My Top 10 of 2013

I am not good with lists. It makes me a terrible blogger really as blogs can live or die by their lists. This following list is probably going to have people laughing more than respecting my impeccable, pretentious film tastes.

I am ok with this.

Normally I don't do an end of the year list on the blog, normally, over at the podcast I do an Alternative Oscar show where we award the films that we believe should've won something, despite not being nominated in ANY category. It's a good way to recognise great work that normal awards shows avoid for not being deemed 'worthy' or 'sufficiently arty' enough. I find this sort of ego-agrandising, pretentious, puff-uppery annoying and obvious. So, before you ask, no 12 Years A Slave or Blue Is The Warmest Colour on this list, sorry. Also this list has nothing to do with box office. I couldn't care less if you all love The Hobbit, as Brian Fantana might say, it doesn't rev my engine. Sorry, again.

This list is about entertainment, mainly, but also about the films that I personally came out of, excited to have seen them. Movies that reminded me, for whatever reason, why I love film in the first place. Thankfully there were tons to choose from this year. It was seriously a bumper crop of good films in 2013. Not exactly many GREATS or CLASSICS but a whole slew of GOODS and I'll take that over what we have coming down the line for 2014.
Son of God? Noah? I, Frankenstein? The Robocop remake? Vampire Academy?
oh dear oh dear.

So, ok then, let's get on with it. My Top 10 of 2013.

10. Escape Plan
Ok, so not everyone's cup of tea but I enjoyed the hell out of it. It also got very little love and I am a sucker for the underdog, especially when the underdog happens to star two of the coolest action stars of the last 3 1/2 decades. Also there wasn't an Expendables movie out this year and so this was the next best thing.
For a start there was, thankfully, more plot and character than I expected, secondly the last act has all the old school, big guns, slo-mo action a child in a man's body like me craves and lastly, Schwarzenegger, ironically while being a politician, has become an awesome actor. No, seriously. His performance in this is tremendous and outshines almost anything else in the film.
I also considered Grudge Match for this 10 spot because, apart from a pacing issue, it was great, really funny and Stallone is arguably much better in that than in this but when you talk about cinematic pair-ups 30 years in the making, this was the one I wanted to see.

Read my full review HERE

9. Local Legends
This New England based independent film about prolific, renaissance man Matt Farley is a Woody Allen-esque look at the nature of people who, in every town around the country and, probably, the world, are pursuing their creative or sporting interests to no great acclaim but striving for a certain level of success. It's charming, funny, self depreciating, weird and wonderful.

It's presence on the list might seem like sycophantic pandering to Matt himself, who I know a little now and who has been on the podcast and it might even seem self aggrandising because I happen to be in it, very briefly, but please understand that it gained its place on the list legitimately.

I have watched this film 5 or 6 times already and even had the pleasure to host a screening of it with a handful of friends, some who I know can be quite critical and judgemental of films and they all loved it. Despite it being about a very specific individual with a fairly unique creative outpouring and business model, the themes in it resonate wonderfully with anyone who has ever achieved just a little of real life, or even internet based attention or success.

It's a hilarious and even touching look at the eccentric and positive world of creativity and art versus commerce.

Watch the full feature HERE

8. Iron Man 3
All the Marvel comic book movies have different vibes, different feels, even if they're about the same character and nowhere is this more true than the Iron Man trilogy. Iron Man 3, for example, is the comic book film equivalent of an 80s or/and 90s action movie and that's a GOOD thing.
With all the over-the-top, fawning and fuss made over The Dark Knight Trilogy, Marvel was taking their, infinitely more entertaining, less pretentious and just BETTER Batman clone, Tony Stark and making a fascinating, occasionally flawed but rip-roaring trilogy of their own. Yeah part 2 is kind of a mess but it's an enjoyably, watchable mess.
The success of these films and, certainly, the third one, is the rise of Robert Downey Jr and not just because he has that Downey Jr schtick of talking fast, improvising gags and being adorable/annoying but because he has, slowly and surely, on his rise through Marvel gained more and more creative control (with his producing partners his wife, Susan Downey and friend, Jon Favreau) and not squandered a drop of it. In part 3 he pays back his old pal Shane Black, who helped RDJs comeback with the now-cult classic Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang, bringing him on as writer/director and together they craft, not only, an awesome 80s/90s action throw back, set at Christmas and making Stark and Rhodes a Riggs and Murtaugh like double act but also a personal movie that both compliments and completes the rise of Tony Stark and RDJ without ever showing the crossover and involving the whole audience in on the story and the joke. It's wonderful.

