Year In Review: Top Twenty Films Of 2013

on Tuesday, February 04, 2014
Words: Team FG

We've taken our time to put together our list of our favourite films of 2013, which you can read below. All the films were released in UK cinemas (outside of festival appearances) during 2013, although understandably there are plenty of 2013 films we are yet to see. We've taken the step to simply list the films in alphabetical order - no favouritism here but you can view individual writer top five lists at the bottom of the overall list.

'Before Midnight'

Director Richard Linklater again combined with Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke for the third installment of the Before series, following 1995's 'Before Sunrise' and 2004's 'Before Sunset'. The rich relationship drama saw widespread acclaim and reward in an Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay.

'Behind The Candelabra'

Steven Soderbergh’s direction is slick as ever in this darkly comic and fondly poignant biopic of Liberace’s final years. With truly transformative performances from Michael Douglas and Matt Damon, spangle-tacular costume design, a punchy script and a hilarious turn from Rob Lowe, this is a biopic that offers lots of laughs – and a few tears.

'Blue Is The Warmest Colour'

Watch the trailer and read our full spoiler-free review here

A remarkable coming-of-age film that courted controversy even beyond its graphic sex scenes. Director Abdellatif Kechiche was criticised by the film's central duo, Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos, for a harsh working environment - yet the end result was a beautifully authentic (if indulgent) treatise on sexual awakening.

'Cloud Atlas'

The Wachowskis critically divisive adaptation of David Mitchell’s novel sees a multitude of stars playing several parts over seven storylines, in a hugely ambitious project to depict the contiguity of human experience. Its success or failure is dependent on whether you find its tendency towards melodrama affecting or affected, but it remains a paragon of formal parallelism.

'Computer Chess'

Writer-director Andrew Bujalski takes his audience back into the eighties, and a weekend gathering of computer programmers in this black-and-white mumblecore offering. Nostalgic, quirky and boldly bizarre, this was one of the most unique and enjoyable surprises to come out of 2013.

'Django Unchained'

Watch the trailer and read our full spoiler-free review here

Only Quentin Tarantino can a tackle sensitive historical topic by driving a bus through it. The spaghetti western stylings of 'Django Unchained' offer a condemnation of slavery, fascism and racism, via a remarkable amount of flair, humanity and humour.

'Don Jon'

Watch the trailer and read our full spoiler-free review here

Joseph Gordon-Levitt's writer-director feature debut saw him portray a porn-addicted alpha male, whose quest to seduce Scarlett Johansson is scuppered by his colourful browsing history. An unexpectedly romantic and touching film, with juvenile comedy at its heart.


Watch the trailer and read our full spoiler-free review here

Alfonso Cuaron's return after 2006's incredible 'Children Of Men' lived upto the hype, and looks likely to win big at the forthcoming Academy Awards. A gripping visual effects extravaganza that saw Sandra Bullock and George Clooney fighting for their life against all odds.

'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire'

A perhaps surprisingly adept sequel, 'Catching Fire' mixed its emotion and action stylishly, with another excellent Jennifer Lawrence performance at its heart. Reflecting on this film again brings to the surface the devastating loss of Philip Seymour Hoffman - his character is set to play an increasing role in the third film, yet knowing it will be one of his last offerings is a distracting cruel blow.

'Iron Man 3'

A significant improvement on the relative mediocrity of 'Iron Man 2', Shane Black’s superb wit, imaginative action scenes, fidelity to source material showed that this is how you make a comic book flick. Ben Kingsley's arresting role as The Mandarin also deserves plaudits.

'Kill Your Darlings'

Watch the trailer and read our full spoiler-free review here

An origin story of sorts for the Beat Generation, John Krokidas delivers an impressively assured debut feature worthy of the writers that it is associated with. Daniel Radcliffe is surprisingly engaging, while Dane DeHaan continues his run as a formidable screen presence.

