10 Best Movies of 2013

Animated monsters, astronauts and whales are some of the characters in the best movies of the year.

1. Blackfish

Killer whales or serial killers? This documentary follows the history of whales in captivity with the story centering on Tilikum, a SeaWorld animal that killed three trainers and injured several others. SeaWorld shifted the blame to “trainer error” to maintain its shining Shamu image of the whales. You won’t be able to forget the sight of two 12,000-pound orcas crushing John Sillick in front of a terrified audience, a whale repeatedly dragging a trainer to the bottom of the pool as he gasps for air, or Tilikum snatching up senior trainer Dawn Brancheau.

2. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

The highly anticipated sequel was more spectacular than the original. It begins with Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark returning home after winning the Hunger Games, only to soon find that they must return as tributes to compete in a special and way more intense edition of the Games. It features fights, a love triangle, an evil dictator, fabulous parties, poisonous fog and wild monkeys all in one movie, and the ending leaves you anxiously awaiting the next installment of the trilogy.

3. Captain Phillips

Based on a true story, Captain Phillips is the examination of the 2009 hijacking of the U.S. ship Maersk Alabama by Somali pirates. The commanding officer Captain Richard Phillips (Tom Hanks) is taken hostage by the Somali captain, and the thriller focuses on the relationship that develops between the two. The final 10 minutes is some of the best acting of Hanks’ career, and it was completely unplanned. The director had already filmed a different ending before creating the scene on a whim.

4. The Great Gatsby

The champagne, sparkly dresses and incredible parties were just as great as they were hyped up to be. The newest film interpretation of the iconic F. Scott Fitzgerald novel lifts a lot of the dialogue directly from the book, but adds artistic details of the lavish lifestyle in West Egg. With Jay-Z as executive producer of the soundtrack, the music enhances the 1920s setting and makes it modern.

5. 12 Years a Slave

The historical drama, set in the Deep South in the late 1840s, tells the true story of Solomon Northup, a free African-American man who was kidnapped while enjoying a night out in Washington. He is sold into slavery and passed from master to master for a dozen years, leaving behind his family in New York. The powerful narrative shows the physical, emotional and psychological pain of slavery and Northup’s fight to regain his freedom.

6. Gravity

Alfonso Cuaron’s blockbuster stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney as two astronauts struggling to survive in space after their space shuttle is destroyed. To create the outer space feel, Bullock filmed the scenes alone in underwater tanks and a highly technical LED “light box” which she was stuck inside for hours at a time. The result was a film that makes you feel like you’re disoriented and floating alongside them.

7. This is the End

This hilarious apocalypse comedy follows the antics of six friends trapped in one house after catastrophic events begin in Los Angeles. Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jonah Hill and others all play exaggerated versions of themselves as they’re left behind on earth to suffer. It’s suspenseful and chaotic, and you’ll laugh so hard your stomach hurts.

8. Rush

Rush recreates the rivalry between 1970s Formula 1 race car drivers, English playboy James Hunt and Austrian champion Niki Lauda. The film shows how the drivers spent a year chasing victories and glory in one of the most dangerous and deadly sports. You get to know and like the two completely opposite characters, all while packing in action scenes and building up to the big accident.

9. We’re the Millers

Jason Sudekeis and Jennifer Aniston star in this laugh-out-loud-funny comedy about a small-town drug dealer who finds himself in a sticky situation when he must smuggle drugs from Mexico into the U.S. to repay a debt. A rented RV, a fake stripper wife, and two pretend kids make up his foolproof plan to bring back the weed, but he encounters some hilarious holdups along the way.

10. Monsters University

Pixar’s latest animated installment of the lovable monsters takes us back to the beginning. Mike Wazowski and James B. Sullivan weren’t always the best of friends. The pair started as competitive college roommates who just couldn’t get along. If you liked the original Monsters Inc. 12 years ago, then you’re sure to like this fun family film.

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