square-eyed-geek’s Top Ten Best Films of 2013

Another year gone and another year filled with filmic goodies (and baddies – I’m looking at you Spring Breakers…). And that means another round of films that have managed to make it into my top ten best films of 2013. Same case as last year – I only count films released in the UK in 2013. Also same as last year, there have been many films I’ve missed in 2013 (Blue Is the Warmest Colour and Nebraska being just two I can name), so apologies for that. But this is a list of the films square-eyed-geek (moi herself) has seen and reviewed overall this year on this blog. Because let’s face it, everyone loves a list. Let the countdown commence…

10: Behind the Candelabra

Technically in the States this was a HBO TV film, but over here we got to see it as was originally intended – up on the big screen. Steven Soderbergh’s film shows the flamboyant life of performer Liberace (Michael Douglas) and his secret lover Scott Thorson (Matt Damon) through the turbulent ups and downs of their relationship. Director Soderbergh creates a riveting film that (as usual) looks beautiful at all times, with a great script by Richard LaGravenese and built around two great central performances from the pair, especially Douglas who brings Liberace to life in all his fun, OTT glory.

9: This Is the End

Without a doubt the funniest comedy I have seen this year…scratch that, in a very long time. Might be a bit too rude and crude for some, but for me seeing a cast featuring James Franco, Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson and Danny McBride all playing themselves and trying to survive the apocalypse in one the most meta films of 2013 was a riot. It also had more fab cameos than you could shake a proverbial stick at and great one-liners too. I am proud to say out loud that I LIKED IT. Scratch that – I LOVED IT.

8: In A World…

Another comedy, this time an indie comedy with heart. Clearly working on so many rom-coms herself had taught writer-director-star Lake Bell a thing or two in this film about the voiceover industry and one woman’s struggle to make herself heard. In A World… is a different sort of rom-com though – not only is it hilarious but it has genuine feelings and (shock horror) zero sap. Bell has also marked herself as one to definitely watch out for in the future with her brilliant central performance, her excellent script and her great direction – clearly a serious talent who has it all.

7: Trance

After conquering all with his Olympic Games opening ceremony in 2012, Danny Boyle returns to the world of film with a head-trippy flick about a guy (James McAvoy – excellent) hoping a hypnotherapist (Rosario Dawson) can unlock the secrets in his head about the whereabouts of a stolen painting before some thugs get to him. With great visuals throughout (as can be expected in a Danny Boyle film) and a brilliantly paced twisty tale this is gripping to watch too…even if the ending is a little bit overkill.

6: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

A return to the world of Middle-earth, and it’s never been more fun. Peter Jackson directs the second in his trilogy adaptation of the book and amps up everything for the main part of the storyline, including some more nasty creatures, superb action and set pieces, some returning characters (Legolas! – a welcome return from Orlando Bloom) and new ones, some from the book such as Bard the Bowman (Luke Evans) and some written in that surprisingly and thankfully work (Tauriel the Elf played by Evangeline Lilly). All this plus the icing on the cake: a big, flipping dragon in the shape (and voice) of Benedict Cumberbatch. (Full review coming soon!).

5: Mud

A brilliantly acted drama with a stellar performance by Matthew McConaughey as the mysterious Mud, the titular man who two kids (Tye Sheridan and Jacob Lofland – also amazing) stumble across one day living in an abandoned boat they have found. But what is his secret? Writer and director Jeff Nichols creates a poignant coming-of-age tale that doesn’t spoon-feed his audience with answers and that is filled with interesting and engaging characters, as well as performances from a great cast.

