This year’s movies didn’t measure up to 2012, but there was still plenty to see. Superheroes still reigned supreme at the box office — and in my heart. There were a few surprises and a few duds. Let’s get to rankin’.
1. “Man of Steel”
I kind of relegated this one to the top spot the moment I walked out of the theater. My comic book obsession started with the death of Superman, so it only seems fitting that a modern origin story is my favorite. Supes trades in some of the story from “Superman Returns” for plenty of action. City-leveling action in fact. The flashbacks were a good idea in giving the emotional weight to the controversial ending. Russell (The) Crowe was great as Superman’s father, Jor-El. You can never go wrong with a little Crowe time. Michael Shannon kills it as Zod; I don’t know if he tops Terrence Stamp’s version, but it’s close. I’ll always love any Superman movie, but with this one, I got to mean it when I say it.
2. “The Wolverine”
After “Wolverine: Origins,” we had nowhere to go but up, and “The Wolverine” went more than up. The idea of having Logan lose his powers was great, showing him vulnerable, thus making him more relatable. The setting was great, the ninjas were great and the story was top notch. My only qualm was making Silver Samurai a huge robot. Yuck.
This reminded me of the good old days of simple crime thrillers. Nothing fancy, just pure drama. Jake Gyllenhaal is amazing in this one. He won’t win any Oscars, but he deserves it. Hugh Jackman’s descent into madness is understandable and heart-breaking, which makes this one so entertaining.
4. “Pacific Rim”
Now, not every movie has to have some great story or great acting. Sometimes, a movie can be great because it’s pure fun. “Rim” is just that. It’s robots versus monsters. You can’t go wrong. This was a primer for “Godzilla” next year.
The solo actor idea had me worried, as it usually doesn’t work, but Sandra Bullock shines here. The tension can be felt throughout as you wonder if she’ll be able to make it out alive. Some of the plausibility complaints should be shunned. This is a movie after all, and it did its job by creating excitement.
6. “Dallas Buyers Club”
Matthew McConaughey has been top notch the past couple of years. With “Mud,” “Magic Mike,” which I hear he was really good in, and now “Buyers Club,” he has upped his game. His performance along with Jared Leto, who also steps up his acting, are Oscar level. This being a true story had me sold from the get-go.
7. “The Conjuring”
The doll alone in the first 10 minutes was enough to scare the bejeezus out of me. Justin Wan brings his patented style here as he takes a typical ghost story and through varying camera angles and small tricks creates a level of fear that can’t be matched. If you weren’t scared during the hide n’ clap scene, you must have nerves of steel.
8. “Oz the Great and Powerful”
What a beautiful film. The black-and-white beginning made the first glimpse of Oz that much more spectacular. That’s what it must have felt like for people seeing the land of Oz in 1939. It takes a lot to wow me these days. I had my breath taken away.
9. “Hunger Games: Catching Fire”
Now, that’s what I’m talking about. This had the heart that was missing from the first film. It even made up for botching the death of Rue. The cliffhanger ending, which was expected, made me start counting the days until Mockingjay-Part 1.
10. “Pain and Gain”
Michael Bay returns to “Bad Boys” greatness with “Pain.” Bay made me remember he’s not just all about explosions, he knows funny, too. His return to form had me forgetting about “Transformers” 1 & 2. The Rock is surprisingly funny and proves that he has the chops to hang with Mark Wahlberg.
Honorable mentions: “American Hustle,” “Iron Man 3,” “Despicable Me 2” and “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.”
Duds: “Out of the Furnace,” “Grown Ups 2,” “After Earth” and “A Good Day to Die Hard.”