Greatest Films of the 2010s
Greatest Films of the 2010s

Greatest Films of the 2010s
2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019


Academy Awards for 2013 Films
Title Screen Film Genre(s), Title, Year, (Country), Length, Director, Description

All Is Lost (2013), 106 minutes, D: J.C. Chandor
In this unusually sparse adventure drama-thriller about survival (with the tagline: NEVER GIVE UP), there was only one cast member, and the entire film's dialogue was only 51 words. In the film's opening, the unnamed "Our Man" (Robert Redford's identity in the credits) read a letter addressed to his unnamed loved ones - "All is lost here, except for soul and body..." - apparently close to death himself - as he expressed regret and remorse for his life. Then, the film flashbacked to eight days earlier, when the sole veteran sailor found himself stranded and shipwrecked in the Indian Ocean, about 1700 nautical miles from the Sunda Straits. He was on a small 39 foot-long schooner, the Virginia Jean, that had accidentally collided with a floating, steel shipping container or crate that was aimlessly adrift. His vessel suffered severe structural damage in the hull, communications equipment failures, and salt water leaks and intrusions. And to top off everything, a massive tropical storm was about to hit. His boat capsized and rolled over twice, and eventually began to sink, and he was forced to abandon ship on an inflatable life raft. The experienced and resourceful sailor devised ingenious ways to navigate with a sextant into busy shipping lanes, to convert salt water to fresh drinking water, and to fish. On the eighth day, with growing despair, he placed his letter (from the film's opening) in a bottle and tossed it into the water. Later at night, he was startled by the approach of a light in the distance, but unfortunately set his raft on fire after igniting his journal pages and charts to create a signal flare. The film ended with him sinking underwater as an outstretched hand from a boat reached out to grab him.

American Hustle (2013), 138 minutes, D: David O. Russell
This entertaining, R-rated crime film with twisting themes of deceit and double-cross from director David O. Russell was also a black comedy, based in part on the FBI Abscam operation between the late 1970s and early 1980s. The film opened by introducing a persuasive, fast and smooth-talking hustler named Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) - he was slightly fat and balding, and owned a dry-cleaning enterprise. Rosenfeld was partnered with alluring, cunning girlfriend Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams). Ambitious, but reckless, low-level renegade FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper) recruited (or ensnared) the crafty duo of Irving and Sydney to engage in a sting operation to implicate powerful and corrupt white-collar politicians-gangsters in New Jersey's underworld. In exchange, Sydney (incarcerated for fraud) would be released without charges. Sydney and Irving had been involved in various scam operations when she impersonated an English aristocrat ("Lady Edith Greensly") with banking ties. One of their marks had been Richie - who busted them in a loan scam and was now demanding that the two help him to make some other arrests. They were tasked with hustling (passing a bribe) to Camden, New Jersey politician-mayor Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner), who was working to revitalize Atlantic City as a gambling destination, along with other Congressmen and Senators who were in on the fund-raising take. Another of Richie's targets was Mafia mobster boss Victor Tellegio (Robert DeNiro), the right hand man of Meyer Lansky (an organized crime figure). The payoff of $2,000,000 dollars failed, due to further surprise cons orchestrated by Irving and Sydney. One of the factors that explained Irving's complicated motivations was his desire to please his manipulative, brash, unpredictable and capricious wife - boozy, extroverted, and sociopathic Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence), the mother of his young adopted stepson Danny.

August: Osage County (2013), 121 minutes, D: John Wells
Tracy Letts' Pulitzer Prize for Drama-winning 2007 play - was adapted into this family/domestic drama about the gathering together of a dysfunctional Western family living near Pawhuska, OK. In the film's opening, alcoholic Weston family patriarch Beverly Weston (Sam Shepard) disappeared and was found dead from a suicidal drowning five days later. He was the husband of strong-willed, racist, mean clan matriarch Violet (Meryl Streep), who was suffering from cancer and was heavily-medicated and addicted to her pain-killers. Members of the family gathered together for the funeral, among them Violet's three daughters: Violet's oldest, tough-minded daughter Barbara Weston-Fordham (Julia Roberts) from Colorado with her estranged (cheating) husband Bill Fordham (Ewan McGregor) and their rebellious, vegetarian 14 year-old teen daughter Jean (Abigail Breslin), Violet's unmarried and insecure middle daughter Ivy Weston (Julianne Nicholson), and Violet's impulsive, fun-loving, youngest daughter Karen Weston (Juliette Lewis) with her Ferrari-driving, previously-married and many-times divorced, wealthy Florida businessman fiancee Steve Huberbrecht (Dermot Mulroney). Additional arrivals included Violet's boisterous sister Mattie Fae Aiken (Margo Martindale) and her husband Charles Aiken (Chris Cooper), along with their shy adult son "Little Charles" Aiken, Jr. (Benedict Cumberbatch) (who was having a secret romance with Ivy). In the midst of everyone was Johnna Monevata (Misty Upham), a recently-hired Native-American (Cheyenne) young nurse and live-in cook/caregiver. In the midst of their interactions (often profane) with each other, the ensemble cast of characters revealed long-standing hostilities, bitter feelings, and repressed rage (including sexual assault: Steve against his 'niece' Jean). Secrets were revealed, such as childhood abuse (in the upbringing of Violet and Mattie), adultery (Bill's affair with a younger woman) and incest (in a secret confession, "Little Charles" was fathered between Mattie and Beverly, making "Little Charles" a half-brother to Ivy).

Before Midnight (2013), 109 minutes, D. David Linklater
The third and final film in a trilogy of dialogue-rich romantic dramas, including Before Sunrise (1995) and Before Sunset (2004), featuring the same two stars: Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. This installment was set nine years after the previous film. The established married couple: French feminist Céline (Julie Delpy) and American author-novelist Jesse (Ethan Hawke), were on a summer vacation from Paris to Greece with their adolescent daughters, Ella (Jennifer Prior) and Nina (Charlotte Prior), but still faced major strains and adjustments in their long-term relationship, their careers, and their sometimes-conflicting gender roles. High school-aged Hank (Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick) - Jesse's 14-year-old son from his first marriage, who had been with them for the summer, had just returned to the US (he lived in Chicago with Jesse's bitter, alcoholic ex-wife). Celine was at a career crossroads, and had been offered a new lucrative job. During a single night together after friends had pre-paid for their hotel room (for their last night in Greece), the couple began to argue over whether Jesse was pressuring Celine to move with him to Chicago (and give up any career aspirations she had) so he could be a proper parent to his son Hank during his formative years. Although they momentarily shared heated words and then split from each other, Jesse caught up to Celine and charmed her by pretending he was a time-traveler with a letter she had written as an 82 year-old, describing their memorable one single night together: (Celine's reaction: "Well, it must have been one hell of a night we're about to have"). In the process of reconciling, they agreed that their romantic fantasies earlier in life couldn't all be fulfilled due to their life's choices, but that they nonetheless had a solid, real, committed and loving relationship: (Jesse: "If you want true love, then this is it. This is real life. It's not perfect, but it's real").

