The 50 Best Films of 2013

Last year around this time I prophesied that 2013 would disappoint many moviegoers. I based this on the fact that 2012 was an excellent year for movies and Hollywood can rarely maintain the level it has been holding at. That being said, I am pleased to announce that 2013 has been without a doubt a terrific year in film and to prove it I increased the size of my best of list from 20 to 50 films. The first 10 on the list vary from a musical documentary to a modern day Shakespeare tale to the reimagining of an old classic. So with that out of the way, here are numbers 50 – 41.

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50. The Lone Ranger – Gore Verbinski’s action western is unlike any western you will see and thats a good thing. The pairing of Armie Hammer and Johnny Depp as the titular ranger John Reid and his less than faithful sidekick Tonto. This recreation of the classic show is clever, beautifully shot with some excellent action and has some of the best comic action beats this year. Verbinski strives for the same playful tone as his first Pirates of the Caribbean film and succeeds with limited problems.

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49. The World’s End – Edgar Wright’s final instalment in the Blood and Ice Cream Trilogy is a mixed bag in comparison to its counterparts but as a stand alone picture its funny, original and light. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are still one of the finest British comedy pairings and Pegg gives one of his best performances. The film isn’t flawless with plenty of jokes that fail to hit their mark but there is more than enough in here to make it worth your while.

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48. A Haunting in Connecticut 2: The Ghosts of Georgia – This is the first of the two horror films to find a place on this list and while this horror sequel plays like a conventional ghost story its director Tom Elkins work with the films themes that raises it above the many scarers released this year. Performances by actors like Abigail Spencer and surprisingly Chad Michael Murray add some class to the proceedings as this spookfest proceeds at an enjoyably quick pace putting it one step ahead of films like Insidious Chapter 2 and The Conjuring.

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47. Machete Kills – I wasn’t a huge fan of Machete, it was a B movie trying to be mainstream which forced it to play two different sides confusing the whole picture. Machete Kills is more B movie, a spoof movie to rival the Naked Gun series with its rediculous villains, unkillable lead character and unnecessary but completely welcome celebrity cameos. From Charlie Sheen as the President to Mel Gibson as lead villain Voz, every character is used for comic relief. However the best part has to be Gibson who comes back to the public eye with one of his funniest performances, one that makes the last half of Machete Kills a wonderful blur of surreal comedy and ultra violence, an oddly intoxicating mix.

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46. Les Miserables – This Hugh Jackman starring adaptation of the famous musical of the same name is a complicated creature. For one every song is sung live and unaltered making some of the tunes used in the film genuinely bad. On the other hand the film has some wonderful performances from Jackman himself as well as Anne Hathaway, Russell Crowe and Eddie Redmayne to list but a few. Director Tom Hooper overuse of close ups brings a certain disconnect to the film’s story but overall this is a powerful picture which takes chances.

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45. Bad Grandpa – This Jackass spinoff film uses the same kind of setups that Jackass made famous but interweaves a layered and funny story between its many extended set pieces. Johnny Knoxville has always been fantastic at this kind of cringe humour as he plays on the feelings and reactions of the real people he has surrounded himself with. In fact the film works so well because Knoxville plays so well off his faux grandson (Jackson Nicoll) as the two travel across the country together with hilarious results.

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44. Stuck In Love – Stuck In Love is a quaint and slow moving relationship drama about a family that has just adjusted to a new setting follows the split of parents William (Greg Kinnear) and Erica (Jennifer Connelly). What makes Stuck in Love good is it’s understanding of this family of dreamers and the one person in the family who doesn’t quite understand. This family of writers, idealists and romantics have lost their connection to the fantastic due to this familial shift. It’s a well written story with some excellent performances by Kinnear, Connelly as well as Lily Collins who drives the films most successful story element as she brings out the duality of her character perfectly.

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43. Much Ado About Nothing – Back when I was watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer I couldn’t imagine Joss Whedon crafting something like Much Ado About Nothing but now that I have seen it I understand that there is probably nobody who could have done it better. Shot in black and white and using many of his favourite actors, this adaptation of the Bard’s work is sweet, charming and even a little bit silly. Whedon’s grasp of the many character beats allows him to fit in some much needed physical comedy, something that lightens this sometimes complicated love story. Amy Acker and Alexis Denisof work perfectly as the films lead duo with Denisof making light work of the proud yet self loathing Benedict and Acker dulls Beatrice’s self admiration to a dull hum instead of a full blown roar. The whole thing is simple and funny and unbelievably Whedonesque.

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42. The Rise – The first of four British films to grace the list, The Rise is a modern day heist movie about Harvey (Luke Treadaway) and the revenge he goes about trying to get from the man who framed him and put him away. Not only does the film track Harvey but the 3 friends that help him get his own back as they come to terms with the fact their lives in London, their home might just be coming to an end. The best aspect of this crime caper is the dialogue and the interactions between Harvey and his friends. They talk like real youths today as the face the disillusion that affects so many youngsters in a new and unexpected way. Treadaway is excellent and so is Iwan Rheon as best friend Dempsey, a person in need of adventure even if he didn’t know he needed it. The two lead a strong cast through a socially relevant Ocean’s Eleven-esque heist story that feels acceptably British.

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41. Muscle Shoals – This music documentary follows the rise of the FAME studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama under the care of owner Rick Hall. Not only is the film ever so slightly tragic in its depiction of Hall’s life but it’s also the tale of the creation of some of the biggest names by a group of artists who would have never been considered important by anyone other than Hall. Considering the number of famed talking heads the film is crafted around it shows just how important these players are. Artists like Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett and Etta James found hits through Hall’s studio, a creation of his love of music as well as the loss his early life had brought him. Moving and funny but most of all, a piece of musical history, Muscle Shoals isn’t life altering but it is revelatory.

What do you think would be your 50 – 41 picks? Let me know in the comments.

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