Following in the footsteps of one of the most competitive cinematic years in recent memory was always going to be a tough task, but 2013 showed a lot of promise with its big budget headliners and artistic endeavours. It began strongly as many awards season winners arrived from overseas to cash in on their Oscar-glory, but as summer arrived fewer and fewer of the year’s biggest releases managed to hit their mark and it wasn’t until autumn where a succession of fresh contenders emerged.
Propelled by its director’s unrivalled ambition, emphatic visuals and a refreshing focus on a female protagonist, Gravity is a landmark space odyssey that breathes fresh life into the contemporary blockbuster and reinvigorates mainstream science fiction. It’s as much a glorious spectacle that attracts and immerses an audience of any kind as it is a cinematic monument with enough weight to ensure it’s remembered and revisited for years to come.
Woody Allen’s bold ambition to create at least one film per year has sadly resulted in a host of rather forgettable creations, but with Blue Jasmine, his compelling, performance dominated study of a vulnerable woman standing amidst the ruins of her former glory, he has created a resounding masterpiece.
Through their wondrous writing, glorious visuals and a stellar ensemble cast the Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer successfully negotiate the famously unfilmable source material and deliver a remarkable adaptation that not only transcends genre and narrative conventions, but also dissolves social, physical and cultural barriers like few, if any others. At three hours it’s an enduring watch, but it’s a film so rich and delicious you’ll want to savour it.
For my full list of The Best 10 Films of 2013 click here
Still, for every one great cinema experience there were a handful of woeful releases and crushing disappointments.
I try to refrain from being overly critical of a film that takes steps to be a daring and inventive piece of filmmaking, but no amount of originality can absolve such an insensitive, offensive and entirely unpleasant film as The ABCs of Death. However, the biggest issue isn’t the atrocious and inappropriate images at the centre of this grossly disturbing experience, but that despite full creative license, not a single one of the twenty-six collaborators could conjure up anything substantial, entertaining or even worth your time.
From the Aurora cinema massacre in the summer of 2012 to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings that occurred only six months, the past two years has seen a number of horrific incidents that have provoked great debate. In addition to the heated disputes regarding gun control laws there were many commentators who argued that the violence depicted in films, video games and across all forms of media was a reason for such heinous crimes. While I don’t recognise a direct correlation between the violence presented on screen and the horrors a disturbed and spiteful person wreaks in public, it’s tasteless films like Red Dawn – with its senseless glorification of teenage gun violence – that give ammunition to those who want to make that connection.
While there were many films that were worse on a technical level, Zack Snyder’s eagerly anticipated Superman reboot was so far from what was promised that it warrants inclusion. Despite being a perfect fit for the role of Superman, Henry Cavill is betrayed by a script that lacks the heart to make his character relatable in any way. Over the course of a laborious two-and-a-half hour runtime, that still fails to cover enough ground, Man of Steel never overcomes the incoherent pacing, tonal inconsistency and clumsy writing. What had the potential to be a cinematic great is little more than another shallow exercise in overblown action and wanton destruction.
For my full list of The Worst 10 Films of 2013 click here
2013 ends as a year that will be better remembered for its many disappointments rather than the few greats that stood out. After the announcements of a new Star Wars movie, another Bond adventure, The Avengers 2 and Batman vs Superman many are already looking ahead to 2015 as one of the most exciting years in cinema history, but in the meantime 2014 has plenty to offer.