Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Top 10 Best Movies of 2013

So that’s it from 2013, folks. A year in film where quality was dominated by the lower budget films with the small wallet share of marketing money, and one of the worst in recent memory for the big budget summer releases.

I was fortunate enough to see 96 films released in the UK and/or US this year. For the full list, in order of my favourite to the very worst, see my list over at Letterboxd

Here’s my list of the 10 best:

10. Mud (d. Jeff Nichols)
Mud is a near-perfect film. The acting from all involved, from the two young boys to Oscar winner Reece Witherspoon to Matthew McConaughey's best performance in his post-RomCom winning streak, everyone becomes their character and any Hollywood sheen doesn’t make it onto the screen. Director Jeff Nichols’ lens choice and control of his picture is exemplary with steady, controlled, and economic shots which allow the story to unfold unhurriedly and slowly like the Deep South setting it takes place in, but when the story calls for a sudden change of pace in the final act Nichols handles this effortlessly, too.

9. Lincoln (d. Steven Spielberg)
Lincoln represents a striking return to form for director Steven Spielberg and is his most accomplished dramatic film for a decade. Every fault he and his regular contributors made in their last film, War Horse, they put right here. Steven Spielberg shows in this film once again why he is The Greatest Living Director™ and is a unique talent. A clear contender for this top 10 lest form early January.

8. Oblivion (d. Joseph Kosinski)
The only big budget spectacle to truly blow me away in 2013. Simply put, Oblivion should be considered the post-Inception benchmark for original big-budget movies. I can’t praise it highly enough.

7. Side Effects (d. Steven Soderbergh)
After seeing this film in March I said “Side Effects is as near-perfect a thriller as we’ve seen in many, many years and is a certain top ten for 2013.” And true to that prediction, here it is at number seven. Vintage Soderbergh, a director who will be sorely missed by me now he’s retired.

6. All Is Lost (d. J C Chandor)
All Is Lost has our attention from the first frame to the last wit barely 100 words of dialogue uttered in its 105 minutes. Now that is the sign of a director operating at the highest level of his art and All Is Lost is at that highest of levels. A unique experience and one which is far superior to that other story of survival which earned all the money and plaudits this year; you know, the one in space...

5. Only God Forgives (d. Nicolas Winding Refn)
It’s the natural evolution of neo-noir, building on (admittedly superior) films like Taxi Driver, The Friends Of Eddie Coyle, Hardcore, Blade Runner, Manhunter, and Se7en, to create a gritty, gloomy world where happy endings are not tacked on for audience approval ratings. This is essential film making for those who can appreciate it.

4. Ain’t Them Bodies Saints (d. David Lowery)
Ain’t Them Bodies Saints evokes a film making style now all but lost and takes us back to a time when cinema could be beautiful, daring, and haunting all at once, without the goal to spawn sequels and franchises. That time was the rise of New Hollywood in the late 1960s and early 1970s and will forever be, to me, the most influential and important era in American cinema. The most beautiful film, with the most beautiful score, I saw this year.

3. Before Midnight (d. Richard Linklater)
As a film on its own, Before Midnight is superb and is working on a level beyond almost anything else seen in 2013. As the third film in a trilogy it is becomes something else entirely and makes the previous films even better because of what unfolds here; it is part of a film series which transcends the limitations of most films. It lives, breathes, loves, hates, cries and will continue to do so long after the final credits roll.

We should all be thankful to Linklater, Hawke, and Delpy for this gift they have given us.

Joint 1st : A Hijacking (d. Tobias Lindholm) and Captain Phillips (d. Paul Greengrass)
I cannot choose between these two films and it is by pure coincidence that my number one picks from this year are both about the same subject.

Never have I experienced such terror and genuine emotion as when I watched these two films in the cinema this year. Both are the definition of tension and neither let up for a second, never pandering to audience expectations.

At the end of A Hijacking I felt like it was us, the audience, who had been taken hostage. At the end of Captain Phillips I shed a tear because I felt like I’d been waiting all my life to see a film in cinemas which moved me like this.

Both films are exemplary film making, and for me, modern masterpieces. I don’t need years of reflection to label them as such. They are the best films of 2013, and the two of the best films you could ever hope to see in modern film making.

1 comment:

  1. That's a strong list. I wasn't a fan of Oblivion or Lincoln but liked all the others. Nice to see Only God Forgives and All Is Lost on there. Have been arguing with people about those two recently.