5 Phenomenal Movies of 2013 (so far)

movie_theatre - Phenom 5

Can you believe that 2013 is half over? Of course that also means that the movie year is half over. So keeping with Keith & the Movies tradition I’m going to look at 5 phenomenal movies from the year so far. It’s been an up and down year in the theater in 2013 loaded with big budget pictures and box office draws. And I’ve still yet to give a 2013 film 5 stars. But fortunately some of them have been quite good so it was pretty easy for me to come up with my five favorite. Now considering the number of films to hit the big screen so far I wouldn’t call this the definitive list. But for my money these five movies are most certainly phenomenal.

MAN OF STEEL#5 – “MAN OF STEEL” – This newest Superman installment has been met with a variety of mixed reviews but I found it to be an overall success. Minus a few so-so new approaches and the steroid-driven finale, “Man of Steel” really won me over with its beautiful visuals, the fresh new tone, and some really strong performances from the likes of Russell Crowe, Kevin Costner, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, and yes even Henry Cavill. But perhaps my favorite thing was that it brought Superman back after the previous film’s mishandlings. I know that many people have problems with “Man of Steel“. Personally I loved it and I’m completely onboard for wherever the franchise decides to go next.

WWZ#4 – “WORLD WAR Z – “Honestly I can’t believe I’m typing this. Yes, “World War Z” was one of my most anticipated films at the start of the 2013 movie year but over time my interest grew to skepticism. But man was I surprised. I know this is another movie with some serious mixed reviews, but I loved that it knows what it wants to be and doesn’t pretend to be anything else. I also think it harkens back to when good storytelling was essential. It mixes a nice script in with several breathtaking set pieces as well as a grounded and committed performance by golden boy Brad Pitt. Sure it mutes itself for the sake of a PG-13 rating but I’m certainly not going to fault it for that, especially considering how much fun I had with it.

STAR TREK#3 – “STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS” – Yet another big-budget summer blockbuster. And yet another movie that really surprised me. I was pretty vocal about my tepid response to the first film of the “Star Trek” reboot from director J.J. Abrams. Naturally that influenced my level of excitement for its sequel. But boy, talk about being pleasantly surprised. I’ve seen “Into Darkness” twice now and my love for it is solidified. Sure, there are moments where it still doesn’t feel like a Star Trek picture. There are also moments where Abrams tries to do a little too much. But I loved it and I think it’s a solid step up from the first movie. Filled with glorious special effects, cool Trek homages, and Benedict Cumberbatch.

WONDER#2 – “TO THE WONDER” – “The Tree of Life” was my very favorite film of 2011 so it shouldn’t be a surprise that I was anxious to see the next film from Terrence Malick. It came in the form of “To the Wonder” a sweeping lyrical romance using the same signature style and technique that fuels my love for Malick. This stirring and emotional story of new love, fractured love, and lost love moves with the grace of a ballerina. Ben Affleck, Olga Kurylenko, and Javier Bardem each fit perfectly within Malick’s poetic puzzle and I found myself captivated from its first opening sequence. Some have seemed to struggle with this film but I think it’s brilliant and it’s made all the more stronger by a second viewing.

MUD#1 – “MUD” – Talk about carrying the weight of some high expectations! “Mud” was my most anticipated movie of 2013. I’m a huge fan of Jeff Nichols and even though he has just two other movies under his belt, his style and voice resounds with me. In “Mud” he gives us a deep-fried southern gothic tale that’s akin to a modern day Huck Finn. Nichols’ impeccable eye and regional familiarity create a gritty and realistic setting that I was instantly lost in. His story is equally engaging and the renaissance of Matthew McConaughey continues with yet another great performance. Only a few small missteps keep this from being a 5 star masterpiece. But it’s still another beautiful piece of cinema from a director who has become a favorite of mine.

There are my five top movies of the year so far. I know many will disagree. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Let me know what I missed and what I got right. I would also love to hear your choices as well.

62 thoughts on “5 Phenomenal Movies of 2013 (so far)

  1. Outstanding list, I agree with four out of five. I’m so glad you enjoyed Man of Steel as much as I did. Great choice for number 1, Mud is also my favourite film of 2013 thus far. To The Wonder is heavily underrated. If you haven’t checked it out yet, I highly recommend Europa Report. If you are a fan of Moon and Sunshine, I think you’ll love it. Again, awesome list :).

  2. Man, pretty good list although I’d have to disagree with Star Trek. My list so far includes… World War Z, Mud, Man of Steel, Kings of Summer, and probably… Man, I really don’t think there’s a 5th movie I’ve loved this year. I really need to see Before Midnight already.

