Monday, 30 December 2013

2013 – My Top Five

Without wanting to give you too much of a life story, unless something goes drastically wrong, I will be studying film at university come September. And I know it may be wishful thinking, but I like to think the success of my application was due, in part, to the site. I love writing reviews and I love it even more if some of you lot read them. So thank you to all of you who have read anything over these past 12 months, I really appreciate it.

A big thanks must also go out to my family and girlfriend who have remained supportive, as always, and have had to put up with countless unwanted cinema trips. Thanks, aswell, to Messrs Dan Wilshere & Ernie Jackevic, my most vocal and dedicated fans. It means a lot.

But that’s enough niceties for one year, now to the nitty-gritty of my top five favourite movies of 2013 . . .

5. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Last year’s return to Middle Earth was serviceable, but ultimately disappointingly baggy. This middle-third, however, is far more focused and, though it tails off towards the end, the two hours leading up to it are rip-roaringly entertaining and finally make Tolkien seem epic again. Who’d have thunk it?


4. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire - Benefitting from some excellent source material, this sequel to 2011's box-office behemoth, 'The Hunger Games', improves upon the first instalment in pretty much every way. It's superbly well-played and gives us one of the most well-realised and engaging film-worlds in recent memory. Understandably, it lacks some of the surprise of the original but, for sheer visceral thrills, Catching Fire was virtually unmatched this year . . .


3. Despicable Me 2 – Minions, minions and more minions are what make this animated sequel stand apart from its family-friendly peers. The little yellow tic-tacs are totally irresistible; delivering side-splitting laughs and internationally appealing cuteness, all while remaining a deceptively simple creation. The human characters also stand up well, as do Pharell Williams’ joyous pop songs written to accompany a number of excellent montages.


2. Gravity At number two, we have the movie that finally satisfied my childhood desire to go to space. Alfonso Cuaron (director), who’s long been lauded for his directorial flair and inventiveness, pulls out all the stops to create one of the most technically brilliant films I’ve ever seen. However, despite its reliance on special effects, Gravity remains emotionally engaging and paints a rousing picture of the power of human endeavour.


1. Les Misérables My most watched movie of the year also happens to be my favourite. First time round, I loved certain sections but felt that the film wasn’t consistent enough overall. The second time, it evened out and seemed to flow better. Then, on a third watch, it was truly extraordinary, rightfully cementing itself as a soaring emotional epic that delivers an extraordinary sense of scale and political and social importance. A glorious piece of cinema.


I’d also like to give honourable mentions to Star Trek Into Darkness, Zero Dark Thirty, Pacific Rim, Maniac, The World’s End and Lincoln; all great films, but not enough to make it on to my list.



It’s been an interesting year at the movies, really. As a superhero-nut, I’ve been disappointed by the comic book offerings. Similarly, I was left wanting more from ‘Monster’s University’, which fell quite a way short of Pixar’s stellar benchmark. Even the really rather good ‘Star Trek Into Darkness’ left me ultimately disappointed because it could have been incredible.

That being said, there were no surprises with my least favourite movies of the year, with both ‘A Good Day to Die Hard’ and ‘Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters’ living up to their terrible titles. But, remarkably, they were two of only three or so ‘bad’ movies.

So, on reflection, it seems like it was a year of disappointing blockbusters. Or maybe not . . .

‘Pacific Rim’ was a big surprise and all of my top five were absolutely huge at the box office. In fact, that’s one of the reasons I feel so uncomfortably mainstream with my choices. But what can I say, all five movies were both critical and commercial darlings. So, for that, I’d like to congratulate you all for having excellent taste.


Until next year,
Benedict Seal