The best and worst for 2013
The top films of the year and the ones that failed to make the grade
Every frame of Gravity is a supremely sublime combination of the you- are- there and the how- did- they- do- that? It completely immerses the audience in both the wonder of space and the wonder of cinema. Not just a stunning work of science fiction, but a truly heartfelt work of human drama. Hey, Hollywood, got any more of these kind of movies? We’d all love to see ’ em.
It starts with someone’s boat lodged high in the trees. It ends with someone’s body floating down a river. And in between? A classic tale of innocence lost and wisdom gained, one that comfortably holds its own against the likes of To Kill a Mockingbird and the best works of Mark Twain.
3 AMERICAN HUSTLE
A joy to watch from beginning to end, and a second triumph in 2013 from gifted writerdirector David O. Russell ( Silver Linings Playbook). The deranged plotting of this caper flick set in the 1970s is Argo meets Goodfellas meets The Sting, with all three getting along like a house on fire.
4 DJANGO UNCHAINED
Quentin Tarantino has been around more than two decades now, but his films still exude the energy and enthusiasm of a fresh talent at work. Here, Tarantino continues his recent knack of rewriting history books to suit himself, with the US’s slavery era getting a forceful going- over.
5 CAPTAIN PHILLIPS
The best movies based on real- life events can make you forget the established facts, and simply feel the moment at hand. Such is the case with this gripping account of the 2009 hijacking of the cargo ship Maersk Alabama by four Somali pirates. Such fine acting from Tom Hanks as well.
A complex, unsettling and utterly absorbing crime drama, featuring a clear career- best display from Hugh Jackman. Not since Clint Eastwood’s 2003 masterwork Mystic River has a Hollywood film drilled down to the emotional core of everyday people.
7 BLUE JASMINE
When it counts, veteran filmmaker Woody Allen can still make movies that matter. Luck was on his side when he cast Australia’s Cate Blanchett ( above) as a broken woman fated to never piece her life back together. The pulsing power of her performance warrants the next Best Actress Oscar.
8 ZERO DARK THIRTY
A searing, challenging factual drama all about the US government’s marathon hunt for Osama bin Laden, the most notorious terrorist in history. A blast from our recent past that does not undercharge the explosive nature of its subject matter.
9 SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK
Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper ( right) were fantastic in an edgily offbeat love story of two highly strung people on the rebound. To tag this as merely a feelgood movie is to do it a great disservice. The hard- headed sense of humour trumps the softhearted nature of the tale exactly when it should.
10 STORIES WE TELL
In a year blessed with brilliant documentaries, this engrossing Canadian- made affair was the absolute standout. Director Sarah Polley thought she knew her late mother Diane. Until she interviewed all the family and friends willing to inform her otherwise. Proof positive that one life story is actually many.
AND THE NEXT TEN ...
11. Flight 12. The Hunt 13. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire 14. Elysium 15. Before Midnight 16. Blackfish 17. The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty 18. Ain’t Them Bodies Saints 19. World War Z 20. Frances Ha