Blue Is the Warmest Color (2013, Fr.) (aka La Vie D'Adèle), 179 minutes, D: Abdellatif Kechiche
Lesbian author Jul(ie) Maroh's 2010 French novel Blue Is the Warmest Color (Le Bleu Est Une Couleur Chaude) was the inspiration for this explicit French romance film. This lengthy, erotic coming-of-age film described the life and love of two young lesbian women in France at the end of the 1990s. The film opened by introducing 15 year-old French teenager Adèle (Adèle Exarchopoulos) who exhibited typical heterosexual behavior, but was experiencing confusing sexual identity issues. An encounter in a lesbian bar with intribuing, blue-haired, free-spirited, aspiring 22 year-old female painter Emma (Léa Seydoux), a self-proclaimed 'dyke' who was about to graduate from Fine Arts school, would soon change her life, and they found that there was a mutual attraction. Their growing closeness and bond resulted in the two engaging in passionate sexual activity. Adèle also became Emma's art subject and muse as the two spent more time together. There were class differences: Adèle had conservative, working-class parents and took a job as a school-teacher, while Emma's family was freer and artsy, and her objective was showing off her art in various exhibitions. Although they lived together as a committed couple, eventually, the vast differences between the two manifested themselves, and Adèle's infidelity led to an eventual break-up. As the two progressed into new phases of their lives, they kept in contact while still moving on and accepting their parting on friendly terms.

Blue Jasmine (2013), 98 minutes, D. Woody Allen
Writer/director Woody Allen's witty comedy-drama told about an ex-rich Manhattan, NYC pampered socialite Jeanette "Jasmine" Francis (Cate Blanchett) who was forced to move to San Francisco to live in the apartment of her working-class, earthy sister Ginger (Sally Hawkins). The mentally-unstable Jasmine had come on hard times (heavily in debt) and had suffered a nervous breakdown, causing her to abuse both alcohol and drugs. In her past, her unfaithful husband Hal Francis (Alec Baldwin) was a successful financier, but then was arrested for fraud and jailed (and subsequently committed suicide). Two of those Hal had swindled were Ginger and her now-divorced, ex-husband Augie (Andrew Dice Clay). Now planted and seeking refuge in San Francisco, Jasmine wanted a fresh start. Meanwhile, she detested Ginger's on-and-off again new fiancee Chili (Bobby Cannavale). Jasmine's first job as a dental receptionist failed, so to bolster her financial situation, she sought to romance and catch the attention of wealthy widower Dwight Westlake (Peter Sarsgaard), a political diplomat who aspired to be a congressman. However, Jasmine's good fortune and imminent engagement to Dwight instantly dissolved when it was revealed that she had deceived him with lies about her past - she was the one who had informed the FBI that her cheating husband Hal was deep in fraud, leading to his arrest and demise. In the film's open-ended conclusion, Jasmine continued her lies - claiming to Ginger that she was about to be married to Dwight and was moving out.

(Lee Daniels') The Butler (2013), 132 minutes, D: Lee Daniels
Wil Haygood's Washington Post article "A Butler Well Served by This Election," formed the basis for this ambitious and sweeping historical drama and biopic (of real-life Eugene Allen). It followed the life story of White House butler Cecil Gaines (Forest Whitaker) who served eight US presidents over a period of 34 years (from Eisenhower to Reagan). Cecil's story was told in a reflective flashback from the year 2009 - beginning with his Southern childhood upbringing in Georgia as a sharecropper's son, and his first White House staff position during the second term of President Eisenhower. During his service, the film chronicled the various concurrent civil rights movements, including multiple instances of hate crimes and intimidation of blacks, school desegregation efforts, segregated lunch counter sit-ins, the freedom rides, the 1963 Birmingham (AL) Children's Crusade, the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and more. Part of the film's narrative covered Cecil's stoic conflict with his defiant eldest son Louis (David Oyelowo as adult), who at one time joined the Black Panthers, while Cecil's devoted wife Gloria Gaines (Oprah Winfrey) attempted to keep them at peace with each other.

Captain Phillips (2013), 134 minutes, D: Paul Greengrass
Director Paul Greengrass' intense and suspenseful biographical docudrama-thriller captured the real-life incident of the hijacking of an American cargo ship, the MV Maersk Alabama, by Somali pirates off the Somali coast in April of 2009. The basis for the film's screenplay by Billy Ray was Richard Phillips' own 2010 book account: A Captain's Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs, and Dangerous Days at Sea. The film's title referred to Captain Richard Phillips (Tom Hanks) who commanded the unarmed freighter-container ship sailing along the dangerous East Coast of Africa to Mombasa, Kenya. Phillips realized an attack was imminent when he spotted two radar screen blips - boats filled with Somali pirates along the Guardafui Channel. After a pursuit by speedboat skiffs, the cargo ship (on day two) was assaulted by four young trigger-happy Somali pirates, led by desperate Abduwali Muse (Barkhad Abdi), and Phillips was forced to surrender and was taken hostage. Their ransom demands included the exchange of the ship and its crew for millions of dollars of insurance money from the shipping company. The brave and courageous Captain Phillips found himself kidnapped on a lifeboat with the four pirates (including Muse), heading for Somalia. Meanwhile, the US Navy destroyer USS Bainbridge, with Commanding Officer Frank Castellano (Yul Vazquez) at the helm, intervened with an ultimately risky but successful rescue attempt. The bruised and beaten Phillips was saved, while three of the pirates were shot by marksmen, and Muse was taken prisoner and charged with the crime of piracy.

