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The 10 Best 2013 Films To Sit On Your Ass and Watch at Home

By Dustin Rowles | Seriously Random Lists | December 26, 2013 | Comments ()


drinking-buddies2.jpg

I run this list every year, and usually under different titles because I haven’t found one that sticks yet. The idea behind the list is that these are 10 movies unlikely to compete for awards or be in our yearly top 10 list, and they’re not movies, really, that necessitate viewing on the big screen. They are perfect for streaming or Netflixing or VODing, or however it is you consume movies from the worn groove in your couch. They are good movies, but they are not great movies. They are date movies, or movies to watch with friends. They’re fun, and to be honest, they’re more enjoyable films to watch in 2014 than most of the heavy eventual Oscar nominees.

Now You See Me — If you’re willing to overlook the fact that the magic is not the point, but the diversion, then Now You See Me becomes an impossibly absurd — and impossibly fun — caper film that whizzes by with such breakneck speed that you’re also willing to overlook the faulty logic and the innumerable red herrings. While the magic itself certainly doesn’t hold up to close examination, I ended up having a hell of a entertaining time trying to keep up, while wondering what the point of it all is (ultimately, there is no point, but that’s the summer movie season for you). Nobody does smug, fast-talking dick better than Eisenberg; Woody Harrelson — who plays a hypnotist — is his usual charming self; while Isla Fisher — the escape artist — is great to look at (that, sadly, that is the extent of her role). Never mind that, by the end of the movie, we know no more about the characters than we did at the beginning — they’re all tropes tinged with the actor’s personalities — Now You See Me is not a character piece; it’s a spectacle, and an immensely fun one at that. — Dustin Rowles

This is the End — The relentless crudity of the humor is certainly not going to work for everyone, and there’s little there for women to do (other than Emma Watson’s wonderful few minutes). And I’ll confess that after the third giant demon cock (not to mention a puerile and unnecessary demon molestation scene), I was starting to roll my eyes a bit. But god damn it, for a solid 70 percent of its 107 minutes, This Is The End is fun. It’s clever enough to carry itself through its missteps, and while I doubt I’ll remember much of it in a month or two, I’ll certainly remember that I had fun watching it, and chances are I’ll eventually want to catch up with it again. It’s crude, crass, childish, and sometimes flat-out stupid, but its impudent sense of humor and a genuinely warm sense of camaraderie are, for the most part, enough to make it an enjoyable experience. — TK

Warm Bodies — While that film allowed its thematic elements to unfold organically, Warm Bodies occasionally takes a blunt force approach that is at times aggravatingly on-the-nose. Yet that shouldn’t be cause to avoid the film, because overall it’s an absorbing bit of romantic candy that still manages to avoid being too precious or treacly. That’s due to some mostly solid writing (although from my understanding it veers away from the novel in many ways) and wonderful directing, and a pair of strong performances from the leads who seem to fall easily into their very peculiar roles. In the end, Warm Bodies is a mildly flawed film, but there’s enough charm and excitement and yes, even a healthy dose of action and gore thrown in for good measure to make a genuinely unique vision, proving that yes, there is indeed love after the zombie apocalypse. — TK

About TimeAbout Time is an emotionally driven movie specifically designed to make you fall in love with your own life again. If you’re in love, whether it’s new love, honeymoon love, or the love of a couple that has been together for 50 years, it’s probably going to feel like an intensely personal movie, like it was a movie MADE SPECIFICALLY FOR YOU. You’ll love it for the same reason you love Ben Folds’ “The Luckiest,” even though it’s an unabashedly hokey, sentimental song that cool people make fun of because, gah, how predictable. But those are the best movies, the ones where we get so lost that the details become irrelevant, the ones that remind us how much we love the ones were with, an the more you love them, the more power About Love will have over you. It is not for cynics. It is not for critics. It’s not for the cool. Cerebrally, it probably wouldn’t hold up to close scrutiny. But emotionally, there are no holes in About Time; it is a semi-sonic blast of feels that that will trigger every node of happiness and ache and affection inside of you and leave you exposed and vunlerable and smiling through a puddle of tears like a goddamn mad man. — Dustin Rowles

