ProCreate Philomena Oscar Nominations

 My Top 10 Movies of 2013

Updated 2/24/14

Written by Steven Panzarella (@ProCreateSteve)

Oscar Nominations are out and the 2013 film slate is officially over, so along with movies that either missed the cut or deserve recognition, I have made a list of my top 10 movies of 2013.

The Superlatives-

The Biggest Surprise- World War Z- Marred with a long, expensive set of reshoots and rewrites along with on-set problems between Star and Producer Brad Pitt and Director Marc Forster, on location issues and filming delays WWZ was set for failure. Despite a lack of faith to the source material WWZ was much better than expected. A fun zombie horror flick, that ended up making over $500 million dollars in box office money.

The Best of The Superhero movies- Thor: The Dark World-None of the superhero movies belong on this list, they were all quite good but none compare with what we saw in film this year. That all being said, The Dark World was a fun ride, carried by another great performance from Tom Hiddelston and some excellent action sequences. Iron Man 3 was great, but The Dark World was leagues ahead of its original film, and about as much fun as any of the solo comic book films.

The Near Miss-The Secret Life of Walter Mitty- Don’t get me wrong, this was not a bad movie. In fact it was the most beautifully cinematic movie of 2013. It’s a shame its screenplay lacked great dialogue, which did not help the cast. Ben Stiller’s film was awesome in scope and in imagination and beautifully shot. Besides fun supporting performances from Patton Oswalt and Sean Penn, Walter Mitty lacked the one thing we all hoped it would have-consistency.

 The Top Scare-The Conjuring- I have watched this movie 3 times already and it creeps me out every single time. The best horror film we have seen in a long while, James Wan throws everything including the kitchen sink as The Conjuring spends nearly 2 hours attacking your senses. By the end of the film you would be willing to jump at almost anything. Excellent camera work, and pitch perfect direction drive The Conjuring to scare the crap out of most of the people who watched it. What horror movie gets an R rating for being too scary!?

Favorite Indie-The Kings Of Summer- This part hilarious, part dramatic coming of age tale was one of the first great movies of 2013. Including a breakout performance from Moises Arias and an excellent cast, Kings of Summer proved to be on the year’s first great Indies. A refreshing story with excellent characters and a finely tuned script made this movie one of my favorites.

The Movies I haven’t seen yet-Lee Daniels' The Butler, and Nebraska

Movies that just missed the cut-The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Mud, The World's End, The Way, Way Back,  Fruitvale StationSaving Mr. Banks, and Frozen. 

10. Blackfish- I will not understand how this movie, the most gripping documentary I have watched this year missed the cut for the Best Documentary Oscar. A fantastic doc with a similar feeling of 2009’s Oscar winner The Cove, Blackfish was a damning look behind the curtain of one of the world’s largest amusement park chains and its largest attraction, the killer whale. While uneasy to watch Black Fish has had the largest effect of any documentary I have seen, causing audience members to search for answers and forcing artists to cancel concerts at SeaWorld following the film’s release.

9. Rush- A movie that came out far too early in the Oscar cycle. An impressive drama that includes two actors at their best with Daniel Bruhl (Oscar Snub) and Chris Hemsworth as rival race car drivers. Rush is the best work from director Ron Howard since Frost/Nixon working from an excellent script from Peter Morgan. Rush is a huge adrenaline rush whether you are a racing enthusiast or not it’s an intense celebration of Formula one and the sport’s biggest rivalry.

8.  Captain Phillips- One of the many biopics to come out this year with an ending we already knew about but thanks to a breakout performance from Barkhad Abdi and a stunning effort from Tom Hanks whose final 10 min of the film were worth an Oscar nomination alone. Paul Greengrass directs another effortlessly suspenseful film and gets the best from an incredible cast. Captain Phillips was an excellent movie and like that of Zero Dark Thirty and Lone Survivor it’s hard to not leave it with the growing respect for the skillfulness of our military.

7. Dallas Buyers Club- Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto give inspiring, Oscar worthy performances in this eye opening drama about the aids epidemic. Both actors are incredible and so is a low key but great performance from Jennifer Garner. May not be best picture material but at this point as the opportunity to score big in the actor/supporting actor races.