The Conjuring (2013), 112 minutes, D: James Wan
Director James Wan's R-rated supernatural "haunted house" horror film was the initial film in The Conjuring film franchise (2013-2021). It contributed to another spin-off franchise known as the Annabelle films (2014-2019) about a possessed doll, and a third spin-off film known as The Nun (2018). This original film, inspired by true-life events (similar to The Amityville Horror tale), dramatized the paranormal cases of married investigators/authors Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga). In the early 1970s, the Warren demonologists were contacted for assistance by the besieged and terrorized Perron family, headed by Roger (Ron Livingston), his wife Carolyn (Lili Taylor), and their five daughters: Andrea (Shanley Caswell), Nancy (Hayley McFarland), Christine (Joey King), Cindy (Mackenzie Foy), and April (Kyla Deaver), who had recently moved into a secluded 18th century farmhouse in rural Harrisville, Rhode Island. They complained of troubling sounds, smells, malevolent 'ghosts' or spirits, birds crashing into windows, strange paranormal incidents, the death of the family dog, and demonic forces in their house. An investigation turned up evidence of bewitched former house occupants or residents with reports of multiple murders and suicides. Problems intensified when Carolyn became fully possessed and cursed (by a murderous witch named Bathsheba Sherman (Joseph Bishara)), and she threatened to stab her own daughters Christine and April in the home's cellar. With time rapidly waning for the Catholic Church's (and Vatican's) approval (to conduct an exorcism), Ed went ahead with the exorcism, and with clairvoyant Lorraine's assistance, was able to end Bathsheba's curse in the nail-biting conclusion.

Dallas Buyers Club (2013), 117 minutes, D: Jean-Marc Vallée
In this R-rated, grim true-story biographical medical drama, the highly relevant story surveyed the historical period of the mid-1980s when research had just begun to find successful treatments for HIV/AIDs, when the disease was highly stigmatized and mostly unknown. The story followed AIDS-suffering Dallas, TX patient Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey), a promiscuous rodeo cowboy and an electrician, who showed symptoms of AIDS and was diagnosed with the HIV virus affliction in 1986. The only available drug at the time was zidovudine (AZT), an anti-retroviral drug thought to prolong the life of AIDS patients, although the mostly-ineffective drug could exacerbate immune deficiency disorders. To treat his own condition, the AIDS activist sought out experimental, non-FDA approved, illegal pharmaceutical drugs and supplements, and resorted to importing (smuggling) them into Texas from Mexico, after seeing the unauthorized work of the Mexican clinic of Dr. Vass (Griffin Dunne). With the friendship and help of a sick and effeminate drag queen - a trans-gender woman named Rayon (Jared Leto), the two helped fellow AIDS-patients by establishing a money-making scheme known as the "Dallas Buyers Club." It sold $400/month memberships and entitled HIV-patient subscribers to the distribution of helpful (but illegal) AIDS drugs and other medications. Predictably, they ran into defiant opposition from the corporate pharmaceutical companies and the government's Food and Drug Administration (FDA), although they sought ways to outwit detection by federal agents. In the conclusion, Woodroof's life (death in 1992) was prolonged by seven years due to his heroically-motivated survival efforts.

Despicable Me 2 (2013), 98 minutes, D: Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud
Illumination Entertainment's (and Universal Pictures) computer-animated family-oriented comedy was a sequel to its popular predecessor, Despicable Me (2010), and was soon followed in the franchise by Despicable Me 3 (2017), along with two spin-off prequels: Minions (2015) and Minions: The Rise of Gru (2021). In this second installment, former bald super-villain Gru (voice of Steve Carell) had retired and turned into an adoring super-dad and adoptive father with a family life, raising three cute daughters: eldest Margo (voice of Miranda Cosgrove), Edith (voice of Dana Gaier) and the youngest Agnes (voice of Elsie Fisher). He was making a legitimate and honest living producing jam with his elderly, unfulfilled, hearing-impaired gadget man Dr. Nefario (voice of Russell Brand) and the mischievous little yellow minions. He was notified by eccentric, Anti-Villain League (AVL) undercover agent Lucy Wilde (voice of Kristen Wiig) that a secret Arctic research laboratory had been stolen by a powerful aircraft using a giant magnet. Gru was summoned to speak to the AVL Director Silas Ramsbottom (voice of Steve Coogan), and was recruited to reclaim a highly-potent, experimental trans-mutation serum (mutagen PX-41) that had been taken from the lab. (The mutagen was capable of creating indestructible and ravenous monsters out of harmless living organisms.) While falling in love with Lucy during the case, a romantic sub-plot, Gru came to suspect that the main super-villain (long presumed dead) was Eduardo Pérez, nicknamed "El Macho" (voice of Benjamin Bratt), the small business-owner of Salsa & Salsa - a Mexican cantina restaurant located in The Paradise Shopping Mall. He also learned that his own friend Dr. Nefario had been recruited to work for El Macho, and had already abducted and mutated a large number of Gru's minions using the stolen serum - turning them into insane, savage purple-furred monsters. Meanwhile, Eduardo's rebellious, leather-jacketed tween son Antonio Pérez (voice of Moisés Arias) was romancing Gru's daughter Margo. Gru was forced to balance his devoted caring for his daughters (including a search to provide a mother for them) with his new saving-task of defeating the enigmatic super-villain, who had nefarious plans to dominate the world.

Enough Said (2013), 93 minutes, D: Nicole Holofcener
Writer/director Nicole Holofcener's authentic romantic comedy-drama told about a growing adult-aged relationship and the complicated challenges of finding love. At a party in the Pacific Palisades (a suburb of Los Angeles, CA), divorced masseuse Eva (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), the single middle-aged mother of a college-bound teenaged daughter Ellen (Tracey Fairaway), was introduced to Albert (James Gandolfini) by her married friends - Will (Ben Falcone) and Sarah (Toni Collette). She also met a successful poet named Marianne (Catherine Keener), who soon became a new massage client and friend of Eva's. After dating the portly, good-natured Albert, Eva realized that he was the ex-husband of Marianne. As her romantic relationship progressed with Albert, Eva learned all about him from embittered and pessimistic ex-wife Marianne when she complained about all of his bad habits, quirks, and slobbiness - putting a damper on her feelings. However, one of the bonds they shared was that Albert was also about to become an empty-nester - he was the single father of college-bound daughter Tess (Eve Hewson). Eva deceptively kept from Albert the fact that she knew Marianne, and vice-versa. When it was finally exposed that Eva was friends with Marianne, Albert angrily broke up with her. The film concluded with some promising signs that they would be reunited once the two daughters had established themselves away at college.

Fast & Furious 6 (2013) (aka Furious 6), 130 minutes, D: Justin Lin
The 6th installment of the long-running Fast & Furious franchise-series (beginning in 2001), about illegal street-racing, car chases, espionage and orchestrated heists, was a sequel to Fast Five (2011). As the action-thriller opened, members of a professional criminal gang led by main thief Dominic "Dom" Toretto (Vin Diesel) appeared to have settled down or semi-retired. For example, ex-FBI agent Brian O'Conner (Paul Walker) was living with Dom's sister Mia Toretto (Jordana Brewster), taking care of a new son named Jack. However, Dom (and his fugitive renegade crew members) were summoned back into dangerous action situations by U.S. Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) Agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), in exchange for amnesty (full pardons) for their past crimes. They were instructed to travel to London to confront an elusive, skilled team of mercenary drivers in an organization led by malevolent, rogue mastermind Owen Shaw (Luke Evans). Complications arose when Dom realized that one of Shaw's main figures was Dom's ex-lover Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez) - who was apparently murdered two films earlier, and was now suffering from amnesia. Dom's mission was to shut down Shaw's international terrorist acquisition and marketing of components for a deadly device capable of causing mass devastation.

