Best of 2013 – films

Here’s my unedited selection of films from my ‘Best of 2013‘ post on the Forbidden Planet International blog. Of course, this is just what I enjoyed, and your mileage might vary…

Cheap Thrills
Directed by E.L. Katz, and written by Trent Haaga & David Chirchirillo

This dark film with streaks of black comedy is an astonishing debut from E.L. Katz, which basically consists of four people in a room for the majority of the piece. It’s a riveting drama about how the wealthy can manipulate the disadvantaged for their jaded entertainment. There are outstanding performances from the entire cast, and combined with effective direction and strong writing makes this one of the best low-budget movies I saw this year.

Upstream Color
Written and directed by Shane Carruth
This atmospheric and evocative science fiction gem is one of the stand-out achievements in cinema this year. Two people traumatised by a strange event are drawn together and eventually uncover the details of their abduction through their interconnection with each other and the environment. Carruth also stars in this film, as well as being one of the producers, and composing the music. This is a fragile, haunting story that favours lyrical exposition over direct explanation.

Directed by Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, and written by Jennifer Lee
It can’t be all grim and dark, so I’m giving a shout-out to the utterly charming Frozen, a story about the relationship between two sisters, which is the finest musical of the year. If you don’t like singing and dancing animated characters, give this one a wide berth, but if you like upbeat, funny, and touching films then you will be enchanted by this tale.

The Heat
Directed by Paul Feig, and written by Katie Dippold
Comedy relieves the soul when times are hard, and this fantastic buddy cop movie, dominated by personable performances by Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy, will bring a lift to your day. I laughed louder and longer during this movie than during anything else in 2013.

Directed by Park Chan-wook, and written by Wentworth Miller
A slow-burn story about the protagonist, India Stoker, coming to an understanding of her identity, and the weird family dynamics that emerge, upon the death of her father and the appearance of a never-seen-before Uncle Charlie. Fine performances by the cast and sublime direction by Park Chan-wook make this a memorable drama.

As a final note, I’ll mention that in my opinion The Lone Ranger (Directed by Gore Verbinski, written by Justin Haythe, Ted Elliott, and Terry Rossio) was the most entraining action film of the year, far better than most of the superhero flicks that dominated our screens over the summer. It looked utterly splendid, and featured terrific action scenes, including one of the best runaway train sequences ever created for the big screen. And I loved the horse.