2013 has been a year where sequels and franchises have continued to dominate the Box Office. The top five films in the worldwide box office all fit into this category with Gravity and The Croods the only original films breaking into the top ten (although Frozen probably still has some business left to do).
Likewise R-Rated movies (or 15/18 certificate movies in the UK) are virtually dead box office wise. The Hangover Part III at number nineteen being the highest grossing film in this category.
Expect to see these trends continue in 2014 as audiences and studios alike enjoy the comfort that comes from familiarity.
Anyway, in all I reckon I’ve seen 52 of the films released in 2013 so one for each week of the year. I’ve managed to boil this list down to just five. So in true buzz feed style here is: The Top Five Films of 2013 only true movie fans will appreciate.
In some ways Philomena breaks a lot of rules for what makes a good film (in my humble opinion). That is, it would probably work just as well in literary form as it does on the screen. However, while it is very straight forward cinematically, it makes up for it by telling a good story with interesting characters and thoughtful themes. Its final scene is also one of the most moving and memorable cinematic moments of 2013 for me. We often want to see protagonists ‘get one over’ on villains and defeat them. That’s not precisely what happens in Philomena‘s climactic scene, and the film is all the more powerful for it.
4. Cloud Atlas
Cloud Atlas, like Philomena is an adaptation, but one that really gets it right in terms of keeping the soul of a piece while still adding plenty of creative touches of its own. In that sense it has a lot in common with The Great Gatsby, but is at odds with Ender’s Game and Life of Pi, which do little to expand upon their source material. The stuff it adds includes changing the pace of the six stories so that we constantly cut between them (the book splits each story into two parts). It also reuses actors across timelines, making connections between characters that are not apparent in the book. Added to that is the remarkable achievement of making each story look and feel different to all the others while still managing to link them together thematically. Cloud Atlas is one of those ambitious films that will only grow in stature as time goes on (which is rather apt given the nature of this piece).
There’s something powerful about telling the tale through the eyes of children as readers of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime and other stories like it can attest. There’s always that sense of another layer to the drama as we are only shown a limited point of view on the characters and events taking place. Mud sees two boys Ellis and Neckbone trying to help the titular character who we are not sure what to make of for most of the film’s runtime. Like Beasts of the Southern Wild there’s also that sense of mystery and magic surrounding this almost mythical film.
Gravity is a wonderful roller-coaster ride of a film that literally leaves you holding on for dear life and its main character is left floating helpless and hopeless in space. While it works perfectly well as a thrill-ground ride, it also works as a metaphor for that feeling of being cut off from the world and not being entirely sure that we want to face it again. Most of all it’s a big-budget film that feels fresh and original, a remarkable thing in the midst of all the sequels and reboots released this year.
1. Good Vibrations
Making a film about a place in the midst of conflict is always difficult. Whether South Africa, Gaza or Northern Ireland there’s a balance to be had between showing the impact of the conflict without also showing the everyday lives of people as they work, shop and even have fun together. Good Vibrations strikes an almost perfect balance between these two things since most films about Northern Ireland would leave you clueless as to why ordinary people would still choose to live there. Like the Italian film Life is Beautiful it manages to find comedy in the midst of tragedy and yet feels all the more real and truthful because of it.