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

By Dustin Rowles | Lists | December 26, 2013 |

By Dustin Rowles | Lists | December 26, 2013 |

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