The Top 12 Films of 2013

    2013 has represented a rather peculiar twelve months at the movies. Whilst it's been an unexpected banner year for English cinema, and mainstream Hollywood showed that populist entertainment doesn’t have to be brainless, there's been an array of unexpected clunkers (a full post is to come, but we're hinting at a certain Shakespeare adaptation) and the embrace of 3D by some of the medium's biggest nay-sayers.

   All of this, however, pails into insignificance in comparison with the fact that The Totality are to end the year by recognising some of the year's biggest cinematic achievements with this list of the Top 12 Films of 2013. If you're wondering why I have plumped for this number, it is for the simple reason that I am rather cowardly and struggled to whittle down my selections to a top ten. In keeping with this cowardly nature, the films below are listed in alphabetical order - I will, however, be announcing the overall best film (alongside best actor, actress and more) in a post which will appear online before the year is out.

   Let me know of any glaring omissions I have made and which one of these features you believe should win the first ever Totality Film of the Year in the comments below.

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues

   A suitably ludicrous follow-up to Adam McKay’s mythic original. An incomparable (and almost unexplainable) subplot featuring a lighthouse, blindness, infant sharks and child choirs alone makes this the year's funniest film.



   Disney are back on top form with perhaps their best film since Beauty and the Beast, the most heart-breaking song in recent memory ( Do You Want To Build A Snowman? ), and an endlessly inventive feature of rich character development and thrilling adventure. Destined to become a Disney benchmark and all-time classic.


The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

   The under-rated Francis Lawrence helms a rare sequel which (rather than tread water) expands and builds upon the original, upping the stakes emotionally and immersing the audience even further into a delightfully sketched, fantastical world. The standard by which all mainstream blockbusters must now be measured.

Little World

   As I wrote of this charming Spanish documentary  earlier this year : “They say that travel expands the mind and in this case it is true; although I did not leave my cinema seat for the entire duration of the movie, the journey Albert (Casals) took me on was one which helped me see the world much clearer.”

Like Father, Like Son

   Hirokazu Koreeda’s Palme d’Or nominated  Like Father, Like Son  highlights why the Japanese director is one of the most universally acclaimed of living film-makers. Emotive and profound in equal measures, the story of two sets of parents trying to come to terms with the realisation their six year old boys had been switched at birth,  Like Father, Like Son  builds slowly (and rather unexpectedly) to a climax which is likely to challenge even the most stoic of tear-ducts.


   From my review  earlier this year : “Despite what could have been a ludicrous set-up there's pathos-filled and powerful truths to be found in the heightened emotions of extreme situations of  Magpie.  It's a film about death which reaffirms my love of life. It's a movie about dealing with death, dealing with dying and, just as importantly, dealing with life and living.”

Miracle In Cell No 7

    A quintessentially Korean tearjerker simultaneously bristling with righteous indignation at institutional corruption whilst gleefully celebrating the immutability of a parent’s love. Hilarious and heart-stopping in equal measures. 

Pearblossom HWY

    A bittersweet, laconic and empathetic study of young outsiders searching for a place to belong and people to belong with, Mike Ott’s latest feature underscores why he is amongst the most perceptive and inventive film-makers in America today.


   Steve Coogan stars in and co-writes an adaptation of the true story of Philomena Lee’s quest to be reunited with the son who was taken away from her by Irish nuns. An astonishing script manages to debate the merits of faith, or lack thereof, and inspire empathy in places where only hatred should burn creating a remarkably sympathetic and humanist tale. That Judi Dench is able to raise more than a handful of belly laughs along the way is a testament to the multi-faceted nature of this film.


    Like  Rocky  filtered through  Bringing up Baby  – a charming and elative film full of wit, verve and joie de vivre.

The Selfish Giant

   Clio Barnard’s powerful and sincere study of exclusion makes for a perfect, albeit distressing, parable of our times.

The World’s End 

   Simon Pegg et al strike again. As  stated earlier this year “A recognisably British comedy with real wit (rather than America pleasing stereotypes), heart and something to say and the intelligence with which to say it. Yet, on top of this, there are pratfalls and in jokes and character arcs which begin and end with a hero unwilling to grow.”


  1. Catching Fire was amazing wasn't it? Really excited for Mockingjay already.

    I saw so many films this year I wouldn't be able to remember half of them!

    Danniella |

    Reply Delete
    1. It really was and I'm incredibly excited too!


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