5. Blue Is the Warmest Color.
I can practically hear you getting ready to reprimand me for this one. How is a French lesbian drama nerdy? It's a dramatic look at a relationship from beginning to end, with all the naughty, nice and nasty parts in between, showing its characters over the course of years from adolescence to adulthood. Nobody throws CGI effects at each other, and it takes place in the real world. So how can I justify it here?
Simple technicality: it's based on a comic book. And I hope it serves as a gateway to non-comic fans understanding that stories told in pictures on the page need not always be about superheroes, and that fans of all comics in general may get turned on to the appeal of French relationship dramas...rather than just their really, really hot sex scenes that scored an NC-17 rating. Thankfully, the movie tones down some of the book's more melodramatic moments of drugs and death, which would have felt quite forced wedged in to the final film.
The big knock Oblivion got was that it was derivative - I think what most people had in mind when they said that was the trope of the wise old man suddenly telling the fresh-faced hero that everything he thinks he knows is a lie, and it's time to fight the real battle. Yeah, that aspect is Matrixy, and unfortunately quite predictable once you know Morgan Freeman's in the movie. The supposed aliens are actual human resistance - anyone watching the ads could have guessed that.
It was the second twist that floored me, when it turned out Tom Cruise's character was just one of many clones, because the invaders only had access to a couple of human specimens and could only duplicate what they knew. Maybe I'm a dumbass and was the only one not to see it coming, but that was the part that really flipped the script.
There's a lot more I liked about the film, but I kinda talked about it already. I do get the sense that it's finally finding a fanbase on Blu-ray.
3. John Dies at the End.
The shitty, shitty thing about the title of this movie is that ended up representing my year - my father-in-law was named John, and he died at the end of 2013. That aside, 2013's first big geek movie was one of its best, with a plot combining sentient drugs, meat monsters, aliens, nudists, alternate dimensions, aliens, demons and basically everything that's awesome.
Don Coscarelli, director of Phantasm and Bubba Ho-Tep, has made another cult film for the ages. My hope for him is that he'll get to make both a sequel to this one, and someday, a movie that mainstream audiences will enjoy as much as the rest of us. He's earned it.
2. Metallica Through the Never.
I can't necessarily justify this choice to you by any kind of objective metrics. I don't really get all the Dane DeHaan stuff, and I'm not sure director Nimrod Antal really means it to be anything other than something cool to look at (and classify this film as nerdy on the fantasy technicality). I do know this: it's probably the most pure fun I've had in a theater all year, and sometimes that transcends reason. There's no shame in that, either - reviewers are entitled to like something just because it's fun. We're certainly accused of not doing so on a pretty regular basis.
Look at what so many others are raving about: Inside Llewyn Davis is, I believe, so well-reviewed because so many critics are Boomers who remember the New York folk scene, and the film hits the sweet spot marked "Bob Dylan" that's seared somewhere onto their brain. Me, I'm a guy whose head bangs in Pavlovian fashion to Metallica. Also they freakin' play "Orion" live over the end credits.
1. The Lone Ranger.
Boy, I did not want this to be atop my list - I kept waiting for that unexpected fall awards-season film that would blow me away and take the number-one spot. But that never happened.
If you're a regular reader, this pick is no surprise. If you just found yourself here at the article because you followed some link saying "Check out which moron named The Lone Ranger #1 film of 2013," I'll direct you to my previous writings about the movie and specifically its ending.
If you're a fan of the original Lone Ranger, and weren't expecting Gore Verbinski to try and pull an Alan Moore move on you, I understand you hating it. Totally get that.
If the issue is Johnny Depp playing a nonwhite character, I'll be honest and say I can't advocate a blanket condemnation of someone playing an alternate race. Maori actor Cliff Curtis, for example, is a thoroughly talented guy who constantly plays Arabs and Hispanics without much complaint from either group, and numerous white actors have done Othello on film and TV. The Native community does seem to be divided on the issue - I didn't feel it was a disrespectful portrayal, but they are certainly entitled to feel differently.
All I can add to what I've already said is that it's a movie that has nearly everything I like in a movie. Epic scope, alternate perceptions of reality that reflect the main character's subconscious, multiple interesting characters, well-choreographed action that made me smile quite a bit, WTF weird moments like the one with the demon rabbits, outstanding production design, deconstruction of the hero archetype...all it's missing is nudity, but that's okay.
It's also possible to like it AND think my interpretation is full of it. Just ask my wife.
Honorable mentions: Iron Man 3 because Shane Black is not a turrrrarist but a teachurrrr, Bad Milo because ass demons, Her because it's about an ex-LA Weekly writer making BANK, Saving Mr. Banks because it's basically my parents, Scenic Route just because, This Is the End for McBride POWER, Man of Steel because I don't think he'll kill again, Evil Dead because crossover is coming, The Hobbit 2 because production design and Mama because I almost pissed myself.
If your favorite wasn't on this list, assume either that I deemed it non-nerdy or that I missed it...unless there's evidence otherwise (Hi, Pacific Rim!).