I’m glad I waited until now to do my Top 10 list. Being at a house with access to Netflix allows me to see some I missed back when they were out. For early reference, here are my past lists: from 2002-2010, 2011 and 2012. Now here’s my list of the Top 10 Films of 2013 and five honorable mention picks:
MY TOP 10 MOVIES OF 2013
- Dallas Buyers Club
- Twelve Years A Slave
- The Great Beauty
- Captain Phillips
- Blue Jasmine
- The Wolf Of Wall Street
- Blue Is The Warmest Color
- Inside Llewyn Davis
- American Hustle
- Before Midnight
The success of 2013’s box office looked like a big question mark during the first half of the year. Things looked more optimistic during the summer but 2013 all ended on a positive note.
You may remember when I looked at the first six months of 2013, I didn’t think 2012’s record would be broken. The summer of 2013 however provided a big boost to the year with possibly the highest-grossing movie summer ever. Even with all the bad news that made headlines, it showed the good news that was being overlooked. Anyways here’s how the rest of 2013 fared off.
September began with The Butler and We’re The Millers still going strong and a big plus from the teen girls demograph with the One Direction concert movie. Then comes what’s known in the movie year as the September slump. The sizzle of wowing people to the cinemas starts cooling down now that everyone’s done their vacations and heading either back to work or back to school. This September did have attractions to the cinema but it wasn’t as attractive as last year.
The first post-Labor Day weekend in September began with Riddick on top. It was the only big debut that weekend. The following weekend got better with Insidious Chapter 2 opening at $40.3 million: the second-highest September opening weekend ever. The following weekend also had excitement, albeit comparatively tame, with Prisoners on top. The final weekend of September had Cloudy with A Chance Of Meatballs 2 on top with $34 million: the fourth-highest September opening weekend ever. At the end of the month, this September didn’t fare so hot. It’s total of $461.8 million was almost $100 million lower than last September and was the lowest-grossing September since 2004.
Despite September’s let-down, October was a huge pick-me-up. You can thank most of it to a certain movie called Gravity. Right in the first weekend, you knew Gravity would be a major hit as it opened at $55.8 million: the highest-grossing October opening weekend ever. Gravity reigned on top for three weeks despite the challenges of Captain Phillips and the remake of Carrie. It would take Jackass Presents Bad Grandpa to dethrone Gravity from the top spot in the last weekend October 2013. At the end, October 2013 outgrossed October 2012 by about $70 million. So things were getting back on track. This was not however the highest-grossing October ever. 2004 is by miles with $809 million.
November is normally when the box office picks up again and consists of openings and total grosses that can rival the summer. November actually began calmly with good but modest opening weekends for Ender’s Game, Last Vegas and Free Bird. Things got more exciting when Thor: The Dark world opened the following weekend with $85.7 million. It stayed on top for another weekend as the debut of The Best Man Holiday wasn’t enough to dethrone it from the top. However it would be the following weekend that would be buzzing as it would be the opening of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. It opened with $158.1 million: the sixth-highest opening weekend ever and the highest-ever November opening weekend. Catching Fire continued strongly in the last weekend of November leading into December with a total gross of almost $280 million at the end of November. November 2013 ended with a total gross of $1.398 billion. It was more than $140 million less than November 2012 but it was still enough to be the second-highest November gross ever.
December began not with a strong opening on top but a strong steady growth by Frozen on top. Frozen was actually second to Catching Fire by almost $7 million at the November 30th/December 1st weekend. However a strong steady growth for Frozen that was able to capitalize on Catching Fire’s fade found itself stealing the top spot by $5.5 million. Weak debuts from other movies sure helped that week too. However it was the following weekend that promised excitement as the latest Hobbit movie, The Desolation Of Smaug, was going to debut. A strong debut it was with $73.6 million that weekend–the fourth-highest December opening weekend ever– but it was comparatively paltry to the debut of last year’s Hobbit movie: $11 million shy to be exact. Smaug’s buzz was strong enough even to conquer the buzz of the highly-anticipated opening of Anchorman 2 by $5.5 million. The Christmas weekend of the 27th to the 29th made for a low overall gross that weekend. Weather disasters and catastrophes nationwide had a lot to do with it. That weekend saw the Top 4 movies being previously released movies with only The Wolf Of Wall Street having the strongest opening weekend with a #5 debut. The surprise of it all is that December 2013 only failed to outgross December 2012 but just $4 million. The weather problems didn’t hurt the box office that bad.
The big surprise of the box office was for the whole year. In 2013, there were only four months where its total gross outgrossed the monthly totals of 2012. At the end of it all, the whole year of 2013 was a record-breaking year with a total gross of $10.92 billion. That breaks 2012’s record by almost $85 million, roughly 0.8%. It does seem like a small increase but it just goes to show it’s not completely about spectacular opening numbers. The annual box office is an endurance game too. The year’s record-breaking gross is an optimistic statistic since the box office was constantly feeling the pinch of sites like Netflix and the increasing video game industry. This also makes it the fifth straight year where the total annual gross was more than $10 billion dollars showing that despite its rivalries in the entertainment industry, box office movies still remain a strong and healthy business.
