2013 was a year that saw some truly spectacular movies grace the big screen. Just like like any other film fan, I clocked up hundreds of hours in the cinema loving every moment of them. However, 2013 wasn’t such a consistent year for film. In fact there were some jaw-droppingly terrible films released along the way. Films such as Scary Movie 5, The Last Exorcism Part 2, The Internship and Movie 43 were unleashed and quickly became the lowlights of the year.
In 2013, I also attended several film festivals over the course of the year which included Celluloid Screams, Glasgow International Film Festival, Grimmfest and my personal favourite, Film4 Frightfest. On the festival circuit, I saw plenty of outstanding films (some of which have not yet been given an official UK release) but I was lucky enough to attend several UK premieres, met lots of filmmakers and was given the opportunity to interview Adam Green about his film Hatchet 3 exclusively for Cinema Chords (also to be published in February’s issue of Scream Horror Magazine).
So what films were the highlights of the year? Well you may already know that I’m partial to a bit of horror here and there but this doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate a more sophisticated style of film so you may be surprised by some of the titles that appear on my list.
Moving forward, if you’re wondering what films made my top ten this year then look no further as I present to you my top ten films of 2013 with a few honourable mentions at the end.
10. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Francis Lawrence takes over directing duties for the sequel to the 2012 box office hit in what is a definite step forward in the popular franchise based on the novels that were written by Suzanne Collins. The film takes its time to fully develop its characters and its surrounding world to deliver what can only be described as a thoroughly engaging action blockbuster. Balancing drama and action perfectly, this movie is nicely acted and its core political themes are impressively woven into the plot. Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence does a great job as the ‘girl on fire’ and the film ends on a cliff-hanger that perfectly set the scene for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part One which will be released later this year.
09. Big Bad Wolves
08. Cheap Thrills
The four then experience what can only be described as a truly horrific night as the two friends are pitted against each other for money.
A simple concept, the film is directed by E.L. Katz and stars Pat Healy, Ethan Embry, Sara Paxton and David Koechner. Cheap Thrills develops naturally despite the ensuing craziness as the stakes are raised higher and higher with every passing minute. You will gasp, laugh, wince in pain and fully enjoy this film without a doubt and it is for this reason that this film appears in our list. There is no current UK release scheduled for this film but I strongly urge you to keep an eye out for it.
07. The Conjuring
I loved every minute of this movie and strongly urge you to check this out if you haven’t already just make sure you have something suitable to hide behind.
06. You’re Next
Packed with plenty of scares, chilling moments and inventive kills to keep horror enthusiasts satisfied, You’re Next plays to all the tropes of the home invasion sub-genre but takes cues from Cabin In the Woods as it turns the genre expectations on its head with a very entertaining third act.
05. The Battery
Also, there is great news for those wanting to check it out as the film has been picked up for UK distribution by Metrodome and is slated for a release later in the year.
04. The Place Beyond the Pines
03. Captain Phillips
I cannot recommend this film enough as the last five minutes are literally heart-breaking and those who have seen the film will know immediately which scene I am referring to.
What we have here is a film which is directed by Denis Villeneuve which operates its multiple plot-lines flawlessly and never becomes stagnant or loses its intensity. I even had to take a few moments after the film had finished to pull myself together because the film is that powerful.
That was my top ten films of 2013. But what list would be complete without a few honourable mentions? That said, here are three more titles that are truly worth investing your time in.
When I think of Director Harmony Korine’s crime thriller Spring Breakers two things spring to mind, Guns and Bikinis! But if the thought of that puts you off I strongly urge you to give this one a try as the film itself is an experience. The first half is a mood piece allowing us to experience the american tradition of spring break through the eyes of four American college girls played by Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson and Harmony’s real-life wife Rachel Korine. The second half of the film is much more your traditional film in style. This is where James Franco comes in and forms a strong bond with the leads as they steal from, beat up and harass other spring breakers and nearby bad guys leaving a trail of chaos in their trail. Spring Breakers also benefits from using music from Cliff Martinez (who scored Drive) and Skrillex, two strong names in the business, which when combined together with creative editing brings a coolness to the picture which is undeniable and not easily forgettable.
The Human Race
Another festival highlight from Grimmfest 2013, Director Paul Hough delivers The Human Race, a gripping homage to Stephen King’s short story ‘The Long Walk’. The film sees eighty people from all walks of life kidnapped and thrust into a truly horrific situation where they are given the option to race or die. Undeniably mean spirited but with purpose, the film follows in the same steps as Battle Royale and The Hunger Games and provides an insight into human behaviour when people are put in life or death situations. The film also challenges genre expectations by integrating disability which is perfectly executed by one of its main actors, Eddie McGee who has more than you would ever want in an action hero. The acting isn’t perfect but this doesn’t stop the film being a 90 minute adrenaline fuelled thriller. You can check out The Human Race for yourself when the film is released on DVD in March.
Only God Forgives
In 2011, Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn brought us Drive, An American crime drama based on the book written by James Sallis. Drive quickly became one of my favourite films of all time so when Nicolas WInding Refn teamed up once again with Ryan Gosling for Only God Forgives, I had to check it out. Not only is the film visually stunning but Larry Smith’s cinematography is beautiful and the use of lighting is immaculate. Just like Drive, music plays a key part in the success of the film as the soundtrack by Cliff Martinez is superb. However, Only God Forgives is by no means a perfect film as it lacks in substance so for those seeking a straight-up thriller are going to be disappointed as this film is rich of metaphors and fantasy scenes. But to put your mind at rest, I can confirm that this didn’t stop me from enjoying this movie.