Lists · Movies

A Look Back at How Our Most Anticipated Movies of 2013 Fared

By  · Published on January 6th, 2014

Our new annual tradition of looking ahead at the upcoming year in film continued last week with our 52 Most Anticipated Movies of 2014, and the results are unsurprisingly varied. Of course we’re excited for new releases from Christopher Nolan, Wes Anderson, and Paul Thomas Anderson, but some of us (inexplicably) are also looking forward to the Robocop reboot. Democracy in action.

We anticipate movies based on differing criteria, with some film fans excited by the talent involved, both in front of and behind the camera, and others more interested in the story, genre, or mere idea behind a project. Contrary to some opinions (and my Robocop joke above), we walk into every movie hoping for the best, but anticipation is no guarantee that our hopes will pay off with a great or even a good movie.

So how did our 52 Most Anticipated Movies of 2013 fare? For starters, eight of them still have yet to be released…

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (#52), The Monuments Men (#49), The Raid 2: Berandal (#48), I Frankenstein (#41), Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (#32), and 300: Rise of an Empire (#38) all got moved to new opening dates in 2014, Drafthouse Films picked up Why Don’t You Play In Hell? (#40) but has yet to set a date, and Angry Little God (aka 13 Sins, #39) currently sits in the ether most likely awaiting an eventual straight to DVD release.

The remaining forty-four films have all come (and mostly gone) from theaters, and while the majority of them at least lived up to our expectations there were a few that disappointed mildly and a Weng Weng-sized handful that completely stunk up the joint. Of course, while the list was a collective effort among the FSR staff, this look back is entirely on me. (So yes, Before Midnight will be labeled as a disappointment.) I’ve included each film’s worldwide box office gross and its Rotten Tomato score to give a sense of how they each fared in general.

#51 – AntiviralBrandon Cronenberg’s debut didn’t exactly set the box office ablaze, but it marked him as a talent to watch. His film is a cold, twisted, look at celebrity, obsession, and body horror. (earned <$1M worldwide, RT 65%)

#50 – R.I.P.D. – Umm… ($78M, RT 13%)

#47 – To the Wonder – Is it me or does the conversation about Terrence Malick’s latest film seem to be fairly non-existent? It’s a far cry from the response his previous film The Tree of Life received from critics and audiences alike. As a dedicated Olga Kurylenko fan I felt obligated to watch it, but not even she could keep me from pressing the stop button well before the end credits rolled. (<$1M, RT 44%)

#46 – TranceDanny Boyle refuses to be typecast as a director, and he’s shown a skillful hand in multiple genres so far. The announcement that he was returning to the realm of dark crime thrillers like his brilliant Shallow Grave had me stoked, and the cast announcements simply added to my excitement. So what the hell happened here? The script thinks it’s so incredibly smart when in reality it’s simply eating its own tail. It’s undeniably lively, but sweet jesus is it dumb and insulting to people with common sense. ($24M, RT 68%)

#45 – The Wolverine – We had little reason to expect all that much from Hugh Jackman’s sixth go around as the X-Men’s sharpest member, and that’s due almost entirely to his sloppy 2009 stand alone, Origins. Happily though, director James Mangold delivered a visually attractive, exciting, and, most importantly, a fun movie. Though to be fair, they could really only go up from “amnesia bullets.” ($414M, RT 69%)

#44 – The GrandmasterWong Kar Wai’s entry in the Ip Man film canon is a beautifully photographed movie with an engaging lead, but I seriously cannot be the only one let down by those fight scenes. Had Donnie Yen not already made the character a badass fighter. Wong’s stylish battles might have seemed more impressive, but as it stands they’re far too orchestrated and little more than pretty wire-fu. Speaking of which, Ziyi Zhang makes everything forgivable. ($64M, RT 75%)

#43 – Movie 43 – We still don’t know why the people associated with this one agreed to do it, but at least now we’re no longer curious. ($29M, RT 4%)

#42 – Lovelace – Well, Adam Brody’s brief scene is fun anyway. (<$1M, RT 54%)

#37 – The To Do List – The first half of this Aubrey Plaza-starring comedy is fairly hilarious, but then something unfortunate happens. The movie tries to get serious about its story and lead character, and the result is just too much for Plaza’s acting skills to handle. ($3M, RT 52%)

#36 – The Wolf of Wall Street – Is there really anything left to say about Martin Scorsese’s crass, hilarious, and utterly energetic conversation-starter of a film? Not really. ($63M, RT 75%)

