Grab the popcorn and crank up the projector – but no talking, please, the film’s about to start. Once Pearl and Dean have sung their irritatingly catchy jingle and Kevin Bacon’s flogged another Orange 2-for-1 offer, prepare to immerse yourself into the cinematically diverse world of neurotics, astronauts, witches, time travellers and malevolent spirits from the films of 2013.
Article by Jamie C.
Christmas is a time for lists – so what better excuse to compile one than with a rundown of my favourite films of 2013. You might concur, you may disagree, you might howl at the moon and think I’ve lost my cinematic senses. But – hey! – it’s a list, it’s personal and it’s mine. Here then are my top filmic offerings from the past twelve months.
The kind of dark pathos only us Brits can really do, director Ben Wheatley takes us on a grim, brutal but hysterical tour-de-force as lovers Steve Oram and Alice Lowe holiday around the British Isles, slaying anyone who mildly irritates them. Well, we’ve all felt like that, right? This is a subversive, dark, wicked road movie that walks a sometimes indistinguishable line between comedy and horror.
Oz The Great and Powerful
Sam Raimi works his magic in this prequel to the Oz tale with a philandering magician (James Franco), a talking monkey, a few cheeky nods to the original, and a deliciously cackling, basque-wearing Wicked Witch of the West. As you’d expect from Raimi, it’s bright, breezy, frenetic, dark, and crammed with an eye-popping array of vibrant visual flourishes. Great score by Danny Elfman, too.
Man of Steel
By no means does it possess the charm or wit of the Christopher Reeve/Richard Donner original – or the nostalgic wistfulness of Bryan Singer’s more recent effort, for that matter – but as far as no-holds-barred, kick-ass superhero moviemaking goes, this is in a league of its own and deserves it’s spot on this list of films for 2013. Relentless, suitably heroic, visually awesome and jam-packed with spectacle, Krypton’s finest is served up with a head-splitting hammer-blow that will leave you reeling.
Olympic director extraordinaire Danny Boyle plunges us into another spaced out, hallucinogenic world – this time of an art auctioneer who gets embroiled with a sinister group of crims and a seductive hypnotherapist who are trying to recover a classic stolen painting. With more energy than a dozen Red Bulls, Trance whips us through its murky, subterranean London underbelly with style, occasional ultra-violence, and a head-thumping soundtrack.
Fede Alvarez’ reimagining of Sam Raimi’s 80’s seminal horror classic ups the ante to an almost unbearably graphic degree, hurling the audience in an intense maelstrom of hellish spirits, sliced tongues, severed limbs, chainsawed demons, and tsunamis of bloody vomiting. For those who have the stomach, it’s a Grand Guignol rollercoaster ride that will chew you up, spit you out and leave you feeling utterly exhausted.
The World’s End
The third of Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg’s ‘Cornetto’ trilogy, it follows a group of friends who reunite after 20 years to finish an infamous and epic pub crawl, The Golden Mile. Only problem is, the planet’s on the verge of an apocalyptic alien invasion. As you’d expect from Wright and Pegg, there are in-jokes and film references aplenty, it’s fast paced, frenzied, stylish and inventive, and laced with typically British humour and pathos.
Woody Allen’s perennial offering sees Cate Blanchett in top form as an upper-class New York socialite forced to live with her working class sister after her con-man husband loses everything. A modern take on A Streetcar Named Desire, this is Allen back on top form with an incisive script, dark humour, raw energy and storytelling finesse befitting a master who, even at the age of 78, still has a few tricks up his sleeve.
Based on the real-life rivalry between hedonistic James Hunt and intensely focussed Niki Lauda during the 1976 Formula One season, Ron Howard cranks the adrenaline levels up to maximum with some of the most exhilarating racing scenes ever committed to celluloid. Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Bruhl are excellent as the protagonists with a love/hate relationship that’s as fired-up and intense as anything on the rack track.
THE tear-jerker movie of the year, Richard Curtis’ apparently last movie as director is a beautifully made, nostalgically heartfelt, tenderly depicted swansong. Domhnall Gleeson is told by dad Bill Nighy all the men in his family have the ability to travel back in time – he can’t change history, so he tries to change his past so he can have a better future. Rachel McAdams supplies more than palatable eye candy, and the final ten minutes will leave even the hardest of hearts with a lump in their throat and a tear in their eye.
Hoping to revitalise their dwindling marriage with a spot of ooh-la-la, Meg and Nick revisit their original city of love honeymoon destination of Paris, only to run into old friend Jeff Goldblum (delightfully quirky as always), who gives them a new vision of life and love. Finely observed, poignant, nuanced, often painfully real, and anchored by two masterclass performances from Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan.
Judy Dench and Steve Coogan form an odd couple in the true story of an Irish woman who teams up with a journalist to trace the son she lost when a Magdeline school sold him fifty years before. It could have been shamelessly sentimental but it avoids easy manipulation with an erudite script, touches of humour amidst the tragedy, an unflinching honesty, and two standout performances.
Astronauts George Clooney and Sandra Bullock are hurled into the dark vortex of space when their shuttle is struck by meteor debris. Technically gob-smacking, visually stunning, but with an emotional core and human heart that makes it one of the most thrilling and moving movies you’ll ever experience. Perhaps the best movie of the year.
There are plenty of other movie corkers that could have made up an even more expansive list – step forward Pacific Rim, Elysium, Filth – but you’ve got to stop somewhere.
What are your favourite cinematic gems of the past year? Share your celluloid treats below.