As the year draws to a close, the Culturefly writers look back at which films wowed them the most as they pick their best films of 2013. It’s a varied collection – from big Hollywood blockbusters to the best of British. Have a read to see if your favourite was included.
Captain Phillips – Kane Basterrechea
For some reason, Captain Phillips was a bit under-the-radar for me and I didn’t really know much about it before I saw it other than it was based on very real events and that it was directed by Paul Greengrass so I probably shouldn’t eat or drink too much before going into my screening. When I left the cinema I had been shaken, but not in the way I was expecting. This tale of decidedly un-swashbuckling piracy gripped me like no other film this year and put me through an absolutely devastating roller coaster of emotions thanks to the performance of a lifetime from Tom Hanks and his largely unknown Somali co-stars. A breathlessly tense and convincingly ‘real’ experience, Captain Phillips caught me off guard in the best possible way.
Django Unchained – James McAllister
Despite being released at the beginning of the year, no film has matched the pure cinematic enjoyment I felt watching Tarantino’s western epic. Christoph Waltz won a well-deserved Oscar for his role as Dr. King Schultz, while Leonardo DiCaprio was applauded for creating one of the year’s most terrifying villains. Watching DiCaprio justify slavery with the use of a skull and the science of phrenology was the single-most astonishing and terrifying scene of the year.
The Great Beauty – Stephen Mayne
Lighting up 2013, Paolo Sorrentino’s first film in his homeland for 5 years lives up to its name. Rome is a city of stunning, yet empty beauty, wasting its potential on decadent surface detail. Anchored by Toni Servillo’s astounding performance as the ageing dilettante Jep Gambardella, this will stay with you long after the credits close.
Gravity – Kim Evans
Unbearably tense and at the same time unbelievably visually stunning, Gravity left you walking shellshocked out of the cinema. Sandra Bullock was at her best as a stranded astronaut left drifting in space after a mission gone wrong. Simply captivating!
Mud – Natalie Xenos
Like many of the best movies, Jeff Nichols’ Mud crept up on the world without all the usual baggage about it being ‘the next big movie’ and as such, it has come out on top as the most surprising film of 2013. Following the adventures of two young boys who meet a fugitive on an island off the Mississippi River, Mud is a story of survival, hope, friendship and loyalty, presenting one of Matthew McConaughey’s most understated performances to date. Reminiscent of the superb masterpiece that was Stand By Me, Mud’s brilliance rests in its gritty simplicity and terrific cast.
Nebraska – James McAllister
Few films encapsulate the warming magic of cinema, but Nebraska managed it almost seamlessly. The tale of an embittered old drunk travelling across America with his son to retrieve a bogus cash prize doesn’t sound like a particularly enlightening tale, but with it’s focus on close family relationships, Alexander Payne’s dramedy felt like a breath of fresh air. First class performances and a witty script, tied together with Payne’s assured direction, made Nebraska a true highlight from the latter part of this year.
Rush – Jason Noble
Rush was a rare instance of a film based on real life events which not only did justice to the remarkable events that actually happened, but did it with genuine poignancy. The 1976 Formula 1 season went down in history as one of the most remarkable seasons in motorsport history, and Ron Howard’s telling of the fierce but respectful rivalry between Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl) and James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) has been captured in all its searing brutality.
Cloud Atlas – Stephen Mayne
With 6 stories told across 6 time periods in 6 different genres this should have been a disaster. Watching the same actors appear in different roles takes some time to adjust to but make sure you take that time. Edited to perfection, Cloud Atlas soars high in its own world, a breathtakingly ambitious film that defies the boundaries of the medium.
Oz The Great And Powerful – Nick Gomez
Any movie that, after Wicked the musical, can make me okay with the Wizard has accomplished no small feat. The stellar cast alone made this movie a big hitter but pulling it off so all four had a spotlight is even more impressive. Special note to Michelle Williams, I live for her acting.
The Selfish Giant – James McAllister
It has been a fantastic year for British film and The Selfish Giant epitomizes our nation’s talent for hard-hitting cinematic drama. Set against a Northern backdrop of disused power plant chimneys, we follow working-class school dropout Arbor who looks to make a fortune working at the local scrapyard with his best friend Swifty. The central performances from the young cast are astonishing and the tragic nature of this contemporary tale remains haunting long after it’s over; if there’s any justice, this will sweep the board at the 2014 BAFTAs.
Iron Man 3 – Natalie Xenos
This might be a controversial choice but I was powerless in resisting the shiny charms of Iron Man 3. Whilst Iron Man 2 lost its direction and lacked the punch that made the first film such a hit, the third film gave us something we wanted to fight for – a broken Tony Stark. We all love a hero but what we love more is a hero who gets knocked down and comes back fighting. With Shane Black in the director’s chair, Iron Man 3 threw everything it had at us: a worthy villain, a hilarious twist in the form of Ben Kingsley’s Trevor, and loads of exciting CGI charged, high-octane action.
Much Ado About Nothing – Nick Gomez
Much Ado About Nothing has been revamped through the eyes of Joss Whedon into a perfect modernization, on a minimal budget, of classic comedy. Using actors familiar to the Whedon-verse, all of whom are gifted talents, the simple modern setting in black and white allows you to both recognize and forget Shakespeare’s time displaced words. There’s a lot to Much Ado.
Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa – James McAllister
It took over 20 years for radio rock star Alan Partridge to make that leap from the small to the big screen, but it was certainly worth the wait. It was impossible to not be crying with laughter by the end, Steve Coogan’s note perfect performance a master class in character acting. Held together with an uproarious script co-written by Coogan and Armando Iannucci, Alpha Papa was the most joyfully comic film of the year.
Did we miss out your favourite film of 2013? Tell us below.