Halfway Through: The Best and Worst Movies of 2013 So Far

The Best Movies of 2013 So Far
The Best Movies of 2013 So Far

If I hadn’t been to the Cannes Film Festival this year I would have to look at 2013 as a major disappointment so far. The major blockbusters have largely disappointed from Iron Man 3 to Star Trek Into Darkness. I found Man of Steel entertaining, but Fast & Furious 6 remains the summer blockbuster I most enjoyed and yet I don’t plan on returning to it any time soon.

Of the four movies I would list as the very best of 2013 that released in the first six months, one I saw over a year ago at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival (Laurence Anyways), two are independent features (Before Midnight and Frances Ha) and only one (Side Effects) comes from a major studio. This isn’t to say my list was all that much different last year at this time, but at least I could add something like The Avengers whereas Fast 6 merely gets an honorable mention at this time.

The good news, for anyone that largely agrees with my opinion (and even for those that don’t), I can guarantee 2013 is going to get a lot better. Five of the films on my list of “Top Ten of the Year Contenders” come from this year’s Cannes Film Festival and will be released later this year, one (Fruitvale Station) arrives this month.

That said, here’s a look at the best and worst movies of the year so far and I’d love to see your lists in the comments below. I’ll be putting together a list of my most anticipated films for the second half of 2013, but five of the best the year will have to offer have a red asterisk (*) next to them in the list immediately below.

Top Ten of the Year Contenders (in alphabetical order)

  • All is Lost* (read my Cannes review here)
  • Before Midnight (read my review here)
  • Frances Ha (read my review here)
  • Fruitvale Station* (read my Cannes review here)
  • Inside Llewyn Davis* (read my Cannes review here)
  • Laurence Anyways (read my Cannes 2012 review here)
  • Only Lovers Left Alive* (read my Cannes review here)
  • The Past* (read my Cannes review here)
  • Side Effects (read my review here)
  • Venus in Fur* (read my Cannes review here)

Titles with an * next to them will be released later this year.

Quality, but Not Top Tier (in alphabetical order)

  • Behind the Candelabra (read my Cannes review here)
  • Mud (read my review here)
  • The East (read my review here)
  • Upstream Color

Favorite Genre Titles So Far (in alphabetical order)

  • The YA Adaptation: Beautiful Creatures (read my review here)
  • The Blockbuster: Fast & Furious 6 (read my review here)
  • The Uplifting True Story: 42 (read my review here)
  • The Horror: The Lords of Salem
  • The Comedy: This is the End (read my review here)

WORST OF THE YEAR SO FAR (in alphabetical order)

As I was putting the following list together I had to start limiting myself to films I didn’t grade higher than a “D+” and I still came away with 19 movies receiving a D+ or worse from the first six months of the year. Last year I only felt the need to include eight. Eight!

Looking over the list, which is in alphabetical order, the ordering is fortunate in that Aftershock and After Earth are probably the worst of the lot. Aftershock may, in fact, be the worst film I’ve ever seen.

The good news is that, while putting the list together, I’d actually forgotten most of these films even existed or were even released this year. The shrinking theater-to-DVD release windows make it easier to forget today’s films and the awful ones are that much more easily erased from our memories. Thank God!

  • Aftershock (read my review here)
  • After Earth (read my review here)
  • The Bastards* (read my Cannes review here)
  • Bullet to the Head (read my review here)
  • Gangster Squad (read my review here)
  • A Good Day to Die Hard (read my review here)
  • Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters (read my review here)
  • The Host (read my review here)
  • Identity Thief (read my review here)
  • The Immigrant* (read my Cannes review here)
  • The Internship (read my review here)
  • The Last Stand (read my review here)
  • Maniac (read my review here)
  • Oz the Great and Powerful (read my review here)
  • Pain & Gain (read my review here)
  • Safe Haven (read my review here)
  • Shield of Straw* (read my Cannes review here)
  • Stoker (read my review here)
  • White House Down (read my review here)

Titles with an * next to them will be released later this year.

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