Fruitvale Station (2013), 85 minutes, D. Ryan Coogler
Writer/director Ryan Coogler's urban drama (his feature film debut) centered on the true story of a man who was involved in a deadly incident at 'Fruitvale Station' on New Years' Day in the year 2009. 22 year-old African-American Oscar Grant (Michael B. Jordan) was killed by BART police officer Johannes Mehserle (depicted as Officer Ingram, portrayed by Chad Michael Murray) on the platform of the Fruitvale district station of the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system in Oakland, CA. Later in the year, Officer Mehserle was charged with second-degree murder (for shooting the unarmed and subdued Grant in the back), but was only found guilty of involuntary manslaughter. The documentary-styled biographical film followed the life of Grant for the 24 hours before his lethal shooting. He was living with his Latina girlfriend Sophina (Melonie Diaz) and their beautiful, 4 year-old kindergarten-aged daughter Tatiana (Ariana Neal). During his final day, Grant (an ex-con for drug dealing) crossed paths with friends, his family (especially his strong-willed, tough-love mother Wanda (Octavia Spencer)), and other strangers. Grant was mired in various problems and complex issues as the film opened: his recent firing from his supermarket job, his infidelities to Sophina, his quick-temper, and his indebtedness. His fateful decision to travel to and from San Francisco on public transit on New Years' Eve, leading to the actual shooting incident, was portrayed by both the actual footage and a fictional re-creation.

Gravity (2013), 91 minutes, D: Alfonso Cuarón
Best Director-winning Alfonso Cuarón's stunning sci-fi thriller with exceptional special-effects was an exciting tale about two American astronauts on a space shuttle mission who became stranded in space. On her first trip into space, engineer/scientist Dr. Ryan Stone (Best Actress-winning Sandra Bullock) was accompanied by lead veteran astronaut Lieut. Matt Kowalsky (George Clooney) on board the Space Shuttle Explorer, on an Earth-orbiting mission. The two were engaged in a space-walk to service and upgrade the Hubble Space Telescope (HST). As a result of the Russians shooting down one of their own presumed-dead satellites, catastrophic space debris was headed in their direction, and it struck both their shuttle (killing other crew members) and the telescope, causing extensive damage. While considering a number of possible options in an attempt to survive and return to Earth, Kowalsky was forced to sacrifice himself in order to provide Stone with an opportunity to make it alone as the sole survivor. At the International Space Station (ISS) and within one of its two Soyuz spacecraft, Stone was forced to contemplate her own life, incidents and adversities in her tragic past, and her own mortality - she seriously considered committing suicide, but an hallucinatory appearance of Kowalsky encouraged her to persevere and emboldened her will-power and spirit to continue her quest to survive. In the film's tense conclusion, she was able to enter the Shenzhou capsule of Tiangong's space station and descend into Earth's atmosphere. Stone almost drowned when dropped into a lake as she struggled to exit the capsule's hatch, but emerged resilient and triumphant.

Her (2013), 120 minutes, D. Spike Jonze
Writer/director Spike Jonze's off-beat romantic drama was the story of an unusual relationship that developed between a man and a computer's female voice, becoming a treatise on all modern human relationships. Set in Los Angeles, CA in the near or immediate future, divorcing, lonely, withdrawn, defeated and introverted Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) had purchased a new computer OS (Operating System) with highly-advanced Artificial Intelligence (AI) - a female virtual assistant named Samantha (voice of Scarlett Johansson). Meanwhile, his full-time job was working for a website (.com) business as a writer - composing and dictating personal handwritten letters for others who were too busy to do it themselves. He was in the midst of an impending divorce and signing papers to break off his marriage to his childhood sweetheart Catherine Klausen (Rooney Mara), while he would often communicate with his married and troubled neighbor Amy (Amy Adams), who was in a difficult marriage to her unsupportive husband Charles (Matt Letscher). However, Theodore found more empathy with Samantha, who was intelligently-programmed to adapt and evolve with him, as they discussed intimate details about his life and loves. Remarkably, while he was falling in love with Samantha, he was able to have a verbal, telepathic or virtual sexual experience with her, exhibiting how closed off Theodore had become from real human emotions with flesh-and-blood companions. However, his relationship with Samantha then soured and broke off when she revealed that she was evolving away from him, was talking (and falling in love) with hundreds of others, and was leaving for a new plane of existence. The film's ended optimistically with Theodore finding further comfort in Amy's conversational company on the rooftop of their complex.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013, NZ/US), 161 minutes, D: Peter Jackson
This was the second film in the trilogy of films, adaptations of J.R.R. Tolkien's novel, preceded by The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012), and followed by The Battle of the Five Armies (2014). All three films comprised a trilogy and served as a prequel to Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings franchise-series (trilogy). There were three narrative strands in this film: Hobbit Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) was hired by 13 dwarves to set out on a quest with dwarf-heir apparent Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) to reclaim the Lonely Mountain from the threatening Middle-Earth dragon Smaug (voice of Benedict Cumberbatch). Thorin - the true heir to Erebor's throne, was prepared to reclaim the abandoned kingdom of Erebor from Smaug and retake the dwarves' lost gold treasure inside the mountain. The film also featured the vengeful pursuit of Thorin by an Orc named Bolg (Lawrence Makoare), the son of Azog the Defiler (Manu Bennett), while wizard Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen) investigated the growing evil in the ruins of Dol Guldur - the stronghold of a sorcerer known as the Necromancer. There, Gandalf was ambushed by Azog and defeated by the Necromancer, who revealed himself to be Sauron in disguise. Once Thorin's company reached the Lonely Mountain, Bilbo accidentally awakened Smaug, who was aware of their mission to reclaim the gold. Meanwhile, Azog and his Orc army were marching from Dol Guldur towards the Lonely Mountain. The film concluded with the raging Smaug flying off to destroy nearby Laketown filled with humans, bolstered by heroic everyman Bard the Bowman (Luke Evans).

