2013 was a great year for films, I had to cut a lot of great films to whittle it down to only 10 but I did it and here it is for your viewing pleasure.
10. 12 Years a Slave
When I first heard about 12 years a slave it was about its cast. The cast list was what got me extremely interested; Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt, Benedict Cumberbatch, Quvenzhané Wallis (Coming off the back of the great ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’, Chiwetel Ejiofor, etc.
I had only seen one of director Steve McQueen’s previous films ‘Shame’ which, while good was not as great as I hoped it would have been. Having said that however, 12 Years a Slave absolutely blew me away with how powerful and brutal it was. The long take involving the lynching was brutal yet absolutely beautiful, I am a sucker for long takes and it took real courage for McQueen to use a long take during this scene.
The 2 lead performances by Chiwetel Ejiofor and Lupita Nyong’o are absolutely phenomenal and absolutely deserving in all the acting awards they were nominated for and received.
I urge anyone reading this, if you haven’t seen 12 Years a Slave, it is absolutely a must watch film and was extremely deserving in winning the ‘Best Picture’ award at the Oscars.
9. Dallas Buyers Club
Speaking of phenomenal performances, holy fuck, Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto. This film, arguably, is just as an important story to tell as 12 Years a Slave though they are very different films.
Matthew McConaughey reinvented himself with a handful of roles and this is one of his best by far whereas Jared Leto gave the performance of his career. The reason I talk so much about the acting is that it is the best quality of the film and with anyone else in those roles it would not have been as powerful film as it had been.
8. The Spectacular Now
Firstly, let me say that I have not read the book so I cannot and will not judge the film against the book.
Secondly, FUCK THIS FILM. This film is perfectly captivating and sucked me in within the first 15 minutes, it made me laugh, it made me cry, it made me want these characters to be happy together.
Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley are great and absolutely perfect for this film. Miles Teller’s character was so well written, performed and directed that every heartbreak and pain the character felt, you would feel his pain and that, in my opinion is fantastic film making. Shailene Woodley was great in her role as the girl next door, sorta geeky, sorta innocent type and it was perfect for the film but also meant she didn’t have as much to do.
Now don’t get me wrong, she was great but when she was bouncing off Miles Teller’s performance that’s when the chemistry really shone through and made you want their relationship to happen.
That ending though, the words “Fuck you” burst out of my mouth spontaneously, I was that connected to these characters and the setting that I just needed more. That is the sign of a fantastic film.
Her is an amazingly realised film. A guy falls in love with an operating system could have failed in so many ways, it could have been cheesy, over done or even understated so the relationship felt empty and meaningless.
What Spike Jonze, Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson have done with this film is they have found the absolute perfect balance of every aspect. Every aspect of the relationship between Phoenix and Johansson is pitch perfect, at times you forget that she is just an operating system and that takes real skill.
The world building that Jonze and his team have done to this film is equally if not more impressive, the near future is extremely realistic, no flying cars, no robots doing every job, just the perfect balance of Sci-fi and realism just expands this small story between a person and their operating system throughout the world.
This, in every aspect, is a believable love story.
Just think about that, how many romantic comedies have you seen where you think “Really, she wants HIM?!”. This is a story about a human male and an operating system and it is probably the most believable love story made in the last 10 years.
Mud is absolutely fantastic. It is an adventure story of sorts, to be honest I don’t know quite how to explain ‘Mud’ except to say that it is filled with Matthew McConaughey’s best ever performance as well as great acting form the two young boys Tye Sheridan and Jacob Lofland as well as the always fantastic Michael Shannon.
I urge you to watch ‘Mud’ it is almost like a fantasy film, at times it seems hyper realistic and just odd but when the credits roll, I promise that you will be extremely satisfied.
5. The Way Way Back
This is the absolute cream of the crop of coming of age stories. This film will make you hate Steve Carrell who brilliantly plays a complete prick, who happens to be dating Liam James’ who plays Duncan’s mother played by Toni Collette.
Sam Rockwell plays the charismatic, enigmatic and friendly swimming park owner who takes Duncan under his wing and helps him come out of his shell more. Yet at the end of every day, after he has finished working at the water park, Duncan returns home to be belittled by his family.
This film resonated with me in a way that very few films have, my heart went out to Duncan and when the credits rolled I was wiping tears from my eyes, a mix of joy and sadness overwhelmed me, just like ‘The Spectacular Now’, this is fantastic film making.
I had no expectations for Rush, I was only interested because it was Thor and Fredrick Zoller racing in Formula 1. I never watch Formula 1 as it doesn’t interest me, but I still decided to watch the film, best decision I made that year. Rush is fantastic, Bruhl and Hemsworth have astounding chemistry as the bitter F1 rivals and to see them bouncing off one another, chewing up the great dialogue and crafting their scenes in to very powerful, energetic bursts of testosterone is eerily similar to the bursts of the tires screeching and engines revving at the start of an F1 race.
Besides the performances this film is absolutely gorgeous, it’s bright, coulourful and perfectly shot. I am still not a fan of Formula 1, but I adore this film. Go watch it!
3. Thor: The Dark World
Thor is my favourite super hero, has been since I was very young and I was unbelievably hyped for this film, it was being helmed by Alan Taylor whom directed various episodes of ‘Game of Thrones’ and I knew that he wanted to inject some of the gritty realism in to ‘Thor: The Dark World’. He not only succeeded in making it a more gritty and real film, he also managed to make the film absolutely hilarious, some jokes made me laugh so hard that I missed parts of dialogue, absolutely not what I was expecting from a film about a god.
As usual almost all the performances were great, the action was top notch and the effects were outstanding. If you are a fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, you have already seen ‘Thor: The Dark World’, if you aren’t a fan then think of this film as a burst of sci-fi with a nice dollop of fantasy thrown in for good measure.
2. The Wolf of Wall Street
The Wolf of Wall Street is nothing short of phenomenal. The 3 hour run time zips by so fast that it seems like you are partaking in all of the drugs the characters are seen doing.
This film is directed by Martin Scorsese, a man in his 70’s, yet this film is more energetic than 95% of the films released in the past 5 years, it is a non-stop joy ride following the almost self-destructing Jordan Belfort, played fantastically by Leonardo DiCaprio, and his usually drug induced exploits.
1. Short Term 12
Short Term 12. Where do I start with this film? This film had me crying throughout the entire film, I am absolutely in love with this film and it’s story.
This film deals with kids that have been abandoned or abused or neglected and their carers who have had far from perfect pasts themselves, it deals with various hurdles that a lot of young people have to go through but it has a strong focus on abuse and its long lasting effect on a person both physically and mentally.
If your heart does not go out to any of these characters in the film I am pretty sure you aren’t human or at the very least, you don’t have a heart. Every single performance is spot on and depressingly realistic. Please watch this film.