Justin Kueber's Top 10 Films of 2013

Over the past year I have watched over 300 films (yes I keep track of what I watch) and I have to say 2013 was a great year for movies—Films like Bullet to the Head, Scary Movie 5, A Good Day To Die Hard, The Lone Ranger, and Grown Ups 2, however, are NOT on that list…terrible, terrible films.


Anyways, I have compiled a list of my 10 favorite films from 2013. It was hard to choose just 10 films this year, but the films that I have chosen have captivated my mind, touched my heart and affected me in a way that only the magic of cinema can do. Without further adieu, here are my Top 10 Films of 2013.


Of Course, I have not seen all the movies that were released in 2013 (even though I would have loved to). Here are some films that I have heard great things about that didn’t make the list, simply because I have not seen them: Captain Phillips, All is Lost, Short Term 12, The Great Beauty, Frances Ha, Inside Llewyn Davis, The Past, Philomena, Filth, Prisoners, and Her.


Honorable Mentions: Sadly, some of the best films of the year could not make my top ten, but they still deserve an honorable mention. These include: Blackfish, The Conjuring, Gravity, Spring Breakers, Star Trek: Into Darkness, Stoker, Trance, The World’s End.


My Top 10 Films of 2013:


10. Rush:

 The word “Rush” describes this film perfectly. It’s sexy, it’s intense, and it’s a pure adrenaline “rush” as Ron Howard takes us on a fast-paced journey following the rivalry of Formula 1 racers James Hunt and Niki Lauda.  Daniel Bruhl steals the show as Niki Lauda and Chris Hemsworth shows us he’s not just brawn and good-looks.



9.  The Act of Killing:

I have never seen a documentary like this before in my life; Director Joshua Oppenheimer takes us to Indonesia, where he tracks down those leaders responsible for the mass killings in the 1960’s and makes them reenact their real-life murders on camera in the style of their favorite American movie genres they love.  It is a disturbing journey following these leaders recollecting memories and facing the demons that are inside them.  This is a powerful documentary that explores the human condition and what humans are capable of—truly powerful stuff.



8.  Saving Mr. Banks:

When I saw the trailer for this film in theaters I believe I “Booed” it. Why? Because it looked like typical cookie-cutter Disney crap. But, I gave it a chance and here it is on my top 10 list. I guess you can’t judge a book by its cover…unless its author is Michael Bay.

Anyway, Saving Mr. Banks is a wonderful, heart-filled tale about Walt Disney fulfilling a 20 year promise he made to his daughters by making their favorite book, “Mary Poppins”, come to life.  Emma Thompson delivers an amazing performance as P.L. Travers the author of “Mary Poppins”, who really does not want Disney to obtain the film rights to her beloved story. It is an amazing journey filled with laughs, songs and superb performances from the entire cast including: Thompson, Tom Hanks and Colin Farrell who is no short of amazing.  The film will stick in your head, as I still find myself humming “Chim Chim Cheree”.



7.  American Hustle:

 This film is getting a lot of hype, which it rightly should. David O. Russell brilliantly tells the story of a con man and his partner who are obligated to work with an FBI agent and forced into a world of FBI, Mafioso, and everything in between.  American Hustle is built around a great script, a slick 70’s soundtrack, and strong, powerful performances by Jennifer Lawrence, Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams, and Jeremy Renner. It would be hard to single out any of them because they are all equally amazing in this film. If I had to make a bold prediction, most of them should see Oscar nominations in their near future… maybe even an Oscar? Only time will tell. 


6.   Only God Forgives:

 Nicolas Winding Refn and Ryan Gosling follow up their 2011 hit Drive with this unforgettable, dark journey into life in Bangkok’s criminal underworld. When Julian (Gosling) discovers his brother has been murdered by Lieutenant Chang, Julian’s mother (Kristin Scott Thomas) flies to Bangkok to force Julian to take up revenge against Change. The look of this film is visually stunning with beautiful shadows, enthralling neon cinematography lighting up the city of Bangkok and Gosling looks pretty damn great as well. 


Refn takes his time building the story and characters—who are more metaphors than actual characters— and once you realize the true meaning behind this film, it really hits you in the face (which explains the polarizing reviews the film has received) and leaves you pondering well after the final credits have rolled. Only God Forgives might not be for everyone with its disturbing content and graphic images but if you take the film for one giant metaphor you will realize that this is truly explorative, innovative, masterful filmmaking that you will never see come out of mainstream Hollywood cinema.


5.  Nebraska:

 I went to this film not really knowing what it was about.  I knew Bruce Dern was in it, that guy from MacGruber (Will Forte) was in it and Bob Odenkirk aka Saul Goodman graced us with his presence.  I got to the theatre and there were 13 people in their seats awaiting the movie; 4 of whom were my group of friends and the remaining 9 people had the average age of 65. I started questioning why I was in this movie and not in something like The Hobbit or The Hunger Games.  The film started and the first black and white images appeared on screen….they were beautiful! This is why I chose this film and not the mainstream crap Hollywood spits out at us.


