No matter how frustrated I may get with the Academy Awards, it's difficult not to be curious about how the Oscars race will pan out – especially when it comes to the categories like “Best Visual Effects,” which always includes at least one or two of my favorite films from the previous year. (I'm a sucker for great FX sequences.)
Experience has taught me that my favorite movies of the year will rarely have much overlap with what's considered the “best” of the year, but that's never stopped me from getting excited about the movies that made the year memorable. That list includes Guillermo del Toro's Pacific Rim, which may not have won over mainstream audiences but absolutely lived up to the hype (for me, at least), as well as Edgar Wright's beer-soaked, sci-fi buddy movie The World's End. The surprisingly good zombie rom-com Warm Bodies and the justifiably Oscar-nominated, outer-space thriller Gravity also impressed the heck out of me last year, and I can't say enough good things about both films.
And because I know I'm not alone in adoring a few movies that probably won't be mentioned at the Academy Awards, I thought it would be interesting to poll some of my favorite storytellers in and around the comics industry about their favorite movies of the year.
Here's what they told me:
“I'm a genre freak and horror's my genre of choice so... I'm gonna have to go with the Evil Dead remake. Far from the best movie of the year (very far) but my favorite, mostly because they had the audacity to use an air-raid siren as an integral part of the soundtrack.”
- Keith Giffen (Cocreator of Lobo, Ambush Bug, and Guardians of the Galaxy's Rocket Raccoon, currently writing DC's Justice League 3000, DC Universe vs. Masters of the Universe and Larfleeze)
“Gravity was the only movie I saw in theaters twice, so I guess that's mine! It cheats a little, but it was amazing to see a movie set in space that had at least one eye on the physics. The scene where the space station got destroyed silently I loved – it was what inspired me to make the space scenes in my comic The Midas Flesh silent too. Physics! It's pretty awesome sometimes!”
- Ryan North (Creator of Dinosaur Comics and author of To Be or Not to Be: That Is the Adventure, The Midas Flesh and the Adventure Time comic)
“Between a busy schedule and the atrocious winter weather, I've sadly seen very few of the Oscar-nominated films. Hopefully I'll get to see a few more of them before they're gone from even the second-run theaters. But something I did see, and absolutely adored, was Frozen, which felt like the return of classic Disney animation. The best of Disney is always about story and characters, and Frozen has a finely crafted story and well-drawn characters... pun intended.”
- Ron Marz (Current Witchblade and Adventures of Superman writer, with The Shadow of Innsmouth and The Protectors arriving later this year)
“Pacific Rim. It was exactly the movie it needed to be, and so much fun! By far the movie I most looked forward to and most enjoyed going to see. A robot smacked an alien in the face with a boat! What more could you want?”
- Ross Nover (Creator of The System comic, host of Super Art Fight)
“A Field In England, directed by Ben Wheatley, written by Amy Jump. Proper British strangeness and glory. Wonderful film.”
- Warren Ellis (Author of Transmetropolitan, Planetary, Iron Man: Extremis, The Authority, and the comic that inspired the movie Red, as well as best-selling novels Crooked Little Vein and Gun Machine.)
“Two movies that I randomly watched back-to-back remain some of my favorite surprises of 2013:
The Spectacular Now: Brilliant high school comedy-drama. Miles Teller plays an alcoholic teen who's so irresistible, and so smart, but so teen.
Newlyweeds: Funny, compassionate, bleak relationship story – with a perfectly painted Brooklyn backdrop. Newlyweeds raises the bar for stoner films.”
- Meredith Gran (Creator of Octopus Pie, writer of Eisner-nominated Adventure Time: Marceline and the Scream Queens)
“Man of Steel and The Wolf of Wall Street.”
- Rob Liefeld (Cocreator of Deadpool, Cable, X-Force, and Youngblood; Cofounder of Image Comics)
“Pacific Rim. This comes with the caveat that I only saw a couple of movies last year, but Pacific Rim was basically the Transformers movie we all always wanted, plus monsters. It had its flaws, but the goofiness and great action scenes made it a must-watch.”
- Van Jensen (Writer of Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer, as well as Green Lantern Corps and The Flash for DC Comics)
“The year 2013 was a great one for movies and I enjoyed a lot of them. I have to go for the movie that pulled me so into what was happening and its visuals that I forgot where I was and that was Gravity. I have never been in space, like most, but this movie’s effects made me feel like I was there with them, watching all the madness go down. It also delivered on its promise of a 3D environment and the IMAX effect 100%, unlike most of the other movies promising the same thing.”
- Jimmy Palmiotti (Cocreator of Painkiller Jane, writer of DC Comics' Harley Quinn, Jonah Hex and Batwing)
“It's a tie between The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug and Pacific Rim. Why? These two films offered the only cinematic experiences that transported me to places never before seen. The attention to detail was unmatched... a true testament to the geniuses behind them: Peter Jackson and Guillermo del Toro. Shame on the Academy for recognizing 'period' pieces and not original world-building.”
- Sohaib Awan (Creator of Jinnrise series for IDW Publishing, host and creator of “Fictional Frontiers with Sohaib” radio program).
“I saw Star Trek Into Darkness and decided never to watch another movie again.”
- Rich Stevens (Creator of Diesel Sweeties, author of Bacon Is a Vegetable; Coffee Is a Vitamin published by Oni Press)
“Oh, that's an easy one: The Extraordinary Adventures of Adéle Blanc-Sec, directed by Luc Besson. Released in Europe in 2010, but only released in America (solely on video, it would seem) in 2013, it's Besson's loving, fun, nearly perfect adaptation of two Tardi's Adéle Blanc-Sec comic book albums. One part Indiana Jones, one part Amélie, it's easily the best comic book adaptation since 1991's The Rocketeer.”
