The Best Films of 2013

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The year is almost over and it is time to look back at the best movies that have graced the cinema screens during the past twelve months. We’ve had musicals featuring singing revolutionaries, dancing air-cabin crew, revenge-hungry parents, an overwhelming amount of superheroes and many underrated gems. As film editor, I’ve had the great pleasure in viewing hundreds of films across the year (some good, some shockingly awful), with the highlight of my year being the BFI London Film Festival. Sadly, some of the films I saw there (such as Jason Reitman’s Labor Day and Inside Llewyn Davies) cannot be featured in my top ten list since they come out in 2014. Below you will find my list, along with lists from The Edge’s editors and writers, of the best movies released in British cinemas between January 1 and 31 December 2013. Enjoy!

10. Saving Mr. Banks

Saving Mr Banks

Sometimes the stars align to make a perfect film, or a close to perfect as a movie can be. Saving Mr. Banks, the story of the process of making the beloved Disney film Mary Poppins, isn’t quite perfect, but the stars really have all come together to make this movie a wonderful treat. Funny, emotional and beautifully acted, it makes the perfect family film to see this Christmas

9. Prisoners

Prisoners

It’s rare in this day and age that one gets a slow, meandering drama that doesn’t give in to hysteria or become boring. Prisoners gets the balance right. This is an exceptional piece of work; both an assured crime drama and a political play that asks some very difficult and somewhat disturbing questions from its audience.

8. Behind the Candelabra

Behind the Candelabra

Famously turned down by many major studios because they thought (rather preposterously) it would only appeal to gay people, Steven Soderbergh made this biopic of pianist entertainer Liberace for television. Luckily for British audiences, it was released as a cinema feature. And what a brilliant movie it was, with two excellent performances from Michael Douglas and Matt Damon.

7. Spring Breakers

Spring Breakers

Repetitive, morally ambiguous and rather strange, Spring Breakers is one of the most visually intelligent, exciting and mesmerising pictures of recent years. The very best films entirely convince the viewer they are part of the world depicted onscreen. Spring Breakers succeeds in this respect. Regardless of whether you want to be part of such a world or not, the film draws you into its hypnotic landscape with skill, verve and style.

6. Side Effects

Side Effects Poster

Though not everyone liked the film’s twists and turns, the waves of Hitchcockian genius that came with each revelation made Side Effects a remarkable film. It will be sad if Side Effects is Soderbergh’s swan song (he has gone on to direct TV work), but if it is it’s good to see him bow out in style.

5. Zero Dark Thirty

Zero Dark Thirty

If anyone wanted a masterclass in how to make an intelligent, thoughtful, exciting movie that blends action with world-class acting, this film would be the one to watch. Katherine Bigelow’s action movies presume their audiences have the initiative to think for themselves. They understand that both verbal conversations and scenes of quick-edited gunfire have equal potential to shock and enthral. Nobody is making movies quite like her right now. Memorable doesn’t even cover it. And Jessica Chastain proves she is one of the best actors working in Hollywood.

4. Captain Phillips

Captain Phillips

Paul Greengrass is famous for blurring the lines between documentary and drama and through his style of direction he makes this film about the hijacking of a cargo ship feel terrifyingly real and eye-wateringly intense. This is an extremely powerful film of the kind that doesn’t come along very often. BW.

3. Stoker

Stoker

Directed by Park Can-wook, director of Oldboy, and scripted by (believe it or not) Prison Break actor Wentworth Miller, this is a shamelessly ridiculous, gorgeously mounted thriller set within a suffocating American family.  Though clearly inspired by other works (the most obvious being Alfred Hitchcock’s film Shadow of a Doubt), it’s so confident in its tone and style it feels like a breath of fresh air. Watch it a marvel. BW.

2. Les Misérables

Les Miserables

Les Misérables is a masterpiece. It is a beautiful, swirling vision brought stunningly to life by director Tom Hooper and producer Cameron Mackintosh. Hooper’s film very successfully brings Victor Hugo’s huge, sprawling story of a wronged criminal, a resentful officer, an orphaned girl and a group of angry revolutionaries, to the big screen, all cloaked in the haunting melodies of Claude-Michel Schonberg.

1. The Counselor

The Counselor

Audiences seeking out pleasant escapism may well hate this film. It is a rigorous, unforgiving and inherently nihilistic exercise in menace and pessimism. Those who dare taste such daunting flavours may well discover a movie that offers its own rainbow of delights; a rainbow of many shades of grey that refuse to be easily read. There have been very few films as fascinating as this for a very long time. It will leave you reeling.

Below our editors and writers have contributed their lists of the film they believe to be the best released in the UK during 2013.

Rebecca James, Culture Editor

1. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
2. Much Ado About Nothing
3. Monsters University
4. Star Trek: Into Darkness
5. Despicable Me 2
6. Thor: The Dark World
7. Captain Phillips
8. Gravity
9. The Host
10. Iron Man 3

Gen Heron, Writer

10. Anchorman 2
9. The Great Gatsby
8. Blue Jasmine
7. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
6. Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa
5.Don Jon
4. Out in the Dark (Israeli film released nationally in indie cinemas, if that still counts?)
3. Behind the Candelabra
2. Django Unchained
1. Gravity

Natasha Raymond, Writer

10. Hansel and Gretel: witch hunters
9. Side Effects
8. Despicable Me 2
7. The Great Gatsby
6. Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa
5. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2
4. Jack the Giant Slayer
3. Frozen
2. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
1. Oblivion

Chris Pate, Writer

10. Side Effects
9. Star Trek Into Darkness
8. Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa
7. Computer Chess
6. Don Jon
5. The Pervert’s Guide To Ideology
4. The Way, Way Back
3. Frances Ha
2. The Kings of Summer
1. Upstream Color

Virginie Robe, Writer

5. In The House
4. Frances Ha
3. The Kings of Summer
2. Mud
1. Django Unchained

Shell Hinds, Writer

10. Don Jon
9. Now You See Me
8. Star Treck: Into Darkness
7. Gangster Squad
6. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
5. The Great Gatsby
4. The Hunger Games: The Desolation of Smaug
3. Monsters University
2. Django Unchained
1. This is the End

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Second year BA Film & English Student. Watches too many films and enjoys good novels.

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