Stephen's Best of....Movies 2013

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Ms. Mod
Jul 10, 2006
I've been given permission from EW to post his list here as they will not be including it in their on-line version.

Stephen King

The best Movies I saw this year

At this year’s Mar del Plata International Film Festival in Argentina, John Landis (Animal House, The Blues Brothers, etc.) had a few words for the film biz, and they sure weren’t “Happy birthday.” He said, “It’s very common now to spend more money selling a movie than making a movie…. It’s tragic.” I don’t know if he’s right, but I do know I only found 10 films worth an A rating in my 2013 movie diary. Keep in mind the standard caveat—as long as I saw it for the first time this year, it was eligible for my list. Also, I rate mostly on the fun quotient. If you’re down with that, cool. If you’re not, go make your own list. That’s cool too.

10 Parker Loosely adapted from Flashfire by Richard Stark (Donald E. Westlake’s most famous pen name), this is an action movie with a clarity of plot few 2013 actioners could match. Granted, the opening salvo—which features a state-fair robbery that goes spectacularly off the rails—is the best part, but Taylor Hackford is a pro and Jason Statham was born to play Parker. It’s not in a class with Point Blank, but it’s still a kick-ass caper.

9 The Other Son The movie is French but could only have been set in the storm front that is Israel and Palestine. The MacGuffin involves two babies switched at birth: The Jewish baby grows up thinking he’s Palestinian; the Palestinian baby grows up thinking he’s Jewish. By the time the mistake is discovered, the boys are teens. Watching two families grope their way toward -acceptance is wrenching but uplifting.

8 White House Down Terrorists blew the hell out of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue twice this year. Neither film will be up for an Oscar, but this one was enlivened by a sense of humor that puts it in the Die Hard category. As Manohla Dargis observed in her New York Times review, “Nothing says summer studio fun like annihilating violence.”

7 Mama
From its creepy-to-the-nth-degree -prologue to its operatic finale, Mama held me spellbound. Jessica Chastain is perfect as the punky girlfriend who -discovers a sliver of maternal instinct, and Game of Thrones’ Nikolaj Coster-Waldau shows he’s more than a sword-wielding pretty face. What made the movie for me was the nerve-jangling opening where Father has returned home from a murderous rampage to kill his daughters. You only see a drop of blood (on his shirt), but it’s more effective than the buckets splashed around in your -typical slasher film.

6 PrisonersYou have to see it twice to be sure the plot makes sense (it does), but the -premise is brutally clear: Two little girls have been kidnapped, possibly by the weirdo who’s been driving an old -camper van around a suburban neighborhood. The dads (Hugh Jackman and Terrence Howard) will do whatever it takes to get their daughters back. The violence stemming from that determination is hard to watch but all too easy to understand.

5 The Impossible
We can agree that this story of a vacationing family smashed apart by the -tsunami that struck the Indian Ocean in 2004 is guilty of using the suffering of the native population as a kind of backdrop—not cool. But the performance of Naomi Watts as a mother determined to keep her family together through all the devastation is astonishing, and only outdone by that of Tom Holland as her older son, Lucas. The shots of the tsunami as it roars in, laying waste to puny human things, are shockingly realistic.

4 Blue Jasmine
Woody Allen’s best, most deeply felt film, from its opening, where we find Cate Blanchett’s Jasmine sucking up booze on an airplane, to the final moments, where we see her sitting alone on a bench, probably on her way to bag-ladydom. This is a triumph for Blanchett—and -before moving on, Uncle Stevie must tip his Red Sox cap to Andrew Dice Clay as the long-suffering ex-husband of -Jasmine’s sister, Ginger.

3 Mud Matthew McConaughey is one of our most gifted actors, but he’s rarely been better than he is here, playing a charming fugitive with a girlfriend problem (said girlfriend is played by Reese Witherspoon, in a small but charmingly slutty role). When two boys discover Mud living in a boat up a tree, they embark on an odyssey from innocence to experience. It’s an oft-told tale, sure, but traced here with winning simplicity and a real feel for the American South.

2 West of Memphis
You know the story: Three Arkansas adolescents with long hair and bad -attitudes were convicted of the murder of three boys. After a protracted struggle, they were freed in a bizarre deal that allowed them to walk while the state of Arkansas could continue to call them guilty. This 145-minute documentary—by turns exhausting, exhilarating, and enraging—exemplifies the power of film to change lives and beliefs. It’s a power that must be used wisely, and in director Amy Berg’s hands, it is.

Alfonso Cuarón has created a visual masterpiece, and Sandra Bullock electrifies as cast-adrift astronaut Dr. Ryan Stone. The suspense is unrelenting and the weightless sequences are amazing, but for me the most beautiful scene in the movie was also the quietest, as Stone removes her bulky space suit and emerges—slowly, dreamily—like Venus out of the sea. This is a film people will still be watching, enjoying, and imitating 30 years from now.


Just moseyin' through...
Oct 9, 2013
Lots of good picks here! BTW, if you want something other than MAMA to prove that Coster-Waldau is more than GAME OF THRONES' pretty face, you have to see the Norweigian movie called HEADHUNTER. He's wonderful in a great film (I keep expecting an American remake--it's a natural for a US audience that doesn't want to read subtitles)


The idiot is IN
Jun 15, 2007
Cambridge, Ohio
...maybe she'll share her popcorn...



Committed member
Jun 24, 2009
Well, I saw Mud (great) and The Impossible (I still say that Naomi Watts should have received the Best Actress Oscar!).
Me too! I was so sad when she did not receive it. She totally deserves it! The Impossible is a great movie and she made a wonderful job there.

From that list I have also seen Mama (more than one time, actually). A very good movie! Last year finally gave us quite a few good horror films.