Hear us discuss this fully on podcast episode 103 - Brian Tyler Interview - Marvel 2013 Rundown/Iron Man 3/Thor The Dark World/Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

7. You're Next
It was a fantastic home-invasion, slasher horror film that wasn't overly derivative, a remake, a found footage movie, a torture porn or filmed in that shitty greeny/brown/grey/high contrast digital wash that they coat horror films in nowadays so that they all look like they've been rubbed with boiled sick.
Oh and Barbara Crampton was in it.
If you need any more reasons you're in the wrong place.

Read my full review of the film HERE and
Listen to our EXCLUSIVE Barbara Crampton interview HERE

6. Thor: The Dark World
Yep another one of those comic-book movies. Sorry. This is on the list because I found it to be, honestly, one of the most exhilarating, exciting and enjoyable knock-about fantasy romps I have ever seen. It was sort of Flash Gordon meets Maters of the Universe meets a $170 million dollar budget. In a way that makes that sound like the greatest thing you've ever heard.
Unabashedly silly, over-the-top and action packed with a kick ass score. I LOVED it.

Hear us discuss this fully on podcast episode 103 - Brian Tyler Interview - Marvel 2013 Rundown/Iron Man 3/Thor The Dark World/Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

5. Redemption/Hummingbird
Yeah, none of you bothered to see this did you? You probably also all think that Jason Statham is a thuggish idiot who is the same in every movie don't you?
Well you are exceptionally wrong. On his journey to find different things to do within the genre Hollywood has pigeonholed him into, Statham, still, despite being a big star now, goes back to England and makes cool little dramas. The Bank Job, Blitz and now Hummingbird (the better and more meaningful title of the movie) have very little in the way of Statham's usual brand of arse-kickery (normally just enough for the trailer to entice those fans to see the film) and instead see him developing his craft as an actor, tackling different stories and playing a character. Hummingbird harkens back to the neon drenched streets of London in Bob Hoskins' incredible film Mona Lisa from the 80s. The film is emotional, harrowing and heartbreaking. I'll always defend Statham and his straight-forward approach to movie making. He's learning from the likes of Stallone that the emotional matters. A film can't just be hollow, audiences need to connect, characters need to be redeemed.
Definitely worth the watch and definitely worth it's number 5 slot on my top 10.

Read my full review of the film HERE

4. The Broken Circle Breakdown
Ok, so here it is, my artsy fartsy, European pick of the Top 10.
This film was beautiful. Harrowing, upsetting and a slog to get through but also compelling, incredible, stunning and surprisingly not very predictable or pretentious.
It's all abut a Belgian with a beard playing bluegrass, the woman he loves, the child they have, the life they lead and where they end up. It's Walk The Line but with some actual soul and devoid of Hollywood sheen.
As well as some predictable themes it also shows the couple struggle with science, religion and politics with stubbornness and confused hope.

The performances are stunning and genuinely brave and the music is a delight.

Read my full review of the film HERE

3. The Last Stand
The Governator's return to films this year was such a joy for me. Sadly the box office did not respond accordingly but screw them, what do they know. I have probably watched this action, comedy, western more than any other action release this year.
I felt it delivered on all my expectations and then some. I remember the build up to the first Expendables or The Raid and being sceptical about what they could deliver and then, when I saw them, being blown to the back of the cinema with joy, excitement and thrills. Well seeing The Last Stand, certainly the last act of The Last Stand was a similar experience. In fact just typing this is making me want to watch it again.
Of course the moment Hollywood stops funding these movies because nobody went to see them will be the moment everyone starts reminiscing and wishing they were still around. Well they are! for now, so, please check this out and look forward to Expendables 3 and Sabotage next year!

