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A Pictorial History of the Movies: 2013 – Gravity

This is the defining film of 2013. I know people will say 12 Years a Slave is the film of 2013, but it’s not. Gravity is that film. 12 Years is the most important film of 2013, but it’s not the film that defines 2013.

Put it this way – how many people were really excited about Gravity before it came out? I was. Shit, I called that movie 5 stars when it was supposed to come out in 2012. January 2012, I already said, “I’m so fucking in for this movie.” It’s not like it had that prerelease buzz of something like The Avengers. Or The Dark Knight. Or Avatar. This was a movie that, unless you were paying attention to it, you knew was a space movie that was coming out.

And then if fucking blew up. This movie brought people back into the theaters. The right way. Not in that, “We spent millions of dollars to market it, so people will come out the first weekend and not afterward because it’s not very good,” way. This was the, people came out, people went, “Holy fuck, that was amazing,” and then went back to see it. And they told their friends, “Holy fuck, did you see Gravity? You need to go right now and see that fucking movie.” That’s why this is the most defining movie of 2013.

Not to mention, the film is a visual masterpiece. What Cuaron accomplished here is absolutely astounding, and there’s a reason the film won 7 Oscars. So on an achievement level, and the fact that it managed to bring people into the movies and gave them an experience, it became the defining movie of 2013. Now granted, the movie is a simple space thriller and might not be thought of as highly as other movies of 2013 (and may go on to become something like The Towering Inferno, which was a huge deal at the time, but now is looked at as something that was nice then, and just a good film now), but the fact remains that, if you lived in 2013, this was the movie of the year. There’s no alternative. It hit all the right buttons of money, Oscar nominations, and plain word of mouth. Everyone knew about this movie. There was really no other choice for 2013.

Only alternatives for me were either 12 Years – which is more historically and culturally important. Not enough people really saw that for me to want to pick it over Gravity. That’s more the defining film in name only, and not in practice – or Frozen, which, to me, peaked too late in the game to take the crown from Gravity. Frozen didn’t feel like it started catching on until Christmas. And it doesn’t’ feel like it’s held up well as a ‘defining’ film. Gravity feels like it’s held up. That movie felt like the movie of 2013 for me.

Oh, I should also mention… that was the last movie on our countdown, as 2014 is not yet over, and it’s unfair to choose a defining film of 2014 without it having officially ended.

Today is also coincidentally (though not at all, since I planned it this way) Thanksgiving. And I wanted to end this Pictorial History of the Movies series by saying — we just went through 119 years of film, and we’re just about to finish number 120. And we’ve barely scratched the surface of trends, iconic moments, images, films, characters and experiences that motion pictures have given us during that time. While I’ve been picking what I’ve been calling “defining” films from each year, all I’m really doing is celebrating films that have withstood the test of time from each year and talking about trends in the business I love the most. And I’m thankful to have all of these movies to talk about, and I’m thankful to have such a rich history to learn from and talk about, and share with others. And, I’m thankful to have so many more movies available to me to be able to run this feature again in the future many times without needing to ever repeat any of the films on this list.

It’s pretty great, what movies have given us. Let’s give back by continuing to watch them.

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3 responses

  1. Congrats on finishing your project! I really enjoyed seeing you pick each movie for these 119 years! I’m looking forward to see what film you pick for 2014 when the year finishes.

    November 27, 2014 at 5:33 pm

  2. 80 percent of Gravity’s box office for the first few weeks came from 3-D showings, which is an unheard of share. By way of contrast, Avatar’s 3-D share was 72 percent and Life of Pi’s 3-D share was 68 percent.

    November 28, 2014 at 2:01 pm

  3. Hell of a thing you’ve done. Props.

    From my perspective, Spring Breakers is a more definitive film for the year, because it captures the way young people live now, and because it’s so perfectly made.

    As for the definitive film of 2014…I hate to say it, but Boyhood is about the best I’ve got.

    November 28, 2014 at 7:34 pm

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