#35 – Warm Bodies – This rom-zom was okay enough, but will anyone remember it in another few years? Doubtful. ($116M, RT 80%)

#34 – The Hunger Games: Catching Fire – We always knew this one was going to be huge at the box office, but the film is also a slight step up in quality from the first one. Director Francis Lawrence gave life to the bigger stakes and deeper dramas, and even though I’m not as enamored with the action scenes the film as a whole is a a solid piece of YA cinema. ($830M, RT 89%)

#33 – Spring Breakers – I have no clue what you people see in Harmony Korine’s latest. Aside from the wickedly good pool scene, I mean. ($31M, RT 65%)

#31 – Evil Dead – Is it a great remake? No, but the gore effects are brutal and bloody works of art. ($97 million, RT 62%)

#30 – I’m So Excited – I haven’t seen Pedro Almodovar’s latest film yet, but judging by the box office nobody else did either. ($11M, RT 47%)

#29 – Gravity – The year’s seventh highest grossing film didn’t always seem like such a sure thing. No one doubted the talent involved, from director Alfonso Cuaron to stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, but the minimalist nature of it all raised some eyebrows. The end result is the year’s most technically brilliant and visually impressive film, and while I wasn’t as blown away by the story (and laughable script) there’s no denying the film is one hell of a roller coaster ride. ($663M, RT 97%)

#28 – Carrie – This is what happens when people remake a movie without investing any of their own talent or creativity into the project. It’s an okay film on its own merits, but as a remake it’s entirely inessential. ($78M, RT 49%)

#27 – Before Midnight – I love Before Sunrise and Before Sunset, but this is a disappointing misstep in the series due largely to the representation of the character of Celine. And yes, I know I’m alone in being right on this one. ($11M, RT 98%)

#26 – The Great Gatsby – Who knew the best part of an F. Scott Fitzgerald adaptation would be the visuals? ($351M, RT 49%)

#25 – Cloudy 2: Revenge of the Leftovers – I’m sure there’s a legitimate reason as to why I never watched the first film (and therefore the sequel), but instead let’s just say it’s because I’m a vegetarian and the idea of meatballs falling from the sky is disgusting and terrifying. The rest of you sure seemed to enjoy it though. ($247M, RT 70%)

#24 – Ender’s Game – Having never read Orson Scott Card’s source novel my anticipation for this one was basically nil, and that didn’t change with the influx of trailers and controversy. If anything, seeing the movie made me wonder why the book was so damn popular in the first place. ($88M, RT 61%)

#23 – Gangster Squad – I don’t care what you say, this is a fun flick best described as L.A. Confidential’s brain-dead brother. ($105M, RT 32%)

#22 – Kick-Ass 2 – It’s the Hangover Part II of comic book movies in its replacement of laughs with humorless cruelty. ($59M, RT 29%)

#21 – Inside Llewyn Davis – I’ve liked some of Joel & Ethan Coen’s movies before of course, some very much, and I’ve strongly disliked others, but their tale of a folk singer struggling against the music scene and against himself has left me in awe. The film, thanks as much to Oscar Isaac‘s achingly honest performance as to the Coen’s script, is my second favorite movie of the year. ($6M, RT 93%)

#20 – OblivionTom Cruise movies will always have a home on my shelf, and it’s not just because the guy’s the best onscreen runner since Scott Bakula. The man gives his all, and in this instance it was to a visually attractive sci-fi action film. Sure it’s derivative and lightweight, but it also looks and sounds fantastic. ($286M, RT 53%)

#19 – Only God Forgives – “The director and star of Drive reuniting for another moody thriller? Sign me up!” And then I watched it and realized Nicolas Winding Refn and Ryan Gosling were playing a prank. ($10M, RT 39%)

#18 – This Is the End – Honestly, there was no way a film with this cast wasn’t going to be a ton of fun. ($125M, RT 83%)

#17 – Upstream ColorShane Carruth’s second film in nine years held me in its grip all year long, and even twelve months after first seeing it at Sundance it remained my favorite of 2013. It’s a beautiful film, from its visuals to its meanings, and it’s one I don’t see myself forgetting anytime soon. It’s also one that I wouldn’t blame you in the slightest for not liking. (<$1M, RT 85%)

#16 – Thor: The Dark World – I know I saw this, but I’ll be damned if I can remember anything Thor did in it. I recall Loki’s smile and Jane’s whining, but the rest is a hazy memory. ($630M, RT 66%)