Leading into 2014, there are the questions of whether it will break 2013’s total record and even become the first movie year to gross over $11 billion. I don’t think we should worry about that too much especially knowing that 2001 was the first ever year to break past the $8 billion barrier. Instead let 2014 play itself out and hope that it delivers for everyone.
“Yearly Box Office Chart” BoxOfficeMojo.com. 2013. Box Office Mojo. Owned by IMDB.com. http://www.boxofficemojo.com/yearly/
“Monthly Box Office Chart” BoxOfficeMojo.com. 2013. Box Office Mojo. Owned by IMDB.com. http://www.boxofficemojo.com/monthly/
“Weekend Box Office Chart” BoxOfficeMojo.com. 2013. Box Office Mojo. Owned by IMDB.com. http://www.boxofficemojo.com/weekend/
DISCLAIMER: Okay, I know Gravity has been out in theatres for weeks. Even I saw it almost a month ago. But as you can tell from my VIFF writing, I lacked the ambition to write for weeks. It’s only until now I’m getting it back. So I hope you understand. Also I hope you like my review.
Gravity is a movie that promises not to be like your typical outer space movie. The trailer also promised a thrill ride. The question is does it deliver?
The film shows a space shuttle mission commanded by two people: Dr. Ryan Stone and Matt Kowalski. This is Ryan’s first journey. She receives guidance from Matt: a veteran on his last shuttle trip. It is while they both service the ship’s hubblescope that they learn the Russians did a missile strike on a defunct satellite. It appears to be no big deal until the debris comes straight to their spaceship. The debris detaches Stone, damages the shuttle to the point it’s unusable and leaves the rest of the crew dead. Fortunately Kowalski is able to catch Stone before she flies away into oblivion.
Stone and Kowalski are the only two survivors left. They know they have to make it to the International Space Station (ISS) within 90 minutes to avoid the orbiting space debris. The two talk. Stone admits she hasn’t had a happy life since her young daughter died. They approach the ISS finding many of the Soyuz models inoperable. Kowalski finds one still operable and suggests it be used to travel to a Chinese space station to return back to Earth. However the force of weightlessness becomes too much for the two to travel to the Soyuz together. Kowalski leaves Stone to the Soyuz despite her protests and floats away.
Stone is left on her own in the ISS trying to get to the one safe Soyuz even as there’s a fire in the ship area. Fortunately she finds her way there in time as the debris make a return orbit to commit further damage. Stone tries to communicate with the Chinese ship only to come across audio of a Greenlandic fisherman cooing his baby. Stone turns off her oxygen resigned to giving up. She receives a change of heart from Kowalski where he scolds her and tells her to go on and she receives instructions.
Stone immediately realizes that her conversation with Kowalski was a dream but she develops the will to go on. She directs herself to the Chinese capsule only to learn that it’s been damaged too. She immediately has to find her way to land back to Earth. She has to do it and time is running out. Nevertheless the movie ends as many believe it will but actually not as many originally though the ending would be.
This is one of the best and one of the most unique against-all-odds stories I’ve seen in a long time on the big screen. If you’ve seen it, you’ll know everything was against Ryan. She suffered tragedy in her life and made a loner of herself. She was completely inexperienced in space travel and nothing disastrous was expected to happen. The debris of the satellites leaves the ship damaged and the crew dead. Then Matt Kowalski, her partner in need, floats off into oblivion. She’s left all alone to fend for herself, try and work two damaged spaceships she has no clue how to operate and with broken communication and bring herself back to Earth. Being in the theatre will leave one at the edge of their seat not knowing what will happen next. I myself remember feeling the intensity of the moment during its high-tension scenes. Once you thing something is solved, it turns out that it isn’t and a new decision has to be made.
The best thing about this movie is that it’s not just and outer space thrill-ride. It’s a thrill-ride that’s able to keep its focus on one main actor practically throughout the whole movie and it succeeds in being both entertaining and thrilling. Even having it almost completely in space without ever really focusing outside of it during the space scenes also adds to it being an accomplishment. I remember 127 Hours attempted to focus on one person and their story but there were a few times it shifted away in flashbacks or other scenes. Gravity was better at the focus. It was almost like watching a moment in real-time.
Without a doubt, Sandra Bullock was the performance of the movie. She was the lead role and it was her movie technically from start to finish but she did all the right moves. She succeeded in making her character not just a player in the action but a three-dimensional person with deep feelings. That’s what made the movie more. George Clooney also did well in his supporting role. His role didn’t include the depth or range as Bullock’s but he succeeded with his presence and playing an experienced astronaut who’s cool under pressure.
The big accomplishments go to Alfonso Cuaron and his son Jonas. Alfonso directed it. Alfonso and Jonas both wrote it. Alfonso also co-produced and co-edited it. They took a story one normally could not create a good box office-winning movie with. Trying to turn a story like that into an eye-catching movie would take a huge amount of effort and may needs the right effects to be added to it to make it work. But they made it work. The cinematography from Emmanuel Lubezki and the music from Steven Price also added to the excellence of the movie.
Gravity is a sci-fi movie that goes above and beyond what one would expect from a space movie. No big space wars. Just one person and their struggle to stay alive and make it back to Earth. A tough job to turn into a winning picture but it succeeds brilliantly.