The best movies of 2013

RVANews’s official, ongoing, always updating Best Movies of 2013 list

1. American Hustle

Director David O. Russell is on a mission to convince us that Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence are today’s geniuses of comic timing. Last year’s Silver Linings Playbook was excellent, but his 2013 offering is just frigging riveting–think The Departed with the funny parts (you remember them, they starred Alec Baldwin) extended and intensified. Plus incredibly good performances, which Russell seems to inspire perfectly.

2. Frances Ha

It’s hard to be in your twenties. No, for real! This Noah Baumbach flick perfectly captures the life of a woman teetering on the brink of Actual Adulthood. And it’s in gritty black-and-white, so you know it’s gotta be important.

3. Dallas Buyer’s Club

At some point in the recent past, Matthew McConaughey grew tired of shirtlessly sailing boats around with Jennifer Aniston. Starting with Magic Mike (in which he was still shirtless), continuing through Mud (OK, OK shirtless in that one too), and now in Dallas Buyer’s Club, McConaughey has eschewed his alright alright alright-ness and become an incredible actor.

4. Spring Breakers

Just when you thought James Franco was irredeemable, here comes Spring Breakers blowin’ minds and reiterating why no one needs to move to Florida.

5. The To Do List

It’s a gross summer comedy about teens getting nasty, but hear me out, this one is different.

6. Upstream Color

So what’s Upstream Color about? It’s hard to say. It’s definitely about identity. And probably about relationships. And maybe about community. Oh, and psychotropic worms that when eaten put you in a state of deep hypnotic suggestion. There are also pigs involved. It’s weird, definitely. Weird but also awesome, so very awesome.

7. Don Jon

Joseph Gordon-Levitt writes, acts, and directs this film about a pleasant Jersey fellow and his nightly solo flights to Pleasureville.

8. Mud

Mud is one of those “slice of Southern life starring Matthew McConaughey alright alright alright” flicks. Luckily for ol’ director Jeff Nichols, that specific genre is getting better and better, allowing we viewers to take it more seriously. Could it be? Could McConaughey have some depth?

9. This is the End

A movie about hanging out in Actual James Franco’s house while the world burns to the ground featuring cameos from everyone that exists! It’s way better than it sounds, guys!

10. The Heat

A buddy-cop film starring two hilarious women! It’s a concept so rare that I’m gonna guess you’ve seen more buddy-cop films featuring dogs than you’ve seen that feature two women.

— ∮∮∮ —


  • Warm Bodies — And you thought we’d plumbed the depths of the paranormal teen romance (which, no joke, is an entire section at Barnes and Noble)! We’ve got the Vampires, the werewolves, then came the trolls, and now, zombies. Is there even anything left to be romantically attracted to?
  • Side EffectsSide Effects is Steven Soderbergh’s final feature film and his penultimate directorial work. With it, and the help of his dutiful sidekick Channing Tatum, he tackles the subject of…mental illness? Kind of?
  • Stoker — The director of Oldboy brings you…Stoker! A disturbing tale about how some people are just really into killing other people and, weirdly enough, about how that’s OK.
  • Iron Man 3 — This film takes Tony Stark (and more importantly Robert Downey, Jr.) out of the Iron Man suit for the majority of the film–which is great, because that’s what you’re there to see anyway.
  • Star Trek Into DarknessInto Darkness’s action scenes are incredible: the explosions, the hand-to-hand combat, the humans sucked out into the vacuum of space, all of it is excellent watching, but don’t come in expecting a bold, new take on the Star Trek universe.
  • The Great Gatsby — Baz Luhrmann is up to his old tricks, and that’s almost a really good thing.
  • The Spectacular Now — Somewhere between Rebel Without a Cause and Can’t Hardly Wait, this film will hit you in all your soft spots.
  • Gravity is an intimate story of personal survival set on the coldest and largest stage imaginable. It’s both beautiful and terrifying.
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  1. Nicole on said:

    While I agree 100% on the blurbs, #7 and #8 should to be switched

  2. Elizabeth on said:

    I don’t get this: “Steven Soderbergh’s final feature film and his penultimate directorial work. ” His final work? What is his ultimate work? So confusing!

  3. Ross Catrow on said:

    @Elizabeth: Behind the Candelabra on HBO was his last work as a director. I still think (and hope) he’ll make some more films, though.

  4. Logan on said:

    Check the spelling on #2 title– Beakers…
    I’m already SO far behind this year on my movie-going… hopefully, I’ll make up for it during the super hot summer months!

  5. Nathan Cushing on said:

    @Logan – Thanks for pointing out the error. Perhaps “Spring Beakers” could be a Pixar film about a group of beakers in an high school chemistry lab heading to Daytona Beach for vacation???

  6. Gordon on said:

    Ehh can’t say I agree with this list, some obvious choices were left off. 2013 has been a great year thus far for movies tho.

    Here’s a more accurate list imo, though it’s not perfect either:

  7. MisterG on said:

    “Warm Bodies” was one of the best? Really? It’s a romantic comedy, which is neither romantic nor funny. John Malcovich looked like he was only in the film because he needed the money.

  8. Susan Howson on said:

    @Gordon – Our lists are pretty similar in tone, actually. I’d be willing to swap out something for Before Midnight, as I’m convinced it’s a Good Movie, I just felt maybe unfairly bitter about it. That just leaves Downloaded (which I haven’t seen) and F&F 6, which…come on. If our lists’ pissing contest comes down to that “movie,” I think we can shake hands and call it a day.

  9. Susan Howson on said:

    @MisterG – I found Warm Bodies extremely funny as a satire of R&J, zombie movies, and romantic comedies. I agree that it wasn’t romantic, but I’m not sure we were actually supposed to feel romantically misty, because gross. I agree about Malkovich though. Totally phoned in.

    We have ten spots to keep filled AT ALL TIMES! It’s only July, we are still digging pretty deep. I figure once October hits, we will be awash in list-worthy movies. Until then, we are taking what we can get.

  10. Julie Blansett on said:

    have only seen 2 movies so far this year, both animated & both really good (to me) –Escape from Planet Earth and Despicable Me 2. I guess that tells you what my taste is. the original Despicable movie was better though, than the sequel, I thought.

  11. brandon on said:

    The Heat!?

  12. Ahhh I missed so many of these while they were out! I guess that’s what Netflix, hulu, and amazon are for… I really enjoyed, The Way Way Back, but I think it’s along the same lines as the to do list, but probably less comical and a little more realistic. Also, The Worlds End, was a pretty epic conclusion for fans of Shaun of the Dead and Pegg’s buddy scifi comedies. However, I think I am going to agree with most of these because they were all films I wanted to see to start with. I’m headed to see Don Jon and Gravity this week!

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