2013 was a pretty shitty time for cinema but every year has its gems and, of course, I didn’t get round to seeing every film I should have.
For that reason I can’t rate films such as Captain Phillips, Mud, Blue Jasmine, or Francis Ha.
Also, I’m Australian which means some of my most anticipated films of 2013 have not yet been released here. Due to such international intrigue, the following films will have to compete in my 2014 lineup…
Her, The Wolf of Wall Street, Blue is the Warmest Colour, 12 Years a Slave and Inside Llewyn Davis.
Taking into consideration all of the above bullshit, here are my Top 10 Films of 2013 (well, at least films #10-#6 for now)…
#10: John Dies at the End
Director: Don Coscarelli
There’s no easy way to describe this riot of a film. Writer/Director, Coscarelli, of Phantasm and Bubba Ho-Tep fame, adapts the surreal, dark comic novel of the same name and presents us with the stoner film of the year.
The story can be vaguely described as a twisted tale about a young man who recounts a series of bizarre and unbelievable events to a reporter, played by Paul Giamatti, and there’s a monster made of pieces of frozen meat!
Bear in mind that John Dies at the End is a small film and with that you won’t be getting Guillermo Del Toro quality CGI, but this is a perfect example of ambitious story-telling and inventive filmmaking triumphing over big budgets.
Watch this film if you wanna see some crazy shit and have a good time!
#9: Magic Magic
Director: Sebastián Silva
Another limited release of 2013, Magic Magic is a beautifully shot Chilean-American indie psychological thriller. We follow Alicia, a young, timid woman played mesmerisingly by Juno Temple, into the South of Chile for what is meant to be a holiday but what begins as an awkward fish-out-of-water drama slowly but magically evolves into a demented psychological trip. A remarkably unique and challenging indie-drama filled with seamlessly naturalistic dialogue and plenty of “WTF” moments; Magic Magic is essential viewing for those who desire a break from the mainstream. Hell, it’s even worth the watch just to see Michael Cera speak Chilean! The film also showcases how well Cera can perform in a drama, and now I shall watch what the future holds for him with great interest.
#8: Only God Forgives
Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
Most people hated this film, but I hate most people. Nah, Only God Forgives is a trying film and I can certainly see how it turned people off. If you’re looking for a dense story with twists and turns then this film isn’t for you, in fact, what are you doing watching a Refn film at all? Remember Drive? That was one of my favourite films of 2011 but it wasn’t on account of its plot. Refn’s films, at least his later works, tend to be all about atmosphere and Only God Forgives is dripping with it. Refn’s directorial flare and Gosling’s stoic performance and boyish good looks were a dynamite combination in Drive and this time round Refn jacks the atmosphere up to 11 and builds Gosling’s character up only to be broken, therefore shitting on our expectations. There’s not a whole lot of dialogue in Only God Forgives and for that reason people shrug it off as having no story, but if you allow yourself to be consumed by the film’s deliciously nightmarish atmosphere you just might find yourself on the dark, surreal journey that I didn’t want to return from once the film was over. If you think you could be seduced by sexy cinematography, hyper-stylised lighting and sublime soundscapes then dive into the macabre wonderland of Refn’s latest effort, otherwise watch Captain Phillips or something else that’ll probably get an Oscar or two.
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Phwoar! There’s nothing quite like a well executed mainstream procedural thriller. Hugh Jackman’s kids get kidnapped and Jake Gyllenhaal is the detective assigned to crack the case. A clear suspect, creepy Paul Dano, is identified but there’s no substantial evidence to keep him in custody. Enraged by all this bureaucracy, Hugh Jackman goes rogue and starts doing questionable shit to find his daughters. If I haven’t sold you on the premise already it’s probably ‘cos you’re sick of mainstream thrillers being shit. Well, this one isn’t, it’s actually great. The script is tight, the film is beautifully directed and the cast are electric, particularly Hugh Jackman in his most serious role to date. Like I said, there’s nothing like a good thriller, and Prisoners is the undisputed mainstream thriller of the year, probably even the last 3 years!
#6: Pain & Gain
Director: Michael Bay
Genre: Black Comedy
If Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines is the morally questionable yet musically irresistible song of the year, then Pain & Gain is the same for the films of 2013.
Pain & Gain hilariously depicts the outrageous, real life, exploits of 3 body builders who kidnap a corrupt franchise owner to benefit from his wealth.
You really have to be in on the joke, or at least open to appreciating the film’s superficial irony, to enjoy this movie. Despite being based on a true story, the film’s bubble-gum-pop visuals and dark sense of humour would make one think otherwise. I guess that’s where the controversy comes into play. Is it morally insensitive to indulge in the hilarity of these strange and brutal circumstances if they are, in fact, real life events? That’s for you to ponder and not for me to answer.
To exacerbate matters, Pain & Gain is directed by none other than Michael Bay! If you’re a Bay hater, never fear, this film stands out from the rest of his work as being “the arty one”. If, on the other hand, you’re a fan then it’s time to get excited about what is definitely the best Michael Bay film since The Rock (1996)!