'Like Father Like Son'

Watch the trailer and read our full spoiler-free review here

A beautiful tragedy, and a deserving winner of the Jury Prize at Cannes Film Festival. Hirokazu Kore-eda's beguiling drama examines a situation where two children are accidentally given to one another's parents, and the ensuing fallout when this error is discovered. The understated sadness throughout is crippling yet masterful.

'Like Someone In Love'

The measured build of Abbas Kiarostami’s second effort outside Iran is in keeping with a style perfected over decades, but the urban flush of Tokyo adds a contrast of colour to his otherwise ascetic story. Swelling with pathos but never asking for pity, Rin Takanashi’s abashed prostitute anchors a cohort of moving performances.

'Metro Manila'

Watch the trailer and read our full spoiler-free review here

Perhaps unexpectedly directed by British BAFTA and Oscar nominated filmmaker Sean Ellis, this intense foreign language drama explores the trials of an improverished family who face up to the harsh reality of inner-city living. The superb sense of foreboding developed through the film is paid off magnificently by its conclusion.


Watch the trailer and read our full review here

For a film whose cast is largely filled with senior citizens, 'Nebraska' is positively riotous. Alexander Payne's comedic road trip has garnered a string of Academy Award nominations, and unsurprisingly so. June Squibb is also afforded the opportunity during the film to offer up an expletive-filled monologue that is surely one of 2013's finest cinematic moments.

'Only God Forgives'

Another critically divisive movie, 'Only God Forgives' was the subject of both a walk-out and a standing ovation at Cannes. Some viewers saw Nicolas Refn's intense visuals and graphic violence as a mask for a sparse plot, while others saw it as an expressionist noir rendered with modern vitality. We're generally in the latter camp.

'The Place Beyond The Pines'

Derek Cianfrance’s 140 minute triptych might be a little daunting, but the story of two families and the true nature of inheritance is intuitive and brilliantly observed. A fantastic ensemble cast, including Ryan Gosling and Rose Byrne, evoke the melancholia of fate without being fatalistic.

'Robot & Frank'

Watch the trailer and read our full spoiler-free review here

Romance, comedy, and drama come together wonderfully in Jake Schreir moving meditation on humanity. Frank Langella is superb as a forgetful, elderly man who discovers that his annoying robot butler may actually be of use, after all. 'Robot & Frank' is superbly life affirming - from the witty script through to the vibrant soundtrack.

'Upstream Colour'

Shane Carruth’s follow-up to his time-travel hit, 'Primer', continues to see him triumph in multiple production roles. Implicit narrative at its best, and the straight-forward chronology makes a better vehicle for emotional content than his necessarily tangled previous work. An evocative masterpiece by an emerging auteur.

'Zero Dark Thirty'

We know the fate of the target of 'Zero Dark Thirty', yet Kathryn Bigelow's tense drama took us on a journey to the man that provoked important questions over the nature of intelligence work, and particularly the use of torture. The pulsating night-time raid toward the film's finale is as thrilling as it is sobering.


Ced Yuen: 1) 'Computer Chess' 2) 'Iron Man 3' 3) 'Django Unchained' 4) 'Robot & Frank' 5) 'Oblivion'

Lauren Johnson-Ginn: 1) 'Blue Is The Warmest Colour' 2) 'Django Unchained' 3) 'Behind The Candelabra' 4) 'Gravity' 5) 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire'

Maxamillian John: 1) 'Upstream Colour' 2) 'Cloud Atlas' 3) 'Like Someone In Love' 4) 'Only God Forgives' 5) 'Arbitrage'
(Read Maxamillian's annotated top ten film list here.)

Raman K: 1) 'Zero Dark Thirty' 2) 'Before Midnight' 3) 'Gravity' 4) 'Kill Your Darlings' 5) 'Don Jon'

Saam Das: 1) 'Robot & Frank' 2) 'Metro Manila' 3) 'Blue Is The Warmest Colour' 4) 'Like Father Like Son' 5) 'Nebraska'

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