Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Here are my best movie awards for films I watched in 2013. As always, several of these may have crude language, violence, and/or sexual situations. If you want to know the content of any of these films, go to or

Best Drama

~ The Place Beyond the Pines

This film was so good, I saw it twice in the theater; the second time with a bunch of buddies after which we went to a bar to further discuss the film (later, one friend wrote up a "review" of sorts here).  The movie asks some hard-hitting questions about fatherhood, fate, and the role of each in our lives.  The film is basically filmed in three parts... it starts by following the life of Luke (played by Ryan Gosling), a loser with a temper who wants to do right by his son but can't pull himself out of his sinful and criminal past.  About halfway through, it switches protagonists to Avery (played by Bradley Cooper), who is trying to get out from under his own father's shadow.  Then last of all, the film again switches its character focus to look at the lives of Luke's and Avery's sons.  I won't spoil it beyond that, but I highly recommend this film as the most thought-provoking of the year.

Honorable Mention: Prisoners, Les Miserables, The Impossible, 42, Biutiful, Robot and Frank

Best Comedy

~ The Way Way Back

Most of the comedies I saw this year were not funny.  So it wouldn't have taken much to win this category, but along came this film which blew the other ones out of the water.  Starring Steve Carell (in a serious role, ironically enough) and Sam Rockwell (in a brilliantly hilarious role), this coming-of-age movie about two single parents taking their kids on a joint summer vacation gives you a lot of laughs while saying some good things about marriage, being a man, and other hard topics.

Honorable Mention:  The Heat, The Kings of Summer

Best Action

~ Gravity

Just like last year, this is a tight category with so many good action films in 2013.  But there really isn't any movie that could be in the top spot except this one.  I saw Gravity in IMAX 3D, which is really the best way to see this ground-breaking, breath-snatching film.  If you haven't been living under a rock in the last four months, then you know the basic premise: a team of astronauts gets stranded floating in space.  On paper, it may seem like a concept that offers little in terms of plot but plenty of physics-defying holes.  But in reality, while simple, the plot and script was powerful, profound, and well-executed.  And, contrary to some negative comments I've heard, the ending was perfect.

Honorable Mention: The Hobbit, Bourne Legacy, Django Unchained, Zero Dark Thirty, Olympus Has Fallen, Iron Man 3, Jack Reacher, Star Trek Into Darkness, End of Watch, Man of Steel, Catching Fire

Best Family/Kids

~ Frozen

Whew, this was a tight category, with two deserving films in "Frozen" and "Wreck-It Ralph".  But ultimately, I had to go with the one that had the best (and most unexpected) messages.  "Frozen" isn't perfect, but I thought it largely avoided the ditch of "real princesses don't need men" and the other ditch of "evil is just misunderstood", all the while ridiculing the silly notion of love at first sight and the typical fairy tale plot twist involving "love's true kiss".  Love is depicted as something that reveals itself through sacrifice, not infatuation.  Our whole family loved this movie.

Honorable Mention: Wreck-It Ralph, Despicable Me 2, Monsters U, Jack the Giant Slayer, The Croods, Rise of the Guardians

Best Foreign

~ King of Devil's Island

I didn't see a lot of foreign films this year, so the options are a tad limited.  This Norwegian film offers a stark look at life in a real-life boys' juvenile detention center in Norway about a century back.

Honorable Mention:  Biutiful, Going by the Book

Best Movie You've Never Heard Of

~ Robot and Frank

I really enjoyed this little indie film. It's a quiet, subtly moving tale about aging, family, and cat burglary.  I really recommend it.

Honorable Mention: Mud, Dredd, Prisoners

Worst Movie of the Year

~ This is the End

Stupid, crude, inane, stupid.  That pretty well describes this movie.  I should have done more research before seeing this piece of trash.  Don't waste your time.

Honorable Mention: Now You Can See Me, Taken 2

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Darius' book montage

The Cross Centered Life: Keeping the Gospel The Main Thing
Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God
Overcoming Sin and Temptation
According to Plan: The Unfolding Revelation of God in the Bible
Disciplines of a Godly Man
Money, Greed, and God: Why Capitalism Is the Solution and Not the Problem
When Helping Hurts: Alleviating Poverty Without Hurting the Poor. . .and Ourselves
The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith
Respectable Sins
The Kite Runner
Life Laid Bare: The Survivors in Rwanda Speak
Machete Season: The Killers in Rwanda Speak
A Generous Orthodoxy: Why I am a missional, evangelical, post/protestant, liberal/conservative, mystical/poetic, biblical, charismatic/contemplative, fundamentalist/calvinist, ... anabaptist/anglican, metho
Show Them No Mercy
The Lord of the Rings
Life at the Bottom: The Worldview That Makes the Underclass
The Truth War: Fighting for Certainty in an Age of Deception
Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming
The Chronicles of Narnia
Les Misérables

Darius Teichroew's favorite books »