2013 is steadily coming to a close – so hurrah to a year full of surprising cinematic delights and underwhelming vanillas. For the first time in so many years, I skipped the Lavazza Italian Film Festival for its personally uninspirational line-up. There are movies that I had high hopes for that failed to live up to the built-up expectations. That said, there are films that I came without any prior judgment that I ended up being wowed and affected. Some of the movies were released prior to 2012, but I only saw them this year because of film festivals or movies that were released towards the end of 2012.
The ranking may seem odd when you see the rating that I gave them after I saw the movies. There are movies that I rated as high (5/6 or even 6/6) that have not made it to my Top 5. These movies are chosen after considering all the movies that I watched and liked this year. So here are my personal top five movies of 2013.
#5 Life of Pi
Life of Pi is a visual banquet – the unfilmable story comes alive under Ang Lee’s direction. Some question the religious or anti-religious or the philosophy presented in the movie, while I appreciate it more for the visual aspect and the mastery of the director. If you want the real thought-provoking bits, the book is a better source!
Gravity is a movie that gets into your psyche and makes you wonder what you would do in the situation – lost, alone in space, without anything to ground yourself to. I personally think that there is a philosophical message inside the movie, which makes this thrilling movie into my top five movie.
Night Train to Lisbon is a faulty movie with non-native English speakers delivering awkwardly worded dialogues. Yet, somehow the story resonates deeply with me, as somebody who is a bit of a wandering spirit. Although the packaging may be considered a tad old-fashioned or shabby compared to other movies this year, if you care to look inside, you may agree with my assessment of the movie.
Le Prénom is a funny movie about a harmless joke that rapidly snowballs into a mess among close friends and family. I tend to shy away from comedies in recent years as I find them silly – however, from time to time, I am caught by surprise where I can laugh out loud for the absurdity of the situation without the presence of the cheap laughs that are often valued by Hollywood directors.
The Railway Man has the right ingredients for a powerful movie – a great story, great actors (Firth, Skarsgård, Kidman) and sumptuous cinematography. As mentioned in my review, the story is comparable to Philomena in which both movies deal with the issue of forgiveness on the face of a traumatic incident that scars the main character. Where Philomena seems to arrive at the answer so simply (which is perhaps the best way to handle it), The Railway Man shows the ugly alternative, and presents forgiveness as the better outcome.