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My Views of 2013 at the Movies



On the twelfth day of Christmas

The movies gave to me

Twelve Enders gaming

enders_game_ver15_xxlg Eleven desolations

Smaug Ten victor tributes

Catching Fire

Nine iron men

IM3 1Eight men of steel


Seven rushing racers

Rush poster

Six piney places

The Place Beyond the PinesMIS-TER BANKS

BanksFour astronauts

Gravity 5Three Abe-necdotes

LincolnTwo hijackings

Phillips PosterAnd Osama Bin Laden.

ZDTThat was my top twelve of 2013, but I’m just getting started, as my post for Twelfth Night is my review of 2013, from my limited viewing record. I thought it would be fun to rank and rate every theatrical release of 2013 that I saw, with divisions within them.

Top Twelve 

Zero Dark Thirty

A known story that nonetheless pulls you in, taught direction that turns a cold gaze on shadowy events, and a final hour that had my shoulders clenched throughout.

Captain Phillips

Gripping, frightening, believable and moving. The first film to move me to tears!


Political history comes to life through measured direction that allows stunning performances to dazzle and delight.


The experience of cinema has rarely been so terrifying, gut-clenching and astounding.

Saving Mr. Banks

Touching, moving, charming, funny and a wonderful companion piece to Mary Poppins.

The Place Beyond the Pines

The blue-collar equivalent of gangster epics like Heat and The Departed, fresh and surprising in its narrative structure.


Fabulous charisma meets steely calculation in visceral, terrifying races.

Man of Steel

One of the best representations of super powers I’ve seen, combining the fear, exhilaration and plausibility of extraordinary abilities and the choices of those who possess them.

Iron Man Three

A brilliant portrayal of PTSD as part of a new exploration of heroism.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

From children’s games to a growing rebellion, things get darker, deadlier and better.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

A further development of Middle Earth with possibly the greatest dragon ever committed to film.

Ender’s Game

Wonderfully realised science fiction that convincingly goes to strange dark places.

Honourable mentions

Star Trek Into Darkness

Abrams repackages The Wrath of Khan for a new audience, delighting them while seriously hacking off the original fans. Must have done something right.

Only God Forgives

A hypnotic, mesmerising vision of a mad, bad world.


Fast, smart and with more twists than a corkscrew, Danny Boyle puts the fractured mind on screen.

To The Wonder

Gorgeous, lyrical, sober and moving. Malick does it again.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Ben Stiller makes himself and the world around him beautiful and mysterious all at once.

Thor: The Dark World

One of the year’s funniest films, which balances its laughs with thrills and spills aplenty.

Pacific Rim

Guillermo Del Toro demonstrates again why he is a master of the fantastic.

Could have been better


Atmospheric, gruelling, thought-provoking. A disappointing final act detracts but does not completely negate two hours of superb intensity.

Django Unchained

Majestic, sprawling, grand, indulgent. When Tarantino reins it in he delivers genius. If only he would do that more often.

Les Misérables

The music was great! The film, wasn’t. So many great elements, but perhaps too much reverence for the source material.

Perfectly serviceable

Jack the Giant Slayer

A furiously fun fairy tale.

About Time

A touching if twee tale of time travel.


Sleek and bleak sci-fi.

Much Ado About Nothing

A decent comedy of misunderstandings. What else has the writer done?

Olympus Has Fallen

Hopelessly cheesy but in an enjoyable way.


The World’s End

A rather damp squib ending to an uproarious trilogy.

The Wolverine

When the best part of the film is the foreshadowing of the next one, you know something’s gone badly wrong.

Kick-Ass 2

A reminder that sometimes you really don’t need a sequel.

Side Effects

Lives fall apart! And no one gets excited. Mental health is a serious issue! And we’re going to cheapen it. Drug companies and medical ethics are really complicated! But more importantly, lesbians are really dangerous to patriarchy! Oh, go away.

The Hangover Part III

Not focused, not funny, not worth it.

Turkey of the Year

After Earth

So many interesting ideas; a complete lack of exploration. An unconvincing future world and no discernible tension.


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