Top 10 Movies We Watched In 2013


Movie Review / Friday, January 17th, 2014

Ok, the list you’ve ALL been waiting for – or at least the one our movie nerd friend, Joel, has been anxiously waiting for – is FINALLY done and published here for all to “ooo” and “aaaa” over. You are welcome. 

To say my husband and I enjoy watching movies is bit of an understatement. In 2013 we watched 41 movies (rentals at home) and 5 movies in the theatre. It was somewhat arduous picking out our top 10 favorites but it was also kind of fun looking back and remembering the good ones…and trying to forget the bad ones we wished we’d never watched. First is a list of only the titles of our top 10 favorites and then below that list, are the same titles accompanied by our reviews/thoughts about each one. (And yes, when I say “our” that means my husband contributed to these with me so this is as close to a husband&wife duo post as you’ll probably ever see here…not to mention as close to a post written by my husband as you’ll ever see.) Some of these reviews contain spoilers so if you really don’t like spoilers just don’t scroll down past the first set of only titles. 

Top 10 2013 Movies {Non-Spoiler Title List}

1.The Tree Of Life

2. The Impossible

3. Life of Pi

4. Gravity

5. Silver Linings Playbook

6. The Odd Life of Timothy Green

7. Avalon

8. In America

9. Knight and Day

10. Catholicism Series by Fr. Robert Barron

Top 10 Movies from 2013 {with Reviews that may contain spoilers!!}

1.The Tree Of Life

This is quite possibly our favorite movie – or at least my husband’s – of all time. Considering how many great movies we’ve seen, that is saying a lot. However, if you are expecting an action movie, this will seem like ambient noise. In other words, don’t try and watch this if you are already sleepy. It is unlike any other movie so if you don’t understand it or like it the first time, give it another go once you understand that it doesn’t flow and move like other movies. It’s a thinker movie so be prepared for that. My husband once commented that if someone were to ask him what the meaning of life is, he’d tell them to go watch this movie. Here are a few other comments from him about the movie:

The acting and the cinematography are amazing. It’s a grand scale movie; from a small family of five in a small Texas town against a backdrop of the creation of the universe, to the most basic and essential meaning of life. It reminds me of my experiences growing up and how I came to know God through various life experiences and all the sufferings and the joys of life. 

After you watch it, we’d highly recommend reading this commentary about it. The Divine Guide in Terrence Malick’s “Tree of Life”.

2. The Impossible

This is an amazing and intense survival story of a family who is vacationing in Thailand when the 2004 Tsunami hits. However, this isn’t just a story about a natural disaster and the horrific catastrophe that ensues. It’s about persevering despite “impossible” odds and circumstances. It’s about a twelve-year-old boy who quickly become a man to save his mother. The love and strong bond of the family is the main driving force behind the characters’ determined fight to survive and reunite. This was an intense and incredibly inspiring story. I felt like I was right there with them from the moment the first wave came in and it gripped me all the way through to the end. It gave me a small taste of how life can change and the world as you know it can disappear within a matter of seconds. 

3. Life of Pi

This was one of those movies where we weren’t quite sure about it going in but when it was done, we turned to each other and said, “Wow. That was good.” This was fantastic story-telling. I loved it from the beginning to the end. The colors, the sounds, the feel of the movie were vibrant and intensely exciting. I haven’t read the book so I can’t comment on how well it stays faithful to the original ideas. There are also a variety of ways one could look at this movie and it’s interesting thinking about the spiritual allegories mixed within (whether intentional or not.) No viewer can watch this and have the same exact experience as another. And that’s part of what makes it so fun to watch. I really enjoyed watching this one. If you’ve seen this, I’d be curious of your thoughts – was the tiger really there or was Pi the tiger?

