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My Picks – Best And Worst Of 2013

January 9, 2014

CLOUD ATLAS

It’s been a mixed bag this year for worthwhile movies; with ‘smaller’ independent films showing up most of the big studio pics as being particularly unadventurous, dumb and just plain mediocre. And what’s up with all this gleeful destruction of major population centers? (London in G.I. Joe Retaliation, San Francisco in Star Trek: Into Darkness, Hong Kong in Pacific Rim, Smallville and Metropolis in Man Of Steel). Seriously, with all this going on – it’s no surprise 2013 will be long remembered as the year ‘whole cities were smashed and shit blew up – a lot’. Dystopian futures were also popular this year; with Cloud Atlas taking the charge, quickly followed by Oblivion, Elysium and How I Live Now. And once again, massive plot holes don’t seem to bother audiences in the way they used to.

Just for the record – I saw 30 features in the theater this year and I saw Man Of Steel and Pacific Rim twice. I purchased 50 DVDs and Blu-rays. I watched 85 movies at home and wrote 40 reviews.

So here now are my picks for the best and worst theatrical releases of 2013:

Top Five Films Of The Year:

(in no particular order)

Rush

Flight

Oblivion

Samsara

Cloud Atlas

Honorable Mentions: Pacific Rim, Gravity, The Impossible, Captain Phillips, How I Live Now, Zero Dark Thirty, The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty

I get that Samsara could technically be classified as a 2012 release (having been released to the rest of the world prior to last year). But as I’m choosing my picks based purely on the time of their release here in Australia; Ron Fricke’s non-narrative visual masterpiece definitely has its rightful place here in my top five picks of 2013.

As I haven’t reviewed either The Impossible or Captain Phillips for this blog, I should perhaps say a little something about them both here. Both these films are factually based and are impressive in their depiction of the events they set out to recreate  – the catastrophic 2004 Boxing Day tsunami which devastated Indonesia (along with many other countries) – and the 2009 hijacking of a container ship off the coast of Somalia and subsequent kidnapping of its fearless Captain. Aside from being based on real events, these two films also share an ability to completely immerse the viewer in whatever is unfolding onscreen. We have a real sense after leaving the cinema of what it might have been like to experience such terrible and extraordinary events.

THE LONE RANGER

Most Underrated Movie Worthy Of More Attention: The Lone Ranger

Most Unfairly Maligned Movie Of 2013: After Earth

I honestly don’t get all the bad press hurled at Gore Verbinski’s The Lone Ranger.     For me it has everything a big summer movie should have – it has well-staged action scenes, likeable characters, a rousing score, funny lines, but above all – it’s hugely entertaining. Likewise, After Earth didn’t deserve the INTENSITY of hate it received. Sure, it’s not a great movie or even a very good one – but it isn’t the utter dog some would have you think. There were much worse films than this.

Most Audacious Movie Of 2013: Two-way Tie: Maniac, Cloud Atlas

Maniac is audacious in its use of first-person perspective for virtually the entire running time of the film. Cloud Atlas is audacious in its mammoth scope and the seamless interweaving of its various storylines.

Most Effective Use Of 3D: Gravity 3D

Worst 3D Post Conversion: Two-way Tie: Iron Man 3D, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters

The onslaught of godawful 3D post conversions continued unabated – with one film only to rise above the field (in terms of utilizing 3D post conversion in any meaningful way) – Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim. The rest of the field were just a cynical grab for cash.

Most Unnecessary And Annoying Use Of Shaky-Cam: Elysium

Worst Movie Of 2013: Three-way Tie: Stoker, Elysium, The Counselor

As I chose not to cover two of these films, I should perhaps explain my reasons for citing both Stoker and The Counselor as prime examples of bad movies. What can I say about Stoker – except it’s ludicrously ludicrous. I know this film has its fair share of admirers (due to it being the first English language film by the director of Oldboy), but seriously folks, this film is all over the place in its tone and so over the top as to be completely laughable. It professes to be an homage to Hitchcock – but turns out to be more like a crap version of Two Moon Junction (the masturbation shower scene isn’t nearly as steamy – just plain dumb). Sure, Stoker may well become a cult camp classic – like Showgirls – but I seriously doubt it.

Ridley Scott’s The Counselor on the other hand, is way too grim to be considered laughable. A dreary, smug, mean-spirited FUCK YOU to the audience; filled with dispicable characters – doing dispicable things – it’s a chore to watch and a truly appalling, unpleasant and nasty piece of work.

Best Performance Of The Year: Denzel Washington – Flight

Honorable Mention: Tom Hanks – Captain Phillips. Hanks’ performance in the final moments alone should garner him a well-deserved Oscar nomination.

Worst Performance Of The Year: Nicole Kidman – Stoker

oblivion - drone

Best Cinematography: Two-way Tie: Samsara, Oblivion

Best Visual Effects: Gravity 3D

Best Editing: Two-way Tie: Upstream Color, The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty

Best Production Design: Oblivion

Best Original Music Score: Three-way Tie: Cloud Atlas, Oblivion, Rush

Best Screenplay: Cloud Atlas

Best Direction: Alfonso Cuaron – Gravity 3D

With his trademark continuous shots and commitment to verisimilitude; Cuaron has elevated the portrayal of spaceflight to whole new levels of immersion and realism.     It will be a long time before anyone comes close to replicating Cuaron’s astounding achievement.

Best Film Of 2013: Cloud Atlas

There has never been a film quite like Cloud Atlas and there probably never will be again. It is audacious. It is profoundly moving. It is a true original. And it is these qualities (among many others) which make it my pick as best film of the year.

Greg Moss is a film school graduate with a background in directing music videos     and is currently seeking representation as a screenwriter. He likes creative people, feeding the cat and watching genre movies. Greg can also be heard on the Blu-ray commentary track for the 1980 sci-fi thriller Saturn 3, out now from Scream Factory.

 
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2 Comments
  1. Nice to see a list that I agree with to this extent. I thought Flight, Oblivion, Cloud Atlas were all underrated. Denzel Washington’s performance in Flight was great.

    • Yeah, I’ve never been much of a Denzel fan – but he has amazing in Flight! And it would be great to see Flight and Oblivion and Cloud Atlas receive the recognotion they deserve. I have a feeling these films in particular will be looked upon fondly in years to come. 🙂

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