We’ve finally made it! All of our writers have laid down their cases for the Top Ten Films of 2013, and now it’s time to reveal the overall winners. As a reminder, the rankings here were based on a points system. For example, if a film came 10th in a list, it got 1 point with 9th = 2 points, 8th = 3 points and so on. If a film was a writer’s champion for the year, it received the perfect ten points. Also, all films included are based on UK release dates. So, the moment you’ve all been waiting for:
We proudly present One Room With A View’s Top Ten Films of 2013.
PACIFIC RIM (10 points):
David: Occasionally, films should let their hair down and go apeshit. This was Pacific Rim. Financially it bombed, and the critics slated it – yet I adored it. How can anyone not admire a giant 200ft robot using a barge to bash in a monster’s head in Hong Kong? Although ridiculously and almost obscenely dumb, Pacific Rim‘s unrelenting bravery, audacity and affection to translate your inner 12-year-old boy’s thoughts to the big screen with such success and style deserves praise and attention. A definite addition to my Top Ten.
UPSTREAM COLOR (10 points):
Cameron: Break the cycle. Upstream Color is the next instalment of hyper-literate cinema from Carruth, and hopefully not his last. This is the most interesting film this year, as Primer was 10 years earlier. What’s so special about this film is that it freely seems to wash over you – transcending the screen as it does so. It achieves this, and yet remains perfectly lucid; without an inch feeling derivative or clichéd. This is the most impressive piece of filmmaking I have ever seen.
ZERO DARK THIRTY (11 points):
Chris D: Director Kathryn Bigelow and writer Mark Boal reteamed for this tense, brutal and compelling thriller, with Jessica Chastain delivering a superb yet subtle portrait of obsession and dehumanisation. Bigelow’s use of closeup and incidental detail in the editing creates richly realistic environments, while the pacing brilliantly alternates between tension and brutality, or else lulls us into a false sense of security – making this a nerve-shredding experience. But what raises Zero Dark Thirty above others is its uncompromising nature; it doesn’t simplify the complexity of its narrative, succumb to sentimentalism or melodrama, or ignore the moral and political ambiguity of its topic to satisfy audience demands. It shows cinema can simultaneously be smart, thrilling, thought-provoking, politically engaged and emotionally raw. For me, this is the film of the year.
MUD (12 points):
Stephen: Long may the McConaissance continue, when his presence alongside Reese Witherspoon means a coming-of-age film which plays out like a Cormac McCarthy-inspired slice of Americana rather than an execrable romcom.
Named for McConaughey’s enigmatic fugitive, Mud weaves a tale of enforced maturity against an existence slowly disappearing from the riverbank where 14-year-old Ellis lives with his divided parents. And while its subject matter might suggest unrelenting misery – and darkness is never far from the surface – Mud never falls into a kitchen-sink trap. Instead the result is an intoxicating examination of love, loyalty and redemption.
FROZEN (13 points):
Sophie: Big, fun, and unafraid to shy away from complex emotional setups, 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.
BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOUR (16 points):
Cameron: At three hours in length, Blue is the Warmest Colour is the longest film on this list, and indeed one of the longest of this year. However, it somehow keeps hold of its surprising intensity and real honesty, even at the edges of its more than generous runtime. It is perhaps this length that allows for such empathy and pain to permeate the screen so consistently and potently. The legitimacy of anything felt is never questioned. A love story for the realist – sincere and outspoken.
FRANCES HA (20 points):
Stephen: Charming: that’s the inescapable word that singlehandedly describes Greta Gerwig’s turn in Frances Ha, offering a fantastically naturalistic performance that never dips into the manic pixie dream girl archetype that it could so easily have been. Acutely aware of her internal flaws and external limitations, Frances remains resolutely human and believable throughout. And while filmed in wonderfully fitting black and white, there isn’t a better illustrated character to be seen all year.
RUSH (23 points):
David: As an F1/new Ron Howard fan, the signs always looked good for Rush. However, it simply blew me away as it delivered such phenomenal, almost orgasmic, cinematic highs in all departments. It’s a fascinating story wrapped in adrenaline-pumping cinematography and powered by award-winning performances from Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Brühl. A simply exhilarating piece of cinema, providing continual emotional beats as well as extraordinarily exciting race set-pieces. It plumps for euphoria over subtlety but when you can deliver scenes this good, why the hell not? In a year without Gravity, there’s no question that this would be my number one but this year, Rush takes the silver medal.
CAPTAIN PHILLIPS (27 points):
Chris D: Shot in Paul Greengrass’ vérité style, this stylish thriller about a hijacked cargo ship and its eponymous Captain’s attempts to keep his crew alive is engrossing yet emotionally exhausting. The pirates are portrayed with humanity, while Hanks gives one of his best performances in years; the final scene is devastating and definitely one of the year’s – and his – best.
