10 movies I really enjoyed in 2013

So, a new year is upon us. 2014. Did you all have a good one? Dis­ap­point­ingly, some guy called Dave still hasn’t gone into space, evolved into a giant space baby, and achieved the next level in human exist­ence by hump­ing a planet or some­thing, as pos­ited in 2001: A Space Odys­sey. And we’re 13 years over­due for BBC12 as well.

But what did I watch in 2013? Well, I watched a fair num­ber of films, though prob­ably not as many as I would’ve liked. When cre­at­ing a top 10, there a couple of films that if I had watched them, would no doubt have ended up as a favour­ite. But I can only pick the films I’ve seen, right? Right. So that’s what I’ve done. And in no par­tic­u­lar order, as I hate put­ting things in order.

(These are films that got a UK release date in 2013, although there’s a couple of cheats, that were released very close to the end of 2012, but I doubt any­one in the UK saw them until 2013 anyway.)

1. Django Unchained

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Dir­ec­ted by: Quentin Tarant­ino.
Tarant­ino may never reach the heights of Reser­voir Dogs or Pulp Fic­tion again, but even as he slips fur­ther and fur­ther into pas­tiche, raid­ing old movies for ideas more blatantly than ever, there’s at least a guar­an­tee of dazzling viol­ence, lar­ger than life char­ac­ters, and dia­logue that crackles. Samuel L. Jack­son gets the role of a life­time as an out­rageously despic­able “Uncle Tom” that has to be seen to be believed.

2. Safety Not Guaranteed

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Dir­ec­ted by: Colin Tre­vor­row.
Inspired by a real clas­si­fied advert that read as fol­lows: “WANTED: Someone to go back in time with me. This is not a joke. You’ll get paid after we get back. Must bring your own weapons. I have only done this once before. Safety not guar­an­teed.” If you thought we didn’t need another time travel movie, think again. Aubrey Plaza and two other journ­al­ists head off to invest­ig­ate the advert. Is it real or fake? A light, fun, indie drama that helps Plaza extend her range bey­ond the misery guts she plays in Parks and Recre­ation.

3. Spring Breakers

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Dir­ec­ted by: Har­mony Kor­ine.
Spring Break, bitches. The pre-release hype for Spring Break­ers will have put a lot of people off. It’s just a bunch of girls frol­ick­ing around in barely there bikinis, right? Right. But also wrong. Whilst there’s no get­ting away from the fact that Har­mony Kor­ine leers over the acres of flesh on dis­play, there’s darker, more ser­i­ous, under­cur­rents. Espe­cially when the four girls hook up with a crazy gang­ster. If the girls were hav­ing fun at the begin­ning, by the end, two of them aren’t. What’s dis­turb­ing, is that two of them are.

4. The Bling Ring

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Dir­ec­ted by: Sofia Cop­pola.
Based on the true story of a bunch of col­lege kids who checked Google Maps to find celebrity’s homes, and then their blogs and twit­ter feeds to see when they were out, before pop­ping over to ran­sack their extens­ive ward­robe col­lec­tions. Amaz­ingly, most of them left a door open. Or in Paris Hilton’s case, a key under the doormat. Cop­pola dir­ects with a cool, detached style. If you’re of a nihil­ist bent, watch in a double bill with Spring Break­ers above, and go to bed with your world view confirmed.

5. Grav­ity

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Dir­ec­ted by: Alf­onso Cuarón.
Seven long years since Alf­onso Cuarón’s excel­lent Chil­dren of Men. I doubt few of us expec­ted him to do a dis­aster movie in space as his next pro­ject. The trail­ers show­ing Sandra Bul­lock’s astro­naut adrift in Earth’s orbit were suit­ably tense. Could that ten­sion be sus­tained for a 90 minute film? Amaz­ingly, yes. Gasp, as dis­aster piles upon dis­aster. Lack of oxy­gen and fin­ger­tips just out of reach has never been so exciting.

