So the first day of a new year arrives and the sensible thing to do, before delving off into a brand new year of shaky reboots and over-complicated mutant epics, would be to pick the best five movies from 2013. How can you choose between all of these terrific films? We have had robots beating up monsters, Brad Pitt taking on a zombie apocalypse by himself and Arnold Schwarzenegger came back. Well, I thought it might be amusing to take a quick look back at the predictions I drew up at the start of the year, to see how close I came to picking out the top five, before the year even began.
5 – LES MISERABLES
When I drew up the list for this one, Les Miserables was the biggest thing around. I took a gamble and decided that we would still be talking about this one by the end of the year. To be honest, that was a bit hopeful and no one really pays much attention to this musical epic these days. However, I still think it deserves a consideration for Film of the Year. The scale of it is truly magnificent and the idea of managing to successful condense such a sprawling epic of a film is pretty impressive. Les Miserables jumps between several characters, gets so dark and despairing that it threatens to distance the viewer completely and it hardly features the cheerful upbeat tunes that we tend to go to musicals to see. Yet somehow it worked.
It also racked up several OSCARs to its name, which while slightly cheating, as no other film on my prediction list was able to have that benefit, I still think it deserves more consideration. It is a tried and tested movie and while I doubt that it is for everyone, I can’t see many people classing it as a ‘bad’ movie; simply a movie not for them and one to miss. So yes, this film will definitely still have a chance of making it into my top five.
4 – THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG
I had a strong feeling about this one right from the start. Just take a look at the epic sage of the original Lord of the Rings trilogy and everything Peter Jackson did right with those films. They are visually jaw-dropping, fit several important characters into a short space of time and still became a great action powerhouse. Surely when a director hands you that, you know that every film, especially one set in the same universe, is going to be a sure-fire hit.
Then why was I less than convinced? Maybe it was ‘An Unexpected Journey’. A lot of that film didn’t sit right with me. It felt a little more childish than I was expecting and while I understand that the book was written for children, I still wasn’t quite prepared for the general tone. The trolls were frankly embarrassing to watch and the Goblinking was one of the worst villains of that year. So, tentatively, I placed the Desolation of Smaug lower down on the top 5 predictions, hoping for a success, but not entirely believing it deep down.
3 – IRON MAN 3
Who doesn’t love Iron Man? Robert Downey Jr. is a fantastic actor, who adds so much energy to the role, making this character his own. Iron Man was a terrific movie and Iron Man 2 was a fairly decent sequel, despite general criticisms. Avengers Assemble is one of my favorite movies of all time and I took away from those three successes that Downey Jr. has a way of making a movie. Even haters of Iron Man 2 must admit that the actor kept it from the disaster zone of failed movie. Surely Iron Man 3 would get on the top 5 list.
Don’t get me wrong, I loved the movie when I got around to seeing it. It was funny, explosive and the best Iron Man to date. It took a different route, moving away from Iron Man and heading more towards Tony Stark. I appreciated that and I have watched it three times already. I shall probably watch it again very soon. However, certain beats fall flat. I was actually all for that twist that shook comic book fans to the core, but I felt that Guy Pierce wasn’t a good enough back-up villain to keep the action going. Other twists felt half-assed and overall, I was slightly disappointed. Not a bad film, by any means, but not the blockbuster hit that I thought it would be. (On the other hand, it was the only film of 2013 to make a billion dollar profit, which might just change my mind).
2 – STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS
I had very high hopes for this particular movie. J.J Abrams was one of the most successful director of the time (perhaps still is), and the first Star Trek was fantastic. I have never been a massive Star Trek fan, as I found the show rather boring. I didn’t get the craze that kept sweeping the nerd community about it and I just figured it wasn’t for me. However, as a fan of all types of movies, I had to investigate the reboot way back in 2009, and I was blown away. It was terrific, an action Sci-Fi epic I could get behind and definitely not the dull show I remembered it to be.
So J.J Abrams made Star Trek cool again and when the difficulties of a sequel came up, my conviction wavered. Star Trek was a great film, but the story had pretty much written itself. The characters came together in common reboot fashion and all Abrams had to do was add the flair and action to make it a memorable reunion. A sequel was the first time Abrams was handling an original story with this cast. However, I just couldn’t picture it being terrible, as Abrams has a knack of doing almost everything right (at least in my books). My faith was true and I had him down as a close runner-up to…
1 – MAN OF STEEL
I had to put this film as my top choice of the year. It had to be good right. Every news article I read about it cemented my belief that little bit more. The casting choices were spot-on, the director understood comic books and this new tone made me wonder if it was truly possible to make Superman a relatable character. I have never liked the hero, but in the hands of Zack Snyder, I began to believe that there was a chance. However, when I finally got around to seeing it, I was let down. It was nowhere near the movie I wanted it to be and definitely not the top film of 2013 as I had predicted.
Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t hate it. Out of every review on my site, Man of Steel has been the one I have doubted to this very day. I gave it four stars, because for about two weeks after viewing it, I really did like it. Yes, I recognized it had been hollow, but it was visually stunning and some of the fight scenes were incredible to watch. However, as time passed, the empty storyline really made me understand how much of a missed chance this movie really was. Lois Lane was shoe-horned in rather than properly explored and developed. Supporting characters weren’t likeable in the slightest, other than the fact that they were ‘Perry White’. There wasn’t a single joke, not quite catching that slight line of humor that had made the Dark Knight trilogy so amazing. Story-wise, Man of Steel was… well, crap. You know what, I think I still stand by four stars, but those four stars were earned through the stunning set-pieces and epic visuals. It is a pretty film, but lacks the very substance that we were promised.
So what were the top five films of the year. Well… you will have to wait until later today to find out. I know, I am such a tease.