I meant to publish this post on New Year’s Day itself. But Sherlock was on and I panicked and I’m sorry. But anyway… There goes 2013. What a year that was. I had the pleasure of watching Robert Plant and Metallica performing in the flesh. Absolute legends. So, that was a pretty great year for an audiophile.
Of course, it hasn’t been all quiet on the movie front. Brilliant 2012 releases including Django Unchained and Cloud Atlas finally saw the light here, while 2013 itself has been a real treat for global cinephiles. Original concepts are abound, as are worthy reinventions that had me reconsidering my utter distaste for remakes.
Filth, Mud, Inside Llewyn Davis, Kill Your Darlings, The Wolf Of Wall Street… Tons of late and new releases are all a-coming in the months ahead (The Winter Soldier is coming!), so forgive me for leaving those out. Meanwhile, here’s looking back at ten 2013 films that I did see and adore.
10. We Are What We Are
The Lords of Salem, American Mary and Chucky’s triumphant return to its serious roots – horror fans certainly had their hunger satiated this year. One of my favourites takes a grim peek into one reclusive family’s secret appetite for the flesh. We Are What We Are doesn’t look like much at first, but the soft quietude is delusive. Opting for a gradual build-up over sudden scares, the crescendo of the opus is a beautifully crafted exercise in genuine terror.
This next entry is coincidentally another horror remake. That matters little, for the source material has found a new perspective. What could have easily been a typical slasher is instead an intriguing and revealing look into a killer’s mind right through his eyes. Completely shot from Frank’s point of view, Maniac draws us in close to his life of social withdrawal and mental turmoil. Feel that throb under your scalp.
8. Pacific Rim
Cast all darkness aside! If you fancy some fun entertainment, you’d love Pacific Rim. Robots and giant aliens may sound like a terrible Asylum venture, but Guillermo del Toro’s good humour and reign over geekdom (see above) urge you to throw that notion aside and indulge your inner kid. (review)
7. The World’s End
One pub crawl to reunite five friends takes an apocalyptic turn. This last instalment of the Blood and Cornetto trilogy goes beyond societal satire and the great laughs. Adulthood sticks a fork in the road as friends all go on different paths, and The World’s End finds sincere warmth in rekindled bonds. Aren’t we glad that these guys are exploiting their friendship for our entertainment? Cheers, Team Cornetto.
6. Captain Phillips
Assigning blame may be the easiest route to presenting a true story, but this dramatic enactment makes a rare attempt to play it fair. Sailing into grey areas of morality, Captain Phillips is an intelligent thriller that shows the psyche of both parties, including the often unconsidered motivations of the perpetrators. (review)
When Kelly Dover’s daughter goes missing, he takes things into his own hands. But how far is too far? Prisoners is not the typical mystery thriller fare. The case at its heart is a simple one, yet when vigilantism comes into play, its resolution takes on complex layers of moral ambiguity. Beautifully shot with deeper thematic aspiration, the mystery unravels to reveal more beneath the surface with dreadful intensity.
Everyone’s driven by something. James Hunt and Niki Lauda find their common drive in their ties that go much beyond rivalry. In the hands of adept director Ron Howard and the brilliant leading duo Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Brühl, Rush presents a chapter of Formula One fuelled by rare adrenaline of genuine inspiration. (review)
It has been seven years since Alfonso Cuarón made Children of Men. We are glad for his return at a time where technology has finally caught up with his ambitions. His achievement? A stunning cinematic space voyage. Adrift in the darkness against the stars, the lost-in-space adventure Gravity is a visual accomplishment that engrosses and takes us on a quiet introspection into human isolation. (review)
2. The Place Beyond The Pines
Every decision we make traces a road that sometimes finds its way into the paths of others. The Place Beyond The Pines is a sprawling tale of how the past plays into the present, and the ways that one generation’s choices catch onto the next. This realist drama is a reflective piece about consequences, and all unfolds with a poetic flow that gradually reveals the complicated, inner strife within each person.
1. Twelve Years A Slave
There was an audible gasp, then palpable stunned silence. The on-screen act of abuse is sudden, brutal, and just one of many in this visceral slave narrative. Twelve Years A Slave may not be an easy watch, but is definitely an essential one. Steve McQueen presents Solomon Upnorth’s incredible true story in faithful and unflinching fashion. It is both art and study of a difficult subject, armed with powerful impact. (review)
And there you have it, my ten favourites of 2013. What are some of yours? Hope you’ve enjoyed reading this, and here’s to a delightful 2014.