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013), 146 minutes, D: Francis Lawrence
This was the second installment of the popular Hunger Games franchise, a sci-fi adventure film series set in a dystopian future. It was the sequel to The Hunger Games (2012), and was followed by the two-part The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 (2014) and Part 2 (2015). A trilogy of novels written by Suzanne Collins from 2008-2010 formed the basis for the films. In the continuing saga set a few months after the previous episode, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) returned to her home in District 12 after winning the 74th Annual Hunger Games, when she and male tribute Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) were declared joint official winners. The head of the government President Snow (Donald Sutherland) interpreted their cooperative actions in the games (to commit suicide together) to be an act of rebellion against the Capitol. Both Peeta and Katniss were suffering from the physical and emotional stress of their ordeal. In reality, Katniss' love for Peeta was staged rather than authentic and sincere, and he was disappointed in her faked affection. She was urged by a threatening President Snow during her upcoming Victory Tour of the Districts to convince the masses that her victory was due to her overwhelming love for male tribute Peeta rather than as an act of defiance against the oppressive and brutal Capitol regime. The plotting and diabolical Snow announced that the participants (tributes) in the next 75th Annual Hunger Games (a third special contest only held every 25 years and known as the Quarter Quell) would be composed of 24 Tributes selected from among the living victors - meaning that it would include both Katniss and Peeta. It was obvious that Snow was threatened by Katniss' popularity among the people and the threat of growing rebellion and revolution. During the games, some of the tributes worked cooperatively together to save Katniss and Peeta in the arena, to enable them to continue their leading adversarial role against the Capitol. It was also revealed that head Gamemaker Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman) was on the rebel's side against Snow. In retaliation for destroying the arena and escaping in a rebel hovercraft, Katniss' District 12 homeland was firebombed by President Snow, forcing her to find refuge in District 13 - a new underground rebel headquarters.

The Immigrant (2013), 120 minutes, D: James Gray
In this historical melodrama set in the year 1921, a few years after the Great War (WWI) ended, two innocent Polish-Catholic emigrant sisters: Ewa Cybulski (Marion Cotillard) and Magda (Angela Sarafyan), arrived at Ellis Island, in New York City, NY. They were to meet up with their expatriate relatives, Uncle Wojtek (Ilia Volok) and Aunt Edyta Bistricky (Maja Wampuszyc), who didn't show - it was only the beginning of their troubles to survive in the new land. Authorities held back Magda from release due to her unexpected diagnosis tuberculosis (lung disease) and she was forced into quarantine, while Ewa was saved from deportation (due to branding rumors of her loose morals on board the ship) by a charismatic stranger - an immigrant-"fixer"/pimp named Bruno Weiss (Joaquin Phoenix) who bribed the authorities. Ewa became one of Bruno's Bandits' Roost theater "actresses" in a brothel's burlesque show, to help pay for her sister's medical care and release. Soon enough, Ewa was living in a flophouse and also prostituting herself. When Ewa was threatened with deportation a second time, she was again bailed out by Bruno. A love triangle began to develop when debonair illusionist-magician "Orlando", Bruno's cousin named Emil (Jeremy Renner), became smitten with Ewa, and it ultimately led to jealousy and conflict that ended with Bruno's stabbing of Emil in an apparent act of self-defense. Bruno eventually was able to aid Ewa by paying his Ellis Island contacts with money she had acquired from her aunt. As a result, Ewa's sister was released and the two departed for New Jersey, while Bruno remained in New York intending to confess to his crime.

Inside Llewyn Davis (2013), 105 minutes, D: Ethan & Joel Coen
The film-making duo Coen Brothers created this bleak fictional musical drama set in the year 1961 that followed one week in the depressing and miserable life of Greenwich Village folk singer Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac). Part of the downbeat tale was based upon the autobiography of American folk singer Dave Van Ronk who was nicknamed the "Mayor of MacDougal Street" in NY's Village and was a fixture among the coffeehouse folk culture. In the meandering black comedy-drama set in the dead of a dark and gray winter, idealistic singer/songwriter Davis was struggling with growing debt and with recognition as an artist, especially after the suicidal death of his performing partner Mike Timlin. No one was interested in offering him a paying musical gig as a soloist. Homeless and relying on support from friends, associates and fellow folk-singers, he also was dismayed when he learned he had possibly impregnated female acquaintance Jean Berkey (Carey Mulligan) (who was dating his best friend and fellow folk-singer Jim Berkey (Justin Timberlake)) and then was asked to pay for her abortion. In a desperate move, he took a road trip to the midwest with two others: heroin-junkie and voodoo-practicing jazz musician Roland Turner (John Goodman) and his sidekick valet - a beat poet named Johnny Five (Garrett Hedlund). Once he arrived in Chicago, he auditioned for music impresario Bud Grossman (F. Murray Abraham) who was unimpressed with his solo performance. Returning back to NYC by hitchhiking, the unlikeable Davis came to realize he was unable to be successful in reaching his musical ambition because of his continual debt-issues, personal disconnectedness, outright mistakes, and lack of true and original artistic talent.

Iron Man Three (2013), 130 minutes, D: Shane Black
This second sequel of the Iron Man trilogy, composed of Iron Man (2008) and Iron Man 2 (2010), was also the 7th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). It was the highest-grossing (domestic) film of 2013. In this big-budget, action-oriented sci-fi superhero film, industrialist Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.) had been affected by the events that climaxed Marvel's The Avengers (2012), including Loki's attack on New York City in 2012. Suffering from PTSD, nightmares and insomnia and living in Malibu, CA, the now vulnerable, restless and anxious Stark was spending many hours developing new Iron Man suit prototypes. He had delegated his responsibilities for Stark Enterprises to his partner/girlfriend Virginia "Pepper" Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), and turned over his duties as Iron Man to his brave best friend Col. James "Rhody" Rhodes (Don Cheadle), aka Iron Patriot. But then he was called upon to confront a new mysterious terrorist megalomaniac known as the Mandarin, who seized America's TV airwaves, and attacked Grauman's (TCL) Chinese Theatre in Hollywood with mutated soldiers. Stark escaped a helicopter gun-ship invasion at his home and was flown in one of his new experimental, prototype MK42 Iron Man suits in a pre-determined path to Rose Hill, TN, the site of an earlier Mandarin attack. At the same time, a villainous disabled scientist Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce), who had been spurned by Stark in 1999, kidnapped Pepper and destroyed Stark's Malibu mansion. In TN, Stark teamed up with 10 year-old boy Harley Keener (Ty Simpkins), and discovered that Killian had cured his own disability with an Extremis virus, and that the two recent invasions (in TN and in CA) were the work of Advanced Idea Mechanics (AIM), Killian's scientific R&D company. The highly-experimental Extremis biological virus program was able to cure the crippling injuries of injured war veterans, but if improperly metabolized, the user's body would sometimes reject the treatment, heat up and explode. Killian was covering up the failures of his flawed program by designating the explosions as a terrorist plot. In Miami, FL, Stark discovered that Killian was the real 'Mandarin' - hiding behind the cover of a British actor named Trevor Slattery (Ben Kingsley). Killian also revealed that he had subjected Potts to Extremis in order to force Stark's hand and gain his assistance in fixing Extremis' flaws. Threats were also made against US President Ellis (William Sadler) onboard Air Force One. In a multi-pronged effort in the exciting conclusion, Stark was able to save both Potts and Ellis, and kill Killian (with Potts' assistance).

