As 2013 comes to a close, I have compiled a list of top ten favorite films of the year. While there are many films I have not seen, I did get to see a lot of fantastic films. Remember, film is subjective and these are just my opinions.
Rush is expertly directed by Ron Howard, who continues to be a pioneer in the world of cinema. Howard is able to bring the inconceivable world of Formula 1 racing down to Earth and create a tangible world populated by the extremely different characters James Hunt and Nicki Lauda, played expertly by Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Bruhl, whose rivalry is more than a view of racing, but an entire lifestyle. The world is rich, full of humor and fantastic writing, and easily one of the year’s best.
9. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
While The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was good, Peter Jackson brings the world truly back to life in The Desolation of Smaug. The first film was accused of being a bit slow, but The Desolation of Smaug is an all out adventure that whizzes through it’s nearly three hour runtime. Martin Freeman and Ian McKellen return to their respective roles with energy and wit, while newcomers such as Benedict Cumberbatch, Evangaline Lily, and Luke Evans give the world more life as the film rushes to an epic finale. The Desolation of Smaug is one of the year’s best films, and perhaps it’s most fun.
In terms of pure visual ingenuity, Gravity is miles ahead of anything we’ve seen this year. Alfonso Cuaron creates a condensed thrill ride with such sharp direction that every feeling of claustrophobia, confusion, and fear is felt by an engaged audience. On top of that, the performances by Sandra Bullock and George Clooney are tremendous and only further an already fantastic script. Gravity is an artwork of cinema with such creativity that it is also one of the year’s most entertaining films.
7. Star Trek Into Darkness
J.J. Abrams continues to be one of the most energetic and creative forces in Hollywood, as Into Darkness is pure entertainment. The sequel to the 2009 film pays homage to classic Star Trek with lots of old references for long time fans, but keeps the story new and original. The acting is great throughout, as Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto continue their excellent chemistry and Benedict Cumberbatch delivers a fantastic new addition to the Star Trek universe. Star Trek Into Darkness is a fun film that has more originality and pure fun than any other summer blockbuster this year.
6. Saving Mr. Banks
Saving Mr. Banks is classic Disney. In the story of how Mary Poppins was translated from page to screen, Emma Thompson plays P.L. Travers with sharp humor and deep emotions in the best leading female performance of the year. Collin Farrell delivers a fantastic supporting role in one of the most heart-wrenching performances of the year, as well as great performances by Tom Hanks, Paul Giamatti, B.J. Novak, and Jason Schwartman. Director John Lee Hancock brings a sense of classic Disney joy combined with some fantastic drama. Combined with fantastic editing between different points in time, Saving Mr. Banks is a film that makes audiences laugh, cry, and in the end have a great time.
5. Inside Llewyn Davis
The Coen Brothers are one of the best filmmakers working in Hollywood, and Inside Llewyn Davis is another one of their fantastically quirky films. Inside Llewyn Davis is a melancholy film with enough quirks and wit to make it an enjoyable film. Oscar Isaac delivers one of the year’s best performances as the struggling musician Llewyn Davis, who is portrayed as a three-dimensional character with flaws, but is still incredibly relatable. The 1960s music scene is shown in an incredibly interesting sense, as the Coen Brothers create an incredibly interesting world with great characters and fantastically performed songs throughout. Inside Llewyn Davis is a brilliant piece of filmmaking that is not for anyone, but is definitely one of the year’s most unique film.
4. Captain Phillips
Paul Greengrass really knows how to deliver a thriller. Captain Phillips tells the story of the 2009 Somalia pirate hijacking with intense realism and a building tension that keeps audiences on the edge of their seat for the entire film. Tom Hanks is immersed in his character that the actor is completely forgotten and the character is only seen, but the accolades should be saved for Barkhad Abdi, an unknown actor that delivers one of the year’s best performances, as he plays the terrifying but surprisingly relatable Somalia pirate captain. Captain Phillips is one of the year’s most powerful films, with a finale that easily is the most riveting scene of the year.
3. 12 Years a Slave
12 Years a Slave doesn’t make the number #1 spot purely because it’s not a film that I could ever watch again. Nevertheless, Steven McQueen should be praised to no end for the brutal world he has created and the shocking realism of the film. The film is so beautifully shot and wonderfully acted that the brutality of the film’s content couldn’t have been more heartbreaking. Chiwetel Ejiofer carries the film with an incredible performance that truly demonstrates the tragedy of the situation, but the film’s best performance lies in the demonic plantation owner played by Michael Fassbender, who is unforgivably cruel and easily the year’s best supporting performance. An impressive ensemble cast adds to the film, including Lupita Nyong’o, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano, Paul Giamatti, and Brad Pitt. The film is also incredibly edited and completed with an amazing score by Hans Zimmer. Truly this decade’s Schindler’s List, 12 Years a Slave is a masterpiece of cinema that any fan of cinema should view.
2. The World’s End
Edgar Wright is perhaps the greatest comedic director in Hollywood, as The World’s End is one of the decade’s best comedies. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost return for the third installment in the unofficial “Cornetto Trilogy” that includes Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. The writing is sharp and witty in one of the year’s best written films, completed with fantastic performances. But what makes The World’s End so much better than any other comedies this year is its great characters and unique story, completed by some surprising drama that fits the film’s style and some really great action sequences. The World’s End is a masterpiece of comedy with some of the year’s best scenes including a fantastically hilarious ending.
1. American Hustle
In the end, American Hustle was the year’s best directed, acted, and written film. David O. Russel has crafted a witty and dramatic story that follows con artists in their personal and professional events, with the year’s best blend of comedy and drama. The cast is incredible; Christian Bale is hilarious and completely invested in his character, Amy Adams plays a great foil for Bale and delivers one of the best female leading performances of the year, Bradley Cooper is completely bizarre and incredibly funny as the FBI agent paired with the con artists, Jennifer Lawrence plays Bale’s ridiculously stupid wife that adds a lot of humor to the story, and Jeremy Renner as the corrupt but well-meaning politician in the year’s most underrated performance. American Hustle is also edited well with superb cinematography and a great score. In the end, American Hustle was the year’s most enjoyable film, and the most interesting experience I had watching a fil this year. What else can you ask for?
What do you think of my list? Do you agree? Disagree? What are your top ten films of the year? Let me know in the comments below.