As we did last year we reached out and asked our friends, fans and followers to share their favourite movies from the last twelve months with us. Their contributions are included below along with links to their respective twitter profiles and websites. If you need to give them abuse like.
When you’re done with these guys, don’t forget to check out our Best & Worst Irish films from 2013 and our Best documentaries of the year – (our best of lists are coming tomorrow). We’ve also got a special feature from David Turpin, one of our contributors on his year in film.
Thanks again to these lovely people for sending in their lists… Mick McGovern, David Turpin, Eithne Shortall, Conor Bent, Dave Corkery, Louise Bruton, Joe Griffin, Colm Russell, Dave Higgins, Michael Higgins, Barry Bracken, Producer Colin.
Mick McGovern’s Top 10
1. Stories We Tell
Sarah Polley directs this film about her deceased mother, narrated by her father and dealing with a family rumour of infidelity due to the fact that Polley herself doesn’t look anything like the rest of her family. Always absorbing, brilliantly structured and touching.
2. Computer Chess
An 80’s period piece filmed using an old video format (good year for this king of thing, see my number 8) centered around a competition of computer chess programmers squaring off against each other to see who has the best program. This film is amazing because it manages to completely boring and surreal and hilarious all at the same time.
3. Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa
No right to be as good or as funny as it is. The plot of a radio station held hostage with only Alan to save the day sounds absolutely horrendous, but thankfully everyone involved plays their part in one of the funniest-per-minute comedies in years.
4. The Kings of Summer
A teen annoyed with his family, particularly his dad, heads off with his friends in order to gain some independence and spend the summer in a treehouse they’ve built in the woods. Beautifully shot and crafted with some very very funny moments.
5. In A World…
A comedy written, starring and directed by Lake Bell, set in the male dominated world of Hollywood voiceovers is a massive bucketful of charm and great moments. Fred Melamed, a Woody Allen regular steals the show as the second best movie trailer voiceover artist ever.
6. A Hijacking (Kapringen)
With the same basic premise as Captain Phillips (Somali pirates), the makers of Borgen take a different tack and juxtapose the negotiations involved in trying to free the prisoners for the least amount of money possible and the increasingly exasperated crew stuck onboard.
7. Robot & Frank
A high concept light comedy that deals with an ageing cat-burglar, the brilliant Frank Langella, and a robot butler who while bought to look after him and keep himself safe and out of trouble opens up the possibility of resuming his career.
Gael Garcia Bernal as an ad man who plays a major part in the No campaign against the Chilean dictator Pinochet’s re-election. Again shot in old redundant video format and in 4:3 which means the fascinating real ads and archive footage can fit seamlessly with the rest of the film to great effect.
9. Le Week-end
Jim Broadbent and Lindasy Duncan play an old couple who attempt to recreate their honeymoon in Paris in order to rekindle their love for each other which has dwindled over the years. Funny, heartbreaking, crude and brilliantly funny in equal measure.
10. In The House (Dans La Maison)
Ozon had two films out this year but I much preferred this one with the always reliable Fabrice Luchini playing a bored teacher who becomes intrigued by a pupil’s “What we did at the weekend” essay where he writes about another pupils family life and encourages him to continue writing more and of course farce ensues. A fun meditation on the nature of storytelling and narrative and morals involved.
David Turpin’s Top 10
1. Upstream Colour
I loved Upstream Colour for the way it seemed to speak very profoundly of the difficulties of living as a human being, as well as the interconnection of all forms of biological life, without ever resolving itself into a closed allegory, or a solvable “puzzle”.
2. Les Invisibles
A documentary in which elderly homosexual men and women talk about their decision to live openly in France – often in rural locations – this is a modest, but very civilised and erudite, film about human dignity.
A classic American survivalist story in a Jack London vein, Gravity has drawn detractors for its on-the-nose symbolism and sentiment. They’re not wrong exactly, but the baseline “moral” of Gravity – that a single life, even an empty life, has intrinsic value – seems to me to be a cliché that’s worth repeating, especially in an “event movie” of this scale (think of Man of Steel for counterbalance). On a purely experiential level, there’s also nothing else like it.