6. Pacific Rim

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Dir­ec­ted by: Guillermo del Toro.
Yes, it’s that robots punch­ing mon­sters movie, that got nerds the world over who love noth­ing more than watch­ing robots punch­ing mon­sters, super excited. In the hands of any­one else — Michael Bay, for example — it could have been a dis­aster. Luck­ily, Guillermo del Doro dir­ects, and plun­ders his anime col­lec­tion to glor­i­ous effect. The story’s simple, but it has to be. There are mon­sters that need punching.

7. Robot & Frank

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Dir­ec­ted by: Jake Schreier.
Some­times it’s the smal­ler movies that take you by sur­prise. Robot & Frank stars Frank Lan­gella as a former safe cracker (called Frank) who lives alone, but is strug­gling to cope, thanks to old age and lapses in his memory. To avoid put­ting his dad in a care home, his son buys him a robot com­pan­ion. What fol­lows is a truth­ful, some­times sad, some­times funny, explor­a­tion of what it means to get old, as Frank and the robot embark on a series of mini heists. A cool little movie that shouldn’t be missed.

8. Miami Connection

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Dir­ec­ted by: Woo-sang Park, Y.K Kim.
I could have watched every single film released in 2013, and this would still be in my top 10, even though it’s a bad movie, a really bad movie. But it’s also a really good movie. In among all the cheesy rock songs, ninjas, and awk­ward dia­logue, there’s a lot of heart. You can tell these guys had a fuck­ing good time mak­ing it.

9. Maniac

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Dir­ec­ted by: Franck Khalfoun.
Now, this is a strange one, as I didn’t really “enjoy” Maniac, so to speak. But I wanted to include a hor­ror film in the list. It’s a grotty, repuls­ive movie, in which Eli­jah Wood plays a guy three sand­wiches short of a pic­nic. But it’s smarter than your aver­age slasher, espe­cially when Nora Arnezeder arrives on the scene as poten­tial girl­friend mater­ial. It’s also a beau­ti­fully shot movie, with a killer (no pun inten­ded) soundtrack. Ulti­mately, a hor­ror film should hor­rify you, and here is where Maniac suc­ceeds, thanks in large part to Wood’s creepy performance.

10. Elysium

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Dir­ec­ted by: Neill Blomkamp.
Neill Blomkamp had a lot rid­ing on Elysium after the amaz­ing Dis­trict 9. It feels like more of the same: space­craft kick­ing up dust in per­fect CGI, down­trod­den slums, and near future weaponry. Except this one’s about free health­care, rather than immig­rants. Whilst Matt Damon is great, he’s over­shad­owed by Sharlto Copely tear­ing up the screen as one of the film’s vil­lains, the bearded, incred­ibly scary (and funny) Kruger. Not as good as Dis­trict 9, but still an action classic.

30 Comments

  1. V says:

    I hated The Bling Ring, prob­ably for the same reas­ons that oth­ers loved it. Apart from that though I liked everything else that I’ve seen. Have yet to see Safety Not Guar­an­teed but will def­in­itely give it a watch as it’s Num­ber 2 on the list, and also I believe it’s from the dir­ector who is in charge of Jur­as­sic World. Inter­est­ing list Mon­keynut, nice post!

    • V says:

      Oh, and Miami Con­nec­tion looks hil­ari­ous too!

    • Monkeyboy says:

      Well, the 10 favour­ites aren’t in any par­tic­u­lar order. I find it’s hard enough pick­ing ten, let alone rank­ing them! :-) But Safety Not Guar­an­teed is well worth watch­ing. Didn’t real­ise he was doing Jur­as­sic World. That’s a big jump from a little indie film to one of the world’s biggest movie fran­chises. Should be interesting!

      • V says:

        Indeed. When I first heard who’d be dir­ect­ing the new Jur­as­sic World I thought, “WHO!?” and I was wor­ried that yet another Jur­as­sic Flop would be made. I looked him up though and every­one has been pretty pos­it­ive about Safety Not Guar­an­teed, so I’ll def­in­itely check it out and reserve judg­ment until then.

        • Monkeyboy says:

          To be hon­est, who­ever dir­ects it, I’m there. I’ve loved dino­saurs since I was a little kid, and it’s been too long since the last Jur­as­sic Park movie.

