Greetings, welcome, and hello!

As is tradition, with the end of the year comes the end of year lists. The bests, the worsts, the weirdests, what have you. And we here at DestroyTheCyborg always like to join that party, because who doesn’t enjoy a good list every now and again? As in the past few years, I have managed to compile my list of the best ten films that came out in 2013.

However, this year things are going to unfold a little different. As you will notice once you start seeing the list, my usually long-winded explanations will be uncharacteristically short. This is due to the fact that we will have fellow film writer Chase Szymanski posting his own list. Then we will be having the first ever DestroyTheCyborg Film Podcast where Chase and I discuss our picks later this week!

Before we get started, the usual disclaimer – All views expressed in this list are mine and mine alone and do not reflect the opinions of DestroyTheCyborg as a whole. And finally – After reading my list, feel free to agree, disagree and tell me what you thought the best of 2013 were in the comments section below!

Now, without further ado, here are my Top Ten Films of 2013, starting with…

 #10 – Gravity


I feel like I’m going to get a lot of flak having this so low on my list. It is truly an impressive film with a compelling lead in Sandra Bullock and hands-down the most gorgeous sound design I’ve ever heard in a film. Also, I’m not usually an advocate of 3D, but this is definitely a film where it works astonishingly well. On the whole, Gravity was visually stunning and downright captivating to look at, and that is what really stuck with me long after I left the theatre.

#9 – Nebraska

Nebraska film still

For those who are not aware of this film (as it is was released extremely quietly near the end of the year), Nebraska follows the story of an old, stuck-in-his-ways alcoholic and his son who head to Nebraska in order to collect the one million dollars the old man has supposedly won. It is an intensely personal story with many moments that really hit close to home for me. The performances by leads Bruce Dern and Will Forte (a.k.a. MacGruber) are downright amazing. and really help connect you to what happens throughout. It is a very subtle film that is filled with humor, sadness, and exploring the complex and frustrating thing that is family.

#8 – Rush


I am not typically a big Ron Howard fan, but Rush really changed my opinion of him and his films. It is an intense and emotional film about the fierce real-life rivalry between F1 racers James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl). What really sold me on the film was the relationship between the two men, who while seemingly hating each others’ guts, really respected one another. This is something that is shown very subtly throughout the film and that is never too heavy-handed, which is a testament to not only Howard’s direction, but Hemsworth and Brühl’s lights out performances. As if that weren’t enough, the racing sequences are some of the most intense and breathtaking scenes I saw all year.

#7 – The Wolf of Wall Street

The Wolf of Wall Street

The Wolf of Wall Street was one of the last films I managed to see in 2013, but is by far one of the most impressive films that came out. It is a blacker-than-night comedy in the way only Martin Scorcese could create that really examines the generally disgusting excess of the stock market in the late 80s and early 90s. Leonardo DiCaprio‘s Jordan Belfort is insane and loathsome creature who is still irresistibly likable and could be the 90s answer to Patrick Bateman, with the exception being that Belfort is a real-life monster and not a work of fiction. It’s viciously funny and brutally mean-spirited all at the same time, making the viewer ask themselves why they are laughing and whether or not they are actually on Belfort’s side.

#6 – Pacific Rim

Pacific Rim

There have only been two films in the twenty-five years I have been alive that have made me stand up and cheer midway through – The Cabin in the Woods and now Pacific Rim. While yes the story and acting are cheesy, that is part of the experience and what makes the film so charismatic. The action is incredible and the special effects are mind-blowingly great, making it a truly special popcorn film. This film is a bombastic and delightfully fun love note to kaiju monsters and the giant robots that fight them, and it was by far the most joyful and fun film to come out in an otherwise dull summer at the movies.

#5 – Her


Every year there always seems to be one film that gives me an overwhelming sense of feels. Last year it was the criminally underrated Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, and this year it is Spike Jonze‘s love story Her. It is a very beautiful film with a lot of humanity in it, especially from Samantha, voiced by Scarlett Johansson – who honestly deserves an Academy Award nomination for her performance. It is also fascinating seeing the world Jonze created for the film – a type of science fiction where amazing, futuristic technology exists yet it all feels believable and real. On top of that, the story it tells is powerful and hopeful against all odds, making it one of the most emotionally rewarding films of last year.

#4 – The World’s End

The World's End

As far as trilogies go, Edgar Wright‘s Blood and Ice Cream thematic  trilogy is by far one of the most entertaining and consistently great trilogies in the past ten years. But in my opinion, Wright’s final installment, The World’s End, is by far the best of the three. It concludes the set of the films on a literally explosive high note, with Wright crafting a very emotionally complex story of what it means to grow up and the desire to relive the  glory days. While not as laugh out loud funny as Shaun of the Dead, it is a far more resonating film – in large part thanks to Simon Pegg‘s fantastic performance. He is able to showcase the while he is hilarious, he can also play a man who is very broken and complex, which really takes the film through the roof.