Nebraska is a beautiful film about people and families; small town people in small town Nebraska—the way they act and carry out their day-to-day lives. And how they react to news when Bruce Dern’s character, Woody Grant wins 1 million dollars after receiving one of those sweepstakes letters in the mail.  The film has strong performances from the entire cast, including Bruce Dern, who is absolutely phenomenal (if he doesn’t get nominated for Best Actor it will be a travesty).


The film really hit home with me because I have a lot of relatives in small town Alberta and the way they talked and acted in the film was extremely genuine and relatable to my own personal experiences.  There are subtly funny moments and also very sad and reflective moments—these are as beautiful as they are heart wrenching.



4.  The Hunt:

The Hunt is one of those films that stuck in my head long after it was over. It follows the story of an innocent elementary school teacher whose life is drastically changed when a lie surfaces that he exposed himself to one of the students. It is heartbreaking seeing this simple, loving man, played by Mads Mikkelsen, get knocked down to rock bottom because of this lie.  This lie takes over his life and he can’t even go outside without having someone verbally or physically assault him.  The film asks difficult questions that are even more difficult to answer.  Mikkelsen is brilliant and rightfully deserved his Best Actor Award at Cannes.  This is a brilliantly haunting film that will occupy your mind and heart for a long time after viewing it.  The Hunt will be taking home the Best Foreign Film at this year’s Oscars.


3.  12 Years a Slave:

 12 Years a Slave is director Steve McQueen’s follow-up film to his previous two pictures Hunger and Shame. Going into the film I wasn’t entirely sure if McQueen was going to be able to incorporate his artistic visual style within a Hollywood production. However, he did and he succeeded masterfully. 12 Years a Slave follows Solomon Northup, a free African American who is kidnapped and sold into slavery. McQueen’s direction is no short of brilliant and the performances from the cast and crew are breathtaking.  The film is a brutal look at the psychological and physical effects of slavery and the inhumane nature of the slave owners. It’s a heart-breaking true story that will leave you feeling alone and heartbroken well after the final credits have rolled.


McQueen reminds us that slavery and racism are something that still exists in our world today.  He shows us the long-term affects of these awful, merciless acts of slavery and racism and ultimately, expresses that it should be our duty, as equal human beings, to be aware that these acts of evil still exist and we have to do our part, as inhabitants of this world, to make sure these heartless acts stop for good.  12 Years a Slave is a one of the most powerful films of the year and it is a masterpiece that will be talked about and studied for many years to come.



2.  Blue is the Warmest Color:

Blue is the Warmest Color, along with the aforementioned 12 Years a Slave, are powerful pieces of filmmaking. Blue is the Warmest Color explores not only homosexuality, but coming to terms with yourself and finding out who you really are while dealing with the outside and internal battles that come with finding your sexuality and finding what you want to do in life. Adele (Adele Exarchopoulos) is a quiet high school girl that is coming to terms with her own sexuality. She meets an older girl with blue hair, named Emma (Lea Seydoux) and they instantly hit it off. We follow their journey as they fall in love, explore life, and explore themselves.


Blue is the Warmest Color does not make any sweeping statements about the intolerance of homosexuality in society but rather, it is about a girl discovering herself and coming to terms with who she is and what she wants in life, both with her career and sexuality. It is a marvelous love story that tugs at your heart-strings and takes you on a beautiful journey of passionate love and inconceivable heartbreak. Blue is the Warmest Color is an emotional rollercoaster that is truly masterful filmmaking.



1.  The Wolf of Wall Street:


Infectious. Destructive. Ridiculous. Brilliant. Madness. PURE INSANITY!


Those are a just a few words I can use to describe The Wolf of Wall Street.  Martin Scorsese shows he isn’t a sellout and stays true to his style and subject matter with this “balls to the wall” film about sex, drugs, money, corruption, crime, and everything in between.  Running almost three hours long, my only complaint would be that it isn’t 2 hours longer! I haven’t had this much fun at the movies in a long time. The Wolf of Wall Street is everything I wanted it to be and more. Leo DiCaprio shows us why he is one of the best actors in Hollywood today and Jonah Hill provides a great supporting role as Donnie Azoff.


The thing about this film is that it is very infectious. It is sheer brilliance on the part of Scorsese, who shows us why he is one of the best Director’s in the world and on the part of Leo for well, just being Leo.  I can’t say enough about the pure cleverness of this film and its long lasting effects it had on me.


The Wolf of Wall Street is my number one film of 2013,…now, “Sell me this pen!”