totally top five 2k13: movies

It’s time to talk about movies! And, like last year, I’m just going to let my heart do the talking because, I mean, what am I going to do otherwise? Sit here and break down everything I saw using the basics I gleaned from two college film classes? B-O-R-I-N-G. So here’s what I loved at* the movies this year.

5. Iron Man 3

To be frank, I didn’t have high hopes for Iron Man 3. I love-love the first one and The Avengers was glorious, but Iron Man 2 was weak as hell and I couldn’t help but worry a reasonable amount. Iron Man’s not really my dude — I’m an X-Men girl to be quite honest, though I throw down for Black Widow and Hawkeye — but he’s got so much potential and knowing going in that they were pulling Extremis out was both exciting and nerve-wracking. So much potential for failure! Especially with a historically racist caricature of a villain making an appearance. It all turned out great though. I thought The Mandarin was particularly well-handled — especially because I love nothing more than to see fanboys cry about inaccuracy — and the Extremis was, well, it wasn’t great but it was good enough.

None of that really mattered in the end though because this movie had Pepper Potts. Pepper Potts being awesome and strong and vulnerable and human and kicking so much ass. Pepper Potts being a strong female character without being a Strong Female Character. Pepper Potts saving the day and the hero and herself. Pepper Potts being everything. We need more Pepper Potts-es. We need more characters on her level.

4. ParaNorman

ParaNorman is smart, sweet, funny, and gorgeous. It’s got a ton of heart, strong characters, an openly gay character, zombies, super strong dialogue, depth, and an unexpected ending. It has things to say about being who you are even when it’s hard, family, friendship, and the importance of listening to other people and respecting their feelings. The animation is extraordinary and cool and though similar to the stop-motion that’s come before it, unlike anything you’ve really seen before. It’s not afraid to be kind of gross and it deals openly with death in a way that feels really important. It’s got a great setting, unbelievable set pieces, and the cutest little post-credits tag. It’s seriously wonderful.

We didn’t get to watch ParaNorman in theaters and I am still so bummed about it. What a wonderful story and experience. Unforgettable, really.

3.The Heat

Watching The Heat in theaters was one of the best movie experiences we’ve had since we’ve been in North Dakota. Okay, wait, actually it was one of the worst because it was packed and a horrible monster woman sat next to Crystal and did her best to ruin the movie for her, but other than that is was genuinely delightful. There’s something really transcendent about being in a theater full of people watching a comedy and sharing that bright, long-winded communal laughter. It feels magical. And it’s particularly nice when it’s a movie fronted by two women that doesn’t make you feel bad for being a woman or fat or kind of a human disaster. Let me hug you, Paul Feig and Katie Dippold. Repeatedly. Please.

Melissa McCarthy is a gift and I feel like this was such a great showcase for her. Her timing is impeccable and her physicality is BANANAS. Sandra Bullock is great too, so good at being the straight-man and hitting the exact right tone at the exact right moment. And they’re both so good at reserved but tender emoting! Give me 100 more movies with them together.

2. For a Good Time, Call…

The award for most punctuation in a movie title goes to… Just kidding. Well, no, I mean, that’s a lot of punctuation, but that’s not a real award. I guess I could make one, but it’s after midnight and I’m too tired to craft safely. Anyway, what For a Good Time, Call… really wins an award for is friendship. And laughter. And joy. And dogs named Zelda.

I had heard a little about this one on the internet and had mentioned it vaguely to Crystal, but I hadn’t felt any particular urge to run out and watch it, despite my intense and lasting love for Ari Graynor, but Crystal is super good at magically knowing exactly what I need when I need it and brought this home from the Redbox one weekend. What a gift!