4. Behind the Candelabra
It’s a real shame that, because this film premiered on HBO in the US, Michael Douglas is ineligible for Oscar consideration. His performance as Liberace is the best of his career, and might be the best performance by an American actor this year.
5. Blue is the Warmest Colour
Sometimes the obvious choices are the right choices, and I was as struck as everyone else by the performances in this film, and by the intimacy of the filmmaking technique. I thought, though, that the most affecting parts weren’t the epic sex scenes or show-stopping arguments, but the quieter moments, such as when we see the film’s heroine working with small children as a school teacher.
6. The Paperboy
Alligators, soul music, Matthew McConaughey hogtied on a plastic sheet and Nicole Kidman taking us all to school on the classiest way to flip the bird to a prison guard… The Paperboy entertained the hell out of me, and I’m not even sorry.
7. Hors Satan
Almost impossible to describe, this was mystifying and intractable, sometimes very beautiful and sometimes very ugly. Perhaps that’s the only way a film about faith could be in 2013.
8. Spring Breakers
A pulsing Bacchanalian apocalypse, Spring Breakers, like its anti-heroines (and, come to think of it, like many films on this list) is interested in novel experience above all else. Although some of the acting is surprisingly affecting, what I remember most are the neon colours and James Franco’s drawled phrase “Spring break, y’all”, endlessly repeated until it becomes a kind of horrible mantra. I found myself unconsciously murmuring it while shopping for groceries the next day.
9. The Strange Colour of Your Body’s Tears
As Giallo pastiches go, this isn’t as ingenious as Berberian Sound Studio, and it suffers from its similarity to the same directors’ previous Amer, but there’s still something alluring about the way it combines lurid psychedelia with the cool surfaces of Belgian Art Nouveau. Like Amer, it perhaps has more in common with gallery installation than actual narrative cinema, but – like Gravity and Blue is the Warmest Colour – it’s an arresting experience once you meet it on its own terms.
Impeccably played by Jack Black and Shirley MacLaine, and casually revolutionary in the way it mixes dramatization, interviews, and archive footage, Bernie was released in the US in 2011, but didn’t make it to our shores until 2013. Slight though it may be, I thought it was worth the wait.
Eithne Shortall’s Top 10
1. The Way Way Back
It was a toss-up between my top two films, but this feel-good coming on age flick just nudged ahead. It can thank awesome acting, script, sentiment and opening sequence for that.
2. Good Vibrations
The injustice of how Irish audiences reacted to native films this year (ie. with poor attendance) was never stronger than when it came to this inspiring account of Northern Ireland’s 1970s punk scene. It’s not too late to get the DVD.
3. Blue Jasmine
Mental illness on screen is never easy, and this movie went a step further by presenting a vulnerable woman (Cate Blanchett) for whom we weren’t necessarily expected to feel sorry for. Hugely emotive.
A lot of people had issues with this screen adaptation of Daniel Cray’s novel. It felt a little like a play and I loved that; long, uncompromising shots and beautifully intimate relationships, particularly between Skunk (Eloise Laurence) and her father (Tim Roth).
It was an Irish film that desperately needed to be made and it took the distance afforded to British producers to make it happen. Judi Dench, too, was wonderful.
6. Frances, Ha
Initially, I was highly insulted that this film – about a 27-year-old woman who still doesn’t have her shit together – was recommended to me by so many people. Months later, I have calmed down and can appreciate its worth.
7. Django Unchained
Made to be seen on the big screen, this is Quentin Tarantino on top form. Every detail is extenuated, from the sound of rattling chains to the ultimate cabaret showdown.
8. Apres Mai (Something in the Air)
Disaffected youth? Beautiful people? Romantic notions of France? And all spoken in the French language? Check. Check. Check. Check.
