1. Nebraska - Out of the Best Picture nominees for 2013, this and Philomena are the two that I was really not interested in watching, even though I've heard wonderful things about both. Still haven't seen Philomena, but I absolutely loved this movie. Alexander Payne movies are always good, but a bit slow for my taste. The fact that Nebraska is about old people in middle America and it's in black & white, made me really nervous that I would find it depressing rather than enjoyable. It is a little depressing and heartbreaking to watch this man convinced that he has won a million dollars, but the story is mixed with a lot of humor and sweetness -combined with the sassy sarcasm of June Squibb, I just fell in love with everything about it.
2. Out of the Furnace - I saw the trailer for this movie and it was fantastic, but it came and went in the theater so quickly. I didn't really even hear much about it, which is surprising considering the cast (Christian Bale, Casey Affleck, Woody Harrelson, Zoe Saldana and Forest Whitaker). I assumed it was mediocre, but I actually really liked it - especially the first hour. I loved the relationship between the brothers, and I had no idea where the story was going to go (well, I had some idea...because the stupid trailer already told me!). The first scene is really hard to watch; but it also reminded me of how good Woody Harrelson is as a bad guy. Whenever I see him, I automatically think of him on Will & Grace doing his "happy dance" and I smile and laugh to myself, but this role may have changed that image forever. Christian Bale is excellent (as always), and I think he forced Casey Affleck to really up his game. Forest Whitaker is an odd casting choice, in my opinion, for several reasons; the biggest being that he's far too interesting of an actor to play such a "normal" role. There is some controversy over the depiction of the Ramapo mountain people - living so close to the area, I've heard some of the rumors - but this movie really depicts them as awful people (I don't really see it as a justifiable reason for a lawsuit, though). The editing of the movie could have been a little tighter, I started to get a little bored by the end - which could have easily been fixed. The ending is really, really, stupid but, luckily, not stupid enough to ruin the movie.
3. Thor: The Dark World - I wasn't really a fan of the first one. It was okay; nothing really memorable about it. I would say that out of the Avengers movies, it's definitely my least favorite one (closely followed by Captain America - speaking of, I keep hearing the sequel is AMAZING...I am intrigued). The biggest problem, for me, is Chris Hemsworth. In theory, Thor should be my favorite superhero - he's a character based on Nordic mythology, which can be traced back to Roman mythology, and I used to be super obsessed with Roman & Greek mythology. Hemsworth does nothing extraordinary with the character. I'm convinced that a stronger/more charismatic actor could have reignited my passion for all things mythical. The rest of the cast, I adore. Natalie Portman, Kat Dennings, and *sigh* Jamie Alexander - three talented actresses who command the screen more so than the main character. I did enjoy this sequel a lot more than the first - it moved a little bit faster, and had some funnier one-liners. Also, Loki became a far more interesting character than the first, considering his major role as the villain in The Avengers.
4. The Past - I really love A Separation. It's one of those movies that is so quiet, yet so tense and complicated - I thought about it for months after watching it. That alone had me excited for this movie - I really knew nothing else about it, aside from it being the same writer/director. It's a very similar movie; an intense domestic drama about family and divorce. And, just like A Separation, I felt like I was watching a thriller with the way that it builds up the small moments. The Past isn't as strong of a story, but the way that Asghar Farhadi directs it, it becomes a strong story. I couldn't figure out where the story was going or why the young girl was so against her mother's new boyfriend, so the revelation is unexpected (*slight spoiler* and also a relief - I was assuming so much worse. I mean, it's bad, but at least he's not bad). The acting is superb; especially Berenice Bejo (didn't understand the fuss over The Artist, but I hope to see her in more roles like this) and Pauline Berlet. It's going to be really hard to reevaluate my 2013 Best Films list because there are so many films that I want to add, including this one.
5. Best Man Down - I saw the trailer for this and thought it looked interesting. At least the story seemed original, and character driven. I can't stand Justin Long (he's not funny. I don't understand how anyone can disagree with me), but he didn't really bother me here (probably because he's not supposed to be funny). I am intrigued by Jess Weixler, though. She's from the movie Teeth, which was 7 years ago and I've never seen her in anything since. It's a really strong, memorable performance so I'm surprised she hasn't been in bigger movies yet, but I guess her time will come. I liked her in this movie too, but her character is a bit annoying - $3000 for a wedding dress??? AAAAAAHHHH! Such a waste of money. Also, if your best man dies at the wedding (not a spoiler....it's what the movie is about.), don't complain that you can't go on your honeymoon. Really, her husband just lost one of his best friends and she gives him attitude. I can't sympathize with a character like that. I did like the movie, though. It's a sweet movie about odd human connections.