11 Best Summer Movies of 2013

Here are a few more great films that you might have missed in theaters…

Cheap Thrills

OK, so I know this one is cheating a bit (Drafthouse doesn’t officially release the film until early next year), but I don’t want to miss a single opportunity to rave about E.L. Katz’s brilliant exploitation film. Trading Places for the splatter crowd, Cheap Thrills is horrifying, slightly perverted, morally questionable and absolutely hilarious. Both Pat Healy and Ethan Embry give lived-in, naturalistic central performances, while Dave Koechner and Sara Paxton are the embodiment of bored, over-privelaged evil. I can’t wait to revisit this one at Fantastic Fest. – Jacob Knight


Only God Forgives

Nicolas Winding Refn’s Fire Walk With Me, his second team-up with Ryan Gosling feels like the antithesis of Drive. A frigid mixture of Oedipal psychoanalysis and brutal ultra-violence, it’s understandable why this movie was roundly rejected by most. Refn is taking audience expectation and stomping it into the curb, almost with a vicious, surrealist glee. That’s not going to go over well with everybody. But the fact that he delivered such an uncompromising work of art in the process is astounding. – Jacob Knight

Read our review here.


Frances Ha

A movie about growing up at 27, Frances Ha shows that indefinable “happiness” always seems to be just out of reach. Tiny victories are what help keep us going, while interpersonal affronts that seem silly on the surface mean the world to someone who’s still finding their way in the world. Greta Gerwig is as radiant as the B&W compositions are stark, and Baumbach’s loose framing harkens back to Woody Allen’s earliest work. A funny, heartfelt triumph and the first American movie I’ve seen in a while that captures the daring spirit of Cassavetes’ late ’60s/early ’70s humanist independent cinema. – Jacob Knight

Read our review here.

Behind the Candelabra

Behind the Candelabra

The movie so flamboyant only the Cannes Film Festival (OK…and Europe) were allowed to see it in theaters, Stephen Soderbergh’s alleged final cinematic effort is gaudy, glitzy and downright gorgeous. It’s a damn shame that Candelabra couldn’t be experienced in all of its opulent glory on the big screen in the US. This minor injustice just goes to show that we might’ve come a long way in accepting homosexuals into society, but the fact that every major studio passed on this glorious project because it was “too gay” is quite telling about just how far we still have to go. Swan songs don’t get much more golden. – Jacob Knight

Upstream Color

While Primer director Shane Carruth might be a bit too narratively and thematically oblique for his own good at times, his second film is just emotionally affecting as it is a narrative paradox. While the formula to the film’s center might take a few viewings to decipher, the moments of pure beauty Carruth crafts on a miniscule budget is enough to inspire filmmakers at any level. Color me beguiled. – Jacob Knight



Mud does something you rarely see anymore: it plants one foot firmly in stark reality while keeping another inside of a kind of “down home” fairy tale. Writer/director Jeff Nichols’ script is peppered with authentic feeling dialogue, and the way he treats these lower class, Mississippi river dwelling swap rats is kind of amazing, as he is neither patronizing nor condescending. But the real star here is Matthew McConaughey, who continues to contort his leading man looks to fit the soul of the rugged character actor who lives inside of him. Probably the best coming of age film in year full of them. – Jacob Knight

Read our review here.

Follow our amazing writers and check out their individual lists below.

Karin Abcarians:

1. The World’s End
2. Star Trek Into Darkness
3. This is the End
4. Fast 6
5. Man of Steel
6. The Wolverine
7. Red 2
8. Elysium
9. Iron Man 3
10. The Lone Ranger

Kristal Bailey:

1. This is the End
2. The Kings of Summer
3. Pacific Rim
4. Monsters University
5. The World’s End
6. Iron Man 3
7. The Heat
8. The Wolverine
9. Man of Steel
10. Fast & Furious 6

Daniel Johnson:

1. Pacific Rim
2. Blackfish
3. The Conjuring
4. Behind the Candelabra
5. The Act of Killing
6. 20 Feet From Stardom
7. The World’s End
8. Monsters University
9. Man of Steel
10. Star Trek Into Darkness

Jacob Knight:

1. Before Midnight
2. The World’s End
3. Ain’t Them Bodies Saints
4. Cheap Thrills
5. Only God Forgives
6. Frances Ha
7. Behind the Candelabra
8. Upstream Color
9. Mud
10. Pacific Rim

Jason Tabrys:

1. The World’s End
2. This is the End
3. Elysium
4. Fast and Furious 6
5. Iron Man 3
6. Pacific Rim
7. Drinking Buddies
8. Bad Milo
9. The Wolverine
10. Star Trek Into Darkness

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The Author

Kristal Bailey

Kristal Bailey

With a soft spot for movies that fall into the “So Bad They’re Good” category, Kristal Bailey regularly watches B-movies, 80s comedies, and sci-fi from the 50s and 60s. She also refuses to grow up if that means she has to hide her love for Disney and Pixar films.

In her free time, she enjoys reading graphic novels or books that are soon to be turned into movies, watching hours and hours of television, and spending way too much time on Twitter.