THE BURFORD TOP 10S: THE BEST FILMS OF 2013

As always, to qualify the film’s opening theatrical release day has to be in 2013, it just seems easiest that way. The only films that I feel could have made this list, but I have not the chance to see yet are ‘The Great Beauty’, ‘Blue is the Warmest Colour’, ‘Short Term 12’ and ‘The Way, Way Back’. Though of course it is always the way that there may well be great films released this year elsewhere in the world that I am yet to know about.

1. Beyond the Hills (Cristian Mungiu)

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Romanian auteur Cristian Mungiu’s latest is an absolute masterpiece in story telling that incorporates so many themes and ideas of society and the human condition within its narrative that is epic in ambition but intimate in approach. At 152 minutes and told with a gentle pace and predominantly long, naturalistic takes, it does require effort. However I feel that anyone willing to put in the effort will be infinitely rewarded by the experience of watching this engaging, deeply moving and ultimately devastating masterpiece that will pose questions and ideas that will linger long in your subconscious.

To read my full review, click here

2. The Act of Killing (Josh Oppenheimer)

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Josh Oppenheimer’s ambitious and daring documentary is a unique, unnerving and unforgettable film that allows us to enter inside the mindset of evil and murder in a way that dramatisations never could. The film’s authenticity leads to a truly haunting and often unpleasant experience that is not for the faint hearted and a real eye opener for those like me that have lived a relatively safe life in a Western democracy.

To read my full review, click here

3. The Selfish Giant (Clio Barnard)

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Proving that less can often well and truly be more, Clio Barnard’s first full length feature is an unforgettable and deeply involving story of two teenage friends living in the poverty of Britain’s many council estates. The gritty, social realist approach will draw obvious comparisons to Ken Loach, and The Selfish Giant certainly contains all the raw hard hitting power of some of Loach’s best films. Though it is predominantly bleak, Barnard avoids any cliché pitfalls and there is still poetry and beauty to be found in what is a very moving story of friendship and hope.

To read my full review, click here

4. A Hijacking (Tobias Lindholm)

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Though Captain Phillips was an often gripping drama, it had its problems, and could not match up to the raw power and gripping intensity of Tobias Lindholm’s A Hijacking. Intercutting between the experience of the crew and the company’s CEO trying to balance dealing with the media, the crew’s families and negotiating with the pirates, A Hijacking is an at times suffocating white knuckle ride of a film. The raw intensity of the story, claustrophobic camera work and an absolute master class in acting from Søren Malling as the company’s CEO make for an unforgettable experience.

To read my full review, click here

5. Prisoners (Denis Villeneuve)

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Prisoners for me was a timely reminder that Hollywood can deliver incredible and intelligent drama when it tries. It is a gripping, brutal, often harrowing and unforgettable examination of the difference between good and evil and how it is so easy for the line that separates these two extremes to be crossed. The subject of child abduction is of course a very sensitive subject, and Prisoners never once exploits or trivialises that subject, but using it to examine themes and ideas that haunted me long after the credits rolled. With incredibly intense career best performances from Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal, it is a deeply atmospheric and unforgettable 153 minutes (though at the time it feels far less, trust me) that grips tightly from start to finish.

To read my full review, click here

6. Rush (Ron Howard)

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Yes, I am a huge motor racing fan and so Rush was always going to be in my top 10 of the year I hear you cynics saying! It is a fair point, and I never thought I would put a film directed by Ron Howard in a personal top 10 of the year either. However, I would argue that Rush is not just a film for petrol heads and proves that the glamour and drama of motor racing can be translated into thrilling drama by the film world. Yes, the conflicting characters of Niki Lauda and James Hunt are a little over exaggerated but the visuals well and truly live up to the film’s title. Definitely best seen on the big screen, the editing and camera work captures perfectly the thrill and danger of a time when the slightest mistake can prove fatal, and also does justice to what is a great true story.

To read my full review, click here

7. Wadjda (Haifaa Al-Monsour)

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In what was the first film to come from Saudi Arabia, Wadjda was a poignant reminder that films can both educate and entertain in equal measure. In what is a window into a previously closed culture and way of life, Wadjda takes a story that in isolation seems very basic, but due to the cultural specifics of the society it is set produces an involving and engaging story that also educates westerners like myself. There is never a preachy and patronising tone, and Al-Monsour skilfully avoids obvious clichés in keeping an optimistic tone to proceedings to produce a real unforgettable gem of a film.

To read my full review, click here

8. I Wish (Hirokazu Koreeda)

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Though it took a good two years for Hirokazu Koreeda’s beautiful film to be realised in the UK, I am so glad it eventually was. I Wish has a very simple story, but done with such an infectiously optimistic and heartfelt tone that it is impossible not be affected and feel uplifted after watching it. Enhanced by the exceptional performances from the two young leads, Koreeda skilfully avoids over sentimentalising and obvious clichés, and reminds us of some of the simplest things that we all believed in as children that gave us great hope and optimism.

To read my full review, click here

9. Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa (Declan Lowney)

Alan Partridge in the studio

When hearing that one of my all time favourite TV characters was to make a transfer to the big screen, I was worried. The transition from TV to film and all the different narrative rules that have to then be followed often lead to disaster, but yet Alpha Papa not only managed to miraculously avoid these pitfalls, but was also for me by far the funniest film of the year. Naturally, for those that are not fans of Partridge then this will in no way convert them, but for the vast quantity of us English that are then Alpha Papa truly delivered. No it is not perfect and the occasional gag misfires, but it is vintage Alan and a seamless transition from small screen to big. It was also nice that in a time where comedies have a tendency to be just too long and have ‘extended’ or ‘unseen’ cuts, Alpha Papa was a perfect 90 minutes both on big and small screen.

To read my full review, click here

10. What Maisie Knew (Scott McGehee and David Siegel)

What Maisie Knew

A modern day retelling of the classic 1897 novel of the same name, What Maisie Knew is by no means the most original story, but put together in such a raw and deeply involving way that makes it for me one of the year’s best. The story of a young girl’s (Maisie, played perfectly by Onata Aprile) parents divorcing and the ensuing politics and bitterness is told in a way that avoids all the usual clichés and over sentiment that so many dramas would usually go for. The performances are all note-perfect and the dialogue suitably naturalistic. Told completely from the point of view of Maisie, its raw and brutally honest approach makes What Maisie Knew an unforgettable film that at times will break your heart but eventually mend it again.

To read my full review, click here

Other films most definitely worth watching that I all gave 8 out of 10 (not in any particular order): Star Trek: Into Darkness, Gravity, Behind The Candelabra, Blue Jasmine, The Gatekeepers, Man Of Steel, Neighbouring Sounds, The Impossible, In The House, Zero Dark Thirty, 5 Broken Cameras, No, Lincoln, Les Misérables, Flight and The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.

About MoodyB

An extremely passionate and (semi) opened minded film reviewer, with a hint of snobbish.
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2 Responses to THE BURFORD TOP 10S: THE BEST FILMS OF 2013

  1. mistylayne says:

    So many movies I still need to watch! I’ve only seen #10 on your list.

    • MoodyB says:

      tut-tut! No matter how many I see, there are still others I feel I should see and probably great films I am yet to know about that I should see.

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