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Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Movie Retrospect's Top 10 Films of 2013

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug - Movie Poster

2013 was a busy year and it feels like it's flown by in the blink of an eye.  It only seems like a month ago I was heading off to Paris for a short weekend break, but it was way back in January last year!  That said, I have been doing my best to see as many films as possible over the last year.

In 2012, I managed to fit in an impressive 91 films - 21 of those released in the UK during that year.

In 2013, I've only squeezed in 86 films, but on the plus side - 37 of those were released in the UK during 2013, so that's pretty good going I reckon.  Especially considering I only consume my films legally as a paying cinema guest, through LoveFilm or on TV.  It helps that my local Cinema in Westgate-on-Sea only charges £2.50 to see all the latest movies... Can't argue with that!

If you want to see my complete viewing history for 2013 you can see my list over on my IMDB profile here.

So without further ado, lets get straight to my Top 10 Films of 2013.

10. Kick-Ass 2 - 8/10

Kick-Ass 2 Movie Poster

Given the mixed, or generally low review scores doing the rounds for Kick-Ass 2, I'm even a little surprised myself that it made it to my Top 10 of the year, but here it is.

Lets not beat around the bush here, I absolutely loved the first Kick-Ass movie.  It was funny, offensive and incredibly violent.  All I wanted from a sequel was more of the same, and that's pretty much what we got.  I can't understand all the negative reviews for Kick-Ass 2 that slated the movie for being offensive and violent - surely they must have been aware of what Kick-Ass is?  Did they not see the first one?

At the end of the day, no, this is not as good as the first movie, and it feels like Jim Carrey probably had some of his scenes cut from the film after airing his views on the violence in the film after the tragic Sandy Hook Shooting.

But if you are a fan of the first movie, there is still plenty to enjoy about this film, just be aware that it is not for everyone.  And don't forget to watch to the end of the credits.  Lets have more Kick-Ass movies please.

9. The Impossible - 8/10

The Impossible - Movie Poster

I wont lie, I was a little stunned myself when I looked back over my top films of the year and saw that The Impossible was sitting in my Top 10.  But I double checked the films that did not make my Top 10 and decided that The Impossible definitely deserves to be here, for a couple of reasons but mainly because it is such a powerful and emotional experience.

Although it's initially hard to like the main couple in the film with their overly posh English accents (I'm English myself by the way), once this true story of The 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami hits, the accents are all forgotten and you are clinging to your sofa for dear life like Naomi Watts is clinging to the tree when the wave hits.

Although hundreds of thousands of people lost their lives that day, the story here follows the well documented family who were reunited through impossible odds.  The moment in the film where their young children are reunited is arguably one of the most emotional scenes I've seen for years and I'll be honest... even I was fighting back the tears.

8. Wreck-It Ralph - 8/10

Wreck-It Ralph - Movie Poster

It seemed like I had been waiting a long time to see Wreck-It Ralph, it was released in the US the previous year, but we had to wait ages for it in the UK.

In many ways it was a film made for me.  Yes, I like animated films, and I like video games and this film is packed to the rafters with treats and in-gags for people like me with lots of nods and references to various games, both recent and games from yesteryear - some of which is likely to be completely lost on younger viewers.

It's a fun film and I especially like John C. Reilly as the voice of Ralph.  The only thing I might say though is that given the fact that the film is all set inside video games I wasn't particularly impressed with the 3D on this occasion.

7. The Crash Reel (Documentary) - 8/10

The Crash Reel - Movie Poster with Kevin Pearce

Good documentaries are films too in my book and although I haven't watched that many this year, The Crash Reel really stood out to me as one of significance.

Directed by British Oscar nominated documentary film maker Lucy Walker, The Crash Reel was able to take a subject that I personally don't have much interest in and certainly very little - if any - knowledge and really made me sit up and pay attention.

The film primarily tells the story of two childhood friends (Kevin Pearce & Shaun White) who became rivals as they rose to become World Number One & Two in the world of Snowboarding, competing in The Extreme Games and the Winter Olympics.

That was until the incredibly talented and likeable Kevin Pearce suffered a near fatal head injury while pushing the boundaries of the sport.  The film tracks the impact Kevin's accident had on his family and the sport in general, and charts his painfully slow recovery.

