Happy Thanksgiving! 28 Movies I’m thankful for in 2013


Happy Thanksgiving, everybody! It’s the first time I’m spending Thanksgiving apart from my dearest hubby, as he’s in Jakarta, Indonesia and I’m here in sunny San Diego, but I’m thankful nonetheless. It’s been such a blessing to spend time with my BFF whom I’ve been friends with since Junior High! I should make a list of Great Friends in Movies in her honor, kind of like what I did for my loving hubby a couple of years back: What I’m Thankful For – My Loving Husband and also my list of Wonderful Movie Husbands. Did you notice that Christian Bale‘s John Rolfe in The New World kept popping up? I mentioned him again on this Breaking Emotions: Smiles 😀

Now, I’m thankful to be a movie blogger and I’m especially thankful for the friends I’ve made through blogging, and getting press accreditation that gives me access to advanced screenings (Thanks to everyone at ALLIED!). So with those, as well as the two Film Festivals in town: TCFF and MSP Int’l Film Festival, it’s truly been a great year for me as a movie lover. I’m not as hugely prolific as other bloggers but still, there are probably far more films I could list here. But since it’s the 28th today and that number represents a good 2013* sampling based on what I’ve seen so far, let’s just go with that.


Here they are in alphabetical order:

12 Years a Slave
A harrowing and unflinching depiction of human cruelty but it also offers us the beauty and power of the human spirit. I’m thankful for Steve McQueen‘s skillful direction and Chiwetel Ejiofor‘s brilliant performance.

August: Osage County
This film makes me thankful for my family, no matter how nutty and chaotic we think we have it. Beauty amidst chaos. There’s something so out there yet relatable about this dysfunctional family tale, and the amazing performances made this so disquieting yet entertaining.

I had so much fun watching this on the big screen. It was hilarious and sweet, yes it’s cheesy and goofy at times but that’s kind of the point. It’s an homage AND a spoof in one, and as a Jane Austen fan, it was a blast to watch.

Captain Philips
There are stories that truly made me grateful for being alive and well, and this is one of those films. It’s wonderful to see an old favorite performer (Tom Hanks) in top form and a brand new face making his mark for the first time (Barkhad Abdi).

A story that really makes you take stock and reflect at our own lives and what’s going on around us. It also introduced me to an amazing British actress Andrea Riseborough who impressed me in all three films I saw her in (the other two were Oblivion and Shadow Dancer)

Fast & Furious 6
Not every movie has to aim for an Academy Award. This one sets out to be a thrilling action with over-the-top spectacle and it delivers! I also like the underlying message about taking care of one’s friends and family.

A technical marvel that offers one of the most emotionally-gratifying story I’ve seen this year. We take so much for granted the simpler things in life, but after seeing this, even just inhaling air into our lungs feels like an amazing privilege. Thank you Alfonso Cuarón for making such a masterful work we’d appreciate for years to come.

A movie I barely knew anything about yet I was floored by how much this affected me. It’s such a unique love story. It’s disturbing, thought-provoking, soul-stirring, with a haunting quality that would linger long after the credits roll. I’m always thankful for films that remind us what it means to be human, so thanks Spike Jonze for making this, and Joaquin Phoenix for your soulful performance!

In A World …
Lake Bell‘s debut is real comedic gem! I really like the story of the voice over industry, which I’m surprised it hasn’t been tackled before as that material makes for a comedic gold. I hope she continues to make movies, as Hollywood could use more female filmmakers.

Iron Man 3
To be honest I was rather blase about this one but somehow Shane Black managed to still inject a fresh approach into this bankable Marvel franchise. Robert Downey Jr. once again proves why he’s the best paid Marvel superhero as his charm and wit never fails to entertain. Plus Guy Pearce and Ben Kingsley add so much to the fun playing baddies.

