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Old 28th Dec 2013, 18:32   #1
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Default Top films of 2013

I haven't managed to assess all the books I've read this year (be assured, I have finished Red Plenty and read some other books!) - but these are my top watches of 2013 -

1. Gravity - Simple, profound, breath-taking, moving.

2. Lincoln - Daniel D-L = born to play all kinds of things actually, but Lincoln definitely!

3. Cloud Atlas - This wasn't perfect but actually it worked superbly, even the occasionally crass casting.

4. The Sorrow & the Pity - Oh the days when our foreign secretary could just be interviewed in rapid French; and the sharpness of the defence of those who collaborated.

5. Hunky Dory - I watched this several times this year, for the soundtrack and the fun of it, for lovely Aneurin Barnard and for Minnie Driver.

6. igby goes down - ½ I've wanted to watch this for 10 years and yes, it is bizarre but Kieran Culkin is rather amazing in it.

7. Quartet - This is sentimental hokum on one hand, and lovely character acting on the other. Dustin Hoffman does a good job directing, pulling back from some of the obvious shots and not sentimentalising some of the ageing process.

8. The Station Agent - ½ Another one on the To Watch List for years - and of course Peter Dinklage has attained world fame now.

9. Carnage - Occasionally artificial in its continuity, but gripping like poison, and agonising to watch. A really tight little stage drama.

10. Life of Pi - Just visually perfect, despite the story we can't make head nor tail of really.
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Old 28th Dec 2013, 19:50   #2
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Default Re: Top films of 2013

In chronological order (I think):

Life of Pi
One of the most beautiful films I can remember, and - in my opinion at least - a much superior experience to the source novel. Though hammy in places, I found it to be a wonderful adventure. My only regret is that seeing Prometheus in 3D the year before put me off doing the same for this.

DDL nails yet another performance to the wall, the man can do no wrong, but I found Spielberg's continuing descent into worthiness at the expense of story annoying.

Four Lions
A Great British Film, madcap funny and pitifully sad at the same time. Chris Morris has lost none of his eye for sympathetic cruelty.

Matthew McConnaughey is excellent in what I assumed, respectfully but wrongly, to be an adaptation from a really good novel. The rest of the cast are also very good, particularly the junior lead - it's just a cracking flick all round.

Seeking a friend for the end of the world
A science fiction romantic comedy that isn't exactly either of those things, with pitch perfect performances (deadpan and manic respectively) by Steve Carell and Keira Knightley. One of those films that proves a joyous surprise.

Berberian Sound Studio
Dark and oppressive, think Good Night, and Good Luck as directed by David Lynch. Toby Jones is excellent, and this proves once more that the best horror goes unseen, even when the film you've made isn't a horror one. Not exactly.

Before the Devil Knows You're Dead
A sour and brilliant piece of story-telling, constantly shifting the sands beneath the feet of both the characters and the viewer.

Captain Philips
Another excellent Tom Hanks performance in what is basically a top grade maritime thriller from Paul Greengrass. Barkhad Abdi is more than a match for Hanks in the adversarial role, and even knowing (or strongly assuming you know) where the story will lead does nothing to lessen the impact.

A technical tour de force, as They say, even if the story and action becomes a little repetitive as it goes on. The scientific slips didn't really bother me, certainly not as much as the Wall-E homage which, please, they should have found a way around somehow...

12 Years a Slave
Steve McQueen and Chiwetel Ejiofor brilliantly examine one of the darkest hours of American history - a brutal, excruciating ordeal, as it had to be in order to do justice to the injustice.
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Old 3rd Jan 2014, 12:54   #3
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Default Re: Top films of 2013

A pretty good movie year, IMO.

Top ten:

12 Years a Slave
All those cries of "But we already KNEW that!" sound suspiciously like "...and we wish we didn't!", don't they? An all-American Schindler's List without the sentimentality (and, of course, made by Brits).

Upstream Color
Malick disappointed this year, and Cronenberg Jr's debut was underwhelming. Luckily, both Malick and Cronenberg have a far more interesting heir in Shane Carruth, even if he's inherited Malick's working pace.

Spring Breakers
Freedom's just another word for everything left to steal. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Who knew Britney Spears was the voice of a generation all along?

Fruitvale Station
It starts off with a real YouTube film of a real person being shot by real cops. Then we rewind 24 hours and follow him through his last day, letting actors show what "reality" cannot; the camera holds, almost Ozu-like, on all those little moments he doesn't know are his last.

Beyond The Hills

There's a half-built monastery on top of a wintry hill in Romania. The fence around it is made up of thousands of crosses. Inside and outside, people look for someone to be superior to. One long, deliberately unfunny joke where the punchline is a splash of mud across the screen.

Before Midnight
And life goes on. Delpy and Hawke slot right back into the characters they've played for 18 years now and add a few more wrinkles and laughlines, disillusions and layers to them. Looking forward to the inevitable 2022 sequel.

Frances Ha
One of the most cringe-inducing yet warm movies of the year. What Woody Allen would have done if he were still funny. The impossible equation: grow the fuck up, and be true to yourse

Only Lovers Left Alive
Rich, aging vampire hipsters go antiquing for lack of a reflection; both the characters and the camera are obsessed with authenticity, handmade objects, pure vintage blood. Moody, beautiful, intimate and Jarmusch's funniest in years.

The Turin Horse
Essentially a silent movie - very little dialogue, every scene a monument hewed in granite and shown in flickering light, while the plot reads like a two-man play (right down to the generic props). The horse stops walking, the worms stop eating, the neighbours stop visiting, the world slowly disappears in the storm until even the howling wind itself disappears.

Blue is the Warmest Colour
Intimate, unflinching (perhaps a little too much so at times), and unwilling to take overly clichéd solutions; continues past the happily ever after of far too many movies. Adèle Exarchopoulos is the standout of the year.

And outside that list:

Best horror:
Berberian Sound Studio
A Field In England

Best sci-fi:
The World's End
Pacific Rim

Best documentary:
Room 237
A Band Called Death

Best romcom:
Much Ado About Nothing
Your Sister's Sister
See the cat? See the cradle?

Goodreads (2013 and older)
Movies I've seen
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