4. Gravity

 What do you know, another survival story! Are you picking up on any common themes here? You know, this is another movie that you maybe wouldn’t think would be all that great but then realize it’s actually pretty great. On paper, it doesn’t really have a lot going for it. It’s a simple story about a woman who gets stuck in space and her fight to survive. There are really only two main characters, the whole movie takes place in one location – and a very lonely one at that – and the ending is a typical one of ridiculously illogical odds. And yet, it’s almost because of its simple plot that makes this one great. One might not think a movie that takes place in the boring nothingness of space could be all that exciting but that’s exactly what makes it thrilling. It’s that thought of being lost in nothingness – surrounded by that deep and infinite isolation -that gripped my heart and caused me to recoil in uncomfortable suspense. While watching it, we both felt isolated and totally, utterly – alone. I honestly have always enjoyed several movies with Sandra Bullock but I think this movie was made for her somewhat chronically melancholy personality. My husband also pointed out the underlying metaphor linking her loneliness in space with the loneliness of her soul. Her physical loneliness literally collides with her spiritual loneliness, making this is story not only about a woman stuck in space, but also a story about a woman’s slow and painful escape from the loneliness of an empty soul. 

5. Silver Linings Playbook

Bradley Cooper & Jennifer Lawrence – wow. Just wow. Those two can act

There’s a lot I could say about this movie but probably what we both liked most about this is how it exemplified the point that, really, everyone suffers from some form of “mental illness” in one form or another. We are all “weird”. But usually, people are only willing to see other’s problems and are blind to their own quirks and weaknesses. Silver Linings Playbook starts out at one end of the lens and flips it around throughout the movie so that in the end, you have a complete opposite perspective of the main characters and those they live and interact with on a daily basis. SLP caused me to think about mental illness much differently – which I think was definitely part the movie makers’ goals.

6. The Odd Life of Timothy Green

This was a surprisingly delightful film. I can’t remember now though how we even discovered this hidden gem. We watched it once by ourselves and then decided it would be a good one to watch together with our ten-year-old daughter (who was nine at the time). This is a fun and imaginative story about a couple who desperately want a child but are unable to conceive, but then suddenly and inexplicably they become the adoptive parents of a little boy named, Timothy. He is an…”odd” little boy who “leaves” an unforgettable impression with everyone who encounters him. This movie is very pro-adoption and showcases the importance of strong family values.  The husband and wife actually love each other and respect one another instead of the typical “men are dumb and women rule” theme prevalent in most other “family” movies these days. We couldn’t believe this was a Disney movie. Jennifer Garner is one of my favorite actresses and she definitely didn’t let me down in this one. Our daughter loved this movie so much she talks about it often and says it is her “most favoritest movie EVER!”. If you are looking for a nice “feel-good” movie about the importance of family, working together through adversity, and accepting the unexpected then you’d definitely enjoy this one. It’s fun, it’s inspiring, it’s an all around “good” movie. 

7. Avalon

We overheard some friends talking about this movie last year and decided to see what it was like. Again, we were surprised we hadn’t ever heard of it. It’s not exciting or thrilling like action movies, it’s even a little slow in some spots but it’s…real. It depicts the realness of what is was like for one immigrant family trying to establish themselves in a new land while maintaining their own identity and family unit. As one Amazon reviewer said so well, this is a “coming-of-age story of an entire nation, AVALON is a ‘tapestry of American life so rich and perfect it could hang in a museum.’ (Rex Reed)” My husband’s favorite scene was the “toowrky” scene. (I won’t tell you how long we deliberated about how to spell that to give it the right accent.) It was comical and tragic at the same time. I think the scenes that most impacted me where the ones about the introduction of the Television and how it slowly impacted the family.I enjoyed observing the slow progression from the family eating together at the same table – talking and laughing and communicating together  – to then moving to the family room where the TV was. Suddenly all communication stopped and while they were all physically “together” in the same room staring dumbly at the same box, they weren’t really connected with each other anymore. I’m sure if a similar movie were made these days, the introduction of the computer and all our little “smart” gadgets would take the place of the TV. Ironically, it was the family’s TV business that ended up in flames, destroying their dreams of “making it big” and, metaphorically at the same time, casting a burning light on how their quest to keep up with the changing times changed their family as well. 