  3. Good list Keith, not seen mud yet but heard good things. I would have the place beyond the pines in there, for me was the best this release year so far.

  4. Nice list Keith, it’s ridiculous we’re already half way through the year! I had a feeling Mud would be number one 😉 I’m so disappointed I didn’t catch that when it was out. I’d probably have Before Midnight on my list. And I’m yet to see WWZ or To The Wonder. Man, I don’t get to the cinema enough!

  5. Haven’t seen Mud but if you’ve put it before To the Wonder and Into Darkness which I really loved, then I’ve got to see it. Well done Keith, great choices and I couldn’t agree more with you.

  6. I only saw Man of Steel out of those, unfortunately I really disliked it, even with Cavill being all gorgeous and being awesome Superman. So far Stoker is my favorite of the year.

  7. Great list Keith! I think my list would go a little something like this (favorite to least favorite):

    1) Stories We Tell
    2) The Place Beyond the Pines
    3) Man of Steel
    4) This Is The End
    5) Mud

    I love your Phenomenal 5 idea, btw. I’ve started to compile a little list of my most anticipated for the rest of this year, if you’d like to check that out you can here at: http://digitalshortbread.com/2013/06/19/ten-taste-tests-upcoming-releases-2013/

    haha forgive my shameless plugs but this just got me excited!

      • Dude Mud was just so great. I really struggled with where to place that, I actually think it should be higher on my list. 🙂 never really was a McConaughey fan, but he blew me away

    • I really liked both Star Trek and Man if Steel. I had tons of fun with both. The year has been a weird one. It has had it’s share of disappointments but also a handful of surprises.

  8. Very cool list. I’m looking forward to checking out Mud. A lot. Barely got a release here! Really enjoyed Star Trek and Man of Steel, but felt Man of Steel was a little too … serious at times Well, not serious serious, just, well yes, serious! lol! Definitely be interested to see if there’s more in the franchise.

    • I have a post coming up soon on Fall and Winter films. There really are some goodies on the way. One I’m really anxious for is Monument Men. It’s not getting much press yet but it has all the makings.

      • What a team! I just wrote a post about Cate Blanchett. She should be great along Clooney and Damon. What do you think about The Wolf of Wall St. and Elysium?

      • Both look interesting. I was really excited about Wolf, but then I saw the trailer and now I don’t know what to think. Still looks intriguing.

        Elysium is a little different. It looks really cool. But I never really got into District 9 so I’m not sure if it’ll be more of that.

      • I came to love District 9. It was a hard one to appreciate, but when I came to care about an alien father trying to save his son–wow, I was amazed. I love Jody Foster and Matt Damon, so it’s one of those films I hope does well. Same with DiCaprio. Love the guy, but something’s off. Even with Scorsese relationship. Hhmm.

      • Then you approved of The Artist. I haven’t seen him in anything other, but I would like to! He reminds me of another fantastic French actor, Victor Cassel. He made ‘Ocean 13’ worth watching as well in ‘Elizabeth’ and ‘The Matrix Reloaded.’ He stole the show….

  9. Awesome top 5 once again Keith! I was thinking of doing the same thing since we’ve past the half-year mark now. Glad to see Man of Steel made your list, I think that’d be on mine as well, I LOVE it a lot more the second time around. Boy you made me want to kick myself even harder for missing MUD 😦

    • I REALLY want to hear your thoughts on Mud. I really want to see it a second time. I don’t know if my affection for the locale plays a part, but I really think it’s a strong picture.

  10. I haven’t gotten to see To the Wonder yet, but besides that, I really enjoyed all of the ones that you picked. Here’s what my top 5 would be so far:

    1) Mud
    2) Much Ado About Nothing
    3) The Great Gatsby
    4) World War Z
    5) Star Trek Into Darkness

  11. From the ones on your list, I only need to see To the Wonder and Mud. I really, really want to see Mud. I pretty much agree on Man of Steel and World War Z, although I want at least one more go around with Star Trek before having a full opinion on it.

    • Not sure if you’ve read my review but “Before Midnight” was a bit of a disappointment for me. Certainly far from a bad film. But it didn’t blow me away as I expected.

    • Oh be sure to come back and let me know what you think of some of these. I’d be interested in your thoughts. Also I’ll hop over and see your choices. I think I may know who took #1 🙂

      • And I’m back to let you know what I thought of these. Except for number 2 (not a Malick fan) I’ve seen them all now. Of the movies you picked my personal favorite is World War Z. Star Trek and Man of Steel were alright to me but fairly forgettable. Mud I really liked, the sense of place and experiencing life changing moments by the main characters was great.

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