4: Blue Jasmine

Another film that is an example of an acting masterclass at work, this time from Cate Blanchett. Her broken and naïve Jasmine is a New York socialite come to live with her sister Ginger (Sally Hawkins) to get her life back together after her fraudster husband (Alec Baldwin) is sent to prison. Woody Allen creates another beautiful story set in another city he clearly loves, this time San Francisco. Allen’s film is both hilarious yet also heartwarmingly sweet and sad. It is also filled with great characters and an excellent cast who can handle both the comedy and the dramatic elements (in particular a tempestuous Bobby Cannavale as Ginger’s boyfriend Chili). But really, this is Blanchett’s film all the way…

3: Much Ado About Nothing

For a while this was my number 1 film of the year, but it gradually slipped as the year went on. It has still managed to make the top 3 though… Shakespeare adaptations are easy to come by these days, but few are as inventive, fun and clever as this. Joss Whedon updates The Bard’s prose to modern-day California for a film that he shot in just 12 days during a contractual post-production break after shooting Avengers Assemble (2012)…as you do. The cast are all superb and hilarious for one of Shakespeare’s funniest tales and Amy Acker and Alexis Denisof make a great central pair as Beatrice and Benedick, the reluctantly matched lovers. And the black-and-white lensing, as well as the inventive scene set-ups using nearly every part of Whedon’s house, are beautiful to watch and brilliantly choreographed. Not since Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet (1996) has a Shakespeare adaptation been this creative and entertaining to watch.

2: Django Unchained

I had my own internal struggle about which in my top ten should be first and which should be second. In the end, Quentin Tarantino’s latest just, JUST missed out on the top spot. His spaghetti-western tale about the slave Django (Jamie Foxx) being freed by a bounty hunter (the ever amazing Christoph Waltz) and searching for his bride Broomhilda (Kerry Washington) is superb viewing – over 2 hours and the time barely feels like it’s passed once you reach the finish line. As ever Tarantino’s film is well-paced, his script buzzing with clever and funny dialogue as well as his usual use of hard-hitting violence. It’s also filled with great, outlandish characters performed ably by a game cast, in particular Leonardo DiCaprio as the ruthless plantation owner Calvin Candie. Some have criticised Tarantino’s depiction of slavery but they’re missing the point – this is a cathartic revenge flick about one man’s struggle and a metaphor for retribution against a past that is sometimes forgotten. That it is a brilliant and enthralling watch is a great bonus for one of Tarantino’s best ever films.

1: Gravity

Like I said, the internal struggle over what to crown my number 1 film was hard…but in the end it had to be Gravity. Although Django Unchained is beautifully cinematic in its own way, and entertaining too, I have yet to have seen a film in recent years that is purely for the cinema-going experience – a film that is the perfect blockbuster, with nail-biting tension throughout. And the real bonus about Gravity is that not only is it a great looking flick, it also has a clever and riveting story to match rather than being all style and no substance. It also has a great central performance from Sandra Bullock as medical engineer Ryan Stone who finds herself lost and floating in space when something goes wrong (as it inevitably always does in space). And although the story seems simple, that is the beauty of it in a film that is at its heart a metaphor of one woman trying to overcome her past. Director Alfonso Cuarón has created an intelligent blockbuster that is beautifully lensed and is the first film I have seen to benefit from the use of 3D (especially on an IMAX screen), drawing you into the action and making it all the more terrifying to watch. I don’t often use the word ground-breaking to describe films, but Gravity certainly was that. And that is why it is my number 1 film of 2013.

(Those that just missed my top ten: The Paperboy, Stoker, Star Trek Into Darkness, Elysium, Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa, A Field in England, Filth, Zero Dark Thirty).

So now that 2013 draws to a close we have all of 2014’s film treats ahead of us. Highlights hopefully should be The Wolf of Wall Street, 12 Years a Slave, American Hustle, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Guardians of the Galaxy and the final film in The Hobbit trilogy. Let’s hope 2014 also slows itself flipping down too, eh? Feels like only yesterday I posted my list of top ten films for 2012… That way I might also get a chance to see more of what’s on offer in 2014 as well. Happy New Year everyone! – from square-eyed-geek. (And remember to drop me a comment below if there’s anything you agree/disagree with in my top ten list!).

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~ by square-eyed-geek on December 31, 2013.

4 Responses to “square-eyed-geek’s Top Ten Best Films of 2013”

  1. I totally agree with choice of first two….but isn’t django unchained a 2012 movie ?

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