight-to-death battle with horrible monsters sprung from the mind of a fascist mad-scientist. The movie as a whole is fun and well-written but the special-effect designs are the true highlight. The creatures the soldiers must battle are surreal and grotesque and the most interesting monsters since HELLRAISER.

6: THE ABCS OF DEATH (Twenty-eight directors from fifteen countries)

the-abcs-of-death-posterThe premise of this movie is insane – twenty-six short horror films, each by a different director(s), and each themed around a letter of the alphabet. This could have been a disaster but the fact that the shorts are (mostly) really good makes this one of the most interesting genre experiments in recent memory. While some of the directors obviously didn’t give a shit (I’m looking at you Andrew Traucki and Ti West) most of the directors used the opportunity to try and make a serious impact on the audience. The very fact this movie features a robot biting the head off a baby guarantees it a spot on my list.

My favorites shorts – D, H, L, P, Q, R, T, V, W, and Z

Before anyone points it out, the movie is in fact directed by twenty-eight people – two of the shorts are co-directed. The movie poster is wrong.

5: RESOLUTION (Justin Benson and Aaron Scott Moorhead, United States)

resolution posterA man goes to the middle-of-nowhere to try and save his friend from meth addiction by Tasering him and handcuffing him to his shack’s wall to force on detox. But while staying in the drug-den, the man begins to get strange packages of film and photos detailing scenes of horror and pain. To say much more would spoil the movie’s many surprises – but what starts off as a dark drama later turns into cosmic horror that would delight any fan of Lovecraft.

4: GRAVITY (Alfonso Cuarón, United States)

gravityTwo astronauts are stranded during a space-walk after an accident destroys their shuttle. So begins a ninety-minute survival tale in the vacuum of space. Simple and to-the-point, GRAVITY was the most thrilling most experience I had all year. Plus I saw it in IMAX 3D and this movie was the best use of the technology to date.

3: THE WORLD’S END (Edgar Wright, United Kingdom)

The-Worlds-End-Teaser-PosterFinally, after too many years, Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright (the brilliant minds behind SHAUN OF THE DEAD and HOT FUZZ) have been reunited! Their third film is another work of amazing genre inspired comedy. A man cons his five childhood best friends into joining him on a twelve-stop-pub-crawl in their mutual hometown that ends at a bar named “The World’s End.” But aliens and robots are going to get in the way of their attempt to reclaim lost youth. While a fun and drunken romp, at its core the movie is story about how you can never go home and why you’d never want to.

2: AMERICAN MARY (Jen Soska and Sylvia Soska, Canada)

americanA med-school student is raped by her professor which causes her to quit her program. To make money, she takes what she learned of medicine and surgery to the underground body modification scene. And after some time learning new skills there, she uses her knowledge of extreme body-modification on the man who harmed her. Visually striking and horrific, all the scenes of bloody and grotesque horror are done with in-camera practical effects or with real-life members of the extreme body-mod community. Equally influenced by David Cronenberg and Eli Roth, AMERICAN MARY is the best hardcore horror flick of the year!

1: PACIFIC RIM (Guillermo del Toro, United States)

pacific_rim_ver3Giant robots punching giant monsters for two hours!

This panders so much to my personal tastes that in the hands of almost any director it would still place in my top ten. But instead we got one of the best modern filmmakers giving us something that makes me wish I could have seen this when I was nine-years-old . Can you imagine how much fun this movie must be for kids?

The best summer blockbuster since JURASSIC PARK.

I saw so many awesome movies this year, that they couldn’t all make my top ten list. Here are a few that were also great and worth your time:

Honorable Mentions: House Hunting, Spring Breakers, Big Ass Spider, Jug Face

So those were the best movies I saw in 2013. Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments.

MOVIE COMING OUT IN 2014 THAT I’M MOST EXCITED FOR:

It’s a good time to love giant monsters.

6 responses

  1. Pingback: Top Ten Movies of 2013 | Jeff Burk - Bizarro Author and Editor

  2. LOVE American Mary! Thanks for this list, there are a few I haven’t heard of since I don’t watch TV so have to get recommendations from people on what’s out. Not into blockbuster movies so skipping Pacific Rim and Gravity. You are right about Lords of Salem and Only God Forgives. V/H/S 2 was not as good as the first but I really loved the Asian cult video.

    January 4, 2014 at 2:45 am

  3. Barababa

    Sorry, I completely disagree with you about both Only God Forgives and Lords of Salem – and you seem to have somehow got them jumbled together in your mind, as OGF is clearly the Jodorowsky homage, not LoS.
    Slightly biased though, as I’ve been a big Nic Winding Refn fan since Pusher.
    And with regards Rob Zombie; LoS is (imo) his best, and most accomplished, film to date

    Of the movies on the list I did see, I largely agree – although Gravity, Worlds End and Pacific Rim wouldn’t come close to my top ten.

    A Field in England would have to feature somewhere in my top movie picks of the year – highly recommended if you’ve not seen it yet.

    January 8, 2014 at 8:17 am

    • Jeff Burk

      Where that comes from with LoS is Zombie repeatably said in press interviews at LoS was his Jodorowsky tribute.

      It’s funny, I adore Jodorowsky but my two most hated movies of the year were influenced by him.

      January 8, 2014 at 1:59 pm

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