Remember all those times you complained about how there was nothing good to see at the movies? Well, the next few weeks are bound to more than make up for that lost time, because from now until New Year's, more high-quality, Oscar-worthy movies are going to be released than you can keep track of. If you're anything like us, you're going to be spending more time in the theater than at home this winter, and that's not even including all the time you'll inevitably spend watching all the incredible, already-released films you missed earlier this year at home on DVD. So start canceling your plans and loading up on popcorn, because for the next couple weeks, you have one goal only: to watch these 11 amazing movies from 2013.
Chances are, you already saw Gravity when it was released back in October, since judging from its box office revenue, it looks like the entire universe went to the movies that weekend. Yet if you happened to miss it, it's not too late to check it out — the Sandra Bullock/George Clooney space thriller, which rightfully earned Oscar buzz for its stunning visuals and powerful performances, is still playing in some theaters.
2. 12 Years a Slave
While not nearly as much of a box office success as Gravity (but really, nothing was), 12 Years a Slave was also one of the few movies this year that everyone was talking about. The painful, emotional film shocked audiences with its no-holds-barred look at slavery, earning its director and stars major acclaim. Don't be scared off by all the talk of the movie's violent scenes; sure, they exist, but 12 Years a Slave is far too important to miss just because of a few hard-to-watch moments.
3. Fruitvale Station
Fruitvale Station is based on a true story, and thanks to the efforts of the movie's cast and crew, that's a fact you won't soon forget. Michael B. Jordan stars as Oscar Grant, a young black man shot and killed by Oakland police in an incident that outraged the area back in 2009. Jordan is deservedly earning Oscar buzz for his lived-in performance, and first-time director Ryan Coogler has solidified himself as a talent to watch. Fruitvale isn't available on DVD until January, but make sure to put it on your wish-lists; trust us, you won't want to let this one slip by.
4. Stories We Tell
Not a fan of documentaries, you say? Well, then you'll love Stories We Tell, which so artfully blurs the line between fact and fiction that you'll finish the film not sure what you just watched — just knowing that you loved every minute of it. It's hard to say much about the plot of Stories We Tell without spoiling it, so just go buy the DVD and see for yourself what all the raves are about.
5. 20 Feet From Stardom
2013 was an incredible year for documentaries, with Stories We Tell, The Act of Killing, and 20 Feet From Stardom, among other must-see films. It was latter movie, about the backup singers who supported many of the century's biggest artists, that garnered some of the highest praise of any movie released this year, documentary or not. 20 Feet From Stardom is a must-see for music lovers but really, anyone who can should give this little movie a shot.
6. Inside Llewyn Davis
The latest movie by the Coen Brothers, released on Dec. 6, succeeds because it has all the things a good movie shouldn't — an unfocused plot, with an ugly color scheme and an unlikable protagonists. Yet somehow, it works, and viewers of Llewyn are left thinking about the characters' fates and the movie's soundtrack long after the credits have rolled.
7. American Hustle
Like David O. Russell's last two movies, The Fighter and Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle is a drama-packed, Boston-based, star-filled movie about the dreams of not-so-ordinary people. Featuring one of the most talented ensembles of the year — Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Amy Adams, and Jeremy Renner — Hustle is earning raves, and is bound to take home at least a few awards this coming season.
2013 was a fantastic year for movies, and when Best Picture nominations roll around, more than a few films will be vying for the top spot title. Her, Spike Jonze's drama about a man (Joaquin Phoenix) who falls in love with a robotic operating system, may be the underdog, but it's still one of the competition's most serious contenders. It's not released for another few weeks, but early reviews are glowing, with the general consensus being that Her is nothing short of a masterpiece.
9. Saving Mr. Banks
Does Saving Mr. Banks look sappy? Sure. Does it look "Disney?" You bet. Does it have serious potential as an Oscar nominee? Without a doubt. The upcoming drama, about the making of Mary Poppins, features great performances by Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson, and is just the right mixture of cheesy and smart to win over audiences needing a light-hearted movie this season, when most of the other fare available is decidedly R-rated.
10. The Wolf of Wall Street
Thanks to its sprawling length, last-minute rewrites, and hefty expectations, Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street could easily have been a disaster. Yet early screenings have been nothing but positive, with critics raving about the performances of stars Leo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill, in particular. Defying all expectations, Wolf might just be another Scorsese classic.
11. Labor Day
Jason Reitman's may only have directed five films so far in his career, but he's earned the respect — and Oscar nominations to prove it — of both his peers and the public. His latest movie, Labor Day, should be no different, thanks to its high-caliber performances and sharp, affecting script. Based on the critically acclaimed 2009 novel by Joyce Maynard, the film is said to follow the book closely, including capturing all the poignant little moments that made the story so special.
Images: Warner Bros./Fox Searchlight/The Weinstein Company/Roadside Attractions/CBS Films/Columbia/Disney/Paramount