Wednesday, January 01, 2014

32 movies I wanted to see in 2013 (but didn't)

Happy New Year! As I've done the last couple of years, I'm going to spend the early days of 2014 running down the movies I saw in 2013 and ranking them from worst to best. I made it to 38 movies in the theater last year, which leaves 32 that I wanted to see, but will have to catch up on at home. I mention them here partly by way of explaining why some potentially great movies aren't among my favorites, but also so you can tell me which of these need to be at the top of my queue and which I shouldn't bother with.

Here they are in the order in which they were released. Some of the posters are high res, so I put most of the list behind a break for the sake of browsers everywhere.

1. Spring Breakers

Mostly just curious about Disney Princesses Behaving Badly. And I tend to like James Franco.

2. 42

I'm a sucker for movies about knocking down racial barriers.

3. Oblivion

I haven't heard great things, but I like Cruise's onscreen persona and the movie has a great look. I also haven't heard any spoilers, so I don't know what to expect and that's a big draw too.

4. Mud

I love Matthew McConaughey and it's so great to see him get away from dumb romantic comedies and back into meaty stuff. He's an excellent actor and by all accounts this is a great showcase for his talent. I also love the small town, Southern setting and the idea of hiding out on a river island. Brings back great memories of growing up in northern Florida.

5. Kon-Tiki

I like ocean adventure of course. but I'm also interested because this gig got the directors hired for the next Pirates of the Caribbean movie.

6. Kiss of the Damned

Old school, Hammer-style vampire movie. Yes, please.

7. Dead Man's Burden

A great-looking Western with a cast of people I'm not familiar with and an intriguing plot about murder and family loyalty.

8. Before Midnight

I need to visit the Before... series sooner rather than later. Don't know why I've procrastinated.

9. Violet & Daisy

Apparently, I didn't get enough of Saoirse Ronan as a teenaged assassin in Hannah. Partnering her with Rory Gilmore doesn't hurt either.

10. Monsters University

Bored with the run of sequels Pixar's in the middle of, I dismissed Monsters University, but by all accounts it's a good movie and I missed out.

11. White House Down

By no accounts a good movie - and my fondness for Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx doesn't overcome my distrust of Roland Emmerich - but I'm curious to see this version and compare it to Olympus Has Fallen.

12. Byzantium

More Saoirse Ronan, with Gemma Arterton and Neil Jordan. Should be a great-looking vampire movie if nothing else, but I have hope that it's more than just that.

13. The Way Way Back

Great cast. Even better buzz. And I like a good coming-of-age movie.

14. The Conjuring

I usually ignore modern ghost/exorcism movies, simply because there are so many and they all start looking the same after a while. Everyone says this one's in a different class, though.

15. The To Do List

I'd seen Aubrey Plaza in a couple of movies before this year (Funny People and Safety Not Guaranteed) and that wasn't enough to make me realize there's more to her than looking bored and sullen. After The To Do List left theaters though, I finally watched Parks and Recreation and now I'm eager to see her carry an entire movie.

16. Europa Report

Good science fiction is rare these days and I hear a great report about Europa.

17. Prince Avalanche

I'll see pretty much anything with Paul Rudd in it. And hey! Speed Racer!

18. In a World...

I like Lake Bell a lot from her time on the too-short Surface, but most of the stuff she's done since then has been low key, support stuff. Very cool that she's not only the star of this, but also the writer and director.

19. Austenland

I like Jane Austen movies almost as much as I like Felicity. Shut up.

20. Prisoners

The trailers for this weren't that interesting, but I got the feeling that there was more that they weren't telling. I'm curious, but also, Hugh Jackman.

21. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2

I was very disappointed that Mr. T was replaced as the voice of Earl Devereaux, but I loved the first one so much that I have to give the sequel a chance.

22. Don Jon

Joseph Gordon-Levitt is kind of the boss of me lately.

23. All is Bright

Did I mention I like Paul Rudd? Also, Christmas movies.

24. Romeo & Juliet

So Hailee Steinfeld was awesome in True Grit, but didn't have a lot to do in Ender's Game. Romeo & Juliet is one of my least-favorite Shakespeare plays, but for better or worse it should be a great proving ground for her range as an actress.

25. Escape from Tomorrow

It's not supposed to be very good, but I love Disney World and my curiosity is all up to see the unauthorized footage the filmmakers shot there.

26. About Time

I wouldn't see this if all I had to go on was the trailer, but I also know better than to bet against Richard Curtis.

27. The Best Man Holiday

Christmas movie. Man crush on Taye Diggs. I'm usually interested in Terrence Howard, too, and it's also got Harold Perrineau from Lost.

