The Real Top Ten of 2013

So, what are the ten best movies of 2013? Well, everybody else has had their say, so now it’s my turn. Now, obviously I haven’t seen every film released in Australia this year, but my top ten list is drawn from the 80+ movies I watched on a cinema screen this year. DVD viewings don’t count as movies are made to be watched and appreciated on the big screen. Obviously, if I didn’t watch the film on a cinema screen, it can’t be included, regardless of how much critical love it may have received elsewhere and regardless of whether I have subsequently seen it on DVD. Having, said that, I don’t think there would be too many great films, if any, that I somehow missed at the cinema.

Of course, the delayed release schedule in Australia for many films means that many of the potential contenders for such a list won’t be released here until after Christmas or into the new year and can’t be considered for inclusion on this list. Therefore, the likes of Philomena, The Railway Man, 12 Years a Slave, Her, Saving Mr Banks, The Great Beauty, The Wolf of Wall Street, Inside Llewyn Davis, The Book Thief, Drinking Buddies, Dallas Buyers Club, Labor Day, August: Osage County and Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom can only be considered for inclusion in my 2014 top ten list due the fact that they will not be in Australian cinemas before Boxing Day, with many not opening until the new year.

However, there are films yet to be released into cinemas that I have been lucky enough to see in festival screenings that have been considered for inclusion on this list. For example, I caught several films at the Brisbane International Film Festival that won’t be released until next year, but they are eligible for inclusion on this list. Likewise any films I saw in preview screenings, such as Tracks, which isn’t scheduled for release until March.

My criterion for inclusion is not an exact science, but basically the list is drawn from any movie that I saw on a cinema screen between January 1 and December 20. Yes, some of the films mentioned above will open on Boxing Day and therefore are technically on screens this year, but it is unlikely I will see many of them before 2014 (I hate how Christmas commitments interrupt my film viewing), so I will leave them for inclusion in next year’s list. If you have some kind of problem with my logic, then so be it. It makes sense to me and I can certainly guarantee that my list is completely devoid of any influence by studios, distributors, editors or the hype and expectation that precede many films, which is more than can be said for many similar attempts at ranking the best film of the year.

This is a list drawn purely from my experience as a viewer, a movie lover and a media educator. Yes, like anybody critiquing films, I am evaluating a whole range of elements in reaching my overall assessment of each film but, unlike many who undertake such activities, I certainly don’t have to worry about what the consequences may be for me if I dare to share an opinion that isn’t in keeping with the view of those with a vested interest in a particular film or the perpetuation of a particular view.

And now, the moment you have all be waiting for. My top ten films of 2013 are:

1. Short Term 12
2. Mud
3. The Spectacular Now
4. Frances Ha
5. Blue is the Warmest Colour
6. The Way Way Back
7. Gravity
8. Stories We Tell
9. Rust and Bone
10. Django Unchained

For most of the films on the list, the order is interchangeable as they are of equal merit and there are several other films that could have just as easily been included. In fact, the more I reflect back on the films I have seen this year, the more I realise just how easy it would be to make another list of films that could quite legitimately justify a place amongst the top ten, so please keep your vitriol in check if your favourite film is not on the list. The full list of films I saw in cinemas this year can be seen at Letterboxd

So, what was my worst movie experience of the year? Well, I have consciously avoided anything that I was pretty sure would most likely be crap, so I have no doubt there were films released this year worse than anything I have seen. Having said that, I still managed to see some very ordinary flicks, the worst five of which are:

The Counselor
The Lone Ranger
Kick-Ass 2
Now You See Me
Enders Game

Of the Australian films I saw this year The Rocket was clearly the standout, although both Tracks and Mystery Road were also very good.

Agree? Disagree? By all means, let me know. Just don’t act like a pompous tool in doing so. Everybody expects and takes something different from the cinema film viewing experience and whilst I am quite certain that my opinions are right, you are certainly entitled to your own and I am interested in your point-of-view. It has actually been a pretty good year for films and it seems we also have a lot to look forward to in Australian cinemas in the year ahead.

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