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The year in film for 2013 has been another interesting one that has seen the trend of continuing and rebooting popular franchises dominating the mainstream, while the World Cinema market continues to impress from beyond the gaze of mass audiences with an array of titles that combine power, beauty, realism and confrontation of major issues, all wrapped in sumptuously shot and beautifully acted packages, with nary a CGI effect in sight.

What makes for a good film will vary from person to person and while I personally don’t suckle exclusively on the teat of Hollywood, I don’t scorn on those who do. But by casting my net wider than some I find myself blessed by being able to enjoy and experience sights, sounds and happenings that are far removed from my cold and cluttered bedroom here in Orpington, Kent, UK!

Thus, you’ll probably see number of titles here you may not be familiar with (all reviewed on this site) while many well known and popular films may be noticeably absent, because I either haven’t seen them, didn’t like them as much (or at all) or just don’t care to see them!

To that end the list below is the result of much deliberation as many films had such a personal effect on me this year, making it very difficult to cement places for just ten of them. I can’t tell you how many films have switched positions, been left off, replaced, brought back in, shifted about again and so on. Even my number one pick has changed at least three times!

I’ve also decided to keep anime films separate from this list which is why the excellent Wolf Children isn’t included here, to save repetition and to give other films a chance.

As always opinions will differ so please remember these are my own personal choices; taste is a personal thing, hence one man’s Led Zeppelin is another man’s One Direction!

So without further ado I present to you MIB’s Top Ten films of 2013!!

 

10. The Act Of Killing

the-act-of-killingA documentary that will kick you in the guts with its frightening honesty concerning the barbaric executions carried out by a group of Indonesian death squads during their Communist purge of the 1960’s. And to celebrate, these gangsters each make a film about their killings. Chillingly candid, often absurd but scarily real this is one film that needs to be seen although it will haunt you long after the credits roll.

Read the full review HERE

 

9. Beyond The Hills

beyond_hillsThis chilling tale is actually based on a true story as a Romanian girl who is believed to have been possessed by the devil by the nuns of a strict monastery because she won’t conform to their religious regime. Acted with conviction and shot with requisite austerity this is a draining but compelling drama from the man who gave us the eye opening 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days.

Read the full review HERE

 

8. Turn Me On Goddammit

turn_me_onA Norwegian coming-of-age sex comedy that achieves more in its 73 minutes than any Hollywood teen comedy ever has. Quirky, honest, funny and touching this is the tale of 15 year-old Alma trying to find her own identity in a small mountain town as her hormones run wild. This film has slipped under the radar but deserves wider appreciation.

Read the full review HERE

 

7. A Hijacking

hijackingThe story may be the same as Hollywood’s Captain Phillips (which I’ve not seen) but this Danish equivalent – based on a true story – is presumably everything the US film isn’t. Featuring familiar faces from Nordic TV shows, this is one incredibly tense, sweaty, palpable, nerve wracking viewing experience from start to finish, in which the focus is on raw human emotion rather than loud action and melodrama.

Read the full review HERE

 

6. The Hunt

the_huntInitially a very late 2012 release, this Danish drama stars Mads Mikkelsen as a small town nursery school teacher who is falsely accused of abusing a young pupil. A touchy subject that is played out in the cold locale of rural Denmark, the driving force of this film is Mikkelsen’s towering performance and a taut, intelligently written script. Another film that successfully plays with the viewer’s emotions.

Read the full review HERE

 

5. Blue Is the Warmest Colour

blue_warmestThe controversial big winner of this year’s Cannes Film festival may be an explicit tale of lesbian love but it is also a profound character study of a young girl coming to terms with her sexuality in a disapproving world. Three hours is admittedly a huge investment for any viewer but the outstanding and superlative central performance from Adèle Exarchopoulos is worth every second of that investment.

Read the full review HERE

 

4. See You Tomorrow, Everyone 

see_youThe latest offbeat comedy from Japanese director Yoshihiro Nakamura is an uplifting tale of a young man trapped within the housing estate he grew up in long after everyone else had left. An esoteric story of self discovery and overcoming one’s fears, this has charm by the bucket load and plenty of heart, held together by the unique talent of the Peter Pan-esque leading man Gaku Hamada.  

Read the full review HERE

 

3. I Wish

I-Wish

Two brothers separated by a divorce yearn to be reunited, believing their wish will come true at the exact point when two high speed trains pass each other. A fanciful premise that could only work in the hands of Hirokazu Koreeda, the master of the heart felt family drama that relies on warmth over sentiment. A simple yet magical and endearing film that makes the viewer with they were kids again!

Read the full review HERE

 

2. Blancanieves

blancanievesA silent re-telling of the Snow White fairy tale set in the world of Spanish bullfighting, this film was in fact developed at the same time as The Artist, so any accusations of it being a copycat are completely unfounded. Instead this gorgeous and delightfully unique interpretation of a classic fable is more than deserving of attention and praise in its own right. A visually stunning and engaging romp.

Read the full review HERE

 

No.1. THE LAND OF HOPE

land-of-hope

Sion Sono gets the top spot for his daring look at the fallout of the nuclear disaster of 2011, putting his own unique spin on the subject to create a film that both reflects on the disaster while looking forward to future. Perhaps not the strongest top choice but Sono is a film with whose works I find a deep personal resonance. Here he tackles the fears and concerns of the ordinary people while taking a dig at the official handling of the problem in his own inimitable style, raising the odd giggle as much as it does many points of discussion. Perhaps not as epic as some of his other works, there is something more mature and restrained about Sono’s approach to this film yet this is very much an authentic entry into his varied and celebrated canon.

Read the full review HERE

So there you go. That’s what I enjoyed the most in 2013. A special mention must go to some of the “bubbling under” titles that didn’t make the cut despite much consideration, including Our Children, You Will be My Son, The Great Passage, A Story Of Yonosuke, Robot & Frank and Fill The Void.  

As ever I’m sure you will feel differently about the films on this list or perhaps how they are ranked but if we all felt the same, life would be dull would it not?  

Thanks for reading!!

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2 thoughts on “MIB’s Top Ten Films of 2013

    1. Thanks!

      Actually nothing here is “avant garde” with the possible exception of the filmmaking segments in “Act Of Killing”. Everything here is pretty accessible – just not recognised in the mainstream! 😉

      Like

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