While 2013 didn’t manage the sheer volume of quality films that 2012 claims, the December Oscar rush added enough grist to push the year from "mildly disappointing" to "mildly satisfying," in my mind. While I haven’t yet seen all of this year’s best, I thought I’d provide my early Top Five, just in case any readers out there were wondering what’s worth watching from the year that was. So if you’re wondering why "Gravity," "The Wolf of Wall Street" or "Hunger Games" isn’t on the list, well, I haven’t made it around to watching them just yet.

While 2013 didn’t manage the sheer volume of quality films that 2012 claims, the December Oscar rush added enough grist to push the year from "mildly disappointing" to "mildly satisfying," in my mind. While I haven’t yet seen all of this year’s best, I thought I’d provide my early Top Five, just in case any readers out there were wondering what’s worth watching from the year that was. So if you’re wondering why "Gravity," "The Wolf of Wall Street" or "Hunger Games" isn’t on the list, well, I haven’t made it around to watching them just yet.


5. "Prisoners" — A gut-wrenching drama centered on the kidnapping of two little girls and one father’s over-the-line quest to find them, the movie’s final 30 minutes are a rewarding payoff for all the squirming you’ll do in the first 90.


4. "America Hustle" — An Oscar darling, David O. Russell’s loose take on the FBI’s 1970s Abscam operation was fueled by incredible performances from its four stars, with Christian Bale’s protagonist probably standing out as the year’s Best Actor winner.


3. "The Heat" — Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy give us a buddy cop comedy for the ages, playing the typical straight-laced/slovenly characters. McCarthy, in particular, gives her best performance since "Bridesmaids," playing-up her role as a crass Boston street cop for great laughs.


2. "Iron Man 3" — After a groan-worthy second installment, the Iron Man franchise returned to its roots for turn number three with Tony Stark. IM3 once again seemed to recognize and embrace what made the first film great. The movie deployed the wit and humor of Robert Downey Jr. early and often, and kept the action fantastically fun to watch.


1. "This is the End" — It’s uproariously funny if you have the stomach to handle the hard ‘R’ rating. I’ve twice now watched this self-conscious satire of how Armageddon would play out in Hollywood, and it’s gotten better each time. The laughs never stop, the dialogue is witheringly sharp, and the story is superb. But what made this movie truly great was its savage critique of pop-culture and movie stars, informed by enough heart and a kernel of reverence, which kept the film from being overly dark.



Happy birthday to Robert Ford Carter, Opal Marie Nichols, Gary Sewell, Samantha Wilson and Waymon Wilson, all of Denison; Levida Douglas, Billie Jean Rush, Rex Thomas and Joey Womble, all of Sherman; James Clyde Cooper of Pottsboro; Lois Sellers of Sadler; Nelda Sanders of Dixie; Richard D. Franklin of Dallas; Hayleigh Kilgore of Longview; Kathan Shannon of Arlington; Alijah Jackson of Killeen; John Nelson Holt of Ralston, Okla.


Happy anniversary to Billy and Betty Roberts of Southmayd, 52 years; Charles and Roylene Winchester of Whitesboro, 59 years.