Tuesday 31 December 2013

My Top 10 Films of 2013

2013 has been a real treat for cinema-goers; there has been so many great films out this year that picking only 10 for this 'best of' list has been a bigger challenge than ever.

So, without further ado, here are my Top 10 Movies of the 2013 - be sure to let me know in the comments section below on your thoughts! What was your favourite movie of 2013?

Honourable mentions
Iron Man 3, Prisoners, Zero Dark Thirty, Silver Linings Playbook, Side Effects, Pacific Rim, Flight, Gangster Squad, The World's End

10th - About Time

Okay, okay, I admit it. I really liked About Time. It made me smile lots and feel-good about love and stuff. Any of you Scrooges be gone; Richard Curtis films may be a tad schmultzy, but you can't but catch the infectious feel-good message About Time projects upon the audience.

Domnhall Gleeson and Rachel McAdams make a wonderful on-screen couple blossoming with chemistry. Together with Bill Nighy, their charm and wit make this film a real rib-tickler. Not only that, but the film has a great 'love life' message at its core.

If you walked out of this film feeling gloomy, then I'm afraid you may be something of a lost cause. Sorry.

9th - American Hustle

David O. Russell has had a great 2013 - a double-whammy of fantastic dramedies with Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle. The latter stood out for me owing to its stylish setting and gorgeous direction; Russell immerses the audience in the 70's from the get-go.

Funny, biting, sexy and glamorous, American Hustle didn't trade in substance for style; the writing and dialogue was some of the most well-written all year.

Throw in a whole host of dazzling performances from Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, and you've got yourself an awards season behemoth.

8th - The Way Way Back

Read my original review here: Film Review - The Way Way Back

A funny and poignant coming-of-age story that charts 14-year-old Duncan's tough summer away from home, The Way Way Back is a fantastic feel good film that will make you cry and laugh tears.

Liam James is great as Duncan and Steve Carrell drops the dorky idiot schtick to play a meatier and more interesting role as Duncan's mom's mean boyfriend.

Stealing every scene he is in is Sam Rockwell as Duncan's new-found father figure, the lackadaisical and childish Owen. However, the real star of the show here is Nat Faxon an Jim Rash's superbly written script; it's a narrative that's been told a thousands times, but the duo make the characters, the setting and the premise feel as fresh and entertaining as ever. A feel-good film that anyone and everyone can enjoy.

7th - Thor: The Dark World

A tough pick this one, mainly because both Marvel films this year have been so thoroughly enjoyable and riotous fun. And whilst Iron Man 3 was a huge improvement on the disappointing second film, I've gotta tip Thor: The Dark World as the best Marvel/superhero film this year. 

From start to finish, I couldn't help contain my grin with Thor: The Dark World. It was like a perfect mixture of Marvel, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings and Stargate all blended together. The sci-fi action and Norse setting is equal parts brilliant and camp. 

And it's so funny! The characters are so well-written that I laugh more at films like this than I do at actual comedies. 

In my original review I dubbed Thor: The Dark World a "bombastic and entertaining thrill-ride...[that's] flash, funny and frantic". Pretty much sums it up. 

6th - The Place Beyond the Pines

Read my original review here: 60 Second Film Review - The Place Beyond the Pines

The Place Beyond the Pines is one of the most ambitious films of 2013. Not because it tried to level Metropolis, crash the USS Enterprise or battle kaiju, but because it tried to tell a complex tale of fatherhood, responsibility and fate across three generations in just one movie.

Directed by Derek Cianfrance, this film is one that I'm really glad I took the time to watch. Starting out with one plot strand, the film darts in a completely different direction about a third of the way in. That I couldn't pick the ending before the halfway mark made it a really captivating drama worth checking out.

Throw in some great performances by Ryan Gosling, Eva Mendes, Dane De Haan and Bradley Cooper (the latter in particular doing a brilliant job) and Place Beyond the Pines is one of the most complete films of 2013 - it excels on essentially every level.

5th - The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

The second instalment in the Hunger Games franchise took everything that was wrong with the first entry (which was still damn good) and improved on it. "It's bigger, ballsier and all round better" we proclaimed in November. And it's true; Catching Fire is a near-perfect sequel.

With the consequences of the first film starting to take effect, the stakes are higher and the threat is looming larger. Isn't that what every good sequel needs? 

The actors have also settled into their roles, with Josh Hutcherson looking a lot more comfortable this time around. Jennifer Lawrence commands the screen as strong heroine Katniss, whilst the likes of Jenna Malone, Sam Claflin and Philip Seymour Hoffman are given an introduction to remember.

