Our critics have spent much of the year in the dark, spending hours and hours with animated cuties, dastardly villains, distressed lovers and real-life tragic heroes and heroines.
But which are the films they’ve loved the most? Here, Time Out’s Dave Calhoun, Tom Huddleston and Cath Clarke pick their five favourite films of 2013.
Italian filmmaker Paolo Sorrentino should have won big at Cannes in 2013 for this sprawling, gorgeous, surreal musical epic about a man (Toni Servillo, excellent as a dapper writer and bon viveur) entering the later stages of life in the Eternal City of Rome and questioning what it’s all about.
2. Our Children
This drama from Belgian writer-director Joachim Lafosse is simply devastating in its examination of a young mother (Emilie Dequenne) driven to terrible extremes by the psychological pressure of simply trying to get by.
The controversy was just background noise; actress Adèle Exarchopoulos is a revelation as a schoolgirl who falls in love with a slightly older woman (Lea Seydoux) and finds her whole world turned upside down. Director Abdellatif Kechiche turns the small moments of real life into something wondrous.
The first of two fascinating documentaries this year to blend fact and fiction in a way that shows the real world in a strange new light. For this film, Joshua Oppenheimer asked former killers in Indonesia to reconstruct their hideous crimes as noir-ish dramas.
And this was the second sly cocktail of drama and documentary: longterm prisoners in a Roman jail put on Shakespeare’s ‘Julius Caesar’ and along the way we lose sight of what’s real and not and see these troubled men from a new, illuminating angle.
Written, directed, animated, edited, narrated and distributed entirely by one man – 37-year-old Californian Don Hertzfeldt – this is cinema as sublime art, sifting through life’s bitter details in search of truth and transcendence.
2. I Wish
Pure happiness distilled onto celluloid thanks to the world’s most sympathetic writer-director, Hirokazu Kore-eda, and a pair of 12-year-old stand-up comedians with pitch-perfect timing.
Like being slammed face-first into someone else’s love life, this wrenching drama arguably suffers from a few minor male-gaze issues, but the depth of its empathy is impossible to ignore.
The state-of-the-digital-art ‘Gravity’ is big-budget genre cinema distilled to its absolute essentials: stars, spectacle, sensation, special effects and just a little smidgen of sentiment.
5. Cloud Atlas
Yes, it’s loopy, lurid and frequently laughable, but by God, the editing! The ambition! This was the giddiest, most unexpected thrill I had in a cinema seat this year, hands down.
An action movie with brains. You know already know the ending, but if that final kill-or-capture Osama Bin Laden scene were any more gripping the audience would’ve needed oxygen masks.
A film to swoon to. No one moved from their seats for minutes after the end credits at the cinema I saw it in. And I must have listened to the Kronos Quartet’s version of Vladimir Martynov’s ‘The Beatitudes’ on YouTube everyday since.
Sarah Polley switched her camera on after discovering a secret about her family. Not every family has a Jeremy Kyle-sized secret like hers, but everyone can relate to how people in families remember stories differently. My favourite doc this year.
4. Blue Jasmine
What more can be said about Cate Blanchett’s performance as a pearl-encrusted New York lady who lunches? She will win the Oscar. And she deserves it.
A tomboy wants to ride a bike but isn’t allowed because she’s a girl. Sounds like a story we’ve seen a million times before. But this film from Saudi Arabia won me (and everyone else who’s seen it) over with buckets of charm and warmth.
They film team have fought it out and here’s our top 10 films of 2013