8. In America

Another film recommended by Joel – our movie guru. We liked this movie mainly because of the focus on the importance of family staying together – no matter what. Interestingly, this is a movie about an immigrant family moving to America like Avalon but this time the opposite seems to happen. Instead of growing further and further apart, they grow stronger and closer together as they struggle to establish themselves and make a life together in a new place and after suffering a tragic loss. This isn’t only about a family and their story, it’s about how they affected those around them and how they embraced and accepted those who walked lives very different than their own. They really didn’t even notice or look at these differences. This family didn’t seem to care about “having it all” as long as they had each other. I came to like each character and found I could relate with something about them all – Ma’s great sadness over her loss and desire to act “normal” on the outside for her girls, Da desperately doing what he could to support his family and keep them afloat, Christie’s coming of age observations of life, and little Ariel’s innocent maturity. I would say this movie might be a little strange and different when you compare it to mainstream movies but it’s a classic that everyone could benefit from watching at some point in their (adult) lives. (One word of caution that there is one scene that is a little…weird.)

9. Knight and Day

If you are looking for a good comedy posing as an undercover action movie this one’s for you. We really enjoyed watching this. It was a fun and entertaining experience. I don’t want to say much else – just watch it and have fun.

 

 

 

10. Catholicism Series by Fr. Robert Barron

Technically this isn’t just one “movie” but rather a series of 45 minute episodes about Catholicism. But wait! Before your eyes start drooping and you start snoring, this isn’t your typical “religion class” snoozer. The scenes from around the globe together with the commentary make this kind of like watching Planet Earth embellished with beautiful and deep-thoughts provoking Catholic commentary. My friend, Geri, generously opened up her home to those interested to watch one episode an evening a week for 10 weeks. I loved it and couldn’t wait until it was Catholicism night! I thought it would be a nice way to get out of the house and enjoy a bit of adult conversation. I wasn’t quite prepared for how it would affect me on such a personal level and pull me deeper into my Faith. Each episode made my heart swell to the point of bursting for love and enthusiasm for the beauty of love of the Church – the Bride – of Christ. Geri let us borrow the set and so my husband and I were able to enjoy growing in understanding and love for our Faith together. We’d like to get a set of our own so we can watch it again and share it with others. If only everyone could really see, understand, and embrace the fullness of Christ and the Church He gave us – oh what JOY and Peace and Love would overflow this world! 

Others not on the Top 10 

Two others we enjoyed last year were two family movies we all watched together. 

1. Swiss Family Robinson

 

This is probably my absolute favorite movie from my childhood. I mean, who wouldn’t love growing up on an island in an awesome tree house like that? I was so excited to watch this with my kids and relive my childhood fantasy with them. I think they enjoyed it…but maybe not quite as much as I did. 😉

 

2. The Land Before Time

 This was another excuse to live our both of our childhood memories. It was fun introducing our kids to Little Foot, Sarah, Petra, Spike and Duckie- Yup, yup, yup! The scenes with Sharp Tooth were a little scary for them and we talked about the sad scene with Little Foot’s mom (the kids helped wipe my eyes too.) I miss family movies like these. 

 

 

 

Well that’s all. Hopefully I’ll do a better job of keeping track and making notes of the movies we watch this year so it won’t take so long to come up with our list next year. (Knowing me though, that’s not likely.)

What are some of your favorite movies?

 

(P.S. This post contains affiliate links which means if you click on one of the links and then decide to buy something while you are there, Amazon will send our family pretty pennies as a way of saying thanks, which in turn we thank you for!)

