Another year, another (much belated) list of ten films that I appreciated above the others. This lot turned out to be quite geeky in the end, and once more I’m a little surprised at which ones floated to the surface.
1. Iron Man 3
The best Marvel movie yet, Shane Black’s version of Tony Stark gave us some depth amongst all the whizz-bang action scenes we’ve come to expect. A great screenplay with a controversial rug-pull that will be talked about in geek circles for a long time, Iron Man 3 even managed to best Joss Whedon’s The Avengers.
Hear that sound? It’s Mark cursing my foolishness for raving about another Hunger Games film. To be fair, I think that readers of the books will get a little more out of these movies, since we’ve already been privy to Katniss’ thoughts. As such, we may be projecting some things onto the film that aren’t there – or at least aren’t noticeable by those new to the story. Nevertheless, Catching Fire was pretty much everything I’d hope for in an adaptation of a great book.
No surprises here. Alfonso Cuarón’s space thriller is a masterpiece of cinematic storytelling and filmmaking techniques. This was the kind of film that really had you in awe in the cinema, thinking “How did they do that?” again and again.
4. Warm Bodies
So much more than a silly piss-take on Twilight, Warm Bodies is a witty and charming comedy romance cum zombie movie. It also happens to be, well, quite a warm emotional experience.
I don’t really get why so many fans of the ‘blood and ice cream’ trilogy were disappointed with Edgar Wright and co’s third outing. For me, this was the second-best of the movies, and technically the most accomplished.
Though the film becomes humdrum by the final act, watching Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper verbally sparring was the reason to catch this.
7. Blue Jasmine
Cate Blanchett may be the reason you watch this film, but Sally Hawkins, Peter Sarsgaard and Bobby Cannavale all put in brilliant performances also. Though this isn’t anything new from Woody Allen, it’s certainly an impressive film.
8. Ender’s Game
Keeping in mind that the film is often unintentionally hilarious, Ender’s Game is a great, old-school science fiction tale that packs a real punch come the dénouement. I can’t imagine that this film went down well enough to guarantee that sequels get made, but the focussed narrative and intense performances from Ford and Butterfield really sold this for me.
I’ll readily admit that the adventures of Riddick are an acquired taste, but I have enjoyed all three of the films thus far. This third outing walks a fine line between Pitch Black and The Chronicles of Riddick, and has some brilliant scenes. It’s also incredible how much they achieved on such a small budget.
10. The Great Gatsby
I have no particular affinity with the Great American Novel on which it was based, so perhaps that’s why I quite enjoyed Luhrmann’s typically outrageous, operatic take on ‘The Great Gatsby’. Di Caprio and Mulligan are a great pairing, and I genuinely enjoyed all its heavy-handed metaphors and clunky symbolism. For me, this was Luhrmann’s best work since Romeo + Juliet.