Top 5 Films of 2013
With its breath-taking visuals and astonishing, state-of-the-art effects Gravity was perhaps the event movie of the past twelve months. Nominated for 11 BAFTAs and 10 Oscars the Alfonso Cuaron directed film sees astronauts Sandra Bullock and George Clooney in a battle for survival as they orbit the earth in a stricken spacecraft. The movie equivalent of a high octane theme park ride, the film is a jaw-dropping assault on your senses and emotions, combining some of the most stunning space sequences ever seen with genuinely muscle-clenching tension. A modern classic.
Having taken a fun, albeit, rose-tinted tour of Europe’s classic cities in recent outings, Woody Allen is back on familiar turf with this absorbing film. Justifying her Oscar nomination for Best Actress, Cate Blanchett is on career best form as the former socialite from Manhanttan’s affluent elite, battling her demons and downturn in fortunes. Her marriage broken and former wealth evaporated, Jasmine departs New York to stay with her couldn’t-be-more-different sister (the wonderful Sally Hawkins), out of which the tension is drawn. A terrific supporting case led by Hawkins and Alec Baldwin, Jasmine is an example of Allen on top form, blending typically astute wit and observation with a mood never far from the darkly tragic.
Star Trek Into Darkness
After re-booting the Star Trek canon with its time-bending origin movie in 2009, director JJ Abrams held little back in this high octane sequel that just held off Pacific Rim for biggest (and loudest) blockbuster of the year. With Earth under threat from a terrorist from its past, Captain Kirk and his Enterprise crew are called into action, confronting a formidable foe and facing up to personal crises. Pine and Quinto build on their solid debuts as Kirk and Spock but it’s Benedict Cumberbatch who steals the show with a delightfully malevolent turn, as a character with more than an air of familiarity for aficionados of the original films.
Woody Grant is a bad-tempered old drunk showing the first signs of senility. When he gets the call that a $1 million prize awaits if he can get himself to Lincoln, Nebraska, he sets off on an odyssey to claim his pot of gold. Drawing on previous works Sideways and, more obviously, About Schmidt, director Alexander Payne takes on another trip of emotional discovery. Picking up a nomination for Best Picture at the Oscars, the beating heart of the movie is Bruce Dern, on inspired form as the irascible Grant, unsurprisingly nominated for a Best Actor Oscar and BAFTA.
Paul Greengrass certainly knows how to build near unbearable tension from true events – see United 93 and Bloody Sunday as examples. In Captain Phillips, the Oscar and BAFTA nominated drama, Greengrass delivers another movie that’ll have you holding your breath as you watch. Based upon the real-life hijacking of American liner Maersk Alabama by Somalian pirates, the film delivers a cat-and-mouse thriller between crew and hijackers that’ll shock and move you in equal measure. Multiple Oscar winner, Tom Hanks is typically brilliant as the eponymous Captain who has to confront the prospect of losing control of his ship and the potential of graver consequences thereafter. But he’s matched scene for scene by newcomer Barkhad Abdi who delivers a devastating turn as the head pirate, his performance has been deservedly recognised in the Best Supporting category by Oscar and BAFTA.