We have finally reached the end of 2013, and as such, it’s time to take a look back over the best and worst movies of the year in my humble opinion…
Far Out Isn’t Far Enough: The Tomi Ungerer Story
Far Out Isn’t Far Enough is a wonderful exploration of the work of Tomi Ungerer, as well as an examination of love, fear, paranoia and glee through the lens of his work. Ungerer himself is a wonderful storyteller, but Berstein’s use of animation serves to enhance and dramatise his stories.
Wreck-It Ralph is a familiar story given a quirky, warm and incredibly entertaining twist. Reilly and Silverman shine and, since the film only explores a handful of games, the stage is set for many many sequels. An idea that is incredibly appealing.
With Enough Said, Nicole Holofcener has shown the late Gandolfini at his best and created a film that feels true, for all of the flaws on display here. Gandolfini and Louis-Dreyfus compliment each other effortlessly as they explore the boundary between knowing, and knowing too much. Enough Said is one of the funniest, most touching and most heart warming films of the year, even though the characters, and the situation, is far from perfect.
The World’s End
The World’s End is a good finish to the Cornetto Trilogy, but not quite as good as it should have been. Pitting Pegg against the rest of the cast was a bold move that has strong emotional pay off, and the film drips with nostalgia.
About Time is a warm and comfortable film that not only showcases Gleeson at his very best, but feels safe and familiar, while being unpredictable enough to keep the audience interested. As mentioned, the film is filled with plot holes – hidden under the idea that cause and effect don’t matter – but About Time is still a lovely film that feels like a hug from your best friend. Go and see it, enjoy it, just don’t think about it too deeply.
Philomena is a respectful, funny and tragic film that examines an aspect of Irish culture that went ignored for too long. Coogan and Dench have wonderful chemistry together, with Coogan’s understated performance one of his strongest yet. At a neat 98 minutes, the running time ensures that the film does not over stay its welcome and the sentimentality is never overplayed, butPhilomena is a film that will linger long after the credits have rolled.
Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa
Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa is a film for fans of North Norfolk Digital’s most naive, selfish and funny export. As a fan, there was plenty to enjoy, laugh at and revel in, but those experiencing Alan for the first time may do well to start with I’m Alan Partridge first, and work their way up.
Stoker is a luscious feast for the eyes and those who like their villains deliciously wicked will find all of their needs fulfilled with Goode’s fiendish performance. Wasikowska blends mystery and blandness in a rather intriguing manner, but the film ultimately suffers from a disappointing denouement that lets the film down, although the finale goes some way to making up for it.
Cloud Atlas is storytelling on an epic scale. It is ambitious, beautiful and slightly crazy, but all of this works in the film’s favour. The performances are strong, the cinematography is gorgeous, the stories are intricately woven and cleverly told. Some of the stories work better than others, but Cloud Atlas is a film that is greater than the sum of its parts.
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues is a great follow up to a fantastic film. The laughs are there, the songs are there, and even though the film sometimes feels as though it is trying a little too hard, that is sort of the point. Fans of the original will not be disappointed, and happily, there is plenty of scope for a return to Ron Burgundy’s world.
The Internship is a shameful and shameless effort to cash in on so many people having to reskill due to economic troubles. The film is borerline racist, not entertaining and certainly not funny by any stretch of the imagination. Avoid at all costs; going to see this is the cinematic equivalent of self harm.
To The Wonder
To The Wonder is a thin but pretty film. It is just a shame that pretty is given preference over substance and, even though the simplistic examination of the end of a relationship may feel like a commentary of sorts, it is hard to know what Malick was attempting to achieve with the film.
Fire With Fire
Fire With Fire is a standard, by the numbers thriller. While the film has a great cast and some great opportunities, it takes advantage of neither, instead falling foul of cinematic clichés.
Cold Comes the Night
Cold Comes the Night is a by the books thriller that is let down by predictable plotting and familiar scenarios. The actors are not given a chance to do anything remotely new or interesting, but the pacing allows the film to zip along at a good speed. It’s a good job really, otherwise Cold Comes the Night could be pure cinematic torture.
Thanks for Sharing
Thanks for Sharing could have been a gritty but heart warming look at the other side of addiction. It starts well enough, but quickly reveals itself as a badly paced, underdeveloped mess, populated with characters who make horrible decisions for no discernable reason and seem to thrive on passive aggression. Thanks for Sharing is ultimately a superficial mess that is dealt with in a shockingly clumsy manner.
The Family should have been a dark farce about a group of people who cannot change, no matter how many times they change their names, but instead it is an uneven, badly paced mess that feels a little too self indulgent. Pfeiffer gives a good performance, however, and Dianna Agron keeping her schoolgirl persona going a little while longer is good for a giggle or two. DeNiro and Lee Jones are a rapid-fire pleasure to watch, but this is not enough to save The Family from imploding.
There is literally nothing I can say at this point to recommend Riddick. It is one dimensional, predictable and, for all that it is filled with menacing aliens, boring. Vin Diesel proves that he should stay with the Fast and Furious franchise, as he will not be troubling the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences any time soon, and David Twohy reminds us why he has directed little other than the Riddick films… And A Perfect Getaway. Poor Katee Sackhoff, she was pretty great in Battlestar Galactica.
The Place Beyond the Pines
The Place Beyond the Pines should have been an engaging emotional drama, and possibly would have been if the tough decisions had been made during editing. As it stands, the film collapses under the weight of its own grand designs after a gripping first hour. Gosling looks great but only manages to hit one note, and while Cooper fares better, this is too little too late. The film feels like a mash up between Drive and Blue Valentine and, since these are far superior films that give both story and character room to develop, Cianfrance’s latest offering ends up vapid and unoriginal.
The Hardy Bucks Movie
There is nothing redeeming about this film – except maybe that one Breaking Bad joke, but it’s not exactly original. Avoid.
Oldboy is a remake we did not need, nor deserve. The film is likely to encourage audiences to watch the original – which is definitely a good thing – but this is a cold and distant affair, enlivened slightly by Brolin and Olsen, who do their best but are not enough to compensate from a film that feels like it’s treading water, and inspired by a Fincher film, rather than a Chan-Wook one.