#3 – Spring Breakers

Spring Breakers

2013 was a great year if you are into extremely black comedies, as both The Wolf of Wall Street and director Harmony Korine‘s Spring Breakers provided two truly great installments to the genre. It is a neon-soaked nightmare that explores the sometimes terrifying extremes our protagonists go to in order to fufill their mantra of “Spring Break forever”, and it is a entrancing downward spiral to watch unfold. A lot of the unease that the film creates comes from James Franco‘s rapper/drug dealer Alien, who gives off the right amount of charm and downright sleaze that you never fully trust him yet still are interested in exploring his character. It is definitely a polarizing film, but for me it was a bold and terrifying experience that gets richer on multiple viewings.

#2 – The Conjuring

The Conjuring

Full disclosure – James Wan is one of my favorite filmmakers, and I have been following his career ever since he burst onto the scene with Saw (which is one of my favorite films of all time). But even with this bias, I feel like The Conjuring could very well be his magnum opus. Throughout the film, we see all of his influences and the lessons he has learned throughout his still-young career mixing together to create a well-oiled and genuinely intense haunted house story. As if it couldn’t get any better, Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga are simply amazing as Ed and Lorraine Warren, giving the audience two very likable leads to root for throughout. Finally, the film’s climax is by far the best third act in all of 2013 as it was a frenetic, suspenseful sequence that literally had me white-knuckled. A true horror masterpiece.

#1 – American Hustle

American Hustle

As I mentioned extensively in my review, writer/director David O. Russell created something truly special this year with American Hustle. It is an engrossing examination of several wonderfully complex characters at the pace of a roller coaster. Every single actor in this film gives their best performance throughout, and there wasn’t a weak link in the group. Characters weave in and out of the narrative as if it is some sort of complicated dance, and it really is hypnotic to watch it all unfold. The world that Russell and his cast and crew have created is easily the most impressive I saw in all of film last year, and it was a fun and rewarding ride for me as a filmgoer- Making it my favorite film of 2013.

And there you have it – my top ten films of last year! Do you agree with me? Think I’m crazy? Did I leave your favorite film off the list? Be sure to let me know in the comments section below, I look forward to hearing your thoughts!

And don’t forget to stay tuned to DestroyTheCyborg through the rest of this week for Chase’s top ten this Thursday and the first ever DTC Film podcast on Friday!

About The Author

Kevin McDaniel graduated from Grand Valley State University in 2012 majoring in Film and Video Production with a minor in Writing. His thesis film, Gus Baranto, P.I. and the Case of the Missing Pudding, was also released that year to some bemused laughter and confused looks. Since graduating, he has worked on the feature film Sand Castles, due to hit out the festival circuit late next year. Ever since he was young, he has had a large interest in film - and thanks to a childhood fascination with Batman – the crime and film noir genres. His three primary influences as a filmmaker are Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, John Carpenter’s The Thing, and Saw, although his favorite film is Brick .

When not writing for DestroyTheCyborg, Kevin is usually either locked in his room playing video games or locked in his office working on various scripts, including The Party which is being co-developed with fellow DTC writers Mike Rapin and Chase Szymanski. If not indoors, he might be riding his bike or at a baseball game, depending on the weather. While not as avid a comic book reader as he once was, Kevin enjoys the various works of Steve Niles, Greg Rucka and Garth Ennis. Although if he had to choose a side, he would be a Marvel.

Outside of his geek culture, Kevin is a pretty normal guy despite having his birth constantly compared to the chest-burster scene from Alien. He is occasionally told that he looks like Ashton Kutcher, which mildly irritates him. Another fun fact about him is that he would one day like to learn how to swing dance. His celebrity crush is Michelle Trachtenberg and his favorite color is gray. This is also a great time to mention that he considers it really awkward writing about himself in the third person. He currently resides in the Cleveland, Ohio area with his hamster, Miranda.

2 Responses to Kevin’s Top 10 Films of 2013

  1. Andrea Francois says:

    Love the featured image. Seriously a masterpiece.
    I’m surprised at that lack of love for Philomena.
    Gravity is one of the best moving-going experiences I’ve had in years, even in the crappy theater down the road.

  2. Ben Perry says:

    I’m going to be honest. I love David O. Russell, but I thought American Hustle was pretty over-rated.