Thursday, December 19, 2013

Top 10 Best “Rotten” Films of 2013

Yesterday, my blogging buddy Alex Thomas posted a great list on his site, Time for a Film. His list of The 5 Best “Rotten” Films of 2013 brought attention to films from 2013 that have received a “rotten” score on the film review aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes. I loved Alex’s list for a few reasons, mostly because at a time of year when people are posting lists of the Worst Films of the Year, Alex approached it from a different angle. He highlighted seemingly “rotten” films that he genuinely liked. I respect that. And upon doing a little research, I realized I’ve also enjoyed quite a few “rotten” films this year. Hope you dig my picks, and be sure to tell me which “rotten” films you’ve liked in 2013!

10. The Frozen Ground
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 58%

This film held my attention throughout, which is more than I can say for many recent Nicolas Cage action thrillers. Plus, Vanessa Hudgens genuinely put in solid work here.

9. Last Vegas
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 45%

The problem with Last Vegas was that is was marketed as The Hangover for the AARP crowd. Instead, this was a light-hearted, good-natured flick about life long pals having the weekend of their lives. I enjoyed my time with it, and, if I’m being honest, Kevin Kline got more laughs out of me in this movie than the entirety of most other comedies this year.

8. Oldboy
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 44%

There’s a scene in Spike Lee’s Oldboy when Josh Brolin has Samuel L. Jackson bound to a table. Jackson begs to know what Brolin is doing. Brolin leans down and tells Jackson that he’s going to hack off pieces of his neck until he can rip his entire head off. As Brolin is saying this, he’s trying to hold back a bit of manic laughter.

I fucking loved that.

7. Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 58%

I didn’t love the film as a whole, but Idris Elba’s fearless and flawless performance is enough to make Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom worth your time.

6. The Purge
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 38%

In my original review of this futuristic horror film, I noted that the plot wasn’t nearly as compelling as what the film said about our society. Watching this movie, the audience couldn’t help but think of the illegal shit they’d get into were The Purge actually a real thing. The conversations this film sparked with my friends was well worth the price of admission.

5. Only God Forgives
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 39%

Certainly not an easy film to appreciate, but Nicolas Winding Refn’s latest portrait of hell kept me wholly intrigued throughout. And I still think Kristin Scott Thomas killed her role.

4. The Counselor
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 35%

Another damn difficult film to enjoy, Ridley Scott’s The Counselor was an audacious experiment in narrative storytelling. The film consistently bucked convention by having, at any given time, two actors sit in a room and talk about life using metaphorical, nonsensical anecdotes that were hard to follow. Not a flawless experiment by any measure, but certainly not the God-awful piece of shit many claimed it to be.

3. Out of the Furnace
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 53%

I loved Scott Cooper’s Out of the Furnace. Christian Bale playing against type as a sensitive ex con trying to protect his brother, Casey Affleck as a man so debilitated with PTSD that he’d rather destroy himself than live a normal life, Woody Harrelson as a meth-head psychopath –  all the makings of a complex tale of flawed morality.

2. To the Wonder
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 44%

No contemporary Terrence Malick film will ever be universally revered. The man’s dependency on stark visuals, poetic voice over narration, and lack of formal narrative are destined to turn people off. Yet I’m continually enchanted with his work. I found To the Wonder to be a beautiful story of a tortured romance. Olga Kurylenko was so captivating in this film; I couldn’t take my eyes off her.

1. Adore
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 33%

I knew nothing about Adore when I first saw it, including that most everyone seemed to loathe it. Don’t get me wrong, people have the right to like and dislike whatever films they want, but I thought Adore was unique and stunning. The fact that it never judged its characters or their taboo decisions made me appreciate the movie that much more. Not only is Adore the best “rotten” film I saw in 2013, it could very well be one of my Top 10 favorites of the year, period.

44 comments:

  1. So glad you liked the idea man!

    This is exactly what I wanted to see too, I avoided Adore because of all the negative reviews but I will definitely give it a watch now, especially as it's an Australian film! I'm still excited to see Oldboy when I get a chance and will keep a look out for Mandela too. Funnily enough, I watched Out of the Furnace last night (after making my list) and it would have probably come in at the #5 spot on mine, great cast and performances.

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    1. LOVED the idea. Such a positive and unique spin on lesser-credit films from the year. I hope you like Adore... I honestly loved every second of it, and was stunned by the critical apathy toward it. Also really glad yo hear you like Out of the Furnace. Affleck really showed me something new in that one.

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  2. The only films in that list that I've seen and would put are To the Wonder and Only God Forgives as they're obviously misunderstood films. And I'm also going to add The Great Gatsby. Yes, it's style over substance but it's fun to watch.