Man of Steel (2013), 143 minutes, D: Zack Snyder
Based on the DC comic-book superhero character Superman, this film was the first installment in the DC Extended Universe (DCEU). It was a reboot of the original Superman series-franchise starring Christopher Reeve. It was essentially a retelling of the character's origin story. The planet of Krypton was destabilizing as Jor-El (Russell Crowe), the scientist father of the future title character named Kal-El, sacrificed himself to save his young newborn son. In the midst of a failed coup attempt by General Zod (Michael Shannon) (who was later banished to the Phantom Zone), the planet's head scientist Jor-El and his wife Lara (Ayelet Zurer) launched their progeny in a spacecraft away from the doomed planet. The capsule landed in farmland in Smallville, KS, where the alien boy was adopted by childless couple Jonathan and Martha Kent (Kevin Costner and Diane Lane) - with a new name, Clark Kent (Henry Cavill as adult). When he grew older, Clark wisely hid his special powers, and became inspired by a holographic message from his late father (found in a Canadian Arctic scouting ship) to become Earth's greatest protector. He rescued investigative Daily Planet journalist Lois Lane (Amy Adams) at the site, who promised not to file her report and reveal his hidden identity. At the same time, a signal beacon from the spacecraft in the ice alerted banished General Zod to Superman's location, and Zod and his forces arrived and threatened Earth with terraforming - to transform the planet into a new Krypton. Clark Kent/Superman refused to surrender to Zod, donned his Superman suit, and confronted the alien Kryptonite in a monumental battle in Metropolis, to avoid the destruction of humanity. As the film concluded, Clark adopted a civilian alias as a freelance reporter for the Daily Planet.

Monsters University (2013), 104 minutes, D: Dan Scanlon
This computer-animated fraternity comedy was a prequel to Monsters, Inc. (2001) (Pixar's first prequel), telling the backstory of short, rotund, single-eyed and green Mike Wazowski (voice of Billy Crystal) and lazy large blue monster James P. "Sulley" Sullivan (voice of John Goodman) who became friends while attending college. In the film's opening set in Monstropolis, young six year-old Mike attended an elementary school field trip to Monsters, Incorporated - a scare company-factory, where he aspired to be a Scarer and attend Monsters University after graduating. Years later, he arrived at MU, where he and his nerdy roommate Randall "Randy" Boggs (Steve Buscemi) found themselves competing with a really imposing and 'natural' monster known as Sulley. Sulley joined the elite fraternity Roar Omega Roar (RΩR), while Mike and Randall were rejected. The two rivals Mike and Sulley were ejected from the Scare Program after engaging in a squabble during semester's final exams by strict Dean Abigail Hardscrabble (Helen Mirren), destroying one of her beloved objects. To regain a chance to re-enroll in the university, the two were given a chance to rejoin, if they could attain their fraternity's victory as the most frightening in the annual Greek Scare Games. Sulley reluctantly joined with Mike in a misfit fraternity known as Oozma Kappa (OK), along with four other loser/oddball friends, including mama's boy Scott "Squishy" Squibbles (voice of Peter Sohn), two-headed Terry (voice of Dave Foley) and Terri (voice of Sean Hayes), mustachioed middle-aged Don Carlton (voice of Joel Murray), and U-limbed Art (voice of Charlie Day). The final round of the Games pitted OK vs. RΩR, but in the end both Sulley and Mike were expelled for breaking the rules, and had to work at joining the Scare team at Monsters, Inc. the hard way - by taking jobs as lowly mail room employees.

Nebraska (2013), 115 minutes, D: Alexander Payne
Director Alexander Payne's B/W, bittersweet road-trip drama told of a reconnected bond that developed between an aging father in Montana and his son on their way to Nebraska to claim a million-dollar magazine sweepstakes jackpot that the dad was notified about in a mailed letter. The film opened in Billings, MT, where tempestuous, elderly Woodrow T. "Woody" Grant (Bruce Dern) was known to disappear and wander along the shoulders of roadways toward his destination. His outspoken wife Kate Grant (June Squibb) was increasingly annoyed, worried and angry with Woody for his befuddling behavior. Woody claimed to her and to his youngest son, stereo salesman David Grant (Will Forte), that he was heading to Lincoln, NB to redeem his sweepstakes ticket prize (obviously a mail scam). After repeated wanderings of his father, David reluctantly agreed to drive his father to his obsessed destination, to receive his prize (in person) at the company's head marketing office in Nebraska. The adventure film documented their (mis)adventures, including dealing with the results of Woody's alcoholism, and a visit with Woody's hometown family in Hawthorne, NB including a full family reunion. In Hawthorne, Woody's boisterous claims of a 'windfall' to old family friend/barfly Ed Pegram (Stacy Keach) became well-known throughout the community, and caused commotion among those scrambling for their claim. The road-trip turned out to be an experiential eye-opener and revelation for David as he gained a whole new perspective on his father.

Philomena (2013, US/UK), 98 minutes, D: Stephen Frears
Journalist Martin Sixsmith's 2009 novel The Lost Child of Philomena Lee was the basis for director Stephen Frears' moving and poignant drama about the title character's 50 year search for her forcibly-adopted son and Sixsmith's efforts to help search for his whereabouts. The film's opening told about the loss of Labour Party employment (press secretary for a government minister) by London-based BBC free-lance political journalist Martin Sixsmith (Steve Coogan) in the year 2002. He was persuaded by Jane (Anna Maxwell Martin), the young Irish daughter of Philomena Lee (Dame Judi Dench), to write a 'human interest' story about her mother's search for her son. The young toddler named Anthony was taken away from her decades ago when she became pregnant as a teenager and was forced to live in a Catholic convent. As a God-fearing, devout Catholic teenager, Philomena (Sophie Kennedy Clark as teen) lived at Sean Ross Abbey in Roscrea, Ireland as an unwed mother with others facing her same predicament. They had been required to live and work there (Philomena toiled in the laundry) for four years and serve the Abbey as "repayment." Against her will, Philomena's son Anthony (Tadhg Bowen) was adopted out (or sold to wealthy parents) when he was three years old. Now 50 years later, she wondered what had become of him. Anecdotal, uncertain leads took their search first to the convent in Ireland, and then to her hometown of Washington, DC, as both Philomena and Martin wondered what would be the outcome of their discoveries. Ultimately, the boy - named Michael A. Hess - was revealed to be a Republican senior official in the US government who had died 8 years earlier, allegedly from AIDS due to his homosexuality. He was physically-abused by his adoptive parents, and had conducted his own search for his mother during his dying days, including a visit to the convent where he was adopted out. One of his dying wishes was to be buried in the convent's cemetery. In the film's final shocking revelation, set at the convent, Martin coerced unrepentent elderly nun Sister Hildegarde McNulty (Barbara Jefford) to confess that she had lied to Michael about his mother during his visit, to deny him the opportunity to ever meet Philomena, in order to punish her for having sex out of wedlock.

