As 2013 draws to a close, it’s time to reel off One Room With A View’s Top Ten Films of 2013. Each writer will list their top ten and we’ll reach an ultimate list at the end. To achieve this, we’ll be using a simple points system so that a film placing 10th = 1 point, 9th = 2 points and so on until whichever film finishes top gets a perfect 10. The film with the most points at the end of our lists is our film of 2013.
With all that sorted, it’s time for Sophie to present her case and list her top ten of 2013:
MONSTERS UNIVERSITY: Alright, so Monsters University isn’t quite in the same league as Up – this fact is unavoidable. What it is is an accomplished and enjoyable outing that gives us a second chance to appreciate monsters Mike and Sulley, and to see the most important moment in the life of every double act: their first meeting. Playing with the tropes of the college movie to family-film effect, this is far more than a simple prequel, and imparts the all-important Pixar life lessons with panache and colour-bursting flare.
MUD: Using its Arkansas-shot landscapes to gorgeous effect, Mud is at once a coming-of-age thriller and a nuanced fairytale. Steeped in Southern State folklore and the legacy of Huckleberry Finn, it sees two brilliant performances from Matthew McConaughey and newcomer Tye Sheridan, and is an expressive and deftly-handled piece from writer-director Jeff Nichols. This is an adventure book for boys that deals with the entanglements of maturing teenage emotions and the complexities of adult love, and all with a refreshing sincerity that ensures Mud will stay long in the memory.
WARM BODIES: Proving there’s still life in the zombie genre, this zom-com’s straight-faced play of its weird plot, and focus on character relationships, gives it bags of charm and laughs. Though it’s not always as smart as it thinks it is, Warm Bodies is still an important step in post-modern horror that builds on the work of Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland. A Romeo and Juliet that isn’t so much mumblecore as groans and gore, it provides fresh twists on both genres and a horror film experience that leaves you with a smile on your face.
FRANCES HA: Mumblecore lives again. Effortlessly charming, this monochromatic love letter to the life of a twenty-something in New York City is Manhattan for a new generation, and Greta Gerwig is Woody Allen. The second collaboration for Gerwig and director Noah Baumbach, this slice of social quirky-ism is the kind of on-trend, female-led non-narrative that takes an ostensibly uninteresting tale and makes it unmissable. Gerwig’s turn as the eponymous Frances is less self-absorbed than Lena Dunham’s Girls, and the film’s smiles and low-key humour leave you with a warmth that mustn’t be missed.
THOR: THE DARK WORLD: Although not quite on the level of the franchise’s best outings, Thor: The Dark World builds on Marvel’s most magnetic plot-point: the push-pull rivalry between Thor and Loki. Straddling its dual role as a chapter in a larger story and a tale of its own, it paints with broad brushstrokes of humour, romance, and set-piece thrills and, though Christopher Eccleston’s villain Malekith is the biggest brushstroke of all, a fantastically climactic battle scene does him justice. Deftly avoiding the risk of telling the same story twice, Thor: The Dark World is a wonderful start to Marvel’s Phase 2.
STOKER: It’s not every day that a beefcake television actor turns up on the Black List, but that’s what happened when Wentworth Miller wrote Stoker. This dark, subversive, and perverted chiller draws fantastic performances from its three leads and walks on a knife-edge between right and wrong. Even with its sometimes risible twists and turns, Stoker just won’t let you look away, and the use of motifs, callbacks, and visual rhythms pays off in the film’s depth and tone. One of the weirder offerings of 2013, it’s a must for anyone who loves their cinema dark and deliciously twisted.
PACIFIC RIM: Pure, unadulterated box office bombast, Pacific Rim is an unapologetic monster movie that revels in its operatic set-pieces and vivid, saturated colour palette. Balancing its spectacle with the refreshing sight of a female lead allowed to match the men, Rinko Kikuchi’s Mako Mori is at the centre of some of the film’s best moments, and her chemistry with fellow lead Charlie Hunnam pushes the emotional journey alongside the epic one. Though it suffered in US cinemas, international audiences rightly flocked to see this audacious summer blockbuster with big visuals and a bigger heart.
RUSH: Beloved by F1 fans and novices alike, Ron Howard’s pacy drama captures the best of the “sports movie” genre and beyond. Though Peter Moffat’s script isn’t always so slick, it’s a stunning performance from Daniel Brühl that elevates Rush to its great heights. With a display that isn’t so much an impersonation as it is inhabitation, Brühl turns the brusque, unpleasant racing driver Lauda into a protagonist you can’t help but fall for, and paired with opposite number Chris Hemsworth their central rivalry creates a thrilling joyride. Combined with stunning cinematography and choreography, this is a big-screen must-see.
FROZEN: Big, fun, and unafraid to shy away from complex emotional set-ups, Disney’s “first feminist movie” comes to life in its soundtrack from Avenue Q and Book Of Mormon composer Robert Lopez, a break with tradition which delivers the film’s unique sound. Though on an aesthetic level its computer animation will never quite capture the magic of Disney’s hand-drawn past, Frozen is a return to form that continues to wipe away all thoughts of the difficult post-renaissance years, and delivers a heartwarming tale laced with genuine laughs and depth of feeling.
GRAVITY: Gravity might be a VFX behemoth, but it’s also an intensely personal, small-scale story that uses its science fiction primogeniture as a backdrop for the simplest tale of all: human survival. Utterly immersive, thanks to both its compelling use of 3D and to the performance of a lifetime from Sandra Bullock (there’s an Oscar in this one), Gravity is the kind of film that leaves you physically shaking – not just for its nail-biting continuous takes or the sight of space debris hurtling towards you at hundreds of miles an hour, but for the faith it makes you invest in the spirit of human endeavour.
SCORES (after Round 5)
Gravity – 35 points
Django Unchained – 30 points
Rush – 17 points
Captain Phillips – 17 points
Blue Is The Warmest Colour – 16 points
Frances Ha –12 points
Zero Dark Thirty – 10 points
Upstream Colour – 10 points
Frozen – 10 points
Pacific Rim – 10 points
To The Wonder – 9 points
Blue Jasmine – 9 points
Before Midnight – 9 points
Iron Man 3 – 9 points
Blackfish – 7 points
Cloud Atlas – 7 points
Lincoln – 7 points
The Hobbit – The Desolation of Smaug – 6 points
Act of Killing – 6 points
Thor: The Dark World – 6 points
Stoker – 5 points
Only God Forgives – 5 points
Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God – 4 points
Place Beyond the Pines – 4 points
Behind the Candelabra – 4 points
Mud – 3 point
The Spectacular Now – 2 points
A Field in England – 1 point
Short Term 12 – 1 point
Monsters Uni – 1 point