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FEATURE:

BEST OF 2013


Film highlights of the past year


By Charliedavid Page, 16th December 2013
SWITCH logoFeature. 

BEST OF 2013

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FILM HIGHLIGHTS OF THE PAST YEAR

Charliedavid Page
By Charliedavid Page, 16th December 2013
2013 has been a years of highs and lows on the big screen - we've seen some rare gems amongst the rough filmic landscape. SWITCH's contributors take you through their top movies of the year.

DanielDaniel Lammin
5. 'STOKER'
Some films are like rich chocolate - totally indulgent and delectably wicked. ‘Stoker’ is one such film. Barmy, ridiculous and operatic, genuinely chilling and black to the core, this English-language debut from acclaimed director Chan-Wook Park left me giddy with joy. Exquisite filmmaking with staggering performances from the entire cast.

4. 'BLACKFISH'
If the role of the documentary is to shed light on a subject, then ‘Blackfish’ points a stadium floodlight on orcas in captivity and switches it on to full power. Much like ‘The Hunt’, this is such an upsetting experience that I found myself wondering whether I would make it to the end. A psychological horror story charting a captive orca’s swift descent into complete psychosis, ‘Blackfish’ might be the most haunting film of the year.

3. 'GRAVITY'
This is one of those films that defines what cinema is. Sure, the screenplay isn’t the strongest and the narrative is stripped to the bone, but none of that matters against the sheer force of nature that is this film. As a piece of filmmaking, it’s absolutely flawless, and Alfonso Cuarón’s work is the greatest feat of directing anyone has accomplished in a very long time. This year has been continually marred by idiots trying to find fault in every major film that comes along (including this one), but there’s no use denying it: ‘Gravity’ is a masterpiece, plain and simple.

2. 'THE HUNT'
This film left me so shaken and upset, I couldn’t bring myself to write the review or even really talk about it. I almost couldn’t sit through this, it was so remarkably upsetting. It might also be a masterpiece, and Mads Mikkelsen gives one of the finest performances you will ever see.

1. 'CLOUD ATLAS'
Incredibly divisive and generally reviled, I found it to be utterly sublime. The scope of its vision and ambition is staggering, and the depth of its heart is overwhelming. Not only my top film of the year, but one of the best films I’ve ever seen.

Honourable mentions include Nicholas Winging Refn’s bat-shit ‘Only God Forgives’, Zack Snyder’s immense blockbuster ‘Man of Steel’ and the gigantic third film in the Evangelion rebuild ‘You Can (Not) Redo’.

CharlieCharlie David Page
5. 'THE WAY WAY BACK'
Here's your feelgood indie flick of the year. In the vein of 'Little Miss Sunshine' and 'Juno', there's no denying the appeal of genuine comedy and emotion, leaving you with a solid affinity with our hero, Duncan (Liam James). Steve Carell and Toni Collette are fantastic as the definitive asshole and timid mother respectively - and who couldn't relate to a kid with parental problems bonding with the owner of a run-down water park?

4. 'MUD'
Can Matthew McConaughey do no wrong? He certainly goes a long way to prove this point in 'Mud'. Set in America's Deep South, there's a real charm to this somewhat mythical tale, as seen through the eyes of a young boy looking for an escape from his everyday life. This film certainly didn't get the release in Australia it deserved, so hunt it down on Blu-ray for a unique story about hitmen, deserted islands and star-crossed lovers.

3. 'GRAVITY'
Who could deny that Alfonso Cuarón's film, one of the year's most bankable movies, is not both visually impressive and unbelievably nerve-wracking? With a riveting performance from Sandra Bullock, and elaborate shots which transport the audience into space, it's hard to imagine this movie isn't in line for a slew of wins from the upcoming awards season.

2. 'PARANORMAN'
Out very early in the year, this stop-motion animation aimed at kids is almost too scary for its target audience, but ends up as an amazingly offbeat comedy about a misfit boy who happens to be able to communicate with the dead. This is superbly animated, with an amazing attention to detail, and a perfect vocal performance from skilled Aussie Kodi-Smit McPhee ('Let Me In') in the titular role. 'Paranorman' is easily the best animation of the year.

1. 'THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY'
Yes, this is kind of cheating... Since the film isn't yet released, it's unfair to taunt you with it as my number one movie. And yet, it's hard to think of a film that's left me so complete - it's shot beautifully in some of the most amazing locations around the world, Ben Stiller is relatable, contemplative and humorous, and the story leaves you wanting to change your life and travel the globe. Look forward to this one on Boxing Day.