4th - Captain Phillips

A tense and thought-provoking thriller by Paul Greengrass, Captain Phillips stood out for me this year owing to the really great performance put on by Tom Hanks.

Hanks plays the titular Captain Phillips, a man in charge a container ship that is boarded by Somali pirates whilst moving freight down the East African coast. Hanks gives it his all and possibly gives the best performance of his career.

Meanwhile, I liked that Greengrass set out to make a film that wasn't overly in-your-face with patriotism. The Somali pirates are actual characters, given context and characterisation. On the whole, a really well put-together action/drama that has an interesting message to spread.

3rd - The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Peter Jackson's second Hobbit movie, The Desolation of Smaug was a rip-roaring fantasy adventure that improved upon the slightly bloated first adventure substantially.

From the helter-skelter barrel sequence to the final scenes set within the dragons den, The Desolation of Smaug saw Jackson in his absolute element, crafting a cinematic experience that defines escapist.

For 3 hours, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug whisked me away to a fantasy land that felt as real and whole as anything seen on-screen, just as the original Lord of the Rings trilogy did. The sheer attention to detail and design in these movies blows me away every time.

Couple this with impeccable casting (Freeman, McKellan, Armitage, Lily, Cumberbatch) and you've got one of the most enjoyable movies of the year. Brilliant stuff. And that ending....Damn you Jackson!

2nd - Gravity

Gravity isn't just a film. It's an experience. An engrossing and enchanting out of this world cinematic experience.

Starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney as two astronauts adrift in space after a debris storm damages their station, Gravity has to be seen to be believed. The achingly-long panning shots, the deafening silences and the claustrophobic close-ups, everything about the way this film was shot and pieced together puts you there, in the moment.

If you leave aside the much-lauded VFX mastery for a second however, and there is still a lot to love about Gravity. It's a hauntingly simple and straight-forward film that is told really well; one woman's journey to return home has never been so gripping. That it succeeded at the box-office (over $500 million internationally) and has been praised so highly by critics shows what a gem it really is.

1st - Rush

Whether you care about Formula One or not, Rush is an absolute must-see film from 2013. I may be biased (other than writing a movie blog, F1 is my thing), but that doesn't change the fact that Rush was a damn good film.

Rush, at its heart, has a very straight-forward premise; it's a film about two contrasting characters of the 1976 Formula One World Championship, Niki Lauda and James Hunt. One, a calculating and methodical Austrian who will stop at nothing to win. The other, a naturally-talented and charismatic English gent with a penchant for super models and booze. Their dynamic, rivalry and friendship as they both vie for the World Championship is the crux of the film, but its the earth-shattering crash that injures Niki, and his subsequent recovery, that elevates this film from a boneheaded sports film to an emotional and enthralling drama.

It had superb action, gut-wrenching drama, two knock-out lead performances, a gorgeous 1970's setting and thrilling direction. Oh, and sexy ladies and fast cars. Let's be honest here...what's not to love? Ron Howard absolutely nailed the whole thing, with the relationship between Hunt and Lauda well-written and layered and kick-ass driving set-pieces that had you on the edge of your seat.

So there we have it; my Top 10 Films of 2013. I would've written something on the worst films of the year but that's way too much negativity to sit down and string out. As a result, I'll make this brief. In no specific order these are the worst films of the year in my opinion;

  • Runner Runner
  • After Earth
  • This Is The End
  • A Good Day to Die Hard
  • The Incredible Burt Wonderstone
  • The Internship
Be sure to let me know what your opinion is in the comments section below! Did I get it spot on or way off? 


  1. Nice list! I missed About Time (that movie left the theaters in my town almost as quickly and randomly as it appeared), but I'm eager to check it out at some point. And nice pick with Thor, which woulda gotten a nod from me as well, but I was already starting to list a few too many movies as it was, lol. But still, certainly a great outing, and glad to see you place it here! :)

    Rush is a very interesting top pick in particular. I wasn't as big a fan of it as you, but I can acknowledge it for being a very technically well made and well acted film, so still a nice pick!

    1. About Time was very good film, endearing and charming - definitely check it out (but only if you're not a cynic of Richard Curtis movies).

      Rush was a no-brainer for me, based purely on the entertainment factor it provided. Gravity was great technically, but I liked the characters (and the message behind the story) of Rush more.

      Thanks for commenting Chris :)



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