Here we are then, a few hours away from the end of 2013, I’ve finished watching all eight Harry Potter films and have just enough time to get my favourite films of the year down before party time and enforced merriment ensue.
I wrote very little in the ways of filmic blogging this year but I did express my thoughts here on this wonderfully charming Saudi Arabian film about a girl, her mother, and a green bicycle.
Much Ado About Nothing
Joss Whedon yet again proving his brilliance, with the help of old Willy S of course. The film was made in Whedon’s house over only twelve days whilst he was supposed to be taking a break from Marvel’s Avengers franchise. Stylishly shot in black and white, this version of Much Ado… sparks and fizzes and nips along at a speedy pace. Peppered with Whedon alumni, the original Rom Com is as fresh and witty as ever.
The Kings of Summer
Exactly the kind of film I always enjoy. A coming of age indie comedy featuring one of my favourite current TV shows, Parks and Recreation’s Nick Offerman and Community’s Alison Brie (or Trudy from Mad Men if you like). The film tells the simple tale of three boys who spend the summer in a house they make in the woods. Very funny, gently warming and tightly told, this is a film I can imagine watching many times over with a great soundtrack and memorable characters.
Enough has been said of Gravity already so I’ll just echo this, it looks and sounds completely stunning and I held onto both the chair and my breath for most of the film; 90 minutes of exhilarating cinematic awesomeness.
The Selfish Giant
Clio Bernard’s very loose take on Oscar Wilde’s short story, about the friendship between two boys living on the margins of society, would be higher up if it wasn’t so unbearably bleak. It is a perfect film in every way and the mix of gritty Loachian British realism with stark beauty and gorgeous landscapes make for entirely compelling viewing.
As writer, producer and star, this is definitely a Steve Coogan project and he’s really done a great job on all points, yet it’s Judy Dench’s performance as Philomena Lee that moved me to uncontrollable tears. (The only other time I have cried like that this year was during Saving Mr Banks, not in this list but noteworthy nonetheless)
Woody Allen’s 2013 release features an absolutely mesmerising turn from Cate Blanchett as a New York socialite down on her luck and living with her sister (Sally Hawkins) in San Francisco, after slimy hubby Alec Baldwin loses their fortune. It is definitely one of his darkest in a while and isn’t a film I’d watch too many times but the drama is excellently played out and it has a mature and uneasy tone that when Allen gets right, always stays with me.
Wreck It Ralph
Disney getting it right. So enjoyable that I watched it twice in two days. Animation, script and voice work all excellent. If only Lasseter could sort out his sadly declining Pixar.
Inside Llewyn Davies
The latest Coen Brothers film, set in 1960’s Greenwich Village about a struggling musician, has their usual flair for telling a story which goes nowhere and perfectly drawn and funny characters. It’s not up there with their greatest classics but it is extremely enjoyable and the cinematography is flawless.
A strange one for my final entry; The Wachowski’s adaptation of David Mitchell’s (not that one) much loved bestseller, was in many ways a total mess. Yet, I really loved its scale, ambition and inventiveness and on second viewing thought despite its flaws, that it was one of the most exciting and epic films of the year.