Revisiting My Most Anticipated 2013 Movies


I was writing up my most anticipated movies of 2014 when I realized I couldn’t quite remember what topped (or even placed) on my 2013 list at this time last year. Revisiting the list, as I’ll do below, simply confirms my suspicions that this exercise is a little foolhardy. There’s no predicting what you’ll respond to just as there’s no predicting what titles will pop up throughout any given 12 months.

But here are the films I placed on my 2013 list with some quotes and commentary to show off my predictive powers (and poke fun at them at the same time):

13.) This Is the End

Why I was excited: “A bunch of really funny guys make and star in what sounds like a crazy, funny, and very meta movie.”

What really happened: That’s precisely what This Is the End was. I never got around to writing about it, but it was a thoroughly enjoyable comedy—one of the few of 2013. I’m 1 for 1.

12.) No

Why I was excited: “Pablo Larrain’s latest debuted at Cannes last year in the Director’s Fortnight program. Since then, it’s won over supporters at Venice, Toronto, and New York … by all accounts, it’s the young director’s strongest film to date.”

What really happened: Another good film. It wasn’t great, though. Neither was This Is the End. In fact, that’s a trend among these 13: lots of quality, but little brilliance. Still, 2 for 2. (Click here for my full No review.)

11.) Star Trek Into Darkness

Why I was excited: “…the addition of Benedict Cumberbatch to the already loaded cast has me feeling rather bullish about this next Trek.”

What really happened: Not very good. Not very good at all. A soulless action movie if I’ve ever seen one. I’m nervous for Abrams’ Star Wars: Episode VII. (Click here for my full Star Trek Into Darkness review.)

10.) Frances Ha

Why I was excited: “Noah Baumbach’s latest … debuted on last year’s fall festival circuit (Telluride, to be precise), and audiences were won over completely by Greta Gerwig’s winning performance and the film’s beautiful black-and-white photography.”

What really happened: Number ten? How about number three (on my favorite movies of 2013 list). I really think it’s a film for a generation with a marvelously charming performance from Gerwig. (Click here for my full Frances Ha review.)

9.) The Great Gatsby

Why I was excited: “It could be awesome. It could be awful.”

What really happened: It was neither. I liked Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s seminal novel well enough, but it was at times both too tame and too ridiculous. (Click here for my full The Great Gatsby review.)

8.) Man of Steel

Why I was excited: “Are cool trailers masking more Superman nonsense? I’m trying not to think that way … I really hope this film succeeds.”

What really happened: Yeah, it kind of was nonsense. But it was fun nonsense, I thought. What’s really funny is that so many were excited about Man of Steel because of its first trailer, which many compared to Terrence Malick. The finished product was almost pure action mayhem making this perhaps exhibit A in the case against movie trailers. (Click here for my full Man of Steel review.)

7.) Side Effects

Why I was excited: “It should be more Contagion (see screenwriter Scott Z. Burns) than Haywire or Magic Mike, and if so, I’ll have nothing but great things to say about it.”

What really happened: I have nothing but great things to say about it. (Click here for my full Side Effects review.)

6.) Elysium

Why I was excited: “I was very low on Neill Blomkamp’s debut feature, District 9, but it contained the sort of vision that typically excites me. I’m more than willing to give him another chance, especially with a project that sounds as promising … as this one.”

What really happened: I only just caught up with this one; it was actually the first film I watched in 2014. Hated it. Hate, hate, hate, hated it. Derivative, heavy-handed, some awful performances. Count me out for future Blomkamp action flicks until he gives me something to work with because…yikes.

5.) Oldboy

Why I was excited: “[Spike] Lee’s participation—coupled with a truly great cast, including Elizabeth Olsen, Josh Brolin, Samuel L. Jackson, and Sharlto Copley—makes this an easy film to include in my top five.”

What really happened: The first of two films on the list that I didn’t actually get around to. If you’ve read even one Oldboy review, you know why that is.

4.) The Place Beyond the Pines

Why I was excited: “…though I wasn’t Blue Valentine‘s biggest fan, I did admire it a ton, and the reunion of its director and star (Ryan Gosling) has got me all knotted up with excitement.”

What really happened: Really good. Made my top 20. Great Gosling performance, beautiful cinematography, ambitious story. Check it out if you haven’t. (Click here for my full The Place Beyond the Pines review.)

3.) The Monuments Men

Why I was excited: “Could this be your year-in-advance Oscar frontrunner?”

What really happened: Don’t know yet. We’ll find out about George Clooney’s latest directorial effort in February.

2.) Pacific Rim

Why I was excited: “…there’s nothing that could possibly make me feel lukewarm about a [Guillermo] del Toro film. The guy knows what he’s doing.”

What really happened: Haven’t seen it. Really weird, I know. I love Guillermo del Toro movies, but the closer we got to and the further we’ve gotten from this one, the less interested I became. I know I’ll see it soon. Just need to find the time and muster up the will.

1.) To the Wonder

Why I was excited: “Terrence Malick has a film coming out in 2013, and in the absence of a new Tarantino, Anderson, Nolan or Leigh film, that’s all I need to know to make it my top choice.”

What really happened: I preceded the sentence above with this: “It’s really unfortunate that the reviews are already in for my most-anticipated film of the year. Even worse is that they’re decidedly mixed. No matter.”

Yes, matter. MATTER. I’m not sure why I didn’t pay much attention to To the Wonder‘s reviews before placing it atop this list. (I guess because it doesn’t matter much in the scheme of things, but I digress.) It was, to me, everything its detractors said it was: pretentious, ponderous, boring. Beautiful, yes, but not particularly successful on any narrative or thematic level. (Click here for my full To the Wonder review.)

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