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8 Replies to “Top 10 Movies We Watched In 2013”

  1. Well, after all my anticipation, this list did not disappoint. Excellent, excellent commentary. Solid lineup. I will add Timothy Green and Knight and Day to our list for this next year. And my wife would be very happy if I tracked down the Catholicism series to watch together-Where did you get a hold of it? Anybody out there willing to lend it to us for a while?
    Love those family movies.
    I think you got toowrky just right.
    Life of Pi-Ang Lee is a visionary director-the special effects are gorgeous and incredible. But I am not a fan of the ending. While open for interpretation, I feel like the author (and the director to a lesser degree) is really arguing that the logical conclusion that Pi is the tiger, that God is a myth that makes us feel better. But I’ve read things pointing out the leaps of logic required for the no animals story as well.
    Silver Linings Playbook-A difficult blend of unsettling dramatic elements with romantic comedy, but Russell pulls it off. The actors all bring their game, particularly in the parlay scene with everybody’s dialogue overlapping. I felt the end was abrupt and too convenient.
    Still, even though I didn’t LOVE those two, I’d still say they are solid picks.
    Thanks again, seriously, seeing a post from Jackie on our blog, and then this post. Well, it made my day.
    Joel recently blogged…Ralph and AliceMy Profile

    1. Joel – I’m so glad you enjoyed this – it was all for you, friend. 😉 Actually I’m glad we did it because it made me spend a bit more time thinking about why we like the movies we do and what impression they leave on my heart.
      Yeah the “message” of Life of Pi was a little iffy but it was still such a well made movie I couldn’t help but enjoy it…as much as that “God is just a myth” theme bothered me. I just chose to ignore it and enjoy the movie the way I wanted to. 😉
      Did you say “toowrky” out loud while reading this?
      I know you’ll like Timothy Green and I’ll be curious if you enjoy Knight and Day.
      About the Catholicism set – Geri Vossen owns it and would probably lend it to you one or two episodes at a time like she did for us. The SEAS library also has it if you want me to check it out for you? We really want to purchase it so if we do we’ll definitely let you borrow it. I still think it would be nice to watch it with our MI group sometime.
      Thanks to you for all the great movie inspirations!

      1. So. We watched Timothy Green last week and Knight and Day last night. Here are my thoughts.
        Timothy Green- It is embarassing how much I ended up loving this movie. Despite its cheesiness, I had fallen hard for it by the end. It made me so thankful for my kids-they truly are unique gifts that I am blest to be entrusted with. The town hall scene where Timothy’s gift that they’ve been hiding is finally revealed really made me think about our Jude. We had a really good discussion after this movie too. And it made me cry twice. It’s been about 2 years since a movie made me cry. When I made my blog post about movies you NEVER would have checked out unless a friend told you, but you end up loving, I was really thinking of this one. Thanks for telling us about it.
        Knight and Day-didn’t LOVE it, but it is entertaining, brainless fun, and some nights, that is exactly what the doctor ordered. I think the 9 and 10 positions on a top 10 list are the best place for exerting personal opinion, the spots for “Ok, I know this movie might not be GREAT by critical standards, but I was extremely entertained by it.” So I can respect Knight and Day at #9 and am glad I saw it. The female protagonist so bumbling she needs to be drugged and carted around unconscious was a little sexist. The ending makes up for this mostly. There is some excellent action and fight scenes, and then there is a so over-the-top it’s ridiculous CGI bull chase scene. I think I groaned out loud during that scene. But overall, I definitely enjoyed it. Have you seen Salt? Not AMAZING, but for a spy movie, pretty darn good and Angelina Jolie is NOT a bumbling female protagonist.
        Joel recently blogged…ALL the Top 10 Movie ListsMy Profile

        1. We’re so glad you liked Timothy Green that much! It really is a surprisingly wonderful movie! So much to think about. I hadn’t thought about the scene about hiding the gifts like that…well maybe I did but in a different way.

          Yes, exactly on what you said about Knight and Day and the #9 and #10 positions. Strangely the ditzy female character didn’t bother me in this one, I didn’t really think it was sexist – that’s just what her character was like. Which made the movie funny I thought. Shrug. I obviously didn’t really care about the details, I just wanted entertainment.
          I’ll ask Steve about Salt. I don’t like “weak” female roles but I also don’t like the overly-tough female roles either.
          Thanks for the suggestion!

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