Lee Daniels’ The Butler
The themes of racial injustice is how much we have overcome but also that the US still have a long way to go. I was so moved by Cecil’s journey as a person as well as a loyal Butler serving under five American presidents. It’s a poignant, touching and heart-warming portrayal that’s also humorous and lively.

Man of Steel
I’ve seen it three times by now and though I didn’t fall in love with this one as I did with Donner’s first Superman film, there are still a lot to love here. For one, Henry Cavill‘s version the kind of Superman I can actually identify with, his hu-MAN aspect is actually far more intriguing than his SUPER one and his relationship with both his Kryptonian and earthly family are beautifully-realized.

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
I know I’ll always be thankful for any film with Idris Elba in the leading role. Especially when it’s a role that showcases his chops and versatility as an actor. I have to admit I feel a bit guilty drooling over him as he’s playing Mandela, but really can you blame me? Who knew Mandela was so darn hunky? 😉

Monsters University
Thanks Pixar for taking me back to the adorable citizens of Monstropolis! Sully, Mike & co. are still a blast to watch, especially little Mike Wazowski as a dorky green-eyed monster in grade school, complete with his teeth retainer! It really made me appreciate the gift of friendship as the movie took us into the journey of how Mike & Sully first become friends.

There’s something so gratifying to see a talented actor gets a comeback of sort and seeing Matthew McConnaughey in the past couple of years is like seeing him making the most of his second chance at [acting] life. This beautifully-shot film also features marvelous portrayal of unlikely friendships between two young boys and Mud, a man w/ a shoddy past.

Yet another film that makes me appreciate the intricacy of family, that there’s grace even in the most complicated and frustrating relationships. I didn’t think I’d enjoy this film as much as I did, so that’s always something to be thankful for. Bruce Dern and Wil Forte are such an unlikely pairing that paid off big time. The father-son relationship is as convincing as it is endearing. Plus June Squibb is a hoot with her irreverent frankness.

Pacific Rim
Thank you Guillermo Del Toro for such unabashedly fun action movie that’s entertaining to watch over and over! I have seen this movie five times already and I still get this big grin on my face every single time. Yes it’s cheesy but it’s GOOD cheese, so I’m not ashamed that I’ve become a Jaeger groupie 😀 Special thanks to Ramin Djawadi for his super awesome, electrifying score!

It’s a movie that literally lives up to its title for giving us an adrenaline rush from start to finish. The racing sequences are amazingly-shot and gives us a sense as if we’re right there where the action is, but the dramatic story between James Hunt and Nikki Lauda are just as intriguing to watch.

Star Trek Into Darkness
I already said before that I was thankful to JJ Abrams for making me care for the whole Star Trek universe. I’m especially thankful for Benedict Cumberbatch casting as a sexy villain, he’s quickly becoming one of my favorite actors. It’s also fun to see Capt. Kirk and the Enterprise crew, certainly one of my favorite ensemble cast of recent memory.

I had trepidation about watching this as the director had made some really violent films in the past, but I’m glad this one was still within my comfort level. Stoker is a gorgeous thriller with an eerie atmosphere that REALLY gets under your skin.

The Act of Killing
No doubt one of THE most disturbing films I’ve ever seen, yet I’m thankful that director Joshua Oppenheimer made this eye-opening documentary that exposes my home country’s darkest past. It’s truly unlike anything I’ve ever seen and in a land where originality is as hard to find as needle in a hay stack, this is a film that every cinephile should make a point to see.

The Angels’ Share
I had the privilege of seeing this Scottish indie gem just a day before my interview with its writer Paul Laverty. It was a joy to watch newbie Scottish actor Paul Brannigan shine in a heist comedy of sort, funny with plenty of heart.

The Armstrong Lie
A well-made documentary that’s as eye-opening as it is beautiful to look at. Alex Gibney got an unprecedented access into one of the biggest sports scandal in history. Yet as disturbing as Lance Armstrong’s doping violation was, it’s the abuse of power and ugly betrayals that struck me the most.

