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

Best Films of 2013

2013 presented us with some magnificent films. Most of these gems did not have big budgets, nor did they set records at the box office. You may have even missed them on their short and often limited release in theaters, and yet these are the films that matter. This list of films is not comprised merely of works that entertain, although they are all entertaining. These are films about beauty, goodness, and truth. These are films that are about the human soul. They touch us and move us. These are films that will be remembered and people will return to in the future. Here is the list of the best films of 2013.


For me, Short Term 12 was the best film of 2013. It is a beautiful and deeply moving film about broken lives and the struggle to make it in a fallen world. Brie Larson is magnificent in this emotional human tale. It is realistic in ways that makes you wonder whether or not you are watching a work of fiction. Short Term 12 invites us into the lives of troubled and hurting young adults who are faced with challenges many adults do not have to face. Although it is a work of fiction it still feels like a privilege to be invited into these broken lives and to share intimate moments with people who are completely vulnerable.


Mud 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, appears 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 film takes off. 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.


12 Years a Slave is a gripping and emotional film that is often hard to watch. It is based on the real life story and writings of Solomon Northup. Northup was a freeman living in the North when he was kidnapped and sold into slavery. 12 Years a Slave recounts the horrific conditions and abuse Northup was subjected to as he was passed from one master to another. 12 Years a Slave challenges us and raises questions for us as human beings living in a fallen world.

20 Feet

There are so many good documentaries being made nowadays it is hard to choose only one or two for this list. 20 Feet From Stardom is an incredible story of what it is like to be a backup singer. These super talented individuals sing on tracks we have heard many times and yet we do not know their names or who they are. Some of them tried to make it and recorded albums of their own, but their careers never took off. If you love music and good stories, then this is a must watch. The stories of Darlene Love, Merry Clayton, and others will leave you wanting to know more about the people who stand at the back of the stage.


To the Wonder is entertaining because it is full of beauty, but more than this, it is a film that challenges the audience. It asks the audience to contemplate love, faith, and trust. It wants the audience to consider deeper questions that usually don’t get asked at the local Cineplex. If you enjoy truth and beauty presented in an artful way then To the Wonder is the film you have been looking for. It is a brilliant film by a brilliant director. More films should be willing to treat the audience as mature adults, exploring the subjects this film does with its skill, courage and respect.


I often avoid 3D films. I think it is a gimmick Hollywood has come up with in order to charge everyone 2 or 3 more dollars every time they go to the movies. Many of the films that are shown in 3D were not even made to be a 3D film. It was something added later and often a decision made by the studio. Every once in awhile a director like Martin Scorsese, Ridley Scott, or Alfonso Cuaron will come along and make a film worthy enough to be seen in 3D. This year Gravity is that film. It is a big budget film that feels like an art film or an independent film. It has amazing special effects, but it also has a story about loneliness that challenges and moves the viewer. This is the type of summer blockbuster I wish Hollywood would make every year.


American Hustle may be the most entertaining film on this list. The opening scene where Christian Bale (Yes, that is the man that played Batman) works his massive comb over is worth the price of admission. Director, David O. Russell, has given these top notch actors a vehicle to display all of their skills. Although this film is thoroughly entertaining I was wondering half way through it what value does it have for viewers. It is a true story, but not all true stories are worth telling. About two-thirds of the way through my question was answered. This is a film about false selves. It addresses the masks we put on for others and the trouble this leads us into.

Llewyn Davis

What is Inside Llewyn Davis? This was the question I was asking myself as I was watching this film. At times it seems it wants to be a dark comedy. Other times it plays like a period piece about Greenwich Village in the 1960’s. It could even be classified as a musical with all the music in it. So, what is it? The answer is all of the above. The Coen brothers are master filmmakers that do not always play by the rules. As I watched Inside Llewyn Davis sometimes I wanted to laugh and other times I wanted to cry. It is the story of a folk singer. It is not just a story with a folk singer in it. It is about folk singing and what it means to be an artist. What is Inside Llewyn Davis? I think more than anything it is a lament. It is not for everyone, but for those who can appreciate what the Coen brothers are doing it is a work of art that deserves revisiting.


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. 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 has a message. It would have been easy to have ended the film about three-fourth of the way through it, but the final act makes all the difference in the world. Do not let the animation fool you, this is a great film!

Way Way Back

The Way Way Back is a coming of age comedy with some valuable lessons for the audience. The film looks at several broken families who are spending the summer together, but really focuses on one boy who lacks a father/mentor in his life. He eventually finds a person to fill this role, although this person is far from being a model citizen. This film is a lot of fun, but I really enjoyed it because the main focus is on the impact one person can have when they choose to step into the life of another individual. The Way Way Back is lots of fun. It will make you laugh, but it also has something important to teach us about life.

Other worthwhile films from 2013: Fruitvale Station; Much Ado About Nothing; Sound City; 42; Nebraska; The Spectacular Now; Captain Phillips; Iron Man 3; The Hunt; Kon-Tiki; A Hijacking; West of Memphis; The Sapphires; Frozen; and probably a few others I am forgetting.

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