The Way Way BackThe Way Way Back feels like it’s been assembled from a well-loved if not very original kit: one piece of geeky 14-year-old boy, two pieces of daddy issues, and assorted pieces of characters straining for wackiness, all glued together and placed in the summer sun. Writing and directing partners Jim Rash and Nat Faxon — each comic actors in their own right, and who previously teamed to adapt The Descendants — are aiming for a very specific type of movie here, one whose beats, tone, and outcome are never for a second in doubt. There are plenty of scenes and ideas here that really work well, and Rash and Faxon have a clear love of an aptitude for those moments when buoyant comedy can suddenly give way to pathos and understanding. In such moments, The Way Way Back doesn’t feel any fresher, but it does feel much more heartfelt and intentional, and that makes all the difference. — Daniel Carlson

You’re NextYou’re Next is the best pure horror movie you’ll see this year. It’s not the scariest movie you’ve ever seen, nor the creepiest or the goriest, but it so meticulously and cleverly assembles its parts that it creates a superbly satisfying horror experience. You’re Next is the rare little gem of a film. Wingard and Barret have taken all their best elements — grounded realism, a gift for capturing human weakness and venality without making characters too absurd, and a terrific understanding of the role of humor within the horror narrative — and churned out a film that isn’t even remotely original, but is still startlingly enjoyable. It’s a harsh, savage, terrifying experience, one that doesn’t celebrate its violence as much as it artfully demonstrates how it can be used to effectively tell a story. Best of all, it still manages to be fun, in that perverse way that only a really good horror flick can be. — TK

In a World — If you’ve watched Children’s Hospital or HBO’s How to Make It In America, you already love Lake Bell. If you haven’t, you’ll love her after In a World. Bell’s writing/directing debut focuses on a woman trying to make it in the trailer voice-over business, a business dominated by men, including her character’s father and the shadow of Don LaFontaine’s booming “in a world…” voice. It’s a sweet and funny film which passes the Bechdel test with flying colors while managing to avoid being an overbearing feminist scribe (not that there’s anything wrong with that). While Bell steals the film, she’s backed by a solid and entertaining cast that includes Demitri Martin, Ken Marino Nick Offerman and Tig Notaro. In a world where that list doesn’t convince you to watch this, I don’t know what will. — Seth Freilich

Bad Grandpa — Johnny Knoxville’s heady combination of fearlessness and a complete lack of shame may put him on the sociopathic spectrum, but it also makes the Jackass movies one of the most enjoyable experiences you can have in a theater. Granted, I have absolutely dreaded each and every Jackass movie going in (and this is the third I have reviewed), but it never takes more than a few minutes for Knoxville and the gang to kick loose the movie snob from my bowels and elicit paroxysmal, almost lethal laughter out of me. If it’s possible, Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa may be the funniest Jackass movie yet. There were moments during the screening, in fact, in which I could sense that I was that moviegoer with the obnoxious laugh that rose above everyone else’s, a problem only compounded when I found myself uncontrollably giggling during otherwise quiet moments because I remembered something that had happened 20 minutes before. — Dustin Rowles

Don Jon — There’s a lot going on in Don Jon, and while not all of it works, that’s also part of its appeal. Gordon-Levitt is clearly on fire to try something here, and he’s written and directed an ambitious and awkward and occasionally clunky and often powerful movie about the way we lie to ourselves and what it takes to be honest with someone we love. It’s not a new topic, but that’s precisely why it’s so strong. He’s found a fresher way to get at something that pesters all of us, and in wrestling with ideas of authenticity and human connection, he’s continuing on the path he’s laying for himself one hard-carved brick at a time. Gordon-Levitt is determined to find new ways to forge relationships with the audience, and Don Jon is both a reflection of that desire and a solid execution of same. He has things he wants to say, and I want to listen. — Daniel Carlson

Drinking BuddiesDrinking Buddies, starring Jake Johnson, is a screenwriters’ nightmare, the complete opposite of the major studio screenplay-by-committee schemes. There was no script for Drinking Buddies. In fact, much of the cast — which also includes the beautiful and crass Olivia Wilde, the charming and winsome Anna Kendrick, and Ron Livingston — were only discussing the idea of doing the movie when the director, Joe Swanberg, shot them an email asked them to show up for filming a few days later. Credit the insane chemistry of the actors, their deft improvisational skills, a smart, original outline from Swanberg, and the inability of the actors to overthink the process for Drinking Buddies’ ability to transcend not only conventional romantic comedy tropes but most mumblecore offerings and capture something real, relatable, and genuine. It is a magnificent film. — Dustin Rowles



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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not


  • I loved Drinking Buddies. If that film had been 12 hours long I'd have still watched the whole damn thing.
    Though that may just be symptomatic of my own particular pathological tendencies.

  • John G.

    you mean your habit of getting drunk and sleeping with Olivia Wilde

  • I assume that's what happens after I black out during the heavier drinking sessions anyway.

  • wojtek

    The ones from this list that I've seen - I loved. So now I'm off to watch the rest.

  • e jerry powell

    I dunno, call it schadenfreude, but I get more of a kick out of watching Joe Swanberg trying mightily to fake gay sex on camera. Some things simply can't be overcome by ego.

    Apologies, but gay mumblecore is just one niche too many.

  • TimeTravelMan

    Drinking Buddies sucked big time. You can tell there was no script

  • John W

    I just finished watching

    Incendies. A brother and sister read their mother's will who charges them with finding their father they thought dead and a brother they never knew they had. Holy smokes what an ending.

    Pina. A movie about Pina Bausch and her modern dance troupe.

    In A Better World. Two boys. One who is bullied, has a father, a doctor, who does volunteer work in Africa. The other recently lost his mother to an illness and is angry at the world and ready to lash out. They become friends but unfortunately violence ensues.

    Point Blank. A nurse in training and his pregnant wife get caught in the crossfire between crooks and cops. (Highly recommended).

    Renaissance. Black & white animated sci fi. Daniel Craig and Romola Garai provide the voices.

    Shame. Now I see why all the girls giggle when Fassbender's name is mentioned. And is that the Leftenant

    Star Trek Into Darkness. ugh. the stupidity of this movie can be summed up thusly: Spock and not Khan are fighting on top of a fast moving ship.

    -can we teleport not Khan onto the Enterprise?
    -no, they're moving too fast
    -can we teleport someone onto the fast moving ship?
    -of course! Duh!
    -great let's teleport Uhura
    -the communications officer?
    -why not six heavily armed security personnel?
    -no, let's teleport Just one person to take down the superhuman villain!

  • To this list I would add 2 Guns because fuck YEAH, Denzel, at all times.

  • John G.

    My take on this list:

    The Way Way Back and Now See Me are both pretty terrible films. The Way Way Back is the better of the two, but still doesn't really go anywhere or do anything. Things just happen and happen and then resolve. Now See Me is Eisenberg doing the only character he ever does, only more so. This boring and ridiculous story that tries so hard to have some kind of message will challenge anyone's Eisenberg patience.

    I haven't seen Don Jon, but it is really annoying that in the year 2013 the passion project of a young Hollywood darling would be about the outdated and ridiculous cliche that women want romance and men want sex. Ugh!

    About Time - You lost me at Rachel McAdams. She's the female version of Vince Vaughn in that her name in the credits means I will never ever see it.

    You're Next - meh, nothing amazing, but animal masks can be scary

    Bad Grandpa - haven't seen it, but I imagine a lot of balls get punched. and other stupid injury comedy you can expect from Jackass. No thanks

    Drinking Buddies and In a World are both decent films. Do check them out.

    This is the End - is a funny enough 45-minute film. Shut if off after that, though. It's fun to see Hollywood make fun of itself with real jabs at real things that these people did, and ways they have behaved. The logic of the movie as well as the fun disappear after that 45-minute mark though.

