Best Action/Superhero Movie
Iron Man 3, starring Robert Downey Jr, Gwenyth Paltrow, Guy Pearce
This year had a plethora of action movies based on comics or superheroes, but I think my favorite of the lot is Iron Man 3. As portrayed by Robert Downey Jr, Iron Man is both aloof and relatable, walking the fine line between snarky and sincere. Part of what makes this movie so compelling is that it isn’t just an action flick. It shows us Tony Stark at his lowest, dealing with the emotional fallout of nearly dying in The Avengers, and having the (albeit rich and powerful) world as he knows it crumble around him. He also has to face the fact that his past will continually come back to him, and struggle to find a way to be the good guy, despite his own selfish tendencies. These traits are why I think Iron Man has been so popular with the public in recent years; it’s nice to see an imperfect man rise above his own faults to eventually become the man he wishes he was.
Best Book Adaptation
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth
If you’ve read my review already, you’ll know how much I loved this movie. It’s beautifully filmed, the costumes are excellent, and it perfectly captures the spirit of the books. In fact, and this may be an unpopular opinion, I will dare to suggest that this movie is the rare one that is better than its source material. It is exciting and the relationships are compelling, so that we’re swiftly caught back up into Katniss and Peeta’s escalating danger. The film maintains Katniss’ point of view so well, in fact, that though we get glimpses into the wider world and hints of what is to come, we still get to experience the uncertainty of the entire situation. Of course, if you’ve read the books, then all those clues add quickly to something more, propelling us into the next installment in the series.
Warm Bodies, starring Nicholas Hoult, Teresa Palmer, John Malkovich
Warm Bodies came as a bit of a surprise to me. It wasn’t on my “must see” list and the preview made it look like a spoof of some other aimed-at-teens horror/romance flicks, so I was hesitant when a friend encouraged me to watch it. What I discovered was a delightfully funny, cleverly written, poignant love story that rings very true to the traditional zombie trope. People are so caught up in their modern lives and cut off from relationship with one another that they fall victim to a zombie-plague with no known cure… until a still-living girl runs into a still-sorta-sentient zombie boy. D’awwwww.
Best Animated Feature
Frozen, starring Kristen Bell, Josh Gad, Idina Menzel
What can’t I say in praise of this movie? It’s one of the best out of the Disney studio in years, its animation is beautiful, it has two female protagonists, and it completely trumps the notion of romantic love as the solution to all your problems. You want female role models? Look to sisters Elsa and Anna, each searching for ways to protect one another when magic threatens them. Anna is never jealous or spiteful of her sister’s abilities, or of her place as queen, and Elsa finds strength in becoming who she really is and owning her unique self. They triumph through their bond and prove that true love comes in different places. On top of that, Elsa is the first Disney princess I can think of who actually gets to become a queen. So often princes grow into kings, but princesses stay princesses, as if they aren’t allowed to rule a kingdom because that would take away from how awesome they are. Elsa is awesome as queen. If you’re the parent of a girl, or someone who wants a little female-inspiration, check out this movie. (And if you’re worried about the talking snowman, I promise he isn’t too much within the movie. Just give it a try. ^_^)
Honorable Mention: Despicable Me 2
American Hustle, starring Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence
How packed must Jennifer Lawrence’s schedule be? That aside, American Hustle is the kind of movie that draws you into the time period, so that while you start off being well aware that you’re seeing 1978, by the end you’re so engrossed that you forget it’s not happening now. Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale in exceptional makeup/costuming) is a small-time con man, content to play it safe and stay just beneath the radar until he’s busted by the FBI. Cornered into turning on some fellow con artists, he finds himself swept into a much-too-large sting involving politicians, the South Beach mafia, and the well-meaning mayor of Camden, New Jersey. He does the best he can given the situation, but is a con man at heart, to the end.
Honorable Mention: Saving Mr. Banks
What Did the Iggles Say?
I asked you on Twitter to tell me the best, the worst, and the hidden gems of 2013, and you delivered!