During the course of the film we're introduced to other big names and characters of the slopes who shed light on their world and what makes them tick.  It's all done in such a way as to make this film an easy watch for someone like me who is a complete newbie to the sport.

Sadly during the course of the film, other characters of the sport suffer similar accidents culminating in the unfortunate and very tragic death of one of the films other characters Sarah Burke.

Speaking as someone who is not a follower of the sport or familiar with any of the names featured, I found this to be a shocking, incredibly moving & utterly compelling documentary and you absolutely cannot help but root for Kevin Pearce throughout.

For that reason, like Indie Game: The Movie in 2012, it is an honour to include this documentary in my Top 10 Films of 2013 - even at the expense of some other pretty mega titles!

If nothing else - watch the trailer here:



6. Prisoners - 8/10

Prisoners - Movie Poster with Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal

I went into this film knowing very little about it and in many ways I think that's probably for the better.  As a result, I won't go into the story of it here, needless to say, it's not actually prison movie.

Prisoners is an incredibly dark and bleak film that is occasionally difficult to watch.  It's not family friendly viewing and is the opposite of a 'feel good movie' so bare that in mind before you watch it.

Despite the film's difficult themes, it is highly engrossing and feels far shorter that it's long running time might suggest.  Prisoners is a highly recommended film, just be prepared, there are no fun and games to be had here.

5. The Wolverine - 8/10

Hugh Jackman takes his top off for The Wolverine Movie Poster

Even for me, The Wolverine was the BIG surprise of the year.  It's true that I am a big fan of comic book movies, but films like Thor: The Dark World, Man of Steel and Iron Man 3 did not even come close to making my Top 10 this year.

Given the relatively poor showing of the previous Wolverine movie, I did not have high hopes for this at all.  But I'm pleased to say I was pretty blown away by it and it became one of my movie highlights of the year.

The action was brilliant, the Japanese setting made a refreshing change and the story was highly enjoyable.  Some of the set-pieces were extremely memorable, particularly The Wolverine's presence at the bombing of Nakasaki, Japan during WWII and the Bullet Train scene.

Quiet honestly, I can't recommend this film highly enough.  Even non-X-Men or non-comic book movie fans should get a kick out of this film, it really is that good.

4. Zero Dark Thirty - 9/10

Zero Dark Thirty - Movie Poster

It's hard to believe it's almost a year since I saw this Oscar winning film.  I remember getting totally sucked in to this throughout it's fairly long running time, which did not bother me in the slightest.

Again, it's not a film you 'enjoy' and there are some controversial scenes of torture and waterboarding, but this is not what the film is really about - these scenes are an unfortunate fact in this true story for the hunt for Osama bin Laden.

The 'hunt' for bin Laden of course lasted years, and this takes up a highly absorbing majority of the film's running time which eventually builds to the exciting conclusion when they send the boys in to 'get him'.  Zero Dark Thirty is another Kathryn Bigelow classic.

3. Captain Phillips - 9/10

Captain Philips - Movie Poster

On paper it seems like this might be a bit boring, but I thoroughly enjoyed Captain Phillips on the big screen.  Tom Hanks puts in another brilliant performance, which for the most part is highly understated until he lets it all go at the end.  It will be interesting to see if he is in the running for an Oscar nomination when they are announced later in January.

The Somali pirates in the film are equally brilliant; it's interesting to note that they were not actors, before this film and, are in fact real Somali's living in America.  What's more, they did not meet Tom Hanks until they filmed the scene where they take over the bridge, which seems to add a certain level of tension to the film.

2. Gravity (3D) - 9/10

The Lonely Astronaut of Sandra Bullock drifts into space on the Gravity Movie Poster

Gravity was a film I was pretty excited about for a long time before it actually came out, but I never really expected it to make my Top 10.  I was always a bit sceptical about the casting of Sandra Bullock and George Clooney as astronauts... In fact, I still don't really buy it now.

Gravity is by no means a perfect film, it has some problems and if you want to go into the science of it all, its complete rubbish.  But that said, as a popcorn movie, it is an absolute blast.