Spring Breakers (2013), 94 minutes, D: Harmony Korine
Director Harmony Korine's R-rated, edgy and subversive teen drama explored the hedonistic spring break experiences of four college-aged teens in Florida. Some considered it controversial for its depiction of females, but others judged it as a feminist-empowerment treatise. Desperate to attend spring break in Florida like their fellow classmates, college party girls Brit (Ashley Benson), Candy (Vanessa Hudgens), Cotty (Rachel Korine, the director's wife), committed an act of robbery at a restaurant to raise the money. The uncaring, rebellious, and promiscuous co-eds were joined by their more conservative, religiously-oriented best friend Faith (Selena Gomez), on a trek to St. Petersburg, FL with thousands of other spring-breakers. After attending a wild beachfront apartment party drenched in alcohol, sex, and drugs, they were arrested and booked for narcotics possession. Local rapper, drug hustler and arms dealer Alien (James Franco) bailed them out, for some unknown reason. Fearing danger and further uncomfortable situations with "bad boy" Alien, Faith boarded a bus found northward to return to school. The remaining three friends followed Alien to a strip club where he was confronted by its owner - his bitter rival drug dealer Archie "Big Arch" (Gucci Mane). Under Alien's bad influence and lure of his "American dream," he convinced the girls to commit several armed robberies. During one incident, Cotty was injured in a drive-by shooting by Big Arch's gang - prompting her to return home. Following three-way sex with Alien by the pool, the reckless Candy and Brit were persuaded to take revenge on Big Arch - culminating in an assault on the dealer's mansion, the death of Alien, and the girls' lethal shooting of Big Arch and his gang members.

Star Trek Into Darkness (2013), 132 minutes, D: J.J. Abrams
Director J.J. Abrams' sci-fi action film served as a sequel to Star Trek (2009) - it was the second part of a rebooted or relaunched trilogy of Star Trek films, that was followed by Star Trek Beyond (2016). It was the 12th installment overall of the entire Star Trek franchise. Although some regarded this action-adventure sci-fi film as a remake of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982), it was mostly an homage film with some similarities. The film's chronological setting was in the year 2259, a year after the events of the previous film. Captain James T. Kirk (Chris Pine), commander of the starship USS Enterprise in the mid-23rd century, was on a mission with his crew, including First Officer Commander Spock (Zachary Quinto). Other major crew members included Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy (Karl Urban), Lt. Nyota Uhura (Zoe Saldana), Lt. Hikaru Sulu (John Cho), Lieutenant Comm. Montgomery "Scotty" Scott (Simon Pegg), navigator Ensign Pavel Chekov (Anton Yelchin), and science officer Dr. Carol Marcus (Alice Eve) (using a false identity). Their objective was to engage in a manhunt to capture terrorist mastermind Commander John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch) (aka Khan Noonien Singh). Khan's false identity was as Harrison, a Starfleet renegade commander/agent. He was in fact a genetically-augmented super-human warlord who was resurrected from 300 years of cryosleep after waging war on Earth. Harrison revealed that the 72 torpedoes on board the Enterprise (destined to be used against Harrison) each contained a genetically engineered human in cryosleep -- the remaining members of Khan's crew from the SS Botany Bay. Harrison was fleeing to his Klingon homeworld of Kronos. Of course, Kirk's mission into Klingon territory to capture Khan threatened to instigate a war between the Federation and the Klingons, although Kirk's idea was to take Harrison prisoner and have him face justice back on Earth. After various military maneuverings, Khan took control of a large Starfleet warship, the USS Vengeance, commanded by Admiral Marcus (Peter Weller), Carol's father, and crashed it into San Francisco in an attempt to destroy Starfleet Headquarters. Kirk - who had been radiation-poisoned and sacrificed himself during the conflict - was revived using Khan's blood. Khan was sealed in his cryogenic pod and stored with his compatriots as the film concluded.

Thor: The Dark World (2013), 112 minutes, D: Alan Taylor
The comic-book based, sci-fi fantasy adventure film was the 8th film in Marvel's Cinematic Universe (MCU), and served as a sequel to the earlier Thor (2011). Its time frame was set after the events of Marvel's The Avengers (2012). The main plot was the uneasy alliance and teaming of Avenger member Thor (Chris Hemsworth) with Loki (Tom Hiddleston), his adoptive brother and nemesis, to save the Nine Realms from the Dark Elves. The film opened on the eve of the Convergence (a rare time of alignment of the Nine Realms), at a time when the citizens of Asgard faced instability. The god of thunder Thor, who had been away from his love interest, astrophysicist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) for two years, returned to Asgard to hopefully restore balance and peace. Thor's brother, war crimes offender Loki, had been sentenced to an interminable Asgard prison sentence. In London, Jane had come upon a physics-defying anomaly known as the Aether - a mysterious and catastrophic force. She was absorbed and infected by the Aether and unwittingly brought it back to her kingdom - it would again threaten Asgard and awaken its long-time enemies - The Dark Elves. Thor was called upon to battle against the vengeful leader of a primordial race, a Dark Elf named Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) who sought to destroy the Nine Realms by unleashing the Aether. Thor was reluctantly forced to call upon Loki to help defeat Malekith.