6. Inside Llewyn Davis-Early on there was no movie with bigger Oscar buzz then the Coen brothers view of the 1960s Folk Music scene in New York City. Featuring beautiful music from T-Bone Burnett and an excellent breakout performance from Oscar Isaac, it’s a shame this movie just couldn’t get passed Oscar voters. Isaac and John Goodman give memorable performances along with a seriously fun script from the Coen’s. This movie was one of my favorite films of 2013, while it deserves being on this list it did not hold the same weight as my top five films.

5.  The Wolf of Wall Street- A wacky, unbelievably fun ride Wolf brings together one ofhollywoods favorite teams, Leo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese. Practically every scene includes drug use, or nudity in a film that goes on for 3 hours and contains hundreds of f-bombs. Jonah Hill gives another excellent performance and so does Leonardo DiCaprio whose Golden globe should be no surprise. The coming out party for aussie Margot Robbie who steals the show as DiCaprio’s thick Brooklyn accented second wife.  A raucous journey in the life of Wall Street’s worst offenders, thanks to Martin Scorsese and screen writer Terrence Winter it’s darkly humorous, and one of 2013’s most memorable films.

4. Gravity-Gravity is one of those movies that you had to see it in theaters in 3D and on an iMax screen to get the full effect of its beauty. One of the most suspenseful and beautiful movies of 2013 and really the best 3D film ever made, Gravity stunned audiences and Oscar voters alike.  Made possible through the incredible performance by Sandra Bullock and perfect direction from Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity should compete for all of the major awards for which it is nominated. In any other year it probably runs away with the Oscar but 2013 proved to be as strong a year for movies as we have had in recent memory.

3.  12 Years a Slave- A deeply moving journey into the horrible story of a talented violinist who is kidnapped, sold into slavery, and tortured for years. An unsettling film, filled with first class performances and top notch direction. 12 Years a Slave had huge buzz before it came out, lost it after it left theaters and now is the front runner to win the whole thing.

2. American Hustle-David O. Russell is on a roll, and he scores what looks like his biggest film of his career. Only Jeremy Renner missed out on the Oscar nomination from a film filled with three excellent performances. David O. Russell’s best film teaches us everything from how to make the perfect comb over and to call our microwaves “Science Ovens” thanks to Jennifer Lawrence’s ludicrous performance as a wonderfully insane stay at home mom. Filled with horrible haircuts, low cut dresses, and tons of laughs, American Hustle was a complete effort with 4 extraordinary performances on top of everything else.

1B.-Philomena- After attending Act 1 of the AMC Best Picture Showcase on 2/22/2014 I am adding Philomena to my countdown. A heartfelt, funny, tragic story about an elderly irish women who after 50 years of keeping it a secret she reveals a long lost son. Thanks to the help of a BBC journalist (Steve Coogan) they uncover what happened to him after he was taken away from her. Dame Judi Dench in a quality leading role, and Steve Coogan who not only writes the oscar nominated script but gives a oscar snubbed performance as an underfire former journalist who takes a job to write a story about Philomena Lee. Based on a book, the script is charming and the performances are fantastic. I left thinking this was one of the most enjoyable films of 2013. 


1A. Her- I knew what Her was about when I went in but I never thought it would hit me in such a way. A sincere and satirical look at the not so distant future where computers have evolved and technology is reaching scary levels. Her includes one of the best performances in the career of Joaquin Phoenix who blew me away with his soulful, sadness that breaks your heart and wants to see him keep his happiness. In addition to Phoenix, Spike Jonze gets memorable voice work by Scarlett Johansson, who also manages to have the audience fear her power but fall for her complexity. Her was easily my favorite film of 2013 it is simply the most beautiful movie I’ve seen this year and the most beautiful movie I’ve seen in quite a while. 


Agree or disagree please comment below to continue the conversation. 

Steven Panzarella: ProCreate Film Critic

Steven Panzarella has been reviewing movies for as long as he can remember, but his passion flourished while working at 88.7 FM WRHU, and writing for

Steven is ProCreate's resident film critic.


Watch Steven's Top Ten Films:

10) Blackfish

9) Rush

8) Captain Phillips

7) Dallas Buyers Club

6) Inside Llewyn Davis

5) The Wolf of Wall Street

4) Gravity

3) 12 Years a Slave

2) American Hustle

1b) Philomena

1a) Her

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