It was a bit syrupy at times, but while I was sitting in the cinema I was falling hook, line and sinker for this echoing drama. Good, too, to see Matthew McConaughey being given a legitimate reason to remove his shirt.
10. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
There are some problems with the pacing and it’s not as good as the first instalment, but I’m just so glad this series exists that I must give it a mention.
Conor Bent’s Top 10
1. Frances Ha.
This film completely makes up for the slightly unrealistic character Greta Gerwig played in her previous collaboration with Noah Baumbachin Greenberg. This time co-writing with Baumbach, she creates a character that brilliantly captures the feeling of being of being astray in your twenties. It even avoids the typical Hollywood cliche of having her life revolve around romantic relationships and instead focus on her friendships. The sublime awkwardness of her trip to Paris set to ‘everyones a winner’ even made me appreciate the pop perfection of Hot Chocolate.
2. The Great Beauty.
A rambling (in a good way) exploration of a socialites late life ennui in the Roman art scene. This labyrinthine and poignant film felt like I spending a week in Rome.
3. The Selfish Giant
The relation between this gritty intense film and the title it shares with the Oscar Wilde short story is not made clear, perhaps the titular character is the stark urban landscape that the two central characters attempt to find a place in.
4. Vanishing Waves
Another thoughtful adult sci-fi film, this Lithuanian thriller won the best film at the Jameson Dublin film festival. This erotic thriller about a neuron-transfer scientist experiments with the thoughts of a comatose young woman features startling sound design and imagery.
5. Upstream Colour
I caught this as part of the festival of curiosity in the meeting house square. A perfect choice for the festival as I was spellbound by this beautifully shot truly Independent sci-fi and it left me trying to decipher it’s meaning for days after.
6. Behind the Candelabra
Soderbergh and Douglas are definitely not afraid to portray Liberace in a unsentimental candlelight. The second biopic this year that rebels against the usual staidness of the genre (the first is at #7).
Spielberg somehow managed to make an entertaining movie about Lincoln without including vampires. Kudos to Tony Kushner’s screenplay as well. “Buzzard’s guts, man!”
8. Short term 12
A tender American indie drama set in a foster-care facility for at-risk teenagers. Alison Brie’s performance as the caretaker with her own difficult past brings home the importance of these formative years. The film radiates with empathy and life.
9. Iron Man III
Shane Black really made this film his own and managed to feature some action scenes with actual weight and not CGI gunk. The twist commented on the media’s need for boogie men while also being very funny.
A Jameson Dublin Film Festival highlight. The story of a girl and her unusual relationship with her father set in a petrol station in the Scottish highlands. The director said he wanted to focus a whole movie on the characters that we usually meet and leave behind by in most road movies. It’s as grim and beautiful as its location can be.
Dave Corkery’s Top 10
In space, no one can write any more taglines.
2. August: Osage County
In Osage County, everyone hates everyone else.
3. The Way Way Back
In the car with Steve Carell, he can really be a dick sometimes.
4. American Hustle
In the 70s, nobody had good hair.
5. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
In the future, nobody will have good fashion.
6. Blue Jasmine
In high society, Cate Blanchett talks to herself.
7. The World’s End
In..cognito robots… and a cornetto.
8. Monsters University
In college, nobody drinks or does drugs.
9. Iron Man 3
In Robert Downey Jr’s head, everything sounds sarcastic.
10. Pacific Rim
In the cinema, I was the only one enjoying this movie.
Louise Bruton’s Top 10
1. Short Term 12
Short Term 12 is an incredibly special film that has you investing in the mental well-being and happiness of every character (bar one)
2. Saving Mr. Banks
Although it was factually inaccurate about PL Travers’ acceptance of the final version of Mary Poppins, this wonderful film shows the grá that Walt Disney held for everyone’s favourite nanny.
3. One Direction: This Is Us
You don’t have to like 1D or their music to appreciate this documentary as it mostly highlights the insanity of teenage fans and the absurd difference one year made to five young lads thrown together on the satanic X Factor.
