We’re now into 2014 and there are several films to look forward to in the coming months (particularly Jack Ryan in just a few weeks!) however it’s always nice to reflect a little and I’m having a look back at my favourite films of 2013. As with every year there’s always a few I missed so you’re not going to see Silver Linings Playbook or the Great Gatsby as I’m yet to catch up on them (only so much time people!).
But for now, here is the list of my ten favourite movies of 2013, listed alphabetically as I’m not a fan of numbering them one through ten…
Filled with excellent performances, great writing, and an interesting concept I found American Hustle engaging and thoroughly enjoyable. The second act does tend to fall a little flat however the opening act grabs your attention and the final act comes together with precision rounding out a fantastic film.
Paul Greengrass returned to cinemas delivering Captain Phillips. Starring Tom Hanks, Captain Phillips is a compelling human drama which takes the time to include some interesting subtexts about distribution of wealth and acts of extreme desperation. However overall the film centres on one man’s survival in an extreme situation and Tom Hanks carries this through superbly.
I’m running with Aussie theatrical release dates for this list, meaning Django Unchained scrapes in for 2013. Arguably one of if not the best Tarantino film to date Django is a western adventure film which includes a confronting look at slavery in the 19th century. Filled with bloody violence, humour and great performances all round Tarantino fans can’t afford to miss this one.
Alfonso Cuaron made a very welcome return to cinemas (for the first time since 2006’s Children of Men) with Gravity, the space survival film starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. I have never been a fan of 3D presentations however I can say without reservation this film employs the best use of 3D I have ever seen (and that includes Avatar). But not only that, this film also boasts an emotionally engaging story of human vs. the environment. Filled with long continuous shots this is a gorgeous looking film and a cinematic accomplishment to be remembered.
Life of Pi
Ang Lee’s Life of Pi is a gorgeous looking film from earlier in 2013, it also made excellent use of 3D but the real heart of this film is in the story of Pi and his experiences lost at sea. Life of Pi is a compelling film and one that prompts a great deal of thought, discussion and debate about philosophy, and religion and the films take on these.
Robert Rodriguez brought back his violent ass kicking hero Machete with Machete Kills, with Danny Trejo in the main role and featuring a recognisable cast of actors Machete Kills makes it onto my list for sheet crazy entertainment value. Machete Kills surpasses Machete in every way achieving a ridiculously over the top spaghetti entertainment value that left me laughing and thoroughly entertained.
Now You See Me
I caught up with this release late in 2013 and it’s safe to say I was more than pleasantly surprised. This film features some clever writing that risks becoming overly convoluted, however because of the busy dialogue being delivered by articulate actors and solid performances everything comes together in a fantastic manner. Catching this release at home made me regret missing it in theatres, the film features some excellent sequences that would have played well on a big screen.
The Way Way Back
I simply cannot recommend this film enough, a nostalgic look at an introverted teenager’s coming of age tale set over a summer holiday with his dysfunctional family unit. This film tells the tale of how a person is influenced and shaped by their experiences and the people they meet throughout their lives. With a great cast, great writing, this is a feel good tale about a character who is easy to identify with and in a difficult position in life.
The Wolverine takes my superhero film of the year award. Hugh Jackman returns of course as Logan in this tale that unfolds in Japan. Initially I was not overly impressed though over time it’s grown on me. This is a smaller tale than what we’ve been seeing in the superhero films of late and I found it a refreshing change. Not without its flaws the characterisation of Logan is well managed in a courageous move to set the film post-X-Men 3 and to tackle the emotional impact on Logan of the fate of the Dark Phoenix. Also great to see is Rila Fukushima in the role of Yukio who is a great match alongside Hugh Jackman and complements his performances skillfully throughout the film.
This is the End
2013 is packed full of disappointing comedies including The Internship, Delivery Man, and Grown Ups 2. This is the End stands out amongst the rest for its highly entertaining self-referential humour that actually pays off with hilarious sequences and a willingness to be unapologetically non-PG friendly.
So that wraps up my best ten films for 2013, a couple of other mentions include;
Biggest Disappointment of 2013
My biggest disappointment of 2013 is without a doubt Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel. Snyder’s film isn’t necessarily a terrible film, there are certainly worse films in 2013 but it was the film that I was most looking forward to that didn’t deliver.
Man of Steel failed to really capture of the essential qualities of Superman, I disliked the characterisation of Jonathan Kent, Henry Cavill was fine but misdirected in his performance, the level of destruction that occurs in the film without Superman’s attempts to prevent or redirect seemed out of scale, and SPOILER ALERT while I don’t mind Superman executing General Zod, the film hadn’t pushed the character anywhere close to the extreme desperation required for Superman to commit such an act. Unfortunately Man of Steel has left me more concerned than excited about the future of the cinematic DC universe.
Most Anticipated Film of 2014
My most anticipated film of 2014 is X-Men: Days of Future Past. Bryan Singer returning to not only write as he did for X-Men: First Class but also direct is an exciting prospect. Utilising elements of the original and recent cast involved in the franchised, and focusing on a complex story like Days of Future Past this film could result in one of the most compelling X-films to date.