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Rounding up some of this year’s best

By Staff | Nov 27, 2013

Since the bulk of the “bests” still lie in Hollywood vaults waiting to be unreeled in the holiday period through Christmas Day, it’s difficult to make an early call on a “Top Ten of 2013.” Abandoning the artificial number, I’ve gathered input from a couple of cinema owners, however, the digital world now limits advance screenings so they, like most of us Mountain State residents, have not viewed full versions of flicks to come. I’m also borrowing a few “best” opinions from an assemblage of those who have had the privilege of watching more than a “teaser” of those film that unwind through Dec. 31, 2013 and those that just have not generally played in or around West Virginia.


Marvel’s “Iron Man III” cannot be overlooked in any category, though Hollywood’s elite will fail to recognize an average moviegoer favorite. Similarly, the successful “Man of Steel” reboot and the continuing entertainment from voyages into space via “Star Trek.”

Literary standard “The Great Gatsby” invoked lessons and achievements from an era of abundance warning that similar consequences of valuing grandiose “stuff” leads to losing balance in staying on the same page in what’s meaningful for rudimentary happiness as time accumulates. Similarly, the working together of a group of aging yet still very talented musicians (“Quintet”) establishes that you do not have to be young in order to share and retain talent.

“Olympus Has Fallen” deserves mention as the first film to slowly envision non-global or invader from space terroristic perils within the house at 1700 Pennsylvania Avenue limiting its scope to survival by exiting the Oval Office in one piece.

Zombie eroded “World War Z” sent Brad Pitt in search of a survival formula, while maintaining a film that had bells and whistles yet maintained a close personal emotional intensity upon the main characters.


Burning up the street, Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy plunked new life into the stretch of less than satisfying comedic categories by pairing a politically correct FBI agent with a crude, rude and streetwise police partner in “The Heat,” which sets a new level for “female buddy” excursions. Add the script-wise hastily assembled Miller family (“Meet the Millers” Jason Sudelkis, Jennifer Aniston, Ed Helms, and Emma Roberts) to the mix as they haphazardly smuggle drugs from Mexico in their RV.

Bullock teams with George Clooney to soar with “Gravity,” which visually will have the “2001: A Space Odyssey” time stamp classic in the same vastness of space that “saves” and demonstrates the values of three dimensional filmmaking when the subjects are proper.

Having a taste for horrific ventures, the releases of “The Conjuring” and “Insidious Chapter II” creaked new venom into paranormal worlds of the supernatural yet toning down the formerly too-drenched-in-blood and body count scenario. A little imagination goes further than just squirting artificial catsup.

I have an odd fancy for “The Bling Ring,” which told of wealthy teens breaking in to one celebrity’s house after another – for months without getting caught – and stealing select symbols from each celebrity’s home of which they proudly wore to the envy of their high school peers.


“Twelve Years a Slave,” “Captain Phillips,” “The Butler” and the forthcoming “The Book Thief” begin the Oscar gold race joining Tom Hanks (as Walk Disney) in “Saving Mr. Banks,” “An American Hustle,” and, perhaps, the classic remake of “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” as those destined for honors.


“August Osage County” assembles an Oklahoma family following the death of their dad (Sam Shepherd). It’s glistening with familiar names – Julia Roberts, Juliette Lewis, Julianne Nicholson, Ewan McGregor, Dermot Mulroney, Benedict Cumberbatch, Margo Martindale, Chris Cooper, Abigail Breslin and Meryl Streep. Although George Clooney produces, the 3 hour play could lose its appeal when chopped to two hours for a stronger youth push.

Awaiting release, Martin Scorsese brings Leonardo DiCaprio as a cocky successful illicit “Wolf of Wall Street,” which also stars Matthew McConaughey; a get-to-know-your-aging-father opus (“Nebraska”) and “Out of the Furnace,” which boasts Christian Bale, Casey Affleck and Woody Harrelson in a flick filmed in part inside the walls of this state’s historic Moundsville penitentiary.

Amongst theater owners, I heard “Iron Man III,” “Gravity,” “The Heat,” and “Burning Fire,” among their personally mentioned favorites in 2013.