The Movie Sleuth's Ten Best Films of 2013

Here's our Top Ten Films of 2013. Read at will.

10. The Conjuring
The Conjuring took me back to a time when horror films relied on mood, lighting, fluid camera work, practical effects, and actual scares. Unlike every other domestic horror movie this past year, The Conjuring was not based on CGI blood, hack and slash killers, zombies, or torture porn. For the first time in forever, audiences were treated to a movie that reminded us what it was like to be truly scared by the things that go bump in the night. The Conjuring took a real life haunting and turned it into one of the biggest box office successes of the year without ever sacrificing character or plot for cheapened or typical horror tactics. Someone take a cue from this movie and please continue the trend.

9. Star Trek: Into Darkness
You might be asking how Star Trek: Into Darkness made this list. Well, here's why. It was one of the most fun and explosive movies released to cinemas this year. While die hard Trek fans are still debating whether or not they agree with JJ's changes to the timeline, I simply state the obvious. Into Darkness was everything that I had hoped it would be. It was action packed, loaded with scientific improbabilities, and featured Spock kicking the hell out of Khan.What is there to complain about? Nothing. Into Darkness was big summer fun all wrapped up in a shiny package of lens flares, space battles, and countless dead red shirts. Yes, please. May I have another?

8. The Place Beyond The Pines
Led by current heart throbs, Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper, The Place Beyond The Pines got an extremely limited release but is easily one of the best films of 2013. This multi tiered movie is one that presents the viewer with a challenging story about fathers, sons, and the choices that will effect the long term outcome of their lives. The trailers of this film confused possible viewers with a mysterious tone and ethereal marketing tactics. This is not Drive 2. Viewers shied away but didn't know they were missing two great actors in a unique movie that never got its due in theaters. With a wider release, The Place Beyond The Pines would be sparking major Oscar debate. If you've not seen it, do yourself a solid and check it out.

7. Out of the Furnace
Christian Bale is on a self professed mission to become the most well rounded actor of our time. The man can do no wrong. With each new role he takes on, he grabs hold and doesn't let go until he's proven himself time and time again. Out of the Furnace was a chance for him to play a hardened man on the search for his lost brother. In tone, the movie is eerily reminiscent of Cop Land and this year's other top ten film, The Place Beyond The Pines. Out of the Furnace perfectly captures the death of middle America, the meth addiction that's destroying small towns, and the vile backwoods rednecks that inhabit and define a lifestyle that is undoubtedly the definition of human scum. Almost universally panned by critics, Out of The Furnace deserves much more recognition than it got.

6. Spring Breakers
Harmony Korine's story of modern youth gone awry is one of the most divisive films of the year but also one of the most extraordinary and visually appealing. Korine's use of vivid color mixed with a mind numbing soundtrack and distinctive audio design sets the film apart from anything released this year. Many have dismissed the film as a gratuitous, egocentric, and sexually manipulative jaunt through the world of white trash rappers and drug addled teenagers. I saw this film as something else. Spring Breakers is a social commentary on today's unapologetic youth and their disrespect for everything around them including human life. Watch the film again and pay close attention. This is not the movie you thought it was. 

5. Gravity
Impeccable graphics and stunning visuals mixed with the best and simplest role of Sandra Bullock's career make Gravity one of our picks for this year. While the science doesn't always add up, we must remember that this is a movie directed by the mastermind behind Children of Men. In my book, this means all MUST be forgiven. Alfonso Cuaran has a remarkable gift for making reality based science fiction that doesn't ask too much of his viewership. Gravity is not just a tale about a woman lost in the reaches of space but a story about a mother's loss and her becoming whole again through an adventure that tests every ounce of her humanity......while featuring some of the best rendered graphics of the year. If you didn't see it, consider buying the blu ray.

4. Captain Philips
Tom Hanks continues his string of successes with Captain Philips, the true tale of Somali pirates and the brave shipping captain that out put himself in the line of fire to save his crew. Captain Philips features an ultra realistic style that audiences have come to expect from director Paul Greengrass. Much like his other starring vehicles, Hanks plays a true to life character with precision and clarity. The film is never over dramatized, but more or less a movie that brings a real life situation to the screen while giving the viewer of front row seat to a virtual hostage experience. 

3. American Hustle
Having just seen this movie, it's easy to see that it belongs in the heap of the best films of 2013. The story is tight, the acting is sensational, but (most of all) the tone of the seventies is set by a perfect soundtrack and unrivaled costume design. The whole cast is astounding, but Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence are the unrivaled stars of this show as they use their prowess and dynamic fortitude to outshine established actors Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, and Jeremy Renner. American Hustle has a Scorsese-like feel and tone without ever becoming overtly violent or profane. 

2. Prisoners
Hugh Jackman continues his string of awesome dramatic roles with Prisoners. After Les Miserables, I wasn't sure he could outdo himself ever again. Well, I was admittedly wrong. With a supporting cast featuring Terrence Howard, Jake Gyllenhall and Mario Bello, Jackman uses his methodical skills to bring one of the most human performances of his career to the screen. Director Denis Villeneuve offers a gripping modern kidnapping thriller with a small bit of vengeance style thrown in to the mix for good measure. If not for his skill and adept talent for drawing impassioned portrayals from his cast, this movie may not have had the impact it did. The sense of teamwork behind this film is beyond reproach. It will undoubtedly go down as one of the best films of 2013.

1. Dallas Buyers Club
Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto both deliver Oscar worthy performances in Dallas Buyers Club. This chronicle of the early years of AIDS is an emotionally draining film that offers an inside look at the will to survive despite the life sentence of this awful disease. Leto's supporting role is easily the best of his career while McConaughey furthers his case as one of the world's most diverse leading men. If you've not seen the film, you need to do yourself a favor by checking it out as soon as possible. If you're not moved by this picture, you're probably not human.

-Christopher George