Monday, December 30, 2013

Top Ten Films of 2013

This year I'm very happy to report to you all that I managed to see 36 films that were released this year; a damn sight better than last year which I believe was 22. My year in general, not just in regards to film watching was a memorable one. I experienced an extensive period of unemployment which I hope I never have to endure again. But with that came many cinematic discoveries and I joined a local film society. The first half of the year was a little underwhelming in terms of cinema releases but in the past few weeks I've seen some remarkable films, many I didn't expect to like much at all. 

1) Enough Said - The most honest and genuine romantic comedy I've seen. One without frivolous and shallow attitudes. It's about coping with divorce, separation and loneliness. We're shown everything that's beautiful about a relationship between two people and the joy that overwhelms us when it blossoms; the kind of joy that makes life in this world worth living. Julia Louis-Dreyfus and the late James Gandolfini are both wonderful and it's definitely not Tony Soprano meets Elaine Benes. I love this film so much, it changed my heart. Click here to read my full review.

2) Prisoners - An extremely powerful film about child abduction and the desperate lengths people go to for answers. The acting is extremely raw, especially from Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal who delivers the finest performance of his career in my opinion. The plot is well crafted with quite a few twists and turns and also very suspenseful.

3) Don Jon - For his very first film as director, Joseph Gordon-Levitt explores the unrealistic expectations of sex and love that many people unknowingly develop. As a film-maker he holds nothing back taking a raw edgy and stylish approach to cinematic storytelling. It's a film about relationships and one man's pursuit for more gratifying sex and potential love.

4) Parkland - This is a very appropriate film to be released on the year of the 50th anniversary of U.S. President John F. Kennedy's assassination. Instead of seeing the event itself we see it through the often very emotional reactions from the various different characters. It's a film that doesn't go down the conspiracy theory road, instead it's simply a gripping and dramatic recount of a very tragic day in American history.

5) Gravity - Visually it's indescribably beautiful; a true masterpiece that strives for realism; which gave me a very profound sense of actually being there in orbit around the earth. The absence of sound made for a very peaceful movie going experience; yet the plot managed to keep me on edge and held my attention with ease. There's some very interesting underlying themes such as guilt, re-birth, and the evolution of life on earth. 
6) Captain Phillips - The incredible true story of Captain Richard Phillips and the 2009 hijacking of the American cargo ship Maersk Alabama by Somali pirates. This film delivered an intensity that rivals the likes of Argo and Zero Dark Thirty from last year. The direction from Paul Greengrass is so skilful offering edge of your seat cinema from almost start to finish. Tom Hanks delivers a new career defining performance. I admire the film for exploring the background of these Somali pirates instead simply portraying them as mindless criminals. There's a level of sympathy.

7) Stoker - An adult and sinister drama that explores a very twisted love triangle. It's the American directorial debut from Korean director Chan-wook Park who creates a visual striking story about a troubled young woman's awakening following the death of her father. Mia Wasikowska is excellent as India Stoker. Her character is what I would imagine Wednesday Addams to be like if she were a real person. Many consider it a horror film and now that I think about I do too. 

8) Rush - Ron Howard brings to the screen a re-creation of the great 1970s sporting rivalry between Formula One drivers James Hunt and Niki Lauda. It’s very exciting to watch, it’s a good balance of drama, action and light humour. Character development of these two extraordinary drivers is given priority. I did a considerable amount of reading about both drivers before seeing the film and it’s fairly accurate. In the film the plot plays out like one big race, very back and forth. It’s a skilfully directed film overall. It’s engrossing cinema at 170mph.

9) American Hustle - David O. Russell’s 70s crime caper. It didn't end up as my favourite film of the year but it's still by far the coolest. It oozes style and sexuality with an intoxicating and authentic look and feel to actual films made in the 70s. David O. Russell really knows how to control his scenes. The dialogue is witty and at times dark, that is delivered by first rate character acting from an amazing cast. Click here to read my full review.

10) Pacific Rim - Guillermo del Toro's action packed throw back to Japanese monster movies. It's giant mechanical warriors battling giant monsters from another dimension. Pacific Rim offers the grand spectacle of battle, stunning visuals, and larger than life good old fashion heroic characters. It's the best pop-corn movie this year, it's straight forward and immensely entertaining. Click here to read my full review.

Honourable Mentions

Mud - This would have been number on my list if I decided to go all 'Spinal Tap'. It's a excellent and emotional coming of age story set in America's deep south. I completely lost myself in this film. You know you’re watching something truly great when you don’t look up at the clock once and pretty much lose all sense of time. Mud is a genuine and rich story about loyalty and friendship. Click here to read my full review.

The Railway Man
I was completely overwhelmed by this film. It's such a wonderfully told story about one man's harrowing experience and how war leaves its mark. The theme of reconciliation is one of the most important parts of the film, especially for the climatic scenes which are extraordinary powerful. Colin Firth gives a tremendous performance. 

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug - I'm a casual fan of The Lord of the Rings and now The Hobbit for which I consider myself lucky because I'm the type that stresses over variations when it comes to books being adapted to film. This second instalment in Peter Jackson's new trilogy is a lot more eventful, pretty much from start to finish. It was very entertaining epic adventures that's rich with detail, stunning visuals and many interesting characters of all shapes and sizes. It's a cinematic journey that must be experienced on the big screen.  

World War Z - It's another zombie apocalypse but this one is noticeable more realistic and grounded in reality. Also it's on a global scale, showing us how different nations cope with the crisis. If you want a little more meat on the bone in terms of blood and gore I recommend the extended action cut. Click here to read my full review.

The Evil Dead - This remake nails it; due to largely listening to the fan base and involving people linked to the original cult classic. It's high impact relentless horror, almost overwhelming at times.

Rewind This! - A funny, nostalgic and intelligent look at the cultural impact of home video courtesy of VHS. It's a celebration of a format that levelled the play field for low budget films that were up against Hollywood blockbusters.

Ender's Game - Science fiction adventure that's devoted to its characters instead of just the spectacle of space battles. The story is psychological and the plot has a clever twist which raises some moral questions. Commanding performances form the cast.

The Conjuring - My now favourite film from director James Wan It's a haunted house story that realise on clever use of sound, lighting and camera work. The 70s looks is realistic and it's an all around spooky film. Click here to read my full review.

The Butler - Forest Whitaker's very dignified performance is the main reason to watch this film. Although a little long it's a fine drama that explores and analyses American society through multiple view points. If you enjoy history it's recommend viewing 

Another year has come to a close. I really would have loved to have seen The Wolf of Wall Street but I have to wait until January 23rd which is when it's released to the public here in Australia. Thank you to all my readers out there, I appreciate your kind words an encouragement. I wish you all the very best for a happy and safe New Year. 


  1. omg i love enough said, grabity and captain phillips. i didn't love american hustle but it was certainly entertaining. prisoners was a bit problematic for me, but it has stayed in my head for a long time. i really wanna see don jon.

    1. Thanks Candice! Prisoners was bleak as hell, far from a feel good movie but I felt good from having seen such a well made and powerful film, very mixed emotions there. Happy New Year!