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    1. You know, I haven't seen The Great Gatsby. Honestly had no interest whatsoever. But maybe I should give it a go.

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  3. I wanted to love Only God Forgives, but I just couldn't get into it. I would have Broken City in there for me, genuinely entertaining.

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    1. I actually liked much of Broken City. Kyle Chandler is one of those actors who automatically makes anything better, in my opinion. Love that guy.

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  4. Great list - loved Alex's idea and each of your executions. Some films here I definitely need to hunt down (I still haven't seen To The Wonder!)

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    1. Thanks! To the Wonder is probably Malick's hardest film to appreciate yet, but I thought it was beautiful.

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  5. i liked the purge! i liked naomie harris in mandela, but nothing else about the film lol.

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    1. The Purge was pretty damn groovy. I did enjoy Harris in Mandela as well. But yeah... that movie didn't really work for me.

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  6. I knew The Counselor was panned viciously, but I didn't realize how few critics liked To the Wonder and Out of the Furnace. All three rank pretty highly with me this year. I also agree with Alex' Oblivion pick.

    Only God Forgives? Now that's a film only a mother could love, and even then... KST was good, but she could've been much better had the writing held up its end.

    A few more I'd toss on the pile:
    Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning (RT 51; 3.5/5 for me) Surprisingly complex and even heart-felt film that's miles above any other film in this musty franchise
    The Call (RT 43; 3/5) Solid genre flick despite an ending that nearly derails it.
    Twixt (RT 31; 3/5) Off-kilter throwback to the killer B's of the 50s/60s
    The Numbers Station (RT 29; 3/5) Entertaining and clever low-budget thriller that makes good use of its low-rent stars (Cusack and Akerman)
    A Madea Christmas (RT 17; 2.5/5) I'm not exactly in love with it, either, but I believe in judging each film on its own merits. Few reviewes seem willing to do that with Tyler Perry.

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    1. Oh I agree with Only God Forgives. Had the writing been stronger, KST could be genuinely looking at an Oscar nom. Just a tad too opaque as is now.

      I thought Twixt was so much fun. Goofy but kind of a ball. But didn't that come out in 2011?

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    2. Twixt had a blink-and-you'll-miss-it limited release in 2012, but the general public couldn't see it until 2013. I base years on when I have a realistic shot at seeing a movie (i.e. it's playing in a theater less than an hour's drive away).

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  7. Like you, I actually liked 'The Purge.' I put it on my "OK" list. I think that best and worst list are too limited so I created a "best, worst, and 'just ok'" films of the year. I think most films fit in the "just ok" category.

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    1. Yeah, it's definitely a "just okay" film, but I did like it better than most RT critics. Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting... will definitely give your year-end lists a look soon!

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  8. Definitely agree on The Purge and Last Vegas... Neither was totally great, but each deserved better scores on the tomatometer!

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  9. Not seen the majority of films on this list, perhaps because they were given rotten reviews. I am seeing On Frozen Ground tonight, apart from that the only film I've seen on this list is Only God Forgives and I thought that was the best film of the year.

    On The Purge - I can't be the only person who wouldn't break the law, surely?


    Maybe you could do a list of the worst positive reviewed film.

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    1. I'm staying from Worst or Most Disappointing film of the year lists. I've done them in the past, but they're just too negative for me now. I'd rather draw attention to films I like, rather than bash films I hated, you know?

      The Frozen Ground is a perfectly decent genre picture. And it was great to see Hudgens really go for it, and, in my opinion, nail it. I'll be curious to hear what you think!

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  10. Great idea for a list (Thanks Alex!!!). Some I would add:

    Man of Steel: I wouldn't say it's a great movie. In fact, it's deeply flawed but I thought it was pretty good overall.

    Oz the Great and Powerful. Again, flawed (particularly Mila Kunis' woeful performance), but I had fun watching it. And the visuals are spectacular.

    G.I. Joe: Retaliation. (Posted my review for this today!) It's just plain dumb fun. I pretty got what I came for - a big, loud, brash spectacle that manages not to annoy me and doesn't go on forever. I'd say that's a pretty good accomplishment since most summer blockbusters now seem to run 2 1/2 hours for no good reason and try entirely too hard, but failing, to make you laugh. I'm talking about you, Michael Bay!

    Grown Ups 2. I don't think it's one of the worst movies of the year like everyone else seems to. Thought it was decent enough for one watch which is more than I can say for most Adam Sandler flicks.

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    1. It was a great idea, wasn't it? I loved the way Alex turned negative reviews into something positive.

      I was curious about Retaliation... it definitely looked like one of those just plain dumb fun films. I enjoy one of those from time to time. They have their purpose, you know?

