Top 12 of 2013: Columnist reveals films with which he will associate past year

Any given movie speaks to each and every person differently.

The way that they do is often dictated by all of the experiences he or she has had in life leading up to that precise moment in time that they see that particular motion picture. Granted, sometimes entertainment value alone rules the day but even that is entirely subjective, governed by an individual’s background and, in many cases, immediate mood.

Whatever the circumstances, these are the 12 movies that meant the most to me in 2013. In some way, shape or form, they spoke to me. Again, they may or may not affect you but, between identifying with their themes of love, fear, heartache and enchantment and simply being emotionally and intellectually open to their delineated rides, these will be the films with which I associate the past year.

12. ‘The Wolf of Wall Street

“The Wolf of Wall Street” is epic in every conceivable way, coming across as some sort of crazy party during which revelers go through every experience imaginable. In fact, it is easily and without a doubt director Martin Scorsese’s best work to date, featuring a performance that runs the gamut by star Leonardo DiCaprio.

11. ‘Nebraska

“Nebraska” is an extremely simple but exceptionally special feature film, rewarding patient viewers with an enjoyable journey that includes a vociferously hilarious misunderstanding involving an air compressor and an emotionally resonant destination that delivers one of the most life-affirming movie moments of the year.

10. ‘The Purge

“The Purge,” which could effectively be categorized as a “what-if white knuckler,” is as thought-provoking as it is hair-raising. Inciting questions about everything from mankind’s necessity for release of pent-up anger to society’s desire for economic equilibrium, it leaves viewers unsettled and uncertain about civilization’s foreboding future.

9. ‘Disconnect

“Disconnect” is deeply disturbing, packing a punch that is so powerful that viewers may be unnerved enough to essentially do exactly what the title insinuates as it says something strikingly significant about alienation in a way that will leave you incredibly captivated and extremely engaged from beginning to end.

8. ‘Before Midnight

“Before Midnight” is deep, meaningful and realistically romantic. The melancholic insights and revelations about time’s impact on true love are devastating, hitting viewers in their guts like a ton of bricks. But because they are reflections of reality rather than some fairy tale, they culminate in this franchise’s most emboldened ending yet.

7. ‘Inside Llewyn Davis

Moving viewers through melancholy, the Coen brothers’ latest effort “Inside Llewyn Davis” is not only a poetic observation of how struggle inspires art but also an extremely entertaining satire of folk music history, filled with wry laughs and a soundtrack that you will want to own the moment that you leave the movie theater.

6. ‘Captain Phillips

“Captain Phillips’s” relentless intensity causes you to dig your fingernails deep into your seat’s armrests as you sit as close to the edge of it as you can without falling off. The nonstop nature of it all will leave you feeling just as horribly discombobulated and emotionally exhausted as star Tom Hanks’s title character is in the film’s final moments.

5. ‘Snitch

“Snitch” provokes intellectual thought while also stimulating extremely sharp. It exhilarates viewers not with action but with cleverly calculated suspense. You will not emerge with your nerves unfrayed from this tension, your spirit unbroken by this social injustice or your heart unaffected by this father’s defiant dedication to his son.

4. ‘Blancanieves

“Blancanieves” is a celebration of cinema, Spanish culture and the fairy tales that shaped not only our childhood but also the fine art of storytelling in general. It keeps you enthralled, enchanted and entranced. It is bold, it is beautiful and it is a bona fide masterpiece of a motion picture that will take your breath away.

3. ‘You’re Next

“You’re Next” will not only scare the living daylights out of you but it will also afford you one of the most frighteningly fun times that you will have while watching a movie all year. It does so by geniusly toying with the horror genre’s contrivances (of which there are many). The end-result is a uniquely engaging experience.

2. ‘Frozen

“Frozen” is fantastic. In fact, Disney’s new film is not only the best animated adventure of the year but also a remarkably triumphant return to form for the studio as it stuns with breathtakingly beautiful visuals, magnificent musical numbers, wonderfully fun characters and a simple-yet-engaging story with a universally meaningful message.

1. ‘Thanks for Sharing

“Thanks for Sharing” is real, honest and heartfelt, taking viewers through a remarkable range of emotions, affecting anyone and everyone who has ever struggled to open their self up to love, relinquish all control or face life’s hardest truths. Packed with sincere poignancy and impressive performances, it is undoubtedly my favorite flick of 2013.

Joseph J. Airdo

Joseph J. Airdo is a film critic, producer and on-air personality for Breakthrough Entertainment, a talk radio show airing 10-11 a.m. Saturdays on KPHX 1480 AM and that shines a spotlight on the practical perspectives of the topics and themes explored in movies. He has a pet duck named Frozen who is as opinionated about movies as he is. E-mail him at

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