4. Frances Ha
If you want to face the harsh reality that you have no idea what you are doing with your life then Frances Ha will refreshingly slap that message repeatedly across your face like a wet fish.
5. Behind The Candelabra
It’s hard to decide who shone the brightest in Behind the Candelabra – Michael Douglas as Liberace, Matt Damon as his aging toy boy or the not-so-intentionally hilarious Rob Lowe as their plastic surgeon.
Matthew McConaughey’s second coming is an absolute delight and Mud – a tale of young friendship in the murky river beds of Arkansas – proves that he is on a roll with choosing perfect roles.
7. The Conjuring
I had to sleep with the light on for a week after seeing this.
8. The Way Way Back
The Way Way Back is a treat of a movie where the underdogs excel, the bad guys get what’s coming to them, Steve Carell looking unusually good looking and Allison Janney and Toni Colette shining in their usual effervescent way.
9. This Is The End
Most cameo-packed movies are a recipe for vanity-driven disaster but This Is The End will make your proverbial balls sweat with laughter.
10. About Time
This – a surprisingly excellent Richard Curtis film – had me bawling from start to finish, especially as it highlighted the closeness between parents and their children as they grow older, but I cried even more when the usher told me to stop texting during the movie. Dark times.
Joe Griffin’s Top 10
2. The Broken Circle Breakdown
3. Django Unchained
5. Blue Jasmine
7. Behind the Candelabra
8. Don Jon
10. The Place Beyond the Pines
Colm Russell’s Top 5 (too cool for ten)
1. Before Midnight
Heart-melting opening scene. Perfect closing scene. An (un)romantic drama that meddles in the messy, ambiguous, imperfect puzzle of love.
2. Frances Ha
Another sharply observed, character-driven gem following the equally wonderful Greenberg and Margot at the Wedding. Managed to look timeless yet feel utterly modern. Nice rainy day watch.
3. Blue Jasmine
More similar to latter day Mike Leigh (Happy Go Lucky, Another Year) than recent Woody (Owen Wilson’s Excellent Adventure). Not perfect but still thoroughly engaging.
Not necessarily cinematic in a visual sense but chilling, almost too-real source footage and key front-line contributions combine to devastating effect in a heart-rending documentary bound to make you feel deeply misanthropic.
5. Django Unchained
Easy to feel underwhelmed after Inglorious Basterds. Not so easy to think of another director whose least best film could possibly be as wildly entertaining as this.
Dave Higgins’ Top 10
1. Zero Dark Thirty
Carrie Matheison, take note: This is how you get shit done. What Kathryn Bigelow achieved with ZDT is nothing short of miraculous; crafting a putting-together-the-pieces puzzle that recalled some of the best 70s political paranoia thrillers before unleashing a 40 minute assault on Bin Laden’s compound and your senses. We all knew the end game but it didn’t make the nail marks in our seats any smaller.
2. Behind the Candelabra
There is a day that Rob Lowe’s wasp-stung, collagen injected face will earn Behind the Candelabra a place in the National Film Registry for “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant films.” That day cannot come soon enough.
3. West of Memphis
For those who’d followed the case and watched all of the Paradise Lost documentaries, there may not have been a lot new here but for those who hadn’t, there wasn’t a more compelling and enraging documentary this year.
4. Enough Said
It’s not his last film but it seemed a perfect send off for James Gandolfini. Showing the soft and charming side that tough guy roles might have denied us of, Enough Said was is a fitting memory of one of the greats of our time.
5. Upstream Color
I don’t, nor will I ever, understand Primer, yet still find it utterly compelling. Understandably, I was mentally ready for Upstream Colour. Emotionally, I didn’t have a hope. Pigs, parasites and field recordings aren’t usual touch points in romance yet under Shane Carruth’s careful direction, they make for the most bizarrely beautiful film of the year.
6. This Is the End
You know what, it was great to see this rag-tag bunch of bros be both funny, and relevant, again. Cast, cameos and, surprisingly, effects all added to the best comedy of the year.
