(Editor’s note: This piece was originally written by our editor Liam in early January to coincide with our GOTY Week. It is clearly not early January, but the Oscars are still fresh in our minds. With unreserved apologies to the author, here are Liam’s top films of the past year)
When it comes to New Game Plus, I fall firmly in the Plus category. I like games, and I play games, but I’m far more interested in comics, books, Magic: The Gathering and movies. So when it came time to do best of 2013, my mind went to movies, not to games. So below is my top ten films of the year. Enjoy! And watch Graphic Content for all your comic needs!
10. Django Unchained
Coming in at number ten is Quentin Tarantino’s latest blockbuster Django Unchained. Django (Jamie Foxx) is a black slave freed by German bounty hunter Dr King Schultz (Christoph Waltz). Soon enough, the two are off on a journey that only Tarantino could get away with. It has everything you’d expect in a Tarantino movie: Interesting characters, witty dialogue, cool songs and great action scenes. It’s really, really long, but it’s well worth watching, if only to see Leonardo DiCaprio and Samuel L. Jackson steal every scene.
9. Silver Linings Playbook
Like Django Unchained, this was released in the states at the end of 2012 but it was released here at the start of 2013, so it still counts! This is also the first of two David O. Russell films to appear in this list. This is the film that proved that Jennifer Lawrence is more than just Katniss from The Hunger Games, and that Bradley Cooper isn’t just the guy from the Hangover films. It’s also a film about romance, mental illness, loss, dancing and family. While these make the film seem like a chick flick, this is far from the truth. It’s a very real, moving and funny film.
8. The World’s End
[Watch NG+’s interview with Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg]
The World’s End is funny. This shouldn’t really surprise anyone. It’s written by Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg and is the third and final entry into the pair’s Cornetto trilogy. The World’s End follows Gary (Pegg), a forty something loser trying to relive his high school glory days by putting the old gang back together and finishing what they started: 12 pubs, 12 pints, finishing at The World’s End. But their old home time seems to be different to how they remember it. Aliens, chop suey action and a whole lot of laughs await.
7. The Way, Way Back
I’m a sucker for coming of age stories and this is a good one. It tells the story of 14 year-old Duncan, who goes on a summer vacation with his mother (Toni Collette) and her arsehole boyfriend (Steve Carell, in excellent form). Duncan comes into his own when he starts to work at the local Water Wizz water park and is taken under the wing of slacker manager, Owen (Sam Rockwell). The film features a pretty by the numbers story, but it hits all the right beats and does it well so we can forgive the unoriginal story. The acting is also top notch and, all in all, is a really enjoyable film.
This is the first time that I’ve looked forward to a Sandra Bullock film.
Before I start to talk about Gravity, I need to make a PSA: If you have not seen Alfonso Cuaron’s Children of Men, stop reading this and go out and watch it — it’s one of the best dystopian future films I’ve seen (and on a side note, it features the best cover of Ruby Tuesday; better than the Stones version, that’s for sure).
Anyway, back to Gravity. I saw this in Imax 3D and it was an amazing experience. There really isn’t that much of a story — it’s more of an experience. You’re on the edge of your seat for the whole 90 minutes and by the end of it, you may even like Sandra Bullock. Children of Men may have featured a 10 minute continuous shot, but Cuaron has outdone himself in Gravity in this front, with extended sequences that will leave you breathless. I’m not sure how this will go on your home TV or computer (it might lose too much grandiose that a cinema screen offers) but in the cinemas… wow!
5. Iron Man 3
I really liked Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, the last film that director Shane Black and Robert Downey Jr. did together. So I had pretty high hopes for Iron Man 3. This is despite the fact that Iron Man 2 was a huge pile of boring shit (oh, an extended but mostly pointless buildup that ends with two guys in costumes pointing their palms at CGI enemies…wow, that’s exciting(!)).
Iron Man 3 feels much more human; Tony Stark (Downey Jr.) spends this film suffering post-traumatic stress over the events of The Avengers and for the first time I can remember, Stark is more interesting than Iron Man. And as anyone who saw Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang would know that Black and Downey Jr. can be very funny together, and this film proves this once again. I’d say this is the most enjoyable Marvel movie made to date.
