My Films of 2013Posted: Wed 1 January, 2014
5. Gravity – Probably the smartest sci-fi film (albeit with some bugs still, mainly around orbital mechanics – and the fact Sandra Bullock doesn’t bloody die) of the year, Gravity is short and powerful. Worth seeing in 3D (which is saying something – I’m no 3D fan at all) although I can well imagine it could kick off a dollop of illness in those prone to motion sickness. But that disorientation is almost key to the film, it manages to convey some of how it must feel to be weightless and with no idea what your orientation is.
It also gets a lot of the tech stuff right (although a fair amount wrong, as well) as well as keeping the story tight. I was in two minds about seeing it, if I’m honest (not being a massive fan of Sandra Bullock at the best of times) but I’d say it’s probably the best thing she’s done – in my opinion, anyway.
4. Elysium – Another smart sci-fi, with a dark ‘them and us’ premise that seems to be becoming all the more feasible. Hell, even Jodie Foster was good in it – which is a real revelation, as usual I can’t abide her in films.
The basic premise – that as the majority of the world’s population get poorer, the rich opt to take off to a space environment/station, where they carry on their lives, with the best of technology, medical care etc., effectively leaving the poor to their own devices – is pretty dark, but also (I found) very believable, even though you know the required leaps in technology would be huge. I’m a fan of the director’s previous stuff (particularly District 9, another near-ish-future scifi) and also looking forward to his next film.
3. Iron Man 3 – Robert Downey Jr as Iron Man, written and directed by Shane Black? I’m *so* there. IM3 lived up to its premise, far more than 2 did. Indeed it pretty much ignores 2 for the heap of crap it was. Smart snappy dialogue, some great action scenes, a glorious twist (that again seems ever more feasible in reality) and Robert Downey Jr just being himself. You can usually tell when people had fun making the film, and that comes across in this one.
And yes, I’ve even ended up watching it again on TV over the Festering Season. And it’s still fun, even when you know all of how it works out. Besides, just how damn good an actor is Guy Pearce?
2. Pacific Rim – I never expected anything more from Pacific Rim than what was in the trailers – big robots fight big monsters. If you expected more than that, you were – at best – frighteningly optimistic. But going in with no expectations more than that, I loved this film. Yes, it has some epic bugs and plot holes – the biggest being “if they’re clones, how can one be pregnant, FFS” – which rankle more on repeated viewing. (And yes, I’ve seen it rather more than once!) But still, epic effects, an absolutely cracking soundtrack – which I also bought – and it’s just ridiculous, fun, and probably the most entertaining film (for me) of the year. So why isn’t it at number one?
1. Mud – And the answer to that is ‘because Mud is’. I don’t know why this appealed to me as much as it did, but it’s probably the film that stuck with me the most through 2013. Matthew McConaughey has really grown on me as an actor since he’s stopped doing all the rom-com shit, and he’s really pretty versatile. This one’s more ‘American Mythology’ than anything else, I suppose – matched up with a doomed love story, coming-of-age stuff, and a whole lot more. For whatever reason, I just really liked this one.
And just for fun (and I won’t even credit them with links!), my five worst films have been…
5. White House Down – I was aiming for brainless entertainment. I got brainless.
4. I Give It A Year – I have no idea why I even went to see this. Romcom tat that was about as funny as infected piles.
3. The Counselor – Great expectations from a great trailer, but the film just wasn’t what had been expected. Beautifully shot, and some great set-pieces, but all told a real disappointment of a film.
2. Ender’s Game – One of the few this year that left a really bad taste in the mouth – the whole child-soldier thing, with some very dark morality (and no, I hadn’t read the book, so didn’t know what to expect) and again that feeling that somehow it’s not a concept that America would have any great issues with in the future. All-told, really quite unpleasant.
1. Only God Forgives – In a similar vein to Counselor, a film that didn’t live up to it’s trailer, and turned out in truth to be a very different film from that portrayed. Very arty, beautiful, but utterly up itself. Probably a good film when you’re in the mood for an art-house essay about violence, vengeance and [whatever else] but I wasn’t, so I really didn’t like it.
But bear in mind, there’s a lot of others just outside that list – including Last Stand, Man of Steel, Pain and Gain, and The Paperboy…