Paul & AJ’s Top 10 Films of 2013

Let the top 10-a-palooza commence! Over the next couple weeks, Paul and I will be looking back at our favorite things of 2013. First up, films; next week, TV series; and finally, comics. As always, these lists are imperfect and incomplete, reflecting only on what we’ve seen and love at the moment. Or as Paul writes:

I intentionally refer to the films on this list as favorites, not best. I rank films based on how much I enjoyed them, for whatever ephemeral or esoteric reasons unique to me, not on some system of objective filmmaking truths. These are the ten films I liked the most. YMMV.

Regarding omissions, neither of us have been able to see Inside Llewyn Davis, which makes me want to die, but oh well. I also haven’t seen The Great Beauty, Cutie and the Boxer, or The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, among others. Meanwhile, Paul hasn’t gotten around to Her, The Act of Killing, Stories We Tell, Short Term 12, or Blue Jasmine, to name a few.

Here we go!

– AJ

PAUL: 10. WARM BODIES (dir. Jonathan Levine)

warmbodies

The zombie genre is by this point a bloated undead thing feasting on its own rotting flesh. But director Jonathan Levine (50/50) makes this adaptation of Isaac Marion’s novel fresh, fun, and full of life. Yes it’s a (very) thinly veiled Romeo and Juliet pastiche, but the two leads, neo-nerdhunk Nicholas Hoult and Australian beauty Teresa Palmer, are both engaging and committed. Hoult in particular gets praise for being monstrous and vulnerable, and for selling the cheesy-but-hilarious voiceover with nothing more than his eyes. Also, Rob Corddry as a zombie lamenting, “Bitches, man,” is the best comedic line delivery of the year.

AJ: 10. GIMME THE LOOT (dir. Adam Leon)

gimmetheloot

You walk out of Gimme the Loot immediately wanting to know what first-time writer-director Adam Leon is going to do next. His voice is sharp and fresh, chronicling a day in the life of two teenaged petty criminals in a way that feels authentic but never gritty. His Bronx streets are unvarnished, rife with economic and class divisions, but there’s so much damn heart. Newcomers Tashiana Washington and Ty Hickson give performances devoid of pomp or flash; they simply find the souls of these two aimless kids. They’re one of the most affecting screen duos in recent memory, in one of the biggest surprises of the year.

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‘The Cabin in the Woods’ Review: Scary Movie

Saying this upfront: NO SPOILERS. Paul and I have also discussed the film on the show.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. A bunch of kids pack into an RV for a weekend of fun, sex, and sexy fun. That they encounter the extremely creepy owner of an ancient gas station on the way does nothing to deter them from their destination: a remote cabin in the woods, owned by one of the kids’ cousins. The place immediately seems a little off, there’s some disturbing stuff in the cellar, someone maybe reads Latin, and eventually bloody mayhem ensues. Though they should know better, each one succumbs to some very stupid behavior for which they will be punished.

This is the set-up for dozens, maybe hundreds, of horror movies. The Cabin in the Woods is something different. When we first meet these kids, they seem like lively, intelligent college students. They don’t seem like they would do some of the dumb things they end up doing. Which seems par for the course for this kind of movie, except The Cabin in the Woods dares to offer a justification as to why the victims would seemingly offer themselves up as fodder. There’s more here than meets the eye. Characters played by Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford are part of a shadowy organization which makes everything much more complicated. This I guarantee: If you’ve only seen the ads, which paint the movie as your generic Halloween Saw Massacre deal, it is not that. At all.

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Happy Birthday, Joss Whedon!

Ack! It’s late in the day, and I still haven’t wished my Dark Lord and Master, Joss Whedon, a happy birthday. To make up for it, and to show that the guy isn’t just all about breaking hearts and visiting death upon your puppy, here’s some examples of Joss Whedon’s great sense of humor:

“You’re a wee little puppet man!” The Angel episode “Smile Time” is one of the many illustrations of a concept that wouldn’t work anywhere but on a Whedon show: Angel is turned into a puppet and fights the evil felt hosts of a popular kid’s show. In this clip, he fights Spike, who is too busy laughing his ass off to take the threat seriously.

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Comic Book Review: ‘Serenity: Float Out’

Writer: Patton Oswalt
Penciler: Patric Reynolds

It’s been two years since the last Serenity comic, the Firefly-era Better Days, and five years since Serenity itself. And yet the fanbase just seems to keep growing, the love for these characters and their world deepening with each passing year. So, I mean, Dark Horse could put out a comic that consists entirely of Simon and River grocery shopping, and people would buy it. Actually…why haven’t they done that yet? I would definitely buy that. (As someone joked a few years back, I believe on Whedonesque, if Universal didn’t want to put up the money for a full-on, big-budget Serenity sequel, they could just give Joss Whedon a few g’s and let him film the characters peeling potatoes. It would still be better than anything else at your local multiplex.)

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Listen to Last Night’s Gobbledygeek

Last night’s Gobbledygeek, “The Angry Atheist and the Religious Feminist,” is available for listening right here. Our interview with Faith and Choice in the Works of Joss Whedon author K. Dale Koontz went rather well, I think, and begins at about 45 minutes or so in. We discuss Mal’s belief system, depictions of spirituality in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and why she thinks Dollhouse didn’t work.

As for Paul, Kevin, and I, we discuss our favorite Joss Whedon moments; Paul talks a little bit about Red Dead Redemption; and then we sorta just ramble.