For the 18th time, I’ve put together my annual top 10 and bottom 10 films of the year! You can check out all my previous lists by clicking here. I went through the list on 612ABC Brisbane a week or so ago and we took a few calls from listeners. You can listen to the podcast here.
I saw a total of 201 movies in 2013 (excluding unreleased stuff from film festivals) so let's quickly get the junk out of the way…
Worst 10 Films Of 2013
They tried to be truly awful but films that were just outside my worst 10 list included Dead Man Down, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, Olympus Has Fallen, The Family, A Good Day To Die Hard, One Chance, The Host, Pain & Gain, The Paperboy and Hyde Park On Hudson.
10. After Earth (Jun 13) is set 1,000 years into the future and follows a father & son team who are trying to be rescued after their space craft crashes. This is bland stuff. 14-year-old Jaden Smith lacks charisma as the "hero" and there are far too many moments of convenience contained within the storyline.
9. The Big Wedding (Apr 29) is about a long-divorced couple who have to pretend to be married to appease their adopted son's biological mother (a devout Catholic) at his wedding. This film doesn't work. It plays it way too safe given the farcical premise. It needed more laughs and more interesting characters (ala The Birdcage).
8. I'm So Excited (Sep 19) is a bizarre Spanish comedy that revolves around a group of attendants and passengers on a very strange flight. I'm a huge fan of director Pedro Almodóvar but this is an awful film that can't generate a single decent laugh.
7. G.I. Joe: Retaliation (Mar 28) is dumb stuff. You'd think they'd lost a few reels of the film given some of the gaps in the storyline. The villains are poorly defined, the heroes have no charisma and there's very little humour to be found. Reminded me of last year's Battleship - you laugh AT the film as opposed to WITH the film.
6. The Internship (Jun 13) will suck the life out of you. It's a 2-hour advertisement for Google that revolves around two middle-aged morons who apply for an internship and then start impressing people with their team spirit. The IT jokes are dumb, the crude humour doesn't fit and every element of the story feels false.
5. Fly Me To The Moon (Oct 31) is as bad as romantic comedies get. A French woman tries to seduce and marry a nerdish guy with the intent of divorcing him immediately. Why? Because she wants to rid herself of a family curse (where every first marriage ends in failure) before marrying her "dream" guy. It's pretty hard to feel sympathy (which the film wants) for such a nasty character.
4. Movie 43 (Feb 7) isn't the worst film of all time (as described by some critics) but it's still pretty bad. The skits are dull, strange, tedious and the punch lines fall flat. How they coerced so many Hollywood stars to appear is a mystery to me.
3. Scary Movie 5 (Apr 12) proves that you don't need talent or a script to get a movie made in Hollywood. There's hope for me yet.
2. I Give It A Year (Feb 28) is an English rom-com that tries to win laughs by being offensive. A shame there's no wit or charm to go with it. I hated every single character (no exceptions) and would rather drink bleach than watch it again.
1. Grown Ups 2 (Sep 26) is the worst thing since time began. There is no plot, no message. It is offensively awful.
Top 10 Films Of 2013
It’s always tricky coming up with a final top 10 list year. Honourable mentions go to Much Ado About Nothing, Lincoln, Anna Karenina, West Of Memphis, No, Captain Phillips, The Rocket, Pacific Rim, About Time and Blancanieves. Unfortunately, I couldn’t quite squeeze them into my list.
But here are my top 10 in reverse order…
10. Django Unchained (Jan 24) begins in Texas 1858 and follows two bounty hunters who are very good at what they do. A wildly amusing ride from Quentin Tarantino. The conversational pieces are superbly written and you won't find many films with a better collective group of performances.
9. The Heat (Jul 11) takes a standard, unoriginal story and transforms it into a riotous, offensive buddy comedy thanks to the performances of Melissa McCarthy, Sandra Bullock and a terrific supporting cast. I laughed a lot and this was one the best comedies of the year.
8. Stories We Tell (Sep 26) is a wonderful documentary from 34-year-old Canadian filmmaker Sarah Polley (Take This Waltz) that follows her efforts to locate her biological father. This is a film that builds intrigue and offers a few surprises. Just when you think you know where it’s heading and what it’s emphasising… the film unexpectedly changes direction. It’s so beautifully done.
7. First Position (Apr 11) is an amazing ballet documentary that reduced me to tears. It follows a series of kids as they navigate their way to the final of the Youth America Grand Prix in New York. Director Bess Kargman picked a great group of people to follow and you’ll feel the tension as the camera zooms in on the faces of the dancers, coaches & parents.
6. Philomena (Dec 26) is the story of an elderly woman who, with the help of a journalist, tries to track down the son who she was forced to give up for adoption 50 years earlier. There are some interesting plot developments and it explores some interesting themes (headlined by forgiveness). An emotional film with two terrific performances from Judi Dench and Steve Coogan.
5. The Hunt (May 6) is a Danish film about a teacher from a small town who is falsely accused of sexual assault by a misguided young girl. This is a riveting, depressing, amazing piece of cinema. You'll feel swamped by a sense of hopelessness as the tragedy unfolds.
4. Gravity (Oct 3) stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney as two astronauts who become stranded in space. Forget the over-the-top stuff we normally see in action films. This film shows how to extract maximum tension from a minimalist story. The use of music is superb and Alfonso Cuarón’s direction will leave you in awe (and also wondering how he did it).
3. Blue Jasmine (Sep 12) is an engrossing black comedy about the wife of a multi-millionaire who goes from "riches to rags" after her husband is convicted of fraud. Jasmine is a fascinating character and writer-director Woody Allen is careful not to judge her. Cate Blanchett is superb in what may be her most memorable performance!
2. Zero Dark Thirty (Jan 31) recounts the events that led to the capture of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. We all know this story ends but this is still gripping and action-packed. Jennifer Chastain is brilliant as a CIA agent who spends 10 years of her life trying to hunt him down. The film explores so much about life within the CIA.
1. Life Of Pi (Jan 1) is the story about a boy stranded in the middle of the ocean on a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger. Well, that's what you'll think it's about. I've seen this film twice and I still can't shake the thought-provoking ending. It's a stunning directorial effort from Ang Lee who has brought this tricky novel to life.