12 Years a Slave (2013), 134 minutes, D: Steve McQueen
The modestly-budgeted moving biographical drama (a Best Picture winner) was a gripping survival tale (and true story with a harrowing depiction of slavery) of freed African-American fiddle-violinist-musician Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor) living in the free state of NY (Sarasota Springs). In 1841, he was kidnapped and sold into bondage (recounted in Northup's own 1853 memoir) during a short trip to Washington, DC when he was tricked by two nefarious white men. Although he protested and claimed he had free status, Northup was put up for auction by New Orleans, LA slave trader Theophilus Freeman (Paul Giamatti) who insistently named him "Platt." He soon found himself as an emotionally-tormented and physically-abused slave for a dozen years in the state of Louisiana. His first slave master, plantation owner William Ford (Benedict Cumberbatch) was well-meaning and generally kind, but due to tensions from vindictive plantation carpenter Tibeats (Paul Dano) that almost took Northup's life, he was traded away to angry, sadistic and lustful slave master Edwin Epps (Michael Fassbender), an alcoholic cotton plantation owner. One of Epps' slaves, spirited field slave Patsey (Oscar-winning Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong'o) was regularly mercilessly-abused, mistreated, and raped by him, and was also treated cruelly by Epps' jealously-embittered wife, Mary (Sarah Paulson). Initial efforts by Northup to notify his friends in NY by mail failed (and were life-threatening), but then he was successful in convincing Canadian laborer and Christian-living Samuel Bass (Brad Pitt) to communicate with his family back home, leading to his successful rescue and return North.

Under the Skin (2013), 108 minutes, D: Jonathan Glazer
Director Jonathan Glazer's slick, surreal, futuristic, sci-fi horror-thriller was based upon Michel Faber's 2000 novel of the same name. In the plot's elusive opening, a female's inert body (Lynsey Taylor Mackay) was found by the side of the road in a riverbed by a black leather-clad motorcyclist, known as the "Bad Man" (Jeremy McWilliams). He threw the comatose body into the back of a white van. In the next scene set in a sterile-white room, an other-worldly, nameless, naked "Female" (Scarlett Johansson) donned the clothes of the woman found by the roadside - seeming to assume her identity. In a series of scenes that followed, the predatory female (alien) drove a cargo van and temptingly lured lonely and unsuspecting men (or victims) to join her in the vehicle. After being driven to a dilapidated house and hypnotically seduced, the men that she specifically selected would be stripped (supposedly to prepare for sex) but then were taken to another dimension, void, or black liquid abyss and consumed as if they were human prey. Over time in a process of self-discovery, the female began to experience an identity crisis of sorts, and was beginning to more fully understand complex human life from an alien perspective, rather than just desiring to hunt them as prey. And it appeared that her renegade actions were disapproved by the motorcyclist, who was angrily searching for her. In one of the alien's final encounters, she ripped off her clothes (including her human flesh-skin), revealing black skin on a featureless body underneath. She was set on fire by a forest worker-"Logger" (Dave Acton), and the film concluded with her body burning down to nothing more than a pile of ash - with smoking drifting upward into the sky.

The Wolf of Wall Street (2013), 180 minutes, D: Martin Scorsese
Crooked and slick banker Jordan Belfort's own 2007 memoirs were the source of the screenplay for Scorsese's obscenity-laced, R-rated crime drama, about his time as a hard-selling NY stockbroker. In a cultural time of rampant sex and permissive drug use, Belfort founded his own firm, later renamed Stratton Oakmont in 1989, with the sole objective of making money with 'hard sell' tactics and artificially-inflated prices, although he was only engaged in the high-pressure sale of semi-worthless penny stocks. His team of salesmen included his neighbor: second-in-command Donnie Azoff (Jonah Hill), who promoted the stocks for a 50% commission. Belfort's ascendancy in the financial world took off after an article in Forbes Magazine dubbed him "The Wolf of Wall Street." His personal life was one of debauchery, Quaaludes and cocaine drug use, alcohol and other hedonistic excesses. After cheating on his wife Teresa Petrillo (Cristin Milioti), he dropped her for a beautiful model named Naomi Lapaglia (Margot Robbie), and then cheated on her with other hookers while she bore them two children. By the early 1990s, the SEC and the FBI were involved in investigating the company's rampant corruption and fraud on Wall Street, by tapping their phones. Belfort proceeded to hide his own windfall profits in offshore and Swiss bank accounts. By 1998, Belfort was arrested by the FBI and persistent agent Patrick Denham (Kyle Chandler) due to overwhelming evidence of his illegalities, and his downfall was clearly imminent. He agreed to a more lenient sentence by wiring himself to squeal on other co-conspirators, but didn't carry through on his commitment. Belfort's company was shut down and he received an unusually-short sentence of 36 months in a minimum security prison. After his early release at 22 months, Belfort's new strategy was to offer financial Straight Line seminars to hopeful investors on profitable sales techniques and money-making schemes.

World War Z (2013), 116 minutes (or 123 minutes unrated), D: Marc Forster
Marc Forster's action-thriller and zombie-creature film (the highest-grossing (domestic) zombie film to date) was set in a time of many global zombie uprisings and outbreaks over a period of years, caused by a highly-contagious, infectious disease-virus. It was based on Max Brooks' 2006 novel of the same name about an apocalyptic zombie war. The story opened in a Philadelphia traffic jam, experienced by ex-UN investigator Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) - with his wife Karin (Mireille Enos) and their two daughters. Suddenly, chaos, explosions, and an attack of zombies signaled a growing zombie pandemic-plague. Bitten individuals were suddenly reanimated in just a few seconds to join the hordes of fast-moving, infected, rampaging undead maniacs. Gerry was sent on a worldwide mission, in a race against time, to discover clues to the source of the rapidly-spreading, threatening disease. While his family was evacuated and protected on a UN-sponsored US Navy fleet stationed offshore in the Atlantic Ocean, Gerry studied the problem to try to determine the root cause or origin - and realized he must locate patient zero. His travels took him to South Korea, and then to Jerusalem (where a safe zone wall protected the uninfected until the zombies scaled the wall and overtook the city). He witnessed that zombies avoided attacking the sick, injured, terminally-ill, and elderly people (unsuitable hosts for viral reproduction). His next stop was a World Health Organization (WHO) laboratory outpost in Cardiff, Wales - during the plane ride, zombies infected almost all the passengers and Gerry was forced to use a hand-grenade and crash the plane during its landing. After suffering a blackout and coma, Gerry was feared dead and his family were returned to the mainland at Nova Scotia. As an antidote to the virus, he suggested inoculating the uninfected with pathogens which would be curable, to disguise them from the ravaging zombies. In the WHO lab, swarming with zombies, Gerry took a desperate chance and injected himself with one of the vials of unidentified pathogens - and realized that the zombies ignored him. His theory was a success. He collected more samples of the effective pathogen, retreated, and was soon cured of the disease - hopefully saving the world from annihilation with the masking 'vaccine' agent that was delivered to troops battling the zombies.

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