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After seeing a ton of movies all calender year long, here come the Five Best Movies of the year. 

From my seat, 2013 was a year where there was no shortage of bigger, louder and more "in your face" movies.  The box office was overloaded with tons of action movies that looked and were the same. And that's why smaller flicks, with quirkier more honest stories and great performaces could really cut through.

Also, it was a dark and harsh year at the movies with plenty of gloom and doom.  That also allowed more refreshing plots front and center by some of the smaller ones.  And the lack of very few runaway no brainer best movie credentialed flicks.  To be on this list, movies had to be released to local theaters during the calender year, so here goes.

The Five Best Movies Of 2013

1/  Enough Said -  This was a great little movie that was universally loved by everyone who saw it, and reviewed it.  This was an original story and a wonderful romantic comedy that talked to everyone in today's modern society.  Julia-Louis Dreyfus was terrific, and the late James Gandolfini was sensational.   He was an affable, underdog character you have never seen him play before, and he delivered in his last movie role.  He should not only be in the conversation, but should win the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.  Brilliantly casted, acted and a story that was fresh in every frame. Sensational little movie this year or any year.  See this!

2/  The Way, Way Back -  What a story, and what well written script making loud and clear social commentary in an off beat, semi dark comedy.  This movie is entirely too honest for some people as it takes to task modern parenting that can be selfish and disconnected.  And if you let this in, it can be close to the bone for many and very emotive.  The star of this movie is the story, and is brilliantly performed by a great ensemble cast.  Steve Carrell as you've never seen him before as a real idiot bad guy. Sam Rockwell should get some Oscar consideration, as will Allison Janney.  This is first class from start to finish, and identifiable across the board. 

 3/  Captain Phillips - Tom Hanks in this true story of an American cargo vessel high jacked by Somali pirates.   Hanks is really great and will be in the Oscar talk, but the real star of this movie is the movie, and Barkhad Abdi who played the lead pirate named, Muse.  He is so good in this movie, and is the gas in this movies engine.  This story was totally dependent on a great, and complicated villain, and Muse is one.  And Abdi is beyond sensational as he brings depth and conflict to this role. If he's not in the running at awards time there is a real problem. This also takes you to places you've never been, and even though you may know the outcome of this true story, it does keep you guessing and that's great movie making.

4/  American Hustle -  The reason this makes my list are a few performances in it that are undeniable. Christian Bale is amazing in this 1970's con artist story and will be in the Oscar talk.  Amy Adams will be too, as will Jennifer Lawrence.  This is a good story, and it certainly does transport you brilliantly to the era with amazing sets, costumes, props and soundtracks.  This may not live up to the hype it generated overall, but some of the difficult roles and large performances propel it into the spotlight. This in the hands of lesser actors this would have fallen short.  Performances actually outperform the movie.

5/  Spring Breakers -  I know this is a bold choice, but this movie really impacted those who dared to see it.  This movie is not for everyone.  This is a powerful movie, and an exaggerated look on what can possibly happen to a group of 18 year old girls, who do whatever it takes to go on spring break in Florida.  But what this movie really does, is look at the motives and tactics honestly, and showcases just how thin the line is between a great time, and a life changing disastrous time for these girls.  And its honesty at it's core is harsh.  Even though this would more than likely never happen, it does show parents how tight a rope young people can walk when they are on their own, out of their element and how truthful about where they are, what they are doing.  Harsh, crass and very ugly at times. But eye opening. James Franco too is great!


Honorable mentions  (random order)

Gravity -  I know, sacrilegious not to have this as the number one. But I was not as enamored with this as many were. It is a game-changer as far as effects and 3-D are concerned. Truthfully, it is the best use of 3-D to date.  I also was not thrilled about it "starring" George Clooney who was out of this movie after about 30 minutes.  But it was a visual feast, and an experience more than a movie.  It's sort of an amusement ride, and that's why it was so loved.

The Spectacular Now - Loved every frame of this movie. How good is this?  What a wonderful telling of young love with great characters. And what telling great performances from Miles Teller and Shaileen Woodley.  Another really great "little" movie.

Philomena  -  Great story, and Judi Dench is more than likely going to win another Oscar. This basically two person movie tells a powerful story and develops great characters. This is also far more bold than you might think.  Steve Coogan too is great, as he is on par with Dench, but does not upstage her in this movie.    

Saving Mr. Banks - Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson were terrific in a story you don't know, and that always gets major points.  

So there they are, The Five Best Movies Of 2013.  Also check out my list of The Five Worst, Five Most Surprising, and the Five Disappointing movies of the year.

And CLICK HERE, to read my most recent reviews of movies in theaters now.