Looking Back: Ethan's Top 5 Favorite Films from the First Half of 2013
by Ethan Anderton
July 3, 2013
It's already July, and that means the year is half over. Though we have six more months of movies before we start thinking about what are truly the best films of 2013, we thought this would be a good time to take note of what we've seen so far and give proper praise. That's why I've decided to put together a quick list of my five favorite films of the year so far. They had to be released in theaters or VOD before July 1st to make the cut, so don't look for any Sundance films that haven't been given a proper release yet. There's been some great stuff, and there's still more to come, but these films made the cut as my absolute favorites right now.
#5. Spring Breakers
If you thought this film was a mess of nonsense and silliness, then you missed the point. The film which seemed skewed towards the young teenage demographic obsessed with the new MTV that is chock full of reality garbage and "sex symbols" is actually anything but a tribute to their superficial and ignorant lifestyle. The film is director Harmony Korine's prank on a generation of teens obsessed with irrelevant nostalgia, irresponsibility and a skewed American dream. With a group of girls (including Disney darlings Vanessa Hudgens and Selena Gomez), scantily clad, looking for an easy way to escape and stay away from school 4-eva, and a James Franco looking like Kevin Federline, this film has more to say under the surface.
#4. This is The End
Self-aware, meta and full of raunchy hilarity, This is The End feels like a comedy made by some of your best friends. Using the publicity and persona created by paparazzi, tabloids and more, Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg crafted a comedy that is equal parts hilarious and one of the most realistic reactions to an apocalyptic plot in years. Jonah Hill, James Franco, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson and more all poke fun at themselves almost as if they're in some sort of roast before the end of the world. All of this leads to a conclusion that had me keeling over in my seat with not one, but two surprise cameos that will definitely go down as two of the best in cinematic history.
#3. Sound City
As a big fan of old school rock and roll, and the pure sound of analog music, this documentary from Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl had me tapping me foot and smiling ear-to-ear with love for all things rock. Taking a look at the prolific and now defunct studio called Sound City, which has seen albums from the likes of Nirvana, Neil Young, Stevie Nicks, Rick Springfield, Trent Reznor and more. What's even better is the documentary closes with a look at the creation of a new supergroup album featuring all the aforementioned musical talents and many more as they use the analog Neve 8028 Console, the soundboard that brought these musicians to the studio in the first place. This is truly a rocking documentary.
#2. The Kings of Summer
In the spirit of the season, The Kings of Summer (titled Toy's House when it premiered at Sundance earlier this year), is a near-perfect coming-of-age tale. Led by Nick Robinson, Gabriel Russo and Moises Arias, this story follows three teenage boys fed up with their home lives who decide to spend their summer building a house in the woods and living off the land. Featuring a stellar supporting cast that includes Nick Offerman, Megan Mullally and other great comedians, the film is not only entertaining, but it has a lot of heart and insight into the true meaning of friendship. Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts has a bright future in filmmaking to say the least.
#1. Before Midnight
This movie is the perfect romance. End of story. With two films (Before Sunrise, Before Sunset) preceding it, there's a rich history for the two central characters played by Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. But the beauty of Before Midnight, which Delpy and Hawke wrote with director Richard Linklater, is that the portrayal of real and true love on display, for better or worse, doesn't need that background to make the film work for the average viewer. This is a film that illustrates the ups and downs of living with and loving the person who completes you. From the romantic exchanges to the most brutal of verbal confrontations, this movie is love through and through. I loved this movie so much, I saw it twice at Sundance and again in theaters this summer. It has a good chance of being my favorite movie of the year when all is said and done.
So there you have it. There are several films that I have missed so far including The Great Gatsby, The Place Beyond the Pines, The Sapphires, Room 237, Mud and some other limited releases, so this is just from the films I've been able to catch this year. Stay tuned as we're putting together a list of 20 movies you can still look forward to in the second half of 2013. But until then, feel free to sound off with your thoughts below. What are your favorite films of 2013? What do you think of Ethan's list? Did we miss any?