Patrick: Despite a rather functional title, Captain Phillips just sneaks in front of Gravity as my film of the year. Not only do I think it’s Paul Greengrass’ best work to date, it also features a Tom Hanks performance, the like of which I was not sure he was still capable of. Barkhad Abdi is simply remarkable in his first role and more than holds his own alongside a wonderful cast. The final third contains some of Hanks’ best work and Oscar nominations surely beckon for both him and Abdi. The person sitting next to me during this film emerged from the cinema in physical pain because they had been gripping the arm rest so tightly. “Intense” simply fails to do this experience justice.
Christopher: Captain Phillips is a freighter, storming through the ocean of cinema, that carries depth, emotion, suspense and thrills. Paul Greengrass grabs you by the ankles and drags you to the edge of your seat, only to leave you dangling there until the credits roll. Tom Hanks returns to form with gusto, and is ably flanked by Barkhad Adbi – the complex captain of the Somalian pirate clan. I was completely exhausted as I left the screening of Captain Phillips and instantly couldn’t wait to watch it again. It is a thundering and epic film, and it stole my heart completely.
DJANGO UNCHAINED (39 points):
Patrick: In many ways, only Quentin Tarantino could make a film about the brutality of slavery that is simultaneously shocking and fun. While some of his familiar traits are clearly on show, Tarantino tells a story as coherent as any he has produced throughout his career. His script – which won a deserved Oscar – offers a veritable gold mine for the talents of Jamie Foxx and Christoph Waltz. Leonardo DiCaprio, as the repulsive Calvin Candie, puts in one of his finest performances to date.
Cameron: “I like the way you die, boy.” Django Unchained really needs no written reason to be on this list – if you’ve seen it, you know why it’s here. Every inch of Tarantino’s exploitation-western is filled with awe-inspiring decadence. Despite Tarantino’s hilarious try at an Australian accent, cast performances are some of the most charismatic of this year. With an incredibly satisfying soundtrack, and no-less-than-beautiful cinematography from Richardson, Django remains true to Tarantino’s unique heraldry of excellence.
Christopher: For a long time in 2013, Django Unchained was my favourite film of the year. Its bombastic (but never malicious) approach to such a dark subject matter has been somewhat humiliated by Steve McQueen’s 12 Years A Slave (a film you, unfortunately, can’t help but compare it to) but Django’s contagious electricity is undeniable. Helped along by a sparkling performance from Christoph Waltz (and an absolutely cracking soundtrack), you can’t help but be charmed by this romp through history and the Western genre. Django Unchained may just be QT’s best work since Pulp Fiction.
GRAVITY (54 points):
Sophie: 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.
Stephen: Watching Gravity, I haven’t felt so tense in a cinema since wondering if I’d make it to the end of The Hobbit with an intact bladder, and though Alfonso Cuarón’s handling of gut-shredding tension and a fantastic use of 3D have rightfully made the headlines, it’s the lean efficiency of a brilliantly paced, perfectly realised sci-fi flick created from the relatively simple idea of “Asteroids! Cheese it!” that so underline its position as number one on my, and so many others’, list.
David: The bandwagon for Alfonso Cuarón’s latest is set to burst, with critics seemingly attempting to outdo one another to pour excessive praises and love upon Gravity. Although extravagant, Gravity is phenomenal. Cuarón has masterfully crafted an unforgettable adrenaline-pumping, rip-roaring rollercoaster ride. Clooney and Bullock captivate and move throughout, matching the outstanding CGI set-pieces blow for blow. This film proved the essential necessity of cinemas. It’s unmissable, and only the biggest screen will do for the best film of the year.
THE FINAL SCORES
Gravity – 54 points
Django Unchained – 39 points
Captain Phillips – 27 points
Rush – 23 points
Frances Ha –20 points
Blue Is The Warmest Colour – 16 points
Frozen – 13 points
Mud – 12 points
Zero Dark Thirty – 11 points
Upstream Colour/Pacific Rim – 10 points
To The Wonder/Blue Jasmine/Before Midnight/Iron Man 3/Star Trek Into Darkness – 9 points
Lincoln – 8 points
Blackfish/Cloud Atlas/Hunger Games: Catching Fire/No – 7 points
Thor: The Dark World/Philomena/Act of Killing/The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – 6 points
Stoker/Only God Forgives – 5 points
Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God/The Place Beyond the Pines/Behind the Candelabra – 4 points
Wreck It Ralph – 3 points
The Spectacular Now/Prisoners – 2 points
A Field in England/Short Term 12/Monsters University – 1 point