Resurrected Living
"What are you going to do with your new resurrected life? This is the heroic question." Richard Rohr

Best Films of 2013, So Far

2013 has been a somewhat disappointing year for film up to this point. There have been some great films, but there have been many more that just fall short. I was unable to come up with 10 films that I feel confident of applying the label “best of.” On the positive side there are some films here that I suspect will make it onto the best films of the year list. If Hollywood continues to put out films like Mud, To the Wonder, Much Ado About Nothing, and Monsters University, then the rest of the year will be an amazing time at the movies. There are a few films I would have like to have seen that could have possibly made this list. I have yet to see Stories We Tell and Before Midnight, both of which have been getting great reviews. We have made it past the halfway point in 2013, so here are the best films of the first half of the year.


Mud is hands down the best film of the year up to this point. It is a beautifully shot film set in the American South. The film is part coming of age story and part Southern Gothic. The story revolves around two young boys who discover an abandoned boat on a small lake island. Mud, played by Matthew McConaughey, comes out of nowhere. He has crosses on the heels of his boots to ward off evil spirits and his most prized possession is a lucky shirt that he believes will keep him safe. The boys agree to assist Mud and the movie takes off from there. There is a great tradition of stories told from or set in the American South and Mud is the next film in the line of this great tradition. Don’t miss this amazing film!


There are some people who just don’t get Terrence Malick. They don’t like his style. They don’t like his lack of dialogue. Malick is just not their cup of tea, but for those who do get Malick he is one of the most amazing directors making films today. Not only does Malick make beautiful films, but he explores topics others will not touch. His last two films have been deeply spiritual. They have explored issues such as God, creation, love, loss, and commitment. Because of this I believe Terrence Malick is one of the most important directors working today. Christians especially need to pay attention to him. He is doing something not many people are still doing. He is making beautiful pieces of art that incorporate aspects of his Christian faith. His films are way more important than films like Fireproof and Courageous that receive the Christian label. Malick has more in common with an artist like Michelangelo than with these films. His work is here to stay and will likely be appreciated for years to come. Forget about the big summer blockbusters and allow yourself to take in a film like To the Wonder. This is a film that will not simply entertain you, it is a film that has the power to change your life. You can read my full review of this film here.


It took me about 15 minutes to get into Much Ado About Nothing, but once I did I had a wonderful time. How could Joss Whedon top the success of last year’s The Avengers? He did it by making one of the best film adaptations of a Shakespeare play I have seen. Much Ado About Nothing is the complete opposite of a film like The Avengers. It is a low budget black & white film with no special effects. To many people that sounds boring, but I enjoyed Much Ado About Nothing far more than I enjoyed The Avengers. Whedon has a way of bringing Shakespeare to life for modern audiences. I think it is probably more difficult to adopt one of Shakespeare’s comedies rather than a tragedy because our humor is so different, but Whedon had me laughing throughout the entire movie.


As a parent I see most of the animated films that are released. Sadly, many of them are not worth sitting through, however, Monsters University is a wonderful exception. The more I reflect on this film the more I love it. It could have very easily taken over the top spot on this list. Pixar does not succeed every time, but they have more successes than failures. This film surpasses its predecessor. It is an entertaining and heart warming film for all ages. I was surprised by some of the feelings I had watching this movie. I was taken back to my college days and walking across that big campus for the first time. The characters in this film have depth. You care about them and you are drawn in by their stories. This film also contains an important message. It would have been easy to have ended the film about 3/4’s of the way through, but the final act makes all the difference in the world. Do not let the animation fool you, this is a great film!


If you are a fan of music you will love Sound City, but even if you are not there is something in this film for you. Obviously, Dave Grohl has made a film about a famous music studio in Van Nuys, California. The story and the music are worth the price of admission, but there is something much deeper to this film. It is about the times we live in, as much as it is about the music and the story. We live in a culture that is in love with the newest and latest gadget. We quickly dispose of the old and replace it with the new. This film questions that. It asks us to consider if everything new is really better. Grohl is not following the crowd. He is walking against the grain and he is asking us to do the same. This is why I think Sound City is an important film. It is a fun and entertaining film, but it is also a film with an important message. You can read my full review of this film here.


Some critics have pointed out various flaws in 42, but I rarely noticed them as I watched this engaging and important film. You could nitpick about this or that in 42, but there are lots of great films with flaws that are still remembered to this day. I think 42 will be one of these. I was overwhelmed with all kinds of emotions throughout the movie. I was moved as an American, Christian, and human being. I was surprised by the Christian tones in the film and the emphasis on the Sermon on the Mount. I was so thankful we had taken our church youth group to see this powerful lesson on film. 42 may not be the most technically brilliant films of the year, but it is one of the most moving ones you will see.


Is there anything more fun than minions? These guys have got to be one of the funniest characters introduced in films over the last 10 years. You cannot help but laugh. Whether you are young or old the minions capture your heart and keep you wanting more. For me, they are a modern day equivalent to the great slapstick characters of the past. Slapstick is presented in comedies quite often, but it doesn’t always work. It can easily come off as corny or staged, but the minions perform it to perfection. Obviously, Despicable Me 2 is more than minions, but they are my favorite part. The film as a whole holds up well. You can tell that they did not rush out another sequel just to have another payday. They took their time and crafted a fun and entertaining movie. Steve Carell and Kristin Wiig are both great. It is hard to imagine anyone seeing this movie and not leaving with a smile on their face.


I wrestled with including this one on the list or not. There were a few things I did not like about it, including a couple of unnecessary scenes that objectified women, but the good far outweighs the bad. I have yet to decide whether or not J.J. Abrams is a great director, but one thing he can do well is take other people’s material and turn it into a very entertaining film. He respects and incorporates the previous incarnations of Star Trek while making it new and fresh. Fans of the show and newcomers alike will find something to love in this film and the previous one. This is Abram’s greatest talent. When a film like this gets made it is easy to make it just for the fans, or to completely abandon the original premise and seek a big payday at the box office. Abrams carefully balances the two and makes films that everyone loves.

No Responses to “Best Films of 2013, So Far”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: