Here it is, the annual post in which all of my readers determine that I know absolutely nothing about film and tear my choices for the ten best of the year in to pieces. I like what I like, and here be the choices, including some of those inbetweener films at the start of the year that may have been released late in 2012 but came across the Atlantic to the UK in early 2013. In somewhat of an order:
1. Saving Mr. Banks
Saving Mr. Banks was destined to be my favourite film of the year from the moment I first knew of its existence. Though controversial in its somewhat skewed version of events, the combination of Disney, Emma Thompson and the magical music of the Sherman brothers was never going to do anything but fill me with joy. A glorious tribute to Mary Poppins, possibly the best film ever made.
I will never forget the experience of watching Gravity for the first time. A visual spectacle unrivalled by anything else I have ever seen on the big screen and the only justifiable use of 3D I have come across to date. The plot may be accused of being thin, but this is a essentially a highly stylised, high budget B movie, just sit back and enjoy being hurled in to the abyss of space like never before.
3. The Butler
Wildly ambitious in its attempt to cover so much of America’s civil rights history, the real enjoyment of The Butler came from top class performances by every single member of its cast. Forrest Whitaker and, in particular, Oprah Winfrey shine in their respective roles. The film is unashamedly schmaltzy and whilst not to everyone’s taste, The Butler pressed all of my buttons and had me tearing up on more than one occasion.
4. The Paperboy
Another film by Lee Daniels, director of The Butler, that could not be more different in tone. The Paperboy was dirty, seedy, gritty and contained numerous scenes involving Nicole Kidman that are destined to become infamous. Aside from the buzz around Kidman’s performance, though, was a genuinely interesting and captivating drama that oozed tension and wasn’t afraid to conform to Hollywood plot norms.
Similar in tone to The Paperboy, Lovelace was an impressive picture that, though at times was uncomfortable to watch, succeeded in captivating me throughout and educated me on a subject of which I had very little, and most incorrect, knowledge. Amanda Seyfried continues to do a good job of shedding her Mamma Mia! skin and gives a fine performance as the infamous titular character.
6. Les Misérables
The unstoppable musical juggernaut of the year, Les Misérables was one of the first films I saw in 2013 and stood the test of time to remain one of my favourites. Tom Hooper’s camera work was at times disorientating and unnecessary, but the power and talent of, Hugh Jackman and, of course, Anne Hathaway, turned the film in to an emotionally exhausting tour-de-force that is not easily forgotten.
7. Django Unchained
Django Unchained heralded a much anticipated return to form for Quentin Tarantino and is certainly a contender for most memorable film of the year. Outstanding performances from Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz and, in particular, Leonardo DiCaprio who was once again outrageously snubbed by the Academy during Oscar season. Never has a film been so full of quotes that you long to memorise but dare not utter in fear of causing massive offence!
8. Robot & Frank
Robot & Frank was the surprise of the year for me. I knew hardly anything about it on deciding to give it a whirl, and was rewarded with a clever, witty and at times heart wrenching tale of the human race, its flaws and its relationship with emerging technology. Frank Langella strikes up an entertaining friendship with his robotic house help, and Susan Sarandon shines as the local librarian who may be more than she seems.
9. Blue Jasmine
A solid but not perfect addition to the Woody Allen filmography, Blue Jasmine finds its place on to my list based purely on the performance of its female lead, Cate Blanchett. She provides us with a masterclass in scenery chewing and turns all the dials up to eleven in her portrayal of a woman so very close, and eventually gone over, the edge. A very, very strong contender for Best Actress at the Academy Awards.
10. The Heat
My absolute guilty pleasure of the year. Except that is wrong, because you are supposed to be ashamed of a guilty pleasure, and I am 100% unashamed of my love for The Heat. The jokes are crude, the humour is slapstick and and about as subtle as a hammer to the head, but Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy prove themselves to be a dream team of epic proportions. Admittedly more of a comedy for the female demographic, The Heat was the funniest film I have seen in a cinema since Bridesmaids.