    Warm Bodies - NO! Zombies don't talk. Zombies don't fall in love. This movie is a violation of everything holy.

  • laylaness

    I saw Don Jon, I liked Don Jon. The point of the film is pretty much the opposite of your impression of it.

  • John G.

    Isn't your line supposed to be "And you, sir, are no Don Jon."?

  • axis2clusterB

    Totally agree with you about Warm Bodies.

  • cicatricella

    I *loved* Warm Bodies.

  • Matt C.

    Of the movies that I consider the essential pieces of Jesse Eisenberg's filmography, I would say that the Adventureland, 30 Minutes or Less, and Zombieland characters are similar, the Now You See Me and Social Network characters are pretty similar, and then Charlie Banks, the Squid and the Whale, and the Living Wake all pretty much stand alone, so I'm not sure what you mean by saying that he's doing the only character he ever does. He has a Michael Cera-type neurotic loser, and a cocky, RDJ-type savant.

  • Guest

    "I haven't seen Don Jon, but it is really annoying that in the
    year 2013 the passion project of a young Hollywood darling would be
    about the outdated and ridiculous cliche that women want romance and men
    want sex. Ugh!"

    That isn't what the film is about, I'm not commenting on whether I liked it or not, but generally a good idea to watch a film before deciding what its message is.

    All in all, some good subjective thoughts on the films, masquerading as objective truth

  • Wednesday

    I agree, that is totally NOT the point of Don Jon. It was about how we go into relationships looking to fulfill expectations set by outside forces instead of forming connections with the actual partner.

  • John G.

    that is how I heard the film's creator, Joseph Gordon Levitt, describe the film in an interview. It didn't occur to me that he was lying.

    Film reviews are always subjective, and do not "masquerade as objective truth" unless you are very confused.

  • Repo

    So 2/10? Bummer for you. You lost me at The Way Way Back being terrible. But hey, internet and opinons and all that, right?

  • John G.

    I know, you're not alone in loving it. I was amazed at the positive reviews when it came out.. I absolutely loved The Descendants, and it's from the same writing team. I love Sam Rockwell, Toni Collette, Jim Rash and Steve Carell.

    I expected it to have some kind of emotional depth or follow logical storytelling, but it did not. It may be a problem particular to me, in that I tend not to enjoy films that ignore storytelling in favor of creating characters that are fun for the actors to inhabit without providing them some kind of crafted framework to attach their characters to.

  • you’re also willing to overlook the faulty logic and the innumerable red herrings.
    No. Look, ...no. I do not--cannot--overlook or forgive that shit, ever.

    Sloppy storytelling and poor plottage are always bad things and should never be praised or recommended.

    Substandard, lazy story-making needs to go fuck itself in the eye and stop taking up space in our movies.
    *Grumpgrumpgrumpgrump*

  • How can ANYONE be too cool for Ben Folds' "The Luckiest?"

    I mean, C'MON.

  • Guest

    One Addition:

    Drug War (2012 - released N.A. 2013) from director Johnnie To (Election, Fulltime Killer, Running on Karma, Vengenace, this list could go on an on).

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

    I see an inevitable Hollywood remake in its future. 86% on Metacritic and it's available on Netflix.

  • Wednesday

    Now You See Me is not a good movie. It makes the cardinal mistake of almost-decent "con artist" movies: there are several parts of the movie that force you to stop suspending disbelief by doing dumb things that everyone knows don't happen in real life.

    For example, at one point there's a TV broadcast where the news reader says that "FBI Agent So-and-So completely bungled the case." It's meant to garner sympathy for the hero by showing how he's been made to look like a fuck-up and even his own allies are now against him. But since that NEVER happens on the evening news, and everyone knows it, it takes you out of the conceit.

    It's the Running in Heels problem. The minute some girl in a horror movie is able outrun the predator while wearing four-inch heels is the minute I've mentally checked out.

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