- Matthew Dow Smith (Doctor Who comic artist and writer, as well as The October Girl, X-Files: Season 10, and The Shadow Over Innsmouth)
“Prisoners. Unfortunately, I didn't catch this one in the theater, but I watched it twice, back-to-back, on iTunes. It is a dark, intricate story that sticks with you long after you shut it off. Great acting overall. Hugh Jackman is very convincing as a father pushed to the edge of sanity by his daughter going missing and Jake Gyllenhaal brings so much to the role of the damaged detective that clearly didn't appear on paper. Paul Dano drives around his broken-down RV with his usual creepy stride. The premise raises a lot of questions and offers very few answers, which was intriguing to me. Prisoners gives a lot of credit to the viewer by not taking sides. The topic of child abduction is one that strikes a nerve with me as a father, and anyone familiar with my work Crawl to Me would know. So, naturally I was drawn to this flick from the trailer alone. Prisoners is really well done and because of its layered storytelling, it's even better the second time around. Highly recommended!”
- Alan Robert (Writer-artist for Crawl to Me, Killogy, Wire Hangers and upcoming series The Shunned One, as well as bassist-cofounder of band Life of Agony)
“It's a dead heat between Pacific Rim and The World's End for me.”
- Brandon Jerwa (Writer of Vampirella and Li'l Bionic Kids, as well as Battlestar Galactica and Highlander tie-in comics, with documentary Untold Tales of the Comic Industry in production)
“The World's End!”
- Paul Harding (Fan-favorite illustrator, cover artist and sculptor for DC Direct, Marvel Legends and Sideshow Collectibles)
“I am having a hard time articulating a genuine and insightful reason for why I loved Iron Man 3 beyond the final battle scene, so I'm going to give up and say that Iron Man 3 was my favorite movie of 2013 because Iron Man told his robot butler it was operation party time, and then all the Iron Man robots flew over and fought the lava people and there were different kinds of Iron Man robots and for a little bit the president was stuck in a different Iron Man robot.”
- Christopher Hastings (Author of The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, Fear Itself: Deadpool, Longshot Saves the Marvel Universe, cowriter-artist for Dig Dug comic)
“The World's End. The impossible attempt to recapture your youth, combined with a buddy ensemble movie and the realization that the individual is being corporatized into blandness. And some kick-ass fight scenes, too.”
- Rich Johnston (Founder and head writer for BleedingCool.com, author of Watchmensch, The Flying Friar, The Avengefuls and Doctor Who: A Room with a Deja View)
“I have to go with Gravity. It was, by far, the best experience I've had at the movie theater since I was a teenager at least. It was one of those films you have to see in the theater to fully enjoy, and I needed that! I also really liked Springbreakers for being unlike anything else.”
- Tim Seeley (Cocreator of Hack/Slash and Revival, writer on Batman: Eternal, G.I. Joe vs. Transformers, The Occultist)
“I loved Gravity. And while I know that's a trendy pick, I loved not only the obvious – and well-covered – aspects of the film. The untold story of the global catastrophe that followed the events shown would change the world – no more satellites in space?! Ryan Stone (played brilliantly by Sandra Bullock) climbing out of a swamp seems symbolic of a dramatic change in the world to follow. (What would communications be like for starters?) Just a fantastic film, top to bottom.”
- Richard Clark (Illustrator for House of Gold & Bones, Batman: Arkham Unhinged, The Boys and King Conan: The Scarlet Citadel)
“My favorite movie of 2013 is Pacific Rim. I can't remember the last time I fell so totally in love with a movie like that. I thought the world-building was incredible. Del Toro directed the hell out of those action sequences. I'm sure people have issues with it, in particularly with some of the acting, but it just literally hit every film-comic-anime bone in my body. It's a shame it didn't do better but I pin that on the marketing, which didn't properly convey just how fun and interesting the movie is. I thought the whole thing was geared towards kids and they missed a big opportunity to win people over. I've watched it so many times and it's one of those movies where even after I finish watching it, I want to stay in that world. I hope it lives on in some way.”
- F.J. DeSanto (Cowriter of Cyborg 009 and The Spirit, coproducer of 2008's The Spirit live-action movie, executive producer for Warren Ellis: Captured Ghosts and Grant Morrison: Talking With Gods documentaries )
“Pacific Rim was the movie for me. It was just a fun giant-robots-vs.-giant-monsters tribute to anime that had me grinning pretty much the whole time. It was was also the movie I wished that Transformers had been.”
- Doug Hills (Creator of Place Name Here and Chibi Cheerleaders from Outer Space, artist for SCAMThology, Dixon's Notch, author of Manga Studio for Dummies)
And there you have it! Many, many thanks to all of the artists, writers, and all-around brilliant people who responded to my poll and took the time to offer some thoughts on their favorite films of the year.
Question of the Week: What was your favorite movie of 2013?
Rick Marshall is an award-winning writer and editor whose work can be found at Movies.com, as well as MTV News, Fandango, Digital Trends, IFC.com, Newsarama, and various other online, print, and on-air news outlets. He's been called a “Professional Geek” by ABC News and Spike TV, and his personal blog can be found at MindPollution.org. You can find him on Twitter as @RickMarshall.
MORE FROM AROUND THE WEB: