As the year draws to a close, the sun sets on another year at the cinema. It hasn’t exactly been a vintage year but it’s one that has kept filmgoers entertained all the same.
Sequels in mega franchises have formed the mainstay of the film industry and have featured among the highest-grossing movies worldwide. The last installments of Iron Man, Superman, Thor, Star Trek, Hunger Games, Fast and Furious and Monsters Inc have all ranked in the Top Ten money-spinners worldwide.
Yet in among the Hollywood blockbusters we’ve had a pleasantly surprising number of original and compelling stories driven by a host of stars keen to diversify their roles. Here, Y Magazine looks back on 2013 to pick out some of the must-see movies as well as the directors’ disasters.
The best thought required movie – Prisoners
At times deeply disturbing and uplifting, this drama takes you on a twisting emotional ride that grips you and never lets up, even as the closing scene is fading away. Hugh Jackman stars as a man who’s young daughter has been abducted with her friend; Jake Gyllenhaal is the cop assigned to the case and Paul Dano is the creepy oddball with the campervan who appears to be the obvious prime suspect. At least, in the eyes of bearded Jackman, who is convinced he has committed the crime. Enlisting the other missing girl’s father (Terrence Howard), he takes matters into his own hands. What follows is brutal. As the action unfolds on screen, the viewer is dragged from one emotion to the next. Just when you think it’s all settled and clear, another unexpected turn takes you elsewhere. Jackman is fantastic as the tortured father trying to cope with every parent’s nightmare and Gyllenhaal impresses too, his policeman twitching with facial tics and his own demons. The film raises all sorts of questions about crossing moral lines, parental duty and ultimately, our ability to dehumanise.
Prisoners makes for uncomfortable and exhausting viewing but it will stay with you long after the final credits.
The best no thought required movie – Star Trek: Into Darkness
JJ Abrams’ second part of the Star Trek reboot may only have received satisfactory reviews but if you were ever in the market for mindless escapism, which we often are, Into Darkness provided a visually stunning and action packed galactic adventure.
It’s no secret that the director has sought to place great emphasis on the development of the friendship and camaraderie between James T Kirk, the captain of the Enterprise, and his first officer, Spock.
While Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto do adequate justice to the sometimes-tense dynamic between their characters, it’s the imposing Benedict Cumberbatch who shines. Imposing, troubled and hell bent on unleashing intergalactic chaos, Cumberbatch’s Harrisson proves a formidable opponent for the crew of the SS Enterprise in their efforts to protect Starfleet from his destructively Machiavellian scheme. Sit down, park your brain in neutral and eat popcorn.
Y’s Runner Up
This year, it seemed to be the diverging of the big stars into smaller projects that produced some of the better movies of the year. Matt Damon took on the role of Liberace’s long term partner in the excellent ‘Behind the Candelabra’, a no-holds barred look at the life and relationship of the famous pianist, Liberace, convincingly played by Michael Douglas.
Meanwhile, another honourable mention goes to Baz Lurmann’s adaption of the classic novel. The Great Gatsby. Dazzling and lavish sets, slick costumes and a big screen star in the guise of Leonardo Dicaprio, produced a stunning spectacle. And lastly, Y Magazine gives its final applause to a film that has met with universal acclaim from both critics and audiences, for a simple idea, brilliantly executed: Gravity, starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney.
Look out for a slew of sequels including Captain America, 300, The Amazing Spider Man, Jack Reacher, X-Men, The Hobbit and Transformers. For a break from the blockbusters, the already acclaimed 12 Years A Slave, and the religious epic, Noah, in which Russell Crowe stars as the embattled Biblical character desperately trying to save humanity should be good bets.
Back on firmer ground George Clooney and Matt Damon will once again be teaming up but this time supported by Bill Murray, Kate Blanchett and John Goodman in The Monuments Men, a tale of an unusual group of soldiers trying to protect valuable art collections from Hitler’s Nazi forces.