Being as the award ceremonies are all the beginning of the year and some of the films nominated aren't even released in this country yet, it's tricky to have seen them all and my own judgement by the time the gongs are given. Being as I often disagree anyway, this shouldn't have too much bearing on my list of favourite films.
Also, for the purposes of this list, I'm not including the excellent National Theatre Live series, in which I get to see superb productions of plays beamed to a cinema from the stage. Perhaps I'll do that in another post, but for now it's worth noting that The Audience, written by Peter Morgan, directed by Stephen Daldry, and starring Helen Mirren as The Queen in private meetings with each of England’s prime ministers from Churchill to Cameron was a privilege to watch. Furthermore, the National Theatre Live production of Othello was absolutely outstanding: the best production of this play I have ever seen, and I've seen a fair few.
It's very hard to choose just five out of the score of films released last year that I've seen, but I have whittled it down to this list, in alphabetical order as it's impossible to pick a favourite.
5 Favourite 2013 Films:
- August: Osage County – A Brilliantly brutal depiction of a dysfunctional family further unravelling with disease and deception, trapped against a backdrop of endless horizons. Superb acting (especially from Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts) and brilliant dialogue (screenplay by Tracy Letts) make this adaptation of the stage play (also Tracy Letts) a frontrunner for Oscars.
- Behind the Candelabra – Yes, it really is as good as everyone says it is. Michael Douglas and Matt Damon are excellent. The flamboyance and excess are neatly captured with gentle ridicule but evident empathy, and confirm Liberace’s own conviction that ‘too much of a good thing is wonderful’.
- Blue Jasmine – Ten minutes in when I realised it was based around A Streetcar Named Desire, I knew exactly what was going to happen. The fact that it did, didn't make it any less compelling. Cate Blanchett is as wonderful as ever and this is the least annoying that I've ever seen Sally Hawkins. Woody Allen’s films are always better when he isn’t in them.
- Gravity – The first 3D film I've seen in the cinema since Jaws 3-D in 1983. It was done so well I was totally transporting (ducking as the flying space debris seemed to whizz out from the screen at me) and the weight of all the action was entirely carried by the two fantastic actors, Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. Director Alfonso Cuarón’s Oscar nomination is thoroughly well-deserved.
- The Spirit of ’45 – A fabulous documentary, written and directed by Ken Loach, about the spirit of unity which buoyed Britain during the war years and how we are crying out for that same socialism to create a vision of a fairer, united society today – inspiring and necessary.