#15–12 Years a SlaveSteve McQueen has only made three films, but each has been a masterpiece. His latest is also incredibly important, and that’s not something very many movies can say these days. This makes it all the more confusing that he would sign on to direct the next Adam Sandler film. ($38M, RT 96%)

#14 – The Last Stand – Poor Kim Jee-woon. The man is a god of Korean filmmaking but somehow he let himself get talked into making his Hollywood debut a vehicle for Arnold Schwarzenegger’s hopeful comeback. That was never going to work, and while the movie still manages some well choreographed and fun action set-pieces it’s not a film that Kim will be remembered for. ($48M, RT 60%)

#13 – The Place Beyond the Pines – There’s half of a really great movie here. ($35M, RT 82%)

#12 – You’re Next – Part of the reason this horror/comedy/thriller was so highly anticipated was the fact that it had been delayed for a couple years, and happily it was worth the wait. It’s not nearly as good, but in many ways it’s this year’s Cabin in the Woods… smart, funny, delayed, under-appreciated in theaters, and eventually due for cult success. ($18M, RT 75%)

#11 – Pain & Gain – Who knew Michael Bay could make a fun, fast-paced movie again? The cast helped of course, including wildly kinetic turns by Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne Johnson, but Bay kept things moving with flair, style, and humor. ($86M, RT 49%)

#10 – Stoker – I love me some Park Chan-wook, but while his Hollywood debut is one hell of a gorgeous movie it just feels a bit too empty for my tastes. Of course, slight Park is still better than 90% of what other filmmakers churn out, and it also feels like the kind of movie that will probably grow on me the more I watch it. Maybe. ($12M, RT 69%)

#9 – OldboySpike Lee’s redo of Park Chan-wook’s masterful thriller ranked high on our list, and in retrospect, that was pretty stupid. ($4M, RT 44%)

#8 – Side EffectsSteven Soderbergh’s final feature film, as of now anyway, is an incredibly satisfying dramatic thriller that reminds viewers just how comfortable the man is at bouncing his way around genres. But does anyone really remember it came out this year? ($32M, RT 84%)

#7 – Man of Steel – The biggest talking point coming out of this blockbuster somehow became the massive destruction and implied civilian deaths, but audiences seemed to miss the only element actually worth discussing here. And yeah, I am talking about Kevin Costner. ($668M, RT 55%)

#6 – Iron Man 3 – I absolutely loved the idea of Shane Black directing and co-writing a superhero film, and Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man seemed like the ideal character for him to help shape, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t underwhelmed by this one. The laughs and personality are there, but the third act is a mess. That said, a couple re-watches have actually increased my appreciation even more for everything but the action. ($1.2B, RT 78%)

#5 – Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues – I laughed a lot, so there’s that. ($144M, RT 75%)

#4 – Pacific Rim – Look, I get it. Guillermo del Toro made a movie featuring giant robots (not really but go with it) fighting giant monsters, and that in itself is something worth celebrating. But has enough time passed yet where you guys can admit the movie just isn’t that great? It’s most definitely cool, and Rinko Kikuchi will always get a thumbs up from me, but the script is laughably bad, fights set at night in the rain get repetitive after a while, and I’m sorry but I will not soon be forgive that “Oh yeah, we have a sword!” bit. ($411M, RT 72%)

#3 – The World’s End – As with This Is the End there was no doubt this particular talent pool would deliver a knock-out comedy, but Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and friends managed something more with an incredibly smart and marvelously crafted piece of entertainment. ($46M, RT 89%)

#2 – ElysiumNeill Blomkamp’s District 9 was a visually arresting debut that made the four year wait for his follow-up seem like five, but once it finally arrived it was shrouded in disappointment. It looks incredible, but the story is even more heavy handed than Atlas Shrugged in its social agenda and the action fails to excite or stimulate in the slightest. And while no one is surprised by Sharlto Copley’s overzealous acting what the hell is going on with Jodie Foster here? I smell raspberries in both their futures. ($286M, RT 68%)

#1 – Star Trek Into Darkness – As far as this being our most anticipated film of 2013… I can only assume we were mesmerized by the thought of a villain not named Khan crawling out of J.J. Abrams’ mystery box. ($467M, RT 87%)

Rob Hunter has been writing for Film School Rejects since before you were born, which is weird seeing as he's so damn young. He's our Chief Film Critic and Associate Editor and lists 'Broadcast News' as his favorite film of all time. Feel free to say hi if you see him on Twitter @FakeRobHunter.