10) Enough Said (Nicole Holofcener) We can agree that there are a lot of folks out there who enjoy a great romantic comedy. When Harry Met Sally…, Sleepless in Seattle, and so on. But often we are inundated with so many lousy Katherine Heigl-esque machine made rom-coms it’s almost as if Hollywood forgot how exciting it can be to start and maintain a relationship. Nicole Holofcener’s Enough Said is an incredibly well written look at the emotional choices we must face when starting to date someone. Holofcener explores the wide spectrum of realities when it comes to trust and communication, important qualities to relish as a couple. Julia Louis-Dreyfus and James Gandolfini’s blossoming relationship in the film is so lovely that it’s crushing when the two hit rocky terrain. This is a fictional couple worth rooting for because they have one of the most believably tender romances that you don’t see these days on the silver screen.
9) The Kings of Summer (Jordan Vogt-Roberts) As an adult, it’s woefully agonizing to reminisce about the freedoms we once had growing up as teenagers during the summer. Late mornings and long nights. You could eat as much junk possible and then burn it off running around with friends during the day. The Kings of Summer is a pleasant reflection of those times spent with friends, embracing new romances, and annoying family. There are many laughs throughout The Kings of Summer as we follow three talented young actors (Nick Robinson, Gabriel Basso, and Moises Arias) into the wilderness away from their parents. Facing the looming inevitability of adulthood, The Kings of Summer is an invigorating coming of age story that helps remind ourselves to embrace life and cherish the moments we have with friends, family, and loved ones. Alison Brie and Nick Offerman also put in some good work here as Nick Robinson’s movie family.
8) The Conjuring (James Wan) I love me some horror movies, and 2013 was filled to the brim with some of the best frights I’ve seen in a long time. James Wan should be considered a renaissance man in the horror business. With his breakout debut Saw, he took torture porn to a mainstream level. Wan has toned it down now, taking genre fans back to its roots with some old school chills and thrills. The Conjuring favorably is more terrifying than anything that has come out of the game in quite a while. It takes a lot for me to feel tense, scared, or nervous during a horror film because I’ve seen so many in my lifetime, but The Conjuring literally gave me the willies at one point. Like Insidious, Wan builds such an impressive mountain of tension. Scene after scene, scare after scare, you’ll be so engulfed by everything that by the end you won’t realize how white knuckled you are, gripping the closest thing as if your life depended on it.
7) Inside Llewyn Davis (Joel Coen and Ethan Coen) After the credits had rolled I had sat in contemplation for the longest time. At some point I even questioned if the Coen brothers had a point to the meandering life of Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac). And as the movie did not resonate with me on an emotional level as much as the rest of the films on this list, it lingered with me in an inquisitive manner. The more I spent thinking about it the more the story felt developed. Inside Llewyn Davis is a complex yet simple, taking its time with the delicately written characters. Oscar Isaac is a killer leading man who luckily has a background in music and steals the show. Justin Timberlake, Carey Mulligan, and John Goodman do a respectable job against the sympathetically pathetic Llewyn Davis. It’s a tragic and affective look at the way we persevere, struggle, and sacrifice ourselves through life for that which we believe in. What lengths are we willing to go to obtain our dreams? And lest not forget the beautiful cinematography and that sets the chilling tone among the stellar song performances by everyone involved.
6) Blue is the Warmest Color (Abdellatif Kechiche) Despite what you may have heard about this film, and what you have heard is true – there is an abundance of “it’s so fake that it looks real” lesbian sex, with naughty bits all over the place – Blue is the Warmest Color is a more affectionately tasteful and articulate story than you could possibly imagine. Delving into the intimate details of one’s first encounter with true love, director Abdellatif Kechieche uses the power of passion, sensuality, and youth to compose an enchanting and daring piece of cinema. This coming of age romance is ambitiously raw, emotionally heavy, and refreshingly genuine to the core. Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux deliver body and mind, captivating you with every kiss, loving glance, and deep conversation their journey brings us. Big kudos to Exarchopoulos for her first feature-length film debut as well. Her performance is absolutely breathtaking and endearing to watch.