28. Frozen

Early concept art set my expectations for a lush fantasy that was perhaps a bit darker than usual Disney fare. That made me very disappointed when the goofy snowman started showing up in ads, but everyone seems to love it and I should probably give it a shot.

29. Inside Llewyn Davis

I know almost nothing about this except Coen Brothers and folk music. That's enough.

30. American Hustle

I've learned to trust David O. Russell and all of these actors. I'm not convinced I'll love the story, but I'll enjoy watching those people in it.

31. Saving Mr. Banks

There's some controversy over how true to real-life events this is, but I don't care about that. I'm interested in the theme suggested by the title and - like Escape from Tomorrow - seeing Disney parks on film.

32. Her

Spike Jonze, a killer cast, and pretty much every critic I trust is putting it on his or her Top 10 list for 2013.


Erik Johnson Illustrator said...

I haven't seen many movies this past year either. Income has been a bit tight, and the rise of Redbox just means I can wait and see how things play out. Now I only go to the theater if I'm going with someone else.

* Oblivion: I'd love to support an original/non-franchise affiliated sci-fi movie, but I can't get past Tom Cruise as WALL-E.

* Monsters U: I haven't seen the original since its release so I wasn't all that excited about a sequel to begin with. Judging by the trailer, it looks like it'd be better as a rental anyhow.

* White House Down: This poster really got me with it ominous tagline. "Wow what movie is this?" I thought, then I saw the title. "Oh. Its White House Down."

It honestly felt like it was written by a teenager who did nothing but watch "The Rock" (as the villain's motivation is the same). The story is so bare bones that you can't even laugh at how bad it is, the special effects are modest at best and even James Woods has little to work with. The only thing of note really is Jamie Foxx as " Barack Fauxbama", but even that is just a cheap caricature of our current president.

* Frozen: I had one free show from my frequent movie goers punch card, and this is the movie that I was saving it for. I'm a sucker for quality story/drama animation, plus Disney likes to sneak in clever references to art history that I can always catch and this was no exception.

Having seen it, marketing it as a goofy road comedy is a bit of an odd choice. The story focuses on repairing familial relationships and how circumstances can drive people apart. The first act especially airs more on the grown up side of things but there enough levity throughout to keep it entertaining.

No one was more surprised than me that comic relief snowman Olaf delivers rather subdued performance and used quite sparingly.

* American Hustle: Eager to see this one. Jennifer Lawrence can do no wrong in my book (except for "House At The End of the Street", but like most people I pretend that doesn't exist). Plus I really dig "20th Century Period Pieces".

And then theres the cast in general. This pretty much sums it up:

* Saving Mr. Banks: Again, vintage century. Its been years since I've watched Mary Poppins though. Maybe this would be a good double feature. Its likely to be the closet we ever get to a Walt Disney biopic though.

* Her: First Robin, now Joaquin. It seems like everyone is in love with Scarlett Johansson this year!

Siskoid said...

I love this annual series of posts!

You see a lot more movies in theaters than I do in a year, so I get a lot of inspiration for my next DVD buys. Can't wait for you to get to the top half.

Paxton said...

I just this past weekend saw White House Down. I love Channing Tatum but I am NOT a Jaime Foxx fan. However, I really liked that movie. It was fun and very funny. I had previously seen Olympus Has Fallen in the theater, and I watched it again after seeing White House Down. While the plots are the same, it's a completely different movie in tone. Olympus takes it more serious and is more hardcore action. Brutal, even. It's tough to pick one over the other. Depends on your mood, if you want a funnier action flick or a hardcore action flick.

I need to see Byzantium. I too am fascinated with the idea of Spring Breakers. I just never want to watch it. Saving Mr Banks is HIGH on my to see list. I'm a big fan of Mary Poppins the movie and book and I want to see this story played out as I've read Disney biographies before but they never really delve into this story.

I have no desire to see any of Linklater's boring talkfest romances. They look terrible.

The To Do List looks funny. I'm not sold on Oblivion (I think Elysium looks better). And I'm more weirded out by Don Jon than interested.

Great list.


Michael May said...

Sorry it's taken me so long to comment on your comments. Things is crazy around here.

Erik: I can't blame Robin or Johnny Cash. Black Widow is pretty awesome. Great pic of the American Hustle cast, by the way. That's awesome!

Siskoid: Thanks for letting me know that! It makes me really happy that this is useful. :)

Pax: Let me know if you see Elysium (or make sure to talk about it on Nerd Lunch so I can hear it there). I haven't heard great things about that one, but who knows?


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