It’s just a great, great story with really sweet, human characters who make mistakes and do their best to atone for them and are just generally trying to live their lives in a way that feels right to them. The development of Katie and Lauren’s friendship is so good and true and genuine that by the end you feel sort of agonized and sad that you haven’t lived the movie yourself. It’s hilariously funny and tender and kind and never makes you cringe with secondhand embarrassment, even when you’re sure that’s exactly what’s going to happen. It always knows exactly how long to hold the beat for a laugh and the emotional stuff never feels trite or simple. This one is not to be missed. Seriously.

1. Pacific Rim

I really loved Pacific Rim and I loved it even more than I expected to. I love these characters — all of them — and their flaws and scars and unrelenting drive to fight back against a seemingly insurmountable force. The Earth opens up and births a bunch of enormous — brain-shatteringly huge — Godzilla-ass monsters from space and these people lose the people they love to these monsters, lose their world to them, and instead of curling up in a ball and praying for a quick death, they fight. They fight and they fight and they fight until they no longer have the blood to drive them. It’s seriously glorious. Had we been in California, I think I’d have easily topped my record for in-theater viewings+ effortlessly.

The movie’s funny and fast and tongue-in-cheek without ever falling on the eye-roll-y side of campy. It’s huge, like, way huge on a scale that is hard to really get your head around — though Del Toro does a phenomenal job of creating scale for the universe — and it’s flirtation and sexy without ever being exploitative. It’s romantic without ever being explicitly so! Watching a movie where there is clearly love of all kinds between the male-female leads where it doesn’t end on a kiss? Straight-up revolutionary. No joke. It’s got great secondary and tertiary characters, unbelievable set design, and great pacing. Seriously, there is never a moment where it needs to move faster or slower, never an extraneous second. I could’ve watched 100 more hours of it, to be frank.

Dude, there are 250 foot tall robots punching even bigger lizard monsters in the face. Do you really, honestly need more than that? Of course not, but you get it all anyway.

Honorable Mentions

Previously: 2K12 | JAMZ

*: Because we moved to the middle of nowhere and the only decent — and boy am I using that pretty loosely there — theater is two hours away these aren’t all strictly things we saw at the movies or that even came out this year. They are all, however, things I watched for the first time in 2013. So there’s that.

+: I saw The Avengers eight times. It was a thing.

totally top five 2k13: jamz

The end of 2013 is upon us and just like last year I’ve decided to round-up some of my favorite pop culture experiences into Totally Top 5 lists for your perusal. Again, like last year, I’ve let my iTunes play counts do the talking and started with my top five jamz for the year. Here we go!

5. Fall Out Boy, “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light ‘Em Up)”

This song is a jam. It’s all energetic yelling and Patrick Stump’s wailing and it’s so, so good for screaming out your car windows when it’s, y’know, warm enough to have them rolled down. I always really like Fall Out Boy’s wordplay and this one’s got a couple of great bits. So good.

4. M.I.A., “Bad Girls”

The ultimate song for a car full of girls who are excited to be alive. I can’t even count the number of times someone pulled up next to me at a stop light and rolled up their window because I was blaring this so loud and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m not a badass, but this lets me fake it pretty god damn well.

3.Icona Pop, “I Love It”

Like everyone else on Earth this year, I could not avoid this song and, like the large majority of those same people, I embraced the hell out of it. This song is fun, it’s feel-good, and even if it’s overstayed its welcome a little, it was still one hell of a jam.

2. Katy Perry, “Roar”

Katy Perry’s done and said some dumb stuff — though I think that is just part of the territory of being successful, mistakes are made — but it hasn’t slowed down the juggernaut that is her pop reign. This song is glorious and if you haven’t cried like at least twice while listening to it then I just don’t understand what you’re doing. I love this song so much that I’ve had dream arguments where I went to the mat defending it. That’s a jam.

1. Selena Gomez, “Come & Get It”

When this came out in spring, I was utterly powerless against it and just left it on repeat for days at a time. I really kind of love her — appropriation issues aside, sigh — and this is just such a jam. Great beat, great chorus, and the perfect length for a pop hit. Jam and a half.

Honorable Mentions