Over the past few weeks (and for the next few weeks until award season is over) discussions will center on the best films of 2013. I thought I’d give it a go as well and share the films that I enjoyed last year.
After a placid 2012, Hollywood rebounded and gave us a mix of films: from sci-fi block buster Gravity to heart-warming indie film The Spectacular Now, to an intriguing mediation on corruption American Hustle. It seems the ideal time to thank the cinema gods for the fantastic films they let loose on us.
There are plenty of great films not included due to, well I have to shamelessly admit, that I never got around to watch. However, before I mention my list of films that made me laugh out loud, cry or howl, I would like to give an honourable mention to: Blue Is The Warmest Colour, Rush, Saving Mr. Banks, World War Z, Now You See Me, Blue Jasmine, Despicable Me 2, Frozen, Man of Steel, August: Osage County and Prisoners.
10. Before Midnight
I don’t think anyone predicted that Before Sunrise would become a trilogy. The last installment presents the nuances and mature depiction of a relationship ever put to film. Beyond the clever dialogue and convincing performances this movie tackles the reality of true love, true commitment.
9. Ain’t Them Bodies Saints
Writer director David Lowery has surprised a lot of critics with this intense and bruiting crime drama. A love story featuring Casey Aflec, Roony Mara and Ben Foster, it is one of the most beautifully shot films of the year. It invokes longing like no other film I have seen in 2013.
With amazing performances by Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson, it’s pretty impressive considering the camera is zoomed on Phoenix’s face for virtually the whole film and we never even see Johansson. This movie explores the idea of humanity’s relationship with technology in a way that is funny and moving. I was left speechless.
7. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
I enjoyed the first one but this one takes the cake. The screenplay is terrific with streaks of wit. It seems the narrative and thematic liberties were driven up sharply.
6. Iron Man 3
The third installment is a snappy, whip-smart wit, pop-infused banter with the most entertaining exploration of post-traumatic stress disorder. No actor other than Robert Downey Jr. could have portrayed the character more brilliantly.
Believe the hype – one of the most extraordinary cinematic achievements by director Alfonso Cuaron, also a marvel of controlled acting and precise tone.
4. The World’s End
The last installment of Edgar Wright’s infamous trilogy starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost – a duo that has made millions laugh. It is a salute to pub crawls, old friends, British eccentricity and of course, the Peter Pan syndrome.
3. Captain Philips
Surprising brilliant and so intense with some interesting subtext about the rich and the poor, as well as the desperate acts of desperate men, but ultimately the story of one man put in an impossible situation and how his humanity and compassion come out during that time. Tom Hanks gives a performance that is remarkable.
2. 12 Years A Slave
What I found disturbing about this film was the idea that someone could be living a regular, comfortable life with his family and then has his life completely taken from him, then subjected to unthinkable horrors and indignities. It is really one of those tarrying painful movies that I have ever seen. Chiwetel Ejiofor did an incredible job especially with his eyes – he often has to because he isn’t allowed to say the things he wants to, while Michael Fassbender is completely chilling and terrifying as a slave master.
1. The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug
A wickedly entertaining thrilling adventure that doesn’t relent until the cliffhanger ending almost three hours later. It is very surprising how Peter Jackson, Guillermo Del Toro grabbed all the lore that Tolkien crafted and captured it into this heavy CGI film without any inconsistencies. And who can forget Smaug – that menacing voice, oh Ben!