JessJess Fenton
5. 'MEA MAXIMA CULPA: SILENCE IN THE HOUSE OF GOD'
Nothing is more important to a democracy that an well-informed electorate. In the case of this film, we may not be talking about Liberal versus Labor or Republicans against Democrats - we’re talking about something that can insight much more evil: the Catholic church. Possessing and eliciting more power than any politician, these men and woman aren't restrained by electoral terms and outspoken electorates. Something much more sinister and damaging is on display in this film that refuses to stay hidden any longer, and a simple viewing helps to ease the pain of the victims and lessen the power and hold of their oppressors and tormentors.

4. 'ABOUT TIME'
I’m a sucker for a rom-com, and an even bigger sucker for a Richard Curtis rom-com. Curtis has a gift filmmakers can only dream of - honesty. With the backdrop of cinematic clichés and conventions, the epicentre of his films is still the relationships. While advertised as a romantic comedy between a man and a woman, audiences (myself included) were surprised and delighted when the love and friendship between a father and son was the real stand-out of this film. A funny and heartbreaking story and a new-found crush on Domhnall Gleeson guaranteed ‘About Time’ a spot on my top five list for 2013.

3. '20 FEET FROM STARDOM'
Music lovers rejoice! The unsung (pun intended) voices of the industry take centre stage for the first time, and hopefully not the last. A killer soundtrack, killer voices and five of the most powerful women in the music industry make this film a force to be reckoned with. Backup singers have long been the voiceless heart and soul of any worthy record, and now their faces and stories are getting the attention they deserve in this blow-your-socks-off documentary that's not to be missed.

2. 'BLACKFISH'

The fact that I am a bleeding heart animal lover aside, this extraordinary and explosive documentary is on my list simply for the door it opened into the unknown. It’s a big world outside, and films like this make it that much bigger and that much smaller at the same time. I’m not a big fan of naming and shaming, believing that circumstances play a big role in a person's actions - ‘Blackfish’ and ‘Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God’ are the exceptions. You will never look at a caged animal or Seaworld in the same way again, and for the sake of all those captive and majestic creatures, I hope you don’t.

1. 'THE HUNT'
The are films that stay with you after the credits roll, and then there are films that stay with you long after the credits have rolled - ‘The Hunt’ is the latter. A bitterly painful film to watch, there has been nothing quite like it before or since, and likely never will be. Everything in this Danish masterpiece is palpable to the extreme and well worth the discomfort purely for its performance by Mads Mikkelsen that garnered a win at the Cannes Film Festival. Much like a film about war, the knowledge gained from this work is a necessary evil.

JessBrent Davidson
5. 'STAR TREK: INTO DARKNESS'
Was I looking for a fast-paced follow up to the reboot of the Star Trek universe? Did this movie deliver? Yes and yes. Cumberbatch as the villain! Special effects! What more could you want? Aside from J.J. Abrams' unnecessary and often-commented on lens flare, 'Star Trek: Into Darkness' delivered on all of its promises. Classic sci-fi action film.

4. 'THOR: THE DARK WORLD'
If anything, the Marvel universe is getting more diverse, more self-aware and more tongue-in-cheek. 'Thor' lived up to every expectation - the hardcore fans were happy, the casual but adamant fans (my category) were happy, and the general viewer was happy. A brilliant cast and a tight script never let 'Thor' down for even a second. Explosions, jokes and a stupidly muscly Hero – that’s almost enough for the whole family to enjoy!

3. 'GRAVITY'
This was my first SWITCH assignment and one of the most daunting films I’ve ever seen. So simple, yet so well-executed. It has been enough to turn me (and probably a lot of other people) off space travel forever. That said, the clever use of 3D made this an immersive experience that will be used as a benchmark for all films to come – both thrillers and those that use 3D technology.

2. 'NOW YOU SEE ME'

A movie that combines two of my favorite things - Dave Franco and magic? You’ve got me. A fun thriller where the game is more filmmaker versus audience than characters against each other. Yes, there was a heavy use of CGI, but let's be honest - who cares? The charismatic cast were more than enough to make up for that fact. A fun romp that could certainly be watched again!

1. 'THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE'
Not since the 'Harry Potter' films have I been so excited for a book turned movie – nor have I rounded up my friends and gone on the night it was released. All this changed with 'Catching Fire'. Maybe it was the adrenalin from the excitement and a little too much sugar, but I fell for all of the filmmaking devices that were thrown at me: gasps, laughs, sighs and cries – I went through it all. Can’t wait for the next instalment!

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