(All grossed under $25 million at the box office.)
5) About Time ($15 million) (Trailer)
I really struggled on which romantic comedy I should put on this list. There are quite a few good ones from this year that did not make a whole lot of money that were really good, (I obviously have a thing for romantic comedies) but in the end I decided on About Time. First off, how much you like this movie depends on your tolerance for Richard Curtis, director of Love Actually and Notting Hill. If you like either of the movies I just said, you will enjoy this. I love both of them, so I loved this. The romantic plot between Domhnall Gleeson and Rachel McAdams is wildly enjoyable and fun to watch, but what really got me and left me in tears at the end was the relationship between Gleeson's character and his father, played by Bill Nighy. The two have wonderful chemistry, and that story is integrated with the time traveling abilities beautifully. Oh ya. This movie has time travel. That's what separates it from other romantic comedies. Don't worry: you won't have to analyze the time travel used here all that much. The movie has a set of rules that it creates, and it follows them pretty well. A couple of times it did go off the rails pretty spectacularly, but it was so ridiculous that it was at the point that I was able to just be like, "Ok. That happened. Let's move on." And, as I said, this movie had me in tears at the end of the father-son story. That's exactly what this is supposed to do. The second-best date movie of the year, About Time is definitely one to show to your significant other. Oh by the way that trailer? Ya one of the best of the year. That may be in large part because they use the song Lakehouse by Of Monsters and Men, one of my favorite songs currently, but still....awesome trailer.
4) Inside Llewyn Davis ($12 million) (Trailer)
So this one might be a little biased given my history with music, but this really is a great character study on Llewyn Davis. Like Frances Ha, it's a story that follows one guy and a period of time in his life and we see the events unfold in front of us and how he reacts to said events. You want to like him. So badly. And yet, whenever he's about to be likable, he does something incredibly selfish. The Coen Brothers (past repertoire includes No Country for Old Men and The Big Lebowski) really do not treat their characters well in this movie. Almost everyone in this movie are jerks. Particularly Carey Mulligan! Geez....but Oscar Isaac is great as the lead, and really makes this into as compelling of a story as it is. Even though it has been completely overlooked by the Academy, it should definitely not be overlooked by those interested in the music industry. Oh, and while it's Greenwich Village Folk music, it is still wildly enjoyable music, even if you hate folk. You always have a recipe for success when the main song is a duet between Oscar Isaac and Marcus Mumford. Still kinda bummed that got overlooked for Best Original Song...
3) Frances Ha ($4 million) (Trailer)
Unanimously called the best indie movie of 2013 by movie critics, Frances Ha follows Frances and her daily struggles to just get by. It is a wonderfully told story, where, much like Inside Llewyn Davis, (next on this list SPOILER) nothing really happens. At all. Sure we see events in her life unfold throughout the 86 minute film, but there isn't exactly much of a story. The story is her life. And how she reacts to the events that occur in it. And you know what? I was completely ok with it. Frances is a great anti-hero. She mooches and mooches and doesn't express much in terms of gratitude, and yet....you can't help but root for her. When she decides to go to Paris (even though she can't afford it) and then sleeps through almost the entire weekend, you can't help but feel bad for her. After all, she didn't plan for the jet lag. It just happened. (Is that a spoiler? Well....not really. After all I didn't tell you why she went to Paris now did I?) But when these events happen, you are so drawn to them. That's where this movie really gets you. I will say that I don't really know why it was shot in black and white, but I forgot about it very quickly. Maybe they were going for an old-time feel? I don't know....I've noticed that a lot of indie films are shot in black and white (Nebraska, the Oscar indie film of 2013, is also shot in black and white) and while some of them I get the artistic reasoning behind it, definitely not here. Sorry guys. But don't let that discourage you! Seriously. It's short, so it's very quickly paced, but there's definitely enough to keep you entertained from start to finish.
