Avocado Weekly Movie Thread (8/1)

Welcome to the Weekly Movie Thread, your place on the Avocado to discuss films with your fellow commenters. Want to make a recommendation? Looking for recommendations? Want to share your opinions of movies, both new and classic? 

Today’s bonus prompt: what is your favorite movie of 2013?

Ah, 2013. Looking at this list of films, it’s a completely different world.

In past retrospectives, I never really did ones that were from 10 years ago. It felt too recent. In 2019, when I started regularly putting up this thread, 2009 would have felt like yesterday.

By contrast, 2013 feels like 100 years ago. Come with me, fellow oldsters, to remember a year that in retrospect had some pretty remarkable films.

2013 will probably go down as “The Year After The Avengers.” Everything had cumulated to the superhero team-up that couldn’t be done the previous year. Now people were wondering: what’s next? In the case of the MCU, there was the highly controversial Iron Man 3. Personally, it probably my favorite MCU film of all time. However, people has issues with various elements: the Mandarin was a fake-out, Tony Stark was barely in costume, and it wasn’t clear whether the ending meant that Robert Downey Jr. was walking away from the role. The other MCU film, Thor: The Dark World still doesn’t have many fans, and it would accompany the bottom of MCU movie rankings until The Eternals came along. It would be forgivable if you thought that the MCU had run out of gas… but you’d be wrong.

At the same time, DC would be looking greedily at the MCU and fired off their first entry into the nascent DCEU: Man of Steel. Warner Brothers sought to separate itself from Marvel’s offerings by making their heroes darker, grittier, and more like the Injustice video game series. At the same time, Fox’s Marvels said to hell with continuity and released The Wolverine. Despite sorta rebooting things with X-Men: First Class three years ago, James Mangold came in and said, “Nah… X-Men: The Last Stand still happened.” The film even goes on to contradict itself and the entire continuity in the post credit sequence.

If superheroes aren’t your jam, there were plenty of other great films for you whatever your tastes were. The New Disney Renaissance was in full swing when Frozen became a surprise hit. It was the highest grossing film of 2013. (Which was great because the other Disney animated films were sequels: Monsters University and Planes.).

Meanwhile, over in live action, Disney would do a film about its own founder with Saving Mr. Banks. They’d also try to launch an all new Pirates-style franchise with The Lone Ranger, succeeding only in generating thousands of thinkpieces on why casting Johnny Depp as Tonto was wrong, wrong, wrong.

Adults in perilous situations emerged as a theme. Sandra Bullock had to figure a way to escape a damaged space station in Gravity. Tom Hanks evades Somali pirates in Captain Philips. There were not one but two movies about the President having to escape the White House: White House Down and Olympus Has Fallen.

There was also one film named Oblivion and another named Elysium. They looked similar and, similarly, I couldn’t tell you what happened in either of them.

There were some surprise films from notorious directors. Michael Bay may have directed his masterpiece this year with Pain & Gain. Guillermo del Toro would take a break from his magic realism brand of film to ask, “What if giant robots fought kaiju?” in Pacific Rim. Todd Philips would direct his third Hangover film, but would shift the formula from a comedy to a thriller. Spike Lee would direct the American Oldboy remake. Spike, remember when you directed Do The Right Thing? Why did you this, Spike?

The again, sometimes directors would do exactly what you’d think they’d do. Rob Zombie made a visually lush horror film with The Lords of Salem. Baz Luhrmann made a visually lush film set in the early 20th Century with The Great Gatsby. Walter Hill made a decent buddy action film with Bullet to the Head. Martin Scorsese, meanwhile, directs a film about a horrible man who lives a life that we’re meant to see as an indictment but comes off as the coolest dude around in The Wolf of Wall Street. It would be Scorsese’s highest grossing film of all time.

2013 also saw some significant entries in horror. Fede Alvarez took over the reins from Sam Raimi with an Evil Dead remake. James Wan would direct what is probably my favorite entry in his franchise, Insidious: Chapter 2. He would also retain the services of Patrick Wilson to begin a new, even more popular horror franchise with The Conjuring.

A low-key film called The Purge would begin a franchise that, three years later, would look far, far too similar to the real world. Looking back, this may be the most Obama-era franchise ever. Racism is over! Can you imagine a time when people with a different skin color would just be gunned down in rich neighborhoods and there would be no legal recourse to protect them? Good thing this sort of thing never happens these days! If The Purge and its subsequent films were to come out now, it would just be in bad taste. Or worse… it would inspire people to side with the Purgers.

(Note to self: pencil in “most Obama-era film” as a future prompt.)

And speaking of prescient… in a scenario that feels more real today than when it came out, Joaquin Phoenix falls in love with his AI assistant in Her. Back then, it was about falling in love with Siri. Now it can be any host of availablr AI. In general, 2013 was also a year for lovers. We follow the evolving relationship of two young women in Blue is the Warmest Color. Joseph Gordon-Levitt must overcome his masturbation addiction and find true love in Don Jon.

This year was also a strong year for African American representation, especially behind the camera. Ryan Cooler would make his directorial debut with Fruitvale Station. Lee Daniels directed a decades-spanning film about a White House butler in the imaginatively titled Lee Daniels’ The Butler. Steve McQueen would direct a film about a man kidnapped by two conmen and sold into slavery in 12 Years A Slave.

Sinisterly, though: a lot of these films were produced by The Weinstein Company.

There were also your typical sequels. Star Trek Into Darkness made people wonder if perhaps J.J. Abrams was more suited to the Star Wars franchise. Future Crazy Rich Asians director John Chu, who really wanted to do a Jem movie, got his Hasbro try-out with GI Joe: Retaliation. New films in the Hunger Games, The Hobbit, Fast & Furious, and Despicable Me franchises would top the box office charts. But those were also probably the least interesting films of 2013.