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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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.


  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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