2) Mud ($21 million) (Trailer)
Initially my number one on this list, I have been talking about how great this movie is for a while now. Definitely one of the most forgotten movies of the summer, Mud continues the incredible McConaissance that has been happing in the movies over the last year or so. (Which culminated in an Oscar-worthy performance in Dallas Buyers Club) But, I did enough praising of McConaughey in my Best Acting Performances list, so I'm not going to talk about this. Instead, I'm going to talk about everything else. Mud was a great character, but he was also surrounded by other great performances too. First off, the freaking kids here are amazing. So down to earth and so believable, they go toe-to-toe with Mud and almost ALMOST out-act him. But one thing that this movie did right to really lend to the believability of these kids was that everyone else in the movie, as in all of the adults, treated the kids like fellow adults. It's totally unrealistic to me to have kids behave exactly like adults and then have no one around them treat them as such. Oh look I'm 14 and ride a motorcycle around town yet my dad is going to still baby-talking me. NO! Bad movie. But fortunately, Mud does no such thing. Then there's the rest of the cast. Reese Witherspoon is not the most believable of characters, but the fact that her character is not well-written may be the single biggest fault of the entire movie. However, everyone else is great! Sam Shepard plays a great down-to-earth southerner that helps out Mud and the crew in their time of need. And Michael Shannon puts in a better performance here than he did in freaking Man of Steel! All of it comes together for a very down-to-earth and homey southern story. That no one saw or cared to think about because of the fact that Matthew McConaughey was in it. If you want a good ol' fashion story about family and survival in the deep south, go see Mud. Definitely worth 130 minutes of your time.
1) All Is Lost ($6 million) (Trailer)
A miraculous tale of courage and determination, All Is Lost has an incredibly simple and yet powerful premise: a nameless man stares death in the face. For 106 gripping minutes, we watch our man fight for his life and do everything he can to survive. Nothing goes right for him, yet his determination and sheer will drives him. He says about 7 words the entire movie, and yet by the end you are rooting for him just as much as you would any other character. Robert Redford. One of the greatest actors ever, Redford is asked to create an entirely identifiable character in this movie using only his facial expressions. That's it. And he absolutely nails it. The fact that this man missed out on even just a nomination for an Oscar is absolutely tragic. The real problem facing this movie is the fact that it's coming out the same year as Gravity. While All Is Lost and Gravity are both in the survival genre, they tell their stories very differently. For one, Bullock (who was nominated for an Oscar, by the way) is given the crutch of being able to say things from time to time, whereas Redford is not given such a luxury. Both of these movies are must-sees, and are definitely worth a watch from 2013. Oh and by the way, Gravity has grossed over $266 million and All is Lost has grossed a measly $6 million. Sure Gravity is more about the visual experience than the story, but I would definitely say the story of All Is Lost, survivalistically (that wasn't a word until now!) speaking, is better. If you liked Gravity, or just like the survival genre as a whole, you will absolutely love this as well.
Honorable mentions (In no particular order)
Fruitvale Station ($16 million)
Wonderfully told and beautifully tragic, Fruitvale Station will end up being the movie that made Michael B. Jordan's career.
Don Jon ($24 million)
A solid directing debut from Joseph Gordon-Levitt also staring a provocative Scarlett Johansson, Don Jon is a gripping romantic comedy with a lot of quirky directoral notions from JGL. If you like him, or his hitRECord project, you have to check this out.
The Spectacular Now ($6 million)
An inspiring high school romantic comedy with the bro and the nerd. Fun, gripping, and beautiful, this is worth a watch if you loved Perks of Being a Wallflower.
Blackfish ($2 million)
THE most controversial documentary of the year, Blackfish goes all-out in exposing the horrors (?) of Sea World and how they treat their animals and their trainers. Worth a watch if you care about that sort of thing. Even though it is pretty over-the-top.
You're Next ($18 million)
A refreshingly original hack 'n' slash movie. Wait, when was the last time we saw one of these?
All is Lost: http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/all-is-lost-clip-05222013-170437.jpg
Frances Ha: http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/audio/video/2013/7/22/1374485894612/Mickey-Sumner-and-Greta-G-001.jpg
You're Next: http://8th-circuit.com/sites/default/files/imagecache/500x262/youre-next.jpg
About Time: http://www.connectsavannah.com/binary/1e7e/AboutTime-conversation1.jpg
The Spectacular Now: http://cdn1.walkerartcenter.org/static/cache/82/82be1a35bdd197cdb228bea4120f7e72.jpg
Fruitvale Station: http://wac.450f.edgecastcdn.net/80450F/screencrush.com/files/2013/05/fruitvale.jpg
Don Jon: http://static.rogerebert.com/uploads/review/primary_image/reviews/don-jon-2013/hero_DonJon-2013-1.jpg
Inside Llewyn Davis: http://cache.reelz.com/assets/content/repFrame/71132/inside-llewyn-davis-trailer-01.jpg