Numbers 40-31 feature a modern day spin on Huckleberry Finn, an experimental sci-fi film from the Director of the equally trippy Primer and at least two big budget blockbusters to whet your whistle. Here is part 2 of my 50 Best films of 2013.
40. Mr Morgan’s Last Love – This small budget family drama about a suicidal elderly man (Michael Caine) and the relationship he strikes up with lonely Pauline (Clemence Poesy). The film makes a compelling story of loners and lovers, one with all the victories and losses that come with such devotion. Caine and Poesy are excellent but a pointless cameo by Gillian Anderson almost derails proceedings. On the whole its a smart, funny and bittersweet affair that provides the kind of conflicted ending you never really knew you needed.
39. Ender’s Game – This psychological thriller from director Gavin Hood is proof that sometimes films with a child cast can be surprising. Asa Butterfield stars as Ender, a genetically enhanced soldier in training for a war against aliens, one that has been coming for a long time. The film relies heavily on Butterfield and he doesn’t let you down. Filled with entertaining set pieces and more than enough twists and turns to warp proceedings, everyone comes out a little dirty in this picture and thats perfect because seeing the shades of grey infecting everyone is the best part of Ender’s Game and Harrison Ford still pulls off good grouch.
38. Upstream Color – From director Shane Carruth, the mind warping director of Primer, comes Upstream Color, an experimental film about the circle of life and the effect it has on two ravaged souls. The film follows Kris (Amy Seimetz), a successful woman who is one day infected by a mysterious parasite. When she ends up being stripped of her free will and her cushy life she finds comfort with fellow victim Jeff (Carruth). The two end up on a journey that reveals the true nature of the parasite and the effects that the corruption of nature brings. Beautifully shot and displayed, Upstream Color is all about the viewer, the whole experience is different for everyone with a different message making it the ultimate marmite film but one well worth watching.
37. Wreck It Ralph – The first of two animated films, this February released Disney feature was a wonderful mix of meta jokes, adventure and loners. John C Reilly makes an excellent lead as Ralph, a constantly rejected video game character who goes out in search of acceptance leaving everyone in his game vulnerable to being ‘unplugged’. With some excellent voice work by Sarah Silverman and Jane Lynch, Ralph is given some good company as he searches for a place to call his own. Filled with plenty of subtle gaming jokes, Ralph is a film for everyone as it avoids the curse of the videogame film by never actually picking a game, instead choosing all of them.
36. Star Trek : Into Darkness – JJ Abrams follow up to his world changing first instalment is more of a montage than a solo story as he embraces old school Star Trek history to tell the modern story of Khan Noonien Singh (Benedict Cumberbatch) and the chaos he brings. Unlike his first film, Abrams has crafted a fast paced, yet emotionally stunted thriller which is impressive on a visual and dramatic level but leaves many unanswered questions. Ultimately it belongs on this list because of Cumberbatch and Chris Pine whose back and forth make this whole thing worthwhile and a hell of a lot of fun.
35. Thor: The Dark World – Of the two Marvel films this year, Thor was by far the best with a world spanning storyline, some excellent performances by Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston and even Anthony Hopkins, as well as a story that brought about one of the best action set pieces of the year. This Sci-Fi epic really builds the world of Asgard while also distancing Thor from it in a very real and entertaining way. Not only does Hemsworth seem to be enjoying every little minute of his time as the demigod but the film plays to the casts strengths with most of the films run being devoted to the comedy elements. However the film really comes into its own during the physics bending finale, a set piece so unbelievable and twisted that it brings the film together. That and a healthy dollop of sarcasm by Kat Dennings and its off to the races.
34. Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa – It’s been years since Alan has been on the television and yet he hasn’t missed a step in his transition from the little screen to the big one. Not only is the film funnier than most of the series shenanigans but this neatly plotted tale makes the best of Steve Coogan’s sardonic wit, the kind of humour Alan thrives on. The film keeps you laughing thanks to a few choice cameos, a great supporting turn by Colm Meaney and some outrageous behavior outlined by a smartly written and adventurous script.
33. Mud – This Jeff Nichols directed story of American life next to the river isn’t just a tale of poverty and a different way of living, it’s the tale of community and the sense of belonging. The film follows two kids as they discover Mud (Matthew McConaughey) on an island just off the mainland. When they set about helping him reconnect with his love Juniper (Reese Witherspoon) things go awry. Nichols’ reimagining of the tale of Huckleberry Finn is a film that praises the lives built out on boat houses and swamp dwellings, the kind of lives filled with adventure and danger people crave. McConaughey shines as the titular antihero and supporting turns by Sam Shepherd and Michael Shannon really drive Nichols story home.
32. Emperor – Starring Matthew Fox and Tommy Lee Jones, Emperor is the story of Bonner Fellers (Fox) and his assignment to discover if the Emperor of Japan should be tried for war crimes following the end of the 2nd world war. However the film follows Bonner’s past life in Japan with the woman he loved as the show pictures the two sides of Japan, the destroyed and what was once there. The visuals are beautiful and harrowing at the same time, Fox is on top form and Jones makes the films weaker moments shine with moral ambiguity. Overall its a beautifully poignant picture about love and forgiveness and the shame war brought two nations simultaneously.
31. You’re Next – This B movie horror flick is as gruesome as slasher films come with some truly outrageous violence taking place. The constant disconnection of genres helps keep you off balance as a group of animal mask wearing psychopaths attack a family dinner where one of the guests is more than ready for them. Completely off its rocker, You’re Next is a surprising treat, a slasher film with a confused sense of right and wrong. The film constantly tries to make the proceedings more joyful as blood sprays everywhere. Emotionally confusing, this Adam Wingard directed film loves its control over its audience and Sharni Vinson is brilliant in it, well worth the creepy feeling the film leaves you with.
What do you think of part 2? See anything you have seen and hated? Let me know in the comments.