The Hunt
If you want a roller-coaster emotional ride, look no further than this astutely-made Danish film. It’ll make you in awe of its beauty (the acting, cinematography) as well as incredibly angry at how cruel humanity could be as director Thomas Vinterberg immerses you in the protagonist’ plight. Mads Mikkelsen is absolutely brilliant in his understated yet intense portrayal of a man being persecuted publicly for a crime he didn’t commit, and more heartbreaking of all, cast aside by his own friends.

The Kings of Summer
This film made me so thankful of the beauty of nature and friendship, however fragile it can be. A beautifully-shot coming-of-age story that’s peppered with meaningful and hilarious moments. Great script, performances, scenery and soundtrack — it’s got all the ingredients to make an entertaining film that I don’t mind watching again.

The Reluctant Fundamentalist
It’s always nice to see a new face on screen, especially someone as charismatic as  London-born Riz Ahmed. He shines as the protagonist in this cultural drama under Indian director Mira Nair‘s careful direction. Though it deals with a political/terrorism theme of 9/11, this is ultimately about a journey of a brilliant Pakistani young man caught between two worlds in a time where prejudice and distrust runs rampant.

Thor: The Dark World
A robustly entertaining film that’s also thigh-slapping-ly hilarious.  Any movie that features the undeniable charismatic Tom Hiddleston is something to be thankful for, in fact I’d be even more grateful to Marvel Studios if they’d just make a Loki movie already… and soon! 

World War Z
I never thought I’d put a zombie flick on my thankful list, let alone one with Brad Pitt in it! But I quite enjoyed WWZ as it’s more of a political thriller than a slasher/horror flick. The story was intriguing enough that I’m actually interested to see how the planned sequel is going to pan out.

* Note that a few of these films might’ve been released in 2012 outside of the US but I went with the US release dates which were all in 2013.

So HAPPY THANKSGIVING to all my friends who are celebrating! But you don’t need to have a Thanksgiving holiday to be grateful about something.

So what are some of the 2013 movies you’re most thankful for [so far]?

49 thoughts on “Happy Thanksgiving! 28 Movies I’m thankful for in 2013

  1. That’s an impressive list of films that you’ve seen this year Ruth. I’ve been a bit underwhelmed this year but there have been a few gems for sure. Really want to see Spike Jonze’s “Her”. That looks great.

    Happy thanksgiving my friend! Aw ra best! 😉

    1. Hi Mark, yeah there has been some that missed the mark but in the spirit of giving thanks, I’d like to focus on the positive 😀 You’d love Spike Jonze’s HER I think, it’s definitely one of the most memorable one I’ve seen this year.

  2. Nice list you got there, 2013 certainly has turned around to be a pretty decent year in movies. Glad to see Stoker get a mention, and it’s always nice to see Iron Man 3 get some love, too. Still got a few on there that I really wanna see, most notably Her. But anyways, Happy Thanksgiving, Ruth! 🙂

    1. Hi Chris! There are still time to catch up on those you haven’t seen, I have plenty of holes on my viewing list as well. Her is fantastic, hope it opens in a theater near you. Hope your Thanksgiving was great!

  3. Whoa! I really need some catching up to do! I’ve only seen around half of those films. Sadly, it won’t be anytime soon as it seems I don’t have enough hours in the day to watch movies (and do a lot of other things) currently.

    1. Hi Asrap! I hear ya man, I feel that I’m never gonna catch up on films I want to see, I mean there are still some classic films I’d love to catch up on as well.

  4. That is a fine list. I’m thankful for these following films: Frances Ha, Gravity, 12 Years a Slave, Blue is the Warmest Color, Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me, Behind the Candelabra, The World’s End, The Grandmaster, and many others that has made this year pretty damn good so far as well as the old films that I’ve seen this year including my Blind Spots. I’m also thankful for Barnes & Nobles Criterion DVD sale.

