The 13 Best Movies Of 2013
While some big Hollywood names dominated the box office this year, the films that were based on real life people or inspired by true stories were the ones that really outshined the rest.
13. Monsters University
Pixar struck gold with its 2001 Monsters Inc movie, grossing over half a billion dollars worldwide. Twelve years later the prequel Monsters University did even better than the original. The animated movie tells the story of two pals, Mike and Sulle, during their time at college and how they went from being friends to enemies. The film made over $80 million opening weekend and eventually raked in over $700 million worldwide.
12. Pain & Gain
What happens when a bunch of Miami-based bodybuilders break into a life of crime? We find out just that in Pain & Gain, a movie based loosely on the real life story of a group of criminals of several muscle-bound men in the late 90’s. The men wind up taking a serious walk on the dark side when an extortion scheme goes wrong and they end up with blood on their hands. Directed by Michael bay, the film stars Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Anthony Mackie.
11. Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom
South Africa and the world lost an icon and true hero with the recent passing of anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela. Imprisoned for more than 27 years, 1994 Mandela’s autobiography “Long Walk To Freedom” was turned into a biographical film for the big screen. Idris Elba plays the former South African president with Naomie Harris as his wife Winnie. The film was released just one week before the passing of 95-year-old Mandela.
Common may be known for his rapping skills but the Chicago emcee has been following his passion for acting for quite some time now and finds himself in one of the best films of the year in LUV (Learning Uncle Vinny). Playing a recently released ex-convict, Vinny is determined to change his life around but takes his young nephew under his wing to teach him how to be a man in the process. Nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, the movie co-stars Meagan Good, Charles S. Dutton, Danny Glover and Michael Rainey, Jr.
9. Free Angela And All Political Prisoners
Sometimes the best films are based on the truth. Civil rights activist Angela Davis is the subject of the documentary Free Angela and All Political Prisoners. The film chronicles the life of Davis as a young college professor and how her social activism helps her land on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted list.
Wearing number 42 on his uniform, Jackie Robinson broke color barriers by becoming the first Black player in Major League Baseball by taking the field with the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947. Hollywood paid homage to the baseball great with this year’s film 42, which focused on Robinson’s inaugural year integrating the league. Perhaps best known for his role in the television series “Lincoln Heights,” Chadwick Boseman’s first lead role was playing the baseball great. Harrison Ford was cast as Branch Rinkey, the MLB executive responsible for signing Robinson and integrating the sport.
7. CrazyS*xyCool: The TLC Story
During the mid 90’s, there was no bigger musical act than TLC. T-Boz, Left Eye and Chilli dominated the airwaves, sold millions of records and sparked the trend of baggy clothes worn backwards. But the group shocked the world when they announced they were flat broke. Their rise to fame and subsequent bankruptcy was the premise behind VH1’s CrazyS*xyCool: The TLC Story. While TLC fans were ecstatic about their story finally being told, their first manager Perri “Pebbles” Reid wasn’t too happy being portrayed as money-grabbing shyster and has threatened to sue.
6. Being Mary Jane
Mary Jane Paul is a successful talk show host whose private life could certainly use some help. Her family views her as a walking ATM and her love life became non-existent after she saw her lover walking hand in hand with another woman. Gabrielle Union plays the title character in “Being Mary Jane,” a one-hour television movie that premiered on BET. From the creator of the hit sitcom “Girlfriends,” the movie served as a television pilot and the first season of “Being Mary Jane” is expected to begin in January 2014.
5. Mother of George
Most African couples are expected to have multiple children but when that doesn’t happen, it can cause a lot of strain on a relationship. In Mother of George, recently married Nigerian couple Adenike and Ayodele experience fertility problems. Adenike decides to take matters in her own hands but it could destroy their lives. Mother of George premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.
4. Lee Daniels’ The Butler
Perhaps no other film with a star-studded cast told such an important story in Black and American history this year as Lee Daniels’ The Butler. Told from the perspective of a White House butler, the film chronicles some of this country’s most notable events, especially the Civil Rights movement, through the eyes of Eugene Allen, who had a front row seat during his 34-year employment. Forest Whittaker, Oprah Winfery, Terrence Howard, Lenny Kravitz, Jane Fonda, Robin Williams and Cuba Gooding, Jr. are just a few of the big names that round out the cast.
3. Best Man Holiday
In 1999, audiences flocked to the theaters to see Morris Chestnut, Sanaa Lathan, Taye Diggs, Regina Hall and Terrence Howard in The Best Man. Fourteen years later, the sequel would finally hit theaters. The gang returned to reprise their roles in The Best Man Holiday. Written and directed by Malcolm Lee, the film raked in over $30 million its opening weekend, earning roughly the same amount in three days as the original film did in total.
2. Fruitvale Station
While most people were ringing in the early hours of 2009 by celebrating with loved ones, San Francisco father of one Oscar Grant III was fighting for his life. Shot by the BART Police in the back while lying face down on the platform of Fruitvale station, Grant died at the hospital hours later. His story is told in the independent film Fruitvale Station. Michael B. Jordan stars as the slain father while Oscar-winning actress Octavia Spencer portrays Grant’s mother Wanda Johnson. The first film from writer-director Ryan Coogler, Fruitvale Station has won both critical acclaim and numerous film festival awards.
1. 12 Years A Slave
In 1841 Solomon Northup was a freeborn Negro but that didn’t stop him from being kidnapped in D.C. and sold into slavery. Forced to work at a Louisiana plantation for 12 years before his release, Northup told his harrowing account in an autobiography. Director Steve McQueen turned that book into the epic historical drama 12 Years a Slave. The film was released in October and has been lauded by critics and audiences alike. The film is receiving a lot of Oscar buzz, particularly for McQueen’s directing abilities and the superb acting of Chiwetel Ejiofor for his portrayal of Northup.