After a slow start to the year with plenty of Hollywood drool, it’s turned out to be a truly impressive and diverse year for cinema. The summer had a couple of surprisingly good blockbusters (The Great Gatsby, Fast & Furious 6) alongside some nail-bitingly awful comedies (The Big Wedding, Movie 43, Identity Thief). Though, the fall has certainly been packed full of brilliant dramas (Prisoners, Captain Phillips, Blue Jasmine). There has also been plenty of indie flicks giving the industry a shove (always good news) – Fruitvale Station, The Selfish Giant. But, without further ado, here are my top 5 film picks from 2013 (bearing in mind there are still some eagerly awaiting titles on my watch-list):
Top 5 (in ranked order):
5. Blue Jasmine
My number 5 spot goes to Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine. It is a beautiful and entertaining film with a sterling performance from Cate Blanchet. It left me with earnest emotions for Blanchet’s character and wanting to revisit the remarkably well-told story. Woody Allen is showcasing his impeccable ability to tell relationship driven stories with true heartfelt prosperity. Read a full review here.
4. Big Bad Wolves
This film from Israel has wowed the festival audiences this year with its reckless ability to tell a black comedy and leave your head hanging upside-down. There are scenes of sheer horror blended with whimsical and innovative storytelling. The film is beautifully crafted and an absolute bag of fun for all genre fans. Read a full review here.
Rush was the biggest surprise of the year for me. I was dragged along to see it and was left dazzled by the cinematic virtuosity and desperate to discover more about this great rivalry between two formula one legends. Admitted, I still care little for formula one, but I do love a great story, which this is. Whether this film is entirely accurate or not is besides the point, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Read a full review here.
2. Django Unchained
Though it came out before the awards season, I still count this film as a 2013 release (because it is).
As a die-hard Tarantino fan I’d never been more excited upon entering the cinema, but at the same time I was terrified of being let down. Django Unchained excelled. I’ve never been a great fan of Westerns, but boy do I love a Tarantino Western! One can blabber on about how he rips of all the great stylistic filmmakers (Woo, Leone, Melville etc), but Tarantino’s work is fresher than ever. All filmmakers blend film history, Tarantino just does so well that people are more perceptible to it. It is the stories that count though, and they are absolutely unique – Django is no exception. The Tarantino style, which we expect, is there in true spirit, but it doesn’t get in the way of telling a great story.
During the film I was grinning with delight at its splendour whilst my eyes were constantly bulging with excitement. I can’t wait for the next treat Tarantino puts on our plate! A close shave from my number one spot.
1. Blue is the Warmest Colour
My controversial number one! We film folk have always had a sweet spot for controversial films. It’s affirmative, this years Cannes Palme D’or winner left me starstruck. Abdellatif Kechiche’s direction is unadulterated yet striking, the performances from Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulosare are simply astonishing, their relationship is beautiful and genuine and the film comes together as this year’s masterpiece. Voila! Read a full review here.
Films that nearly made a mark in my top 5:
Captain Phillips – a championing true story of a captain’s cargo ship being hijacked by Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean. It’s a thrilling ride. Review.
Prisoners – this years chilling thriller of two girls who mysteriously go missing. Review.
About Time – my soft spot of the year. Richard Curtis sheds more screen delight. Review.
Saving Mr. Banks – a brilliantly told story of Miss Travis’s relationship with Walt Disney over the rights to producing Marry Poppins.
The Great Gatsby – a remarkable adaptation of Scott Fitzgerald’s novel that lives up to and adheres all previous attempts.
Stoker – despite criticism, it was chilling and full of the Park Chan-Wook aesthetic that we have come to love so dearly.
Les Miserables – it was just fantastic.
Lincoln – Spielberg’s ability to tell epic stories is just beside me.
Top 5 films to catch-up on (from preconception, they may well find a space in my top 5):
The act of Killing – I’ve heard remarkably ruthless things about this documentary. I can’t wait.
Short Term 12 – I’m hoping for a little gem.
Nebraska – Alexander Payne is exceptional and his road movies are no exception. This should be a wonderful journey.
Inside Llewyn Davis – Lovingly prepared for another great Coen Brothers film.
Behind the Candelabra – Matt Damon falling in love with Michael Douglas simply cannot be missed.
Top 5 let downs:
Oldboy – oh so sour…
Diana – rubbish, pointless, disgraceful…
Mama – it’s not been a good year for Guillermo del Toro…
After Earth – M. Night Shyamalan simply makes me want to cry…
Side Effects – I was pumped up for something far better from the Soderbergh…
There you have it. These lists may get updated over the next few months, but I can assure you, no matter how great people say it is, Gravity will not see the light of my top 5.
Now, for good measure, I wish to leave you with some wise words from the man of wonderfully cynical criticism; Mark Kermode reveals his worst 10 movies of 2013: