"It's been a great year for movies."
That distinction is not often bestowed upon a specific year, and when it is, it's usually not until it's been in the rearview mirror for some time. But 2013, as it comes to a close, is undoubtedly one of a handful of stellar years for films, where the great movies were both numerous and largely unique.
So how does 2013 compare to other years that have also been largely well-regarded? We've broken down some examples to give you an idea of how this year stacks up against the rest of the best.
Best Picture Winner: "Gone with the Wind"
Other Highlights" "The Wizard of Oz," "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," "Stagecoach," "Wuthering Heights"
Legacy: When talking about "great years" in Hollywood, 1939 is often thrown around by critics as the greatest ever, coming at the height of cinema's first golden age and just as color began its domination. This was the year that began the distinction and will therefore live on as one of the great examples.
Best Picture Winner: "In the Heat of the Night"
Other Highlights: "The Graduate," "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner," "Bonnie and Clyde," "The Dirty Dozen," "Cool Hand Luke"
Legacy: Mark Harris' fantastic book "Pictures at a Revolution" examined 1967 as the year that changed Hollywood forever and kicked off the second golden era. "Bonnie and Clyde" depicted violence in a way that was more graphic than ever before. "In the Heat of the Night" and "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" approached race more directly than most others. For such a tumultuous decade, '67 was the year Hollywood finally reflected it.
Best Picture Winner: "Gandhi"
Other Highlights: "E.T.," "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan," "Poltergeist," "Tootsie," "First Blood," "Conan the Barbarian," "Tron," "The Road Warrior," "Fast Times At Ridgemont High"
Legacy: How many cult classics can one summer produce? Audiences found out in 1982, when a number of super successful sequels and series starters graced the screen. It was a summer of '80s awesomeness.
Best Picture Winner: "Forrest Gump"
Other Highlights: "Pulp Fiction," "The Shawshank Redemption," "The Lion King," "True Lies," "Dumb and Dumber," "Speed," "The Mask"
Legacy: Few years in the last two decades have had this many movies embedded in pop culture in their own unique way. "Pulp Fiction" established Quentin Tarantino as an auteur star and changed independent movies forever. "The Shawshank Redemption" didn't find an audience originally, but is now the top-ranked movie on IMDb. And "The Lion King" is largely considered the pinnacle of Disney's golden age of animation.
Best Picture Winner: "American Beauty"
Other Highlights: "The Sixth Sense," "The Matrix," "Toy Story 2," "The Insider," "Magnolia," "Boys Don't Cry," "The Talented Mr. Ripley," "The Green Mile"
Legacy: If the '90s were boiled down into two years, 1992 and 1999 would be the ones that best represented movies in the decade. The big story of the year was the emergence of great talents on both sides of the camera. M. Night Shyamalan scored his first big twist. Paul Thomas Anderson moved into more experimental territory. Russell Crowe wowed audiences. And Matt Damon proved his range as one creepy dude.
Best Picture Winner: "No Country for Old Men"
Other Highlights: "There Will Be Blood," "Juno," "Atonement," "Zodiac," "Eastern Promises," "Michael Clayton," "The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford," "Ratatouille," "The Bourne Ultimatum," "Hot Fuzz," "Superbad," "Knocked Up"
Legacy: When people talk about 2013, it's often mentioned as "the best year since 2007" for a reason. The list above is only a short sampling of what the year had to offer. The films that stood out hit on a broad spectrum that didn't just include dramas. "Superbad" and "Knocked Up" solidified Judd Apatow's ownership over the modern comedy, and "The Bourne Ultimatum" capped off a brilliant and unlikely summer action series.