7. Alan Partridge
It was alright to feel apprehensive. After all, film adaptations of much loved comedy shows have about as good a track record as video games. But at the same time, was there ever any doubt this would be great? There is no medium the Partridge can’t conquer.
The McConnaissance continued this year, with roles becoming bolder than before. None suited more than this romantic Southern drifter in Jeff Nichols’ love letter to his home state of Arkansas.
9. In The House
A delightfully insidious family drama from France’s premiere voyeur who makes you just as complicit as him for peeking through windows you’re not supposed to.
Not the best film but no doubt the finest cinematic experience of the year. In a cynical time of wanton city destruction and superhero excess, Alfonso Cuarón brought back magic to the silver screen.
Michael Higgins’ Top 10
(in no particular order, listed by first showing in Ireland)
Areas of Sympathy (Maximilian Le Cain)
Easily the most beautifully poetic film I’ve seen this year.
Leviathan (Lucien Castaing-Taylor, Verena Paravel)
A sensory tactile experience that puts any 3D film to shame.
Spring Breakers (Harmony Korine)
Having only just watched it last week it’s the perfect Christmas film.
There’s No Escape from the Terrors of the Mind (Rouzbeh Rashidi)
A terrifying attack with a spoon on one’s fovea.
Post Tenebras Lux (Carlos Reygadas)
An intense dream that seamlessly moves through fantasy and memory.
A Harbour Town (Dean Kavanagh)
A mysterious and haunting flow of images. Just see it if only for the hunting scene.
Paradise Hope (Ulrich Seidl)
Because the trilogy was the introduction to the work of Ulrich Seidl. If only HUNDSTAGE was released this year!
As I lay Dying (James Franco)
This nearly didn’t make it. Franco is cringe worthy but the rest of the film makes up for his behavior.
The Legend of Kasper Hauser (Davide Manuli)
Computer Chess (Andrew Bujalski)
Barry Bracken’s Top 10
Cathartic, exhilarating and unrivalled in its ability to imbue the wonder of cinema in anyone – particularly if you caught in in IMAX. Just cover your ears to block out THAT script.
Rigorously shot, thrilling set-pieces and a masterful central performance from Tom Hanks. Plus an emotional gut punch of the highest order in those final scenes.
The most gloriously fun monster v robot adventure you’re ever likely to see.
A genuinely adult, unsettling and taut psychological thriller. Felt and looked like a film from New Hollywood circa 1970s.
Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Haven’t read the books but two top notch back-to-back movies mean I’m fully on board with the big-screen side of the franchise. Didn’t notice the running time zip by and was disappointed when it ended. Can’t say fairer. More please.
Nice splashes of humour throughout as advertising, politics and social commentary collide in 1980s Chile. Lovely period details observed in film with a keenly constructed visual sense.
Proper good haunted-house horror by James Wan. Distancing himself ever further from the Saw franchise (although he still get Producer credit on them) and surprising us all by actually being quite good at this directing lark.
Zero Dark Thirty
Serious drama concerned with serious, weighty current affairs. The hunt for Osama demanded a sombre treatment and got one. Perhaps too long but always gripping and demands a second viewing.
The Way Way Back
Nicely judged performances contribute to a feel-good, evocative and pitch perfect coming of age drama.
Knotty Soderburgh thriller that twists and blind-sides in a thoroughly ‘pulpy’ and agreeable manner.
Most Disappointing (a tag-team this year): Elysium & World War Z
and last but not least the man who holds the mics in our faces every month for our podcast…
Producer Colin’s Top 10
1. Kings of the Summer
2. Django Unchained
3. Star Trek Into Darkness
5. World War Z
6. Blue Jasmine
7. A Place Beyond The Pines
8. In Fear
9. Evil Dead
10. Spring Breakers
So it seems like Gravity gets the most points, a film that was something people either loved or were left very nonplussed by. I’ll ruin the surprise now and reveal that it’s not on either of our individual lists. Sorry.
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