Read my full review of the film HERE
Hear Dr.Action and me, The Kick Ass Kid discuss 2013 action films HERE

2. The World's End
The World's End proves once and for all that Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost should only ever work together. It's head, shoulders, chest, arms and legs above ANYTHING that the three, aforementioned, creatives have done elsewhere, working separately (including Star Trek and Mission Impossible), it could be the most mature film Wright has made to date, it's certainly some of the best performances Simon Pegg and Nick Frost have ever given and it is chockerblock full of enough crowd pleasing, beat 'em up and explosive moments to keep your non-geek, regular movie going public happy. It has something to say, something to show, it's assured, inventive, gleefully bonkers and staggeringly, rightfully, proud and wonderful.

Unlike Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, the other two films in the so-called 'Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy', it has a message and a meaning and while they could stand to be a little more subtle in the future with their allegory, it's still refreshing and excellent that they have one. 

As for any flaws, apart from the very end, which felt a little rushed and tacked on and the fact that Pegg's superb performance and character sort of swamp everyone else and relegate them to the sidelines, the film didn't really have any. This is one I will watch again and again.

1. Gravity
If you love the immersive an awe inspiring power of cinema then Gravity has to make your top 10. Admittedly it doesn't have to be your number one but, for me, it was unlike any experience I'd had at the movies since I was 3 and my Mum took me to see Disney's Fantasia. I sat spellbound having a range of emotions, my jaw dropping in amazement for the full running time. My Mum tells me I didn't cry once. Gravity was like that. Only it was 30 years later.

James Cameron can make all the technological advancements he likes but until he remembers how to tell a decent story, the films will all be terrible. Alfonso CuarĂ³n, on the other hand tells a great story and uses the effects to make that story as compelling, realistic and beautiful as possible.

Although there was a 3D version of this you don't need 3D to immerse you in the world you're creating, in fact, if anything, an added gimmick like that is going to, most likely, keep you removed from the experience. Gravity, however is so well made and so incredible that no amount of film or special effects knowledge could explain to me how it was done and so was left to simply believe. To accept. For all I know they went into space and filmed the whole thing up there.

As for the mood it created, I have never felt that level of palpable tension be held for that long and with that control and mastery. I can exactly recall the feeling as a sense memory if I picture it now, sat at my desk, writing about it. Good drama? Good films? they'll do that to you... they stick around awhile.

Read my full review of the film HERE

So there was my top ten! Feel free to comment on them, argue with me, discuss or agree below!

Now, in case you were wondering the next 5 on the list would be:

11. The Wolverine
It may be the best telling of the 'Superhero gives up his powers' tale that we have right now and it, obviously, blows the other Wolverine prequel out of the water. I definitely think it's the Wolverine film that Jackman deserves. He's the best he's ever been in the role here.
Read my full review HERE

12. Much Ado About Nothing
The whole film is a testament to talent overcoming resources and budget. If you've got the skill you can film Shakespeare in your back garden with a handful of friends and it soars.

13. Homefront
Statham working off a script by Stallone is perfect action gold. With a real Road House meets Nowhere to Run vibe, I know you either like films like this or belittle them but I happen to dig them for their sheer energy and entertainment factor.
Read my full review HERE

14. Love, Sex and Missed Connections
It's the Office Space for the internet dating generation. Funny, well acted, with interesting characters and a pretty decent romance.
Read my full review HERE

15. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Ben Stiller's best film to date. Not the funniest, not the silliest, not even, maybe, the most enjoyable but, definitely the best.
Read my full review HERE

I can't remember the last time there were 15 films in a year that I would recommend. That was refreshing 2013. Thank you!

Don't forget to tune in to the After Movie Diner Alternative Oscar show in February to see if any of these win a prize or two!!

August: Osage County

The Wolf of Wall Street