Well here we are, another year has gone by and another list must be made. 2013 has been an exceptional year for film, with many of the blockbusters living up to potential, and several indie’s making long lasting impressions long after they left the cinema. So without any further ado, here is my list of the best of the year:
We always knew that Joseph Gordon-Levitt was annoyingly talented, but now he really seals the deal with this directorial debut. Whilst it felt like nothing special at the time, it has stayed with me and grown more in my estimation over time. Two great lead performances, and a quietly intellectual plot help keep the film interesting even when the film is at its weakest. Don Jon proves JGL has a future in directing ahead of him that may be even more interesting than his acting career, I can’t wait to see what he does next.
Jon S. Baird directed this hidden gem, an adaptation of a good but not great Irvine Welsh novel, that offered James McAvoy the chance to give the performance of a lifetime. McAvoy is simply exceptional, with his Bruce Robertson the most despicable screen copper since Nicolas Cage went crazy for Werner Herzog, what impresses so much is the abilty to be both horrendous and yet make the audience care. A brave, if flawed piece of cinema that was the best British film of the year.
8.This Is the End
Easily the film I will be revisiting most from this list, This Is the End is the funniest film of the year. Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg direct their first film with this apocalyptic comedy that managed to mix comedy and drama surprisingly effectively, balancing the laughs and smarts better than any other studio film this year. It may not be the most artful or affecting film on the list, but damn, Danny McBride cracks me up enough to make up for the film’s lesser points.
Harmony Korine’s magnum opus, Spring Breakers is brash, violent, hypocritical in its condemnation of the characters, and boasts one of the most uniquely enchanting performances of the year courtesy of James Franco. Franco’s Alien has rightfully gained accolades and been embraced by the world, but it’s the work of everyone else that elevates Franco, with solid support from Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson and Rachel Korine. Throw in THAT singalong to Britney, which may be the most memorably bizarre and quietly affecting scene of the year, and you have a future cult classic.
Easily the best horror of the year, Maniac unfortunately failed to find an audience at the box office, but thankfully has found a new life on video. Franck Khalfoun’s Maniac improved upon the original in every way, providing an in depth character study that was truly original in its presentation, with the POV camerawork allowing the audience to empathise with a truly messed up individual. Elijah Wood does career best work here, and though divisively violent, there is a messed up beauty at work here. It also boasts the best soundtrack of the year, courtesy of Rob.
Chan-Wook Park has always excelled in his native Korea, after all he gave the world the classic Oldboy and the much underseen Thirst, and it is a pleasure to report that his first foray into English language cinema is a gothic masterpiece. Matthew Goode finally lives up to his potential with a creepy yet charming performance, with Mia Wasikowska and Nicole Kidman excelling in their respective roles, but really the star is Park’s direction. A gothic masterpiece, and a film that should hopefully achieve the same cult status as previous films.
Surprisingly, out of nowhere Ron Howard managed to come out swinging this year with his superb Rush, which managed to not only reaffirm that Howard is still an important film-maker, but announces that Daniel Bruhl is a force to be reckoned with. The thrilling race sequences meshed perfectly with the two lead performances, with Chris Hemsworth confirming his talent outside of Asgard, and Bruhl proving an electric performer even with such an unlikeable character. It may not be high art, but damn if Rush isn’t amongst the most thrilling films of the year.
Richard Linklater manages the impossible by making this third film in the Before… franchise feel not only vital to the story of Jesse and Celine, but also manages to make it arguably the best of the three. Culminating in the best written extended scene of the year, Before Midnight features flawless performances by Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke, and as hard as it may be to watch at times, it never feels less than real. A heartfelt look at relationships, bring on film four.
2. Cloud Atlas
The Wachowski’s and Tom Tykwer managed to condense David Mitchell’s sprawling epic into a three hour masterpiece on the importance of storytelling and a celebration of life. That each of the overlapping narratives merged so well is a testament to the work done by everyone involved, and there has not been a film that has stuck with me like Cloud Atlas. Whilst not entirely successful in the make up department, it’s heart is there, and it deserves to be recognised as a near flawless piece of cinema.
Was there ever any doubt that this would top the list? A masterpiece of design, an acting masterclass from Sandra Bullock anchored this seminal piece of science fiction drama. I’m sure the power will be diminished slightly outside of the perfect IMAX 3D presentation, but it was easily the best viewing experience of the year. Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity is not just the best film of the year, but has crept up into the list of best of all time.
So there is the list, hopefully there are some intriguing choices that you might feel the need to seek out. Here are my top ten honourable mentions, many of which came very close to the top ten, but lost out at the last moment.
You’re Next – smart and engaging horror, with a fantastically fun sense of humour.
Pacific Rim – giant robots versus giant monsters. Overlong, but with some great action.
World War Z – a troubled production aside, WWZ was a damn fine slice of action.
Evil Dead – A remake that stands out, deliciously gory and wickedly funny.
To The Wonder – beautiful and poignant, but a mess.
Warm Bodies – a surprisingly good teen movie with a likeable performance from Teresa Palmer.
Fast and Furious 6 – stupid, outlandish fun.
Iron Man 3 – Iron Man by way of Tom Clancy, the best sequel of the year.
A Field in England – Ben Wheatley is a genius, but this was a little too trippy.
The Lone Ranger – the last twenty minutes are phenomenal, a misunderstood film.