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The Best Picture debacle at the 2017 Oscars ceremony notwithstanding (whatever your position on the face-off between Moonlight and La La Land may be), the 2013 award season race sticks out in recent memory as a particularly tough year to predict the film that would come out on top at the Academy Awards. The laundry list of movies that were all conceivable contenders to clinch a win from the Academy was an embarrassment of riches for cinephiles. The year had its fair share of critical darlings that rounded out reviewers’ Top 10 lists, from Her’s not-so-unrealistic future landscape to Gravity’s star-studded CGI universe. These movies weren’t so dominant that it was a safe bet to rule out equally well-reviewed movies like Inside Llewyn Davis and Captain Phillips in Oscar party pools, either—as we know now, the dark horse sometimes ends up on top. In the end, the Steve McQueen-directed 12 Years A Slave edged out the other nominees for the Best Picture win, in a slightly surprising pick from a pre-#OscarsSoWhite Academy.
But, disregard the general picks of the old white men’s Oscars: The Complex team’s picks don’t exactly adhere to the same stuffy, antiquated opinions. Don’t get us wrong— some of the aforementioned films made the cut, but they share space on this list with less conventional films that didn’t get as much love on the awards circuit. We don’t discriminate in regards to star power, budget, or pretentious standards of artistry. On our list, Disney alums stand among seasoned Hollywood elite, movies produced with miniscule budgets hold spots next to those filmed with over one hundred times the cash, and side-splitting comedies get the recognition that the Oscars rarely give. Because “Oscar-worthy” or not, the best movies are the ones that give the audience an entertaining escape from everyday life, whether that is achieved through laughter, horror, or James Franco method-acting as a bizarro version of Riff Raff.
Without further ado, these are the films that kept us captivated back then; here are the best movies of 2013.