          • V says:

            Same here. Would be nice to cap­ture some of that ori­ginal Jur­as­sic Park magic though ;). I still watch it when I’m sick to make me feel bet­ter, haha!

  2. Mark Walker says:

    I like your style Mon­key, man! I don’t make Top Ten lists of the year, simply because we don’t get the same release dates and we’re a major dis­ad­vant­age. A top ten list would never be accur­ate. That being said, it’s great to see Robot & Frank get a men­tion. I loved that little film.

    • Monkeyboy says:

      I know what you mean about release dates. Django Unchained is a good example. We got that nearly a whole month after our US cous­ins, well into Janu­ary 2013. Glad you liked Robot & Frank. Just read your review over on your site and couldn’t agree more.

  3. I didn’t see Django until 2013 either … loved it! Very deserving to be on the top list. Safety Not Guar­an­teed is great too, I did not expect that ending.

  4. Nostra says:

    Great choices, two movies I have not seen, but I enjoyed most of these!

  5. ruth says:

    Out of the ones I’ve seen, I like three from your list: Grav­ity, Pac Rim and Robot & Frank. Was quite dis­ap­poin­ted w/ Elysium to be hon­est, as I REALLY like D-9 so nat­ur­ally my expect­a­tions were high. Some­how that film left me cold des­pite the bril­liant visuals.

    • Monkeyboy says:

      Yeah, Elysium is def­in­itely not as good as Dis­trict 9, and I can under­stand why quite a few people were dis­ap­poin­ted by it. If the action is done right and done really well, I find I can prob­ably for­give such films for any flaws, as I’m a bit of an action movie junkie. So I got a lot of enjoy­ment out of Elysium. :-)

  6. Dan says:

    Great selec­tion of movies…nice to see Robot and Frank make the list (not seen it in many other 2013 top 10s).

  7. MojosWork says:

    Safety Not Guar­an­teed was my favor­ite of the year. That was just an all-around nice surprise.

  8. XRaylexx says:

    I found Pacific Rim to be a bit of a dis­ap­point­ment . The script and act­ing were not the best.

  9. Nice col­lec­tion of films — I must catch the Bling Ring soon! Loved Grav­ity. Did you see Cap­tain Phil­lips and Blue Jas­mine? Those two would def­in­itely have to fea­ture in my top ten.

  10. The Vern says:

    Great list of movies. The only one I did not like on this list was “Safety Not Gauren­teed”. I just really did not care for either char­ac­ter. Glad to see “Bling RIng”, “Pacific RIm” and Spring Break­ers” on this list

    • Monkeyboy says:

      Ah, shame you didn’t like Safety Not Guar­an­teed. Like I said, I like Aubrey Plaza from her time on Parks & Rec, and just in gen­eral, so maybe that got me past any unlikable traits in her char­ac­ter. And I do think she plays a nicer char­ac­ter in this. Well, cer­tainly less moody.

  11. Dan says:

    Some great high­lights from 2013 here. Grav­ity and Django were ter­rific pieces of enter­tain­ment and I can’t argue that Spring Break­ers was pro­voc­at­ive. I did think Pacific Rim was one of the worst things I saw last year, partly because I felt I should have had a game con­trol in my hand through most of it (is it a video game or a piece of cinema?). Oth­er­wise, great choices!

    • Monkeyboy says:

      Yeah, don’t get me wrong, I can under­stand why you might not like it because of the points you men­tioned. Ordin­ar­ily, I think I’d feel the same. But for some reason, it just hit the sweet spot for me. Some­times these things are hard to explain. After all, it’s just robots punch­ing mon­sters. Is that all that’s needed? No, prob­ably not. But I loved it all the same. :D

  12. Spring break bitches! Ali­en­nnnnnnnnnnnnn lol. Good list, although I hated Elysium. :)

    • Monkeyboy says:

      Yeah, quite a few seemed to hate Elysium. I really enjoyed it. If you pre­tend it doesn’t have a mes­sage, and watch it for pure action enter­tain­ment, it’s really not that bad.

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