Gravity is a pretty simple movie really, but it's simplicity works in it's favour.  The action kicks off a few minutes into the film and pretty much doesn't let up from that point on.  The characters go from one bad situation to an even worse situation and the result is a hair-raising, nail-biting, edge-of-your-seat adventure of a movie that is incredibly fun to witness, especially in 3D, which is absolutely stunning.

This really is one of those MUST SEE films - in 3D - on the BIGGEST screen you can find.  Just sit back and enjoy the ride.  Although, I'm sure in a few years time, we will look back at this movie a realise that actually, it's not as good as we first thought.

1. Rush - 9/10

Rush - Movie Poster - a film by Ron Howard

Okay, I admit it, I am a big F1 fan and so I have a slight bias towards this film, but honestly, even if I factor that into my overall view of the film, it's only worth 1 bonus point.  You only need to look at other reviews from non-F1 fans to realise that this is still an excellent film, with review quotes like: "It's not just for petrol heads" and, it will "...enthral even those who have never seen a race in their life before".

If you think this film is not for you, you are making a big mistake.  There is more to this film than the F1 racing itself; in reality the on-track action is only a small part of the film.  This is all about the story of two larger than life and polar opposite characters that just so happens to take place in the world of F1 in the 1970's (and it happens to be a true story too).

The two leads are perfectly cast with Chris Hemsworth putting in what I feel is a very convincing performance as James Hunt (speaking as someone who wasn't even born during that time).  But its Daniel Brühl who steals the show with an incredible portrayal of Niki Lauda.  If he doesn't get nominated for an Oscar there will be uproar!

The film is exciting, entertaining and true to life... although as an F1 fan there were some aspects of the historical rivalry story that were left out - particularly the events of the 1976 British GP, which for me was a shame, but it won't bother most viewers of the film.

In short... Whether you like like Formula One or not, just see this movie.

Honourable Mention

Paperman - 9/10

Disney Paperman - Oscar Winning Short Animated Film Poster


This smashing Oscar winning short animated film might even be my actual film of the year.  Shown at the cinema before Wreck-It Ralph it's a lovely little story of a man who is trying to get the attention of the woman by sending paper airplanes from his office window to her across the street.  Completely heart-warming and all told in just over about 6 minutes.

Final Comments

One thing I noticed about my final Top 10 films of the year, was how many BIG releases did NOT actually make it to my Top 10.  As much as I enjoyed it, for the second year running, The Hobbit did not make my list.

Other big titles that were just edged out were Django Unchained, which was excellent and might have made it in, had it been ever so slightly shorter. And Star Trek: Into Darkness, which I become more disappointed with the more I think about it.  Give me the Original Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan any day.

The other big title missing was Man of Steel which sadly dropped all the way to 19th on my list by the end of the year.

Worst Film of the Year - 2013

I normally do a good job to avoid the bad ones, but I was pretty disappointed with Now You See Me (4/10) which would have been my worst of the year - until I saw a film that I just had to see, because it really did look so bad...

Yes it's Sharknado (1/10).  Absolutely awful.  So bad you need to watch it drunk with friends, just for a laugh.  It's a masterclass in how NOT to make a film.  You can literally see Tara Reid's career imploding on screen.

Somehow, their house, high in the Hollywood Hills is flooded with sharks swimming around their living room, even though there are only puddles of water outside the house.  For some reason, the characters in the film feel the need to hang around on the stairs to get eaten by the shark in the house when they could just go upstairs and be safe.

Other scenes show characters running around like lunatics pretending to avoid flying sharks while in the background you can see the everyday people of LA just going about their daily business as if nothing is happening.

What do you think?

Why not let me know your Top 10 Films in the comments below.


About the Author: Chris Russell has a passion for films and loves to share that passion here on Movie Retrospect where readers can join the discussion in the comments below or directly to Chris though his profile. If you enjoyed this post, please follow @MovieRetrospect on Twitter.

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About the Author: Chris Russell has a passion for movies, films and cool TV shows and loves to share that passion here on Movie Retrospect where readers can join the discussion in the comments below or directly to Chris though his profile. If you enjoyed this post, please follow @MovieRetrospect on Twitter.