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.
I'm a sucker for movies about knocking down racial barriers.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I like Jane Austen movies almost as much as I like Felicity. Shut up.
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.
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.
Spike Jonze, a killer cast, and pretty much every critic I trust is putting it on his or her Top 10 list for 2013.