Reel Freak

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Top 5 Surprises of 2013

There were a lot of movies that I was looking forward to seeing in 2013.  Movies like Iron Man 3, Star Trek Into Darkness, Man of Steel & The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug drew me in simply because I’m a fanboy sucker.  However, there ended up being a lot of movies that I wasn’t expecting to see at the beginning of the year, but ended up being pleasantly surprised by.  These are not in any order or ranking, but I strongly recommend all of them. Here we go:

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Oblivion

Lately there have been a lot of post-apocalyptic movies being put out.  In fact, enough to make you pretty sick of them.  Oblivion takes a post-apocalyptic Earth, and mashes it with sci-fi story led by Jack Harper (Tom Cruise), whose mission is to go down to Earth and collect its remaining resources.  With supporting roles from Melissa Leo as Sally, Jack’s supervisor, and Morgan Freeman as Malcolm Beech, the leader of an underground resistance back on Earth.  Oblivion wasn’t a huge box office success, but had a cool plot, stunning shots and effects, and I think deserved more recognition.  I was really pleased with how refreshing it was.

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Out of the Furnace

With all of the movies being released this Winter, it’s easy for a movie without a ton of promotion to go under the radar.  Out of the Furnace turned out to be one of my favorite films of the year.  The acting from the ensemble cast worked so well together that I consider it one of the most realistic films I’ve seen.  A definite miss for awards season, I thought Christian Bale should’ve gotten the nod for Best Actor, as well as Casey Affleck for Supporting Actor.  Regardless, Out of the Furnace is the best movie most people aren’t rushing out to see.

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Now You See Me

I was really surprised with how Now You See Me turned out.  After seeing it and looking back at the plot and characters, it felt like something that Christopher Nolan might make.  It was a really fun, mysterious film that left you wondering what would happen next.  The ensemble cast played their roles really well, and it made for a great caper.  Although made a good amount of money at the box office, I still feel that it was decently underrated as a whole, and I really enjoyed watching it, and probably will again soon.

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Elysium 

Since District 9 was released in 2009, one of the biggest questions being asked is whether or not we’d see a sequel to the phenomenal sci-fi thriller.  Although we didn’t get one, the next film by director Neill Blomkamp works just as well.  Elysium has very similar traits to District 9, in the sense it focuses on Earth’s futuristic slums, with a giant space station watching from above.  It didn’t make a ton of money and didn’t get a lot of critical acclaim, but was a really great thriller nonetheless, and ended up being a surprising underdog of 2013 for me.

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The Wolverine

I think after X-Men Origins: Wolverine back in 2009, a lot of people had had it with Wolvie’s story.  And when X-Men: First Class put a fresh twist on the franchise in 2011, aside from a brief cameo, Wolverine was thought to have become a bit irrelevant.  However, The Wolverine was a very pleasant surprise.  As far as comic book movies go, this one is definitely one of the better standalone films in my book, and worked very well as a bridge to the upcoming Days of Future Past in 2014.  Cool action sequences, a great story and dialogue, this is a major step up, almost enough to make you forget Origins.

What were some of your 2013 underdog favorites?  Feel free to sound off in the comments and discuss what you thought went under the radar this year!

Written by Josh Sazin on December 27th, 2013

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2 comments on “Top 5 Surprises of 2013

  1. smf89
    December 28, 2013

    Awesome list! I think, for me, the biggest surprise was Pacific Rim. It didn’t do all that well at the box office, it wasn’t the best critically received film, yet I loved it. It was simply good fun. I think it’s the first film on my list to recommend to others, just because I know it’s pretty underrated.

    • jsazin
      December 28, 2013

      Actually Pacific Rim would probably be #6 or #7 if I had done a Top 10. Very underrated movie I agree!

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