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  11. I was probably going to skip Adore but will try and watch it this month as per your recommendation. I really want to see The Counselor but missed it at the cinema. To the Wonder's score surprises me a bit. Clearly Malick's weakest imo, but I still enjoyed the experience.

    The only "rotten" film I really loved from this year was The Truth about Emanuel which I saw at Sundance and fell in love with. It only has 7 reviews on RT, 4 of which are rotten though, so there is plenty of room for that to sway, but it generally seems to have been received poorly which is quite disappointing.

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    1. I think it's Malick's weakest as well, but I'd still stick by my initial A- rating. I really enjoyed it.

      I highly recommend Adore, but obviously I'm one of the few. Such a shame.

      I was curious about The Truth about Emanuel. I'll probably give it a watch now based on your reco. Thanks dude!

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  12. For the first time that I can remember I haven't seen a single one of the films in one of your posts. I haven't avoided any of these; I simply don't get the theater much so I wouldn't have gotten around to possibly watching any of these until they showed up in Netflix as being available.

    I checked some 2013 films I have seen and I actually had a hard time finding any that I liked that had a score below 50%. I finally found Kick-Ass 2 with a 28% rating and Red 2 with a 42% rating. It's hardly a surprise that action films aren't liked, though. The closest I could come to finding a film that was intended to be taken seriously that had something like a bad rating was Oz the Great and Powerful with 59%.

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    1. Hey, I can't blame you for not seeing any of these films. If you don't get to the theater much, it's definitely a smarter play to try and see movies you at least think are going to be good.

      Oz looked a little too... I dunno, loud for me. Did you like it?

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    2. I actually gave it four stars out of five. There's little surprise who the Wicked Witch is going to be, but there were parts that I thought were very well done, like a scene where we meet a china doll. For what it's worth - it uses the book The Wizard of Oz to be a prequel of, not the film. There are some differences between the classic film and the book that might confuse when you watch this prequel. For instance, Glinda is the Good Witch of the South, not the North.

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    3. Very interesting. I'll have to give it a watch now. Never fair to judge a film unless you've seen it, you know?

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  13. Damn, Mandela is rotten? I'll probably see it this weekend either way. I was sure The Heat was rotten but it's not, that's the movie I really liked a lot and many didn't. It was so much fun.

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    1. I was actually surprised to find that Mandela was rotten. Seems like something critics would eat up. The Heat didn't really work for me, but that's okay. I laughed a few times.

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  14. Adore definitely doesn't feel rotten.. gosh.

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  15. "The Counselor" was tough to wade through, but not unforgivable. I found "Last Vegas" to be adorable but agree that it wasn't marketed correctly. I owe you an e-mail about this list....don't worry, good stuff you'll get a kick out of!

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    1. Thank you SO MUCH for your email. That made my day (week, month, year). I thought that movie was so adorable too!

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  16. Man, my top 5 would probably be the same! I watched Adore a few weeks ago and dug it. It might actually make my top 10 as well. :)

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    1. Love that! Really happy to hear that actually. I thought that film was remarkable.

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  17. I've only seen Last Vegas but totally agree! I went it with all the bad reviews in my head thinking "this is going to be stupid", but came out loving it. It really is hilarious and quite soulful.

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    1. I agree! I thought it was going to be pretty bland, but I really quite enjoyed it.

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  18. Very good list and I'm with you on most of these (except Oldboy) in that I actually did wind up enjoying the ones that I've seen. I think that OGF is one of the best films of the year, but that's just me, and the rest are pretty solidly entertaining at the very least. Critical and commercial recognition be damned, if I like a film I'm gonna champion it - The Counselor was one of the best black comedies of the year and To The Wonder is a fantastic broken-love story.

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    1. I'm the same way, if I love a film, I stick by it. I'm not influenced by critically bashing and commercial denial, you know? Glad to hear you like most of the flicks on the list. I truly adored To the Wonder.

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  19. Ahh man, I freaking love your list. Adore was sensational. Naomi Watts gave my favourite leading actress performance, whilst Robin Wright gave my favourite supporting actress performance. Words cannot describe how beautiful a film it is... such a shame it got so universally criticised.

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    1. Damn man, this comment made my day. I had no idea you loved the film that much. I fell in love with it right away. Watts was just miraculous. So happy you're a fan.

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  20. That is a terrific idea for a post. I haven't seen any of these. I am interested in Mandela -- I liked Idris Elba in Sometimes in April, Luther, and The Wire. He's clearly a very versatile actor.

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    1. It was a solid idea, wasn't it? Elba is great in the film, but the film as a whole isn't fantastic or anything. Rather indistinguishable from many other biopics.

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