      1. I’ve managed to get a good number of films yesterday that I’m going to open for Xmas while one of them is a b-day present for me. Plus, I got to use a 30% coupon for one of my purchases.

  5. Ted S.

    Nice list of films there Ruth, I think I only saw a few from your list there. I can’t wait to see Her, been wanting to see it since the trailer came out months ago. I hope it gets a lot of good reviews so the studio would open it in more theaters.

    I guess I don’t really have films that i’m thankful to have seen, most of them are pretty average this year. But Gravity really stood out and I guess I’m thankful that I was able to finally see a movie with Dolby Atmos sound, been waiting for it in months.

    1. Hi Ted! HER is VERY good, an intriguing sci-fi drama that feels startlingly personal. I sure hope it’ll open at the Lagoon here at the very least. Yeah, glad we’ve got the Dolby Atmos sound for Gravity, it just adds so much to the film.

  6. I’m evidently very bad at catching current films, as I haven’t seen a single one of these! A number are high on my list though, particularly 12 Years a Slave and Captain Philips.

    1. Hi Andina, thank you! I still need to see the two films you mentioned, interesting that both of those films kind of deal with the ‘time’ theme 😀

    1. Thanks Nov! Ahah I knew you’d notice that there are 3 Benny movies, well he’s been VERY busy this year, there’ll be a fourth one I’ll see in a week, though it’s only going to feature his voice 😉

  7. Really cool list! I thought of doing the same thing, but just didn’t have enough time before Thanksgiving! To see Man of Steel on here makes me so happy. I thought I was the only beside the cast and crew that liked that movie! 😀

  8. Hey Ruth! I love the thought of making a post of films to be thankful for, whether it’s just this year or all-time. There are just so many films that we have seen over the years, it’s nice to write about how thankful one is for them. In terms of your list however, what an amazing list of films that you’ve written! I haven’t seen all of them, but I completely agree with your comments about the ones that I have. Looking forward to the year’s last films!!

    1. Hi Raul, hope all is well w/ you. Thanks for your kind comment, that means a lot to me! At first I just wanted to list the films but I felt compelled to write the reason why, even briefly. Yeah I’m looking forward to some great movies still in store for us in December!

  9. Awesome post, Ruth! I’ve seen most of these, and I can’t wait to see the ones I haven’t, like Nebraska, Her and The Hunt.

    Some films I’m thankful for are Gravity, Before Midnight, Laurence Anyways, Frances Ha, 12 Years a Slave, Prisoners, To the Wonder and The Place Beyond the Pines.

  10. Gravity, World War Z, Star Trek and Fast Six are definitely on my list 🙂 Oh, and the film fest ones, Rigor Mortis, The Wind Rises and I’ll Follow You Down were pretty epic as well! Still have a good number of 2013 flicks to catch up on!

    1. Hello Kim! I haven’t heard of The Wind Rises and I’ll Follow You Down but yeah there are a still tons of movies for me to catch up on too 😀

  11. Great list of films, some of which I have yet to see. In fact, I just got Mud on Blu-Ray, and I’m about to also check The Act of Killing and The Hunt, which I know from before that you enjoyed very much. I was so taken by Mads Mikkelsen reprising the role of Hannibal Lecter in NBC’s new (and best) show that I have now begun to seek for all of his other roles. I started by watching Valhalla Rising by Refn, but that was highly disappointing, even though it had little to do with the actor.

    Anyway, looking forward to keep reading your blog into 2014.

  12. Hi Ruth, hope you had an excellent Thanksgiving weekend! The movies I am most grateful for this year are 12 Years a Slave and Before Midnight, though there are quite a few others I have enjoyed (Frances Ha, Stoker, Enough Said, etc.). Still so many I need to see though!

    1. Hi Eric, I did indeed, hope you did too. I wish I had seen Before Midnight as it might end up on my list. Still need to see Frances Ha and Enough Said, glad to see a rom-com for adults like you said in your review.

Leave a Reply to Mark Walker Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s