4. American Hustle
This is the latest film from David O. Russell (remember him from number 9?). The film follows Irving Rosenfeld and Sydney Prosser (Christian Bale and Amy Adams), two con artists whose successful con business is shut down by FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper). To avoid jail time that three work together to con and catch corrupt politicians (including an on form Jeremy Renner).
The film isn’t for everyone — in fact I know that people have walked out of cinemas claiming it was boring. It’s a dialog film, plain and simple; there is no big action scenes and apart from the ‘parlour’ scene at the end of the film, the plot is revealed slowly. But these were great characters, performed by actors at their peak (all of whom were cast from Russell’s previous two films, Silver Linings Playbook and The Fighter) and written by an amazing writer. And it’s funny too!
3. Captain Phillips
I’m calling it now: Tom Hanks wins the Best Actor Oscar for Captain Phillips!
That sentence was written before the 2014 Oscar nominations were announced (…my bad –ed.). So I’m making a second call: Tom Hanks was robbed! He’s just that good in this film! He plays the title role of Captain Phillips, a captain on a freight ship en route around Africa. The trouble and tension starts when the crew notice they’re being pursued by Somali pirates.
What follows is an absolute thriller. The film is directed by Paul Greengrass (of Bourne fame), so of course there’s shakey-cam, but it is much more refined and effective here — you can even tell what’s happening on screen! And just when you think the film has reached it’s peak and you’re wondering why they haven’t ended the film, BAM! An emotional sucker punch to the gut, that leaves no doubt in your mind that Hanks has serious acting chops.
2. Much Ado About Nothing
First, let me make something public: I’m a Joss Whedon fanboy. I consider myself a Browncoat, and I really like Buffy, Angel and Dollhouse. His comic work has been excellent, The Avengers was good and Cabin in the Woods was one of the best comedies and/or horror films of the last few years (too bad Marvel: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. sucks). So when I first heard that he was adapting a Shakespeare play (even if it was one I hadn’t read) I was pretty excited. I knew there would be some great dialog and character moments. It’s helped by the amazing cast, especially if you’re a fan of his TV shows.
Angel’s Amy Acker and Alexis Denisof return as Beatrice and Benedick, two rivals who snipe at each other with great wit and humour. It is not long before the half the cast is trying to unite them. Nathan Fillion is great as the bumbling Dogberry and Sean Maher does a decent job as Don John, ‘The Bastard Prince’, his first time playing a villain.
The film is set in modern day and the plot is pretty easy to follow. Yes, it’s Shakespeare so some of the language will go over your head the first viewing (as it did mine). But it’s a very funny film and very sweet. There are some great moments where Whedon has made the play his own.
1. You’re Next
You’re Next was a film I really didn’t know much about. A few friends had said they liked it but that was about it. Oh, and they told me it starred Sharni Vinson, from Home & Away and Step Up 3D, so my hopes weren’t that high. But this film blew me away.
It’s a home invasion film with a twist, one that that adds some fresh air to a genre that, for the past few years, has gotten very stale. While I won’t reveal too much of the plot, it features a family reunion that goes horribly wrong. Yes, that sounds boring, but it is anything but. You’re Next has some shock moments, some laughs and some really badass moments, as well.
My lowered expectations played a part in my enjoyment (I was certainly expecting a great deal from numbers 5-2 before I saw them). But despite all that, I have no problems putting this as my number one film of 2013.
There are three films that didn’t quite make the list, but are still very good films. You should also see Rush, a great biopic that really shows the speed and skill of F1 and made me care about racing; Olympus Has Fallen; a great action film in the vein of Die Hard; and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, a touching and visually interesting film by Ben Stiller, where he actually proves he can act and direct (aka. “eHarmony Presents: The Secret Life of eHarmony, Brought to You By eHarmony”; isn’t product placement fun? -ed.)
The worst film of the year, by a wide margin, was Jobs. It was an uninteresting, rose tinted look into the life of an arsehole played by a not very charismatic leading man. In The Social Network, Mark Zuckerberg is an arsehole, but you root for him; not so for Steve Jobs. I guess that’s the difference between Aaron Sorkin and whoever the fuck wrote Jobs (first time screenwriter Matt Whiteley, or someone…). On top of this, Aaron Sorkin is writing his own movie about Steve Jobs — that will no doubt shit all over this.