Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Top films of 2013

Top films of 2013

It's done, folks. 

2013 is very nearly over for the year and with it, a time to reflect back on a year that was.

Scanning back on New Zealand's cinematic year, it's been a solid one - and some films have risen higher than others of their ilk when it comes to offering an experience.

So, in no particular order, here are my picks for the top films of 2013:

The Silver Linings Playbook - slipped in before Oscar season, this heavily nominated drama shone with cracking performances all around; particularly from Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper. Read The Silver Linings Playbook review here - and see why I said it had "heart and humour aplenty"

Amour / Rust and Bone - two crackers of smaller films which both had a rich emotional resonance and imagery that stayed with me long after I'd left the cinema. Read the Amour review here and see what I made of Rust and Bone here.

Blockbusters came thick and fast this year - but in among the blur, a few stood out. The second part of The Hunger Games trilogy, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire could have so easily have been a repeat of its formula (and indeed is in parts with a retread of the killing) but thanks to Jennifer Lawrence, it managed to be "certainly exhilarating to watch it unfold" - read The Hunger Games: Catching Fire movie review here.

Equally, The World's End was a fitting conclusion to the Cornetto trilogy with Pegg, Frost and Wright bringing a touching poignancy and friendship to the closing film, which meshed sci-fi and drinking to comic effect. Read The World's End review here.

And of course, Benedict Cumberbatch's presence in Star Trek: Into Darkness led me to believe those in charge had "set phasers to stunning." Read the Star Trek Into Darkness movie review and see why. There's also mentions for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug which brought the action - and a big CGI dragon; and praise for Ben Stiller's directorial prowess in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (which releases here on Boxing Day).

But there were quieter moments which really caught my attention this year and providing haunting moments for long after they'd finished. Mads Mikkelsen may be making his name as Hannibal these days, but in The Hunt movie, his pursuit over claims of paedophilia was horrific. It was a heart in the mouth drama that had a way of inveigling itself under your skin - read The Hunt movie review and find out more. 

I also fell for The Selfish Giant at the New Zealand International Film Festival, which still has yet to find a NZ release date. It's a shame as the film "crackles with electricity" thanks to its subject matter and the two young actors. Read The Selfish Giant movie review and see why NZ is missing out.

The Way Way Back, The Spectacular Now and What Maisie Knew were also impressive, with each possessing a wisdom of its subject and performances that certainly hit the right note. All dealt with growing up in different ways and the journey of their protagonists proved compelling, engaging and engrossing. 

Prisoners proved to be captivating in more ways than one - with Hugh Jackman delivering a powerhouse turn as a father whose family suffers the most horrifying of tragedies. Read the Prisoners movie review and see why its bleakness appealed to me. Equally, Stoker and Blue Jasmine possessed an appeal that proved difficult to deny. Stoker was a powerfully psychological piece and Blue Jasmine saw director Woody Allen back on form after the abysmal recent run of his that included To Rome with Love. Cate Blanchett proved to be the shining star of this horror show, delivering a multi-faceted turn that commanded the screen. Read the Blue Jasmine movie review here.

It's had film of the year accolades thrown all over it, and Gravity continues to be weighed down by plaudits. Somewhat ironic, given that it's set in the weightlessness of space. But director Alfonso Cuaron delivered an experience that was unparalleled in the cinema this year. Read the Gravity movie review here.

Equally, Ron Howard's Rush movie gave me a heady thrill and made me care about a sport that I normally ignore - motor racing. The story of the rivalry between Niki Lauda and James Hunt is the stuff of legend but Howard's handling of this particular motor as well as the performance from Daniel Bruhl proved too intoxicating to ignore. Read the Rush movie review.

While James McAvoy delivered a killer turn in an adaptation of Irvine Welsh's Filth, it was in Danny Boyle's head-scratching Trance that he secured his reputation as one of his generation's best. Under-rated and under-appreciated, it's one of the best of the year without a doubt. Read the Trance movie review.

And finally, in this wrap, it was a sad year of deaths of stars, but none more so than the death of James Gandolfini. His passing away from a heart attack cast a shadow over Enough Said, but didn't rob the film of its warmth and heart and two great performances from both him and Veep and Seinfeld star Julia Louis-Dreyfus. I said this tale of adult second chance love had "warmth and a raw honesty that's completely compelling and utterly entrancing." Read the Enough Said movie review here.

Merry Christmas to all - and stand by for the worst of the year to be revealed later over the festive period. 

Hit me up on the comments to share your finest movies of 2013! Did I miss any out?

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