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Bruce St. James’ top 10 movies of 2013

By my best estimate, I saw roughly 120 movies this year. As a member of the Phoenix Film Critics Society, (have I mentioned that lately?) I strive to see every film that is released in Phoenix, from small independent documentaries to major studio blockbusters. ALL of them.

So without further ado, here’s my list of the 10 best movies of the year. I’m saving you the legwork. You’re welcome.

No. 10: “Philomena”

A touching, funny and true tale of a mother looking for the son she gave up for adoption 50 years ago. Judy Dench is amazing and Steve Coogan stays with her scene for scene.

No. 9: “The Spectacular Now”

The most honest, real and heartfelt look at young people and love today. This generation’s “Breakfast Club” meets “16 Candles.”

No. 8: “Frozen”

Yes, it’s that good. Besides being the best animated film of the year, the music and humor appeal to every member of the family.

No. 7: “Captain Phillips”

Tom Hanks reminds us why he is the greatest American actor of the past 20 years. And this true story runs you through the emotional ringer.

No. 6: “Mud”

One of the more overlooked films of the year, but worthy of your time. Think “Stand By Me” but more serious and better-acted.

No. 5: “Nebraska”

Even though it was shot in black and white, this movie has more colorful characters than any 3D “blockbuster” AND a better, more original story.

No. 4: “American Hustle”

Best ensemble cast of the year with award-winning performances in every scene. That, and the “best hair in film,” although I don’t remember the 70s being THAT outrageous.

No. 3: “Gravity”

They’ll sell you the whole seat, but you’ll only need the edge. Ninety minutes of genuine suspense pulled off masterfully by the director and Sandra Bullock.

No. 2: “12 Years A Slave”

The most important film of the year and bound to take home a slew of awards. Only movie I saw this year that had an entire theater in tears.

No. 1: “Dallas Buyers Club”

If you want to see the Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor performances of the year, here is it. The fact it’s a true story makes it all the more remarkable.