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Empire's Review Of The year 2013 CLICK FOR MORE REVIEW OF THE YEAR 2013 FEATURES ›
The 50 Best Films Of 2013
Have you seen the best movies released this year?

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Director: Alexander Payne
Cast: Bruce Dern, Will Forte, June Squibb, Bob Odenkirk, Stacy Keach
Best for... road trips for the more mature traveller.

Alexander Payne's follow-up to The Descendants returns him to the middle America of About Schmidt and Election, but often this feels more like the Sullivan's Travels version of O Brother, Where Art Thou?. There are brilliant comedy moments, certainly, but there's also a Depression-era sensibility that's only emphasised by the black-and-white cinematography. As Will Forte drives his addled father Woody (Dern) across the vast state and they revisit the sparsely populated town where Woody grew up, there's an air of loss and emptiness that sets off the rare warmer moments of family bonding and sympathy. And in a Hollywood often obsessed with winning and riches, it's good to see such a triumph about a losing ticket.


Director: Sofia Coppola
Cast: Katie Chang, Israel Broussard, Emma Watson, Claire Julien, Taissa Farmiga, Georgia Rock, Leslie Mann
Best for... like, totally showing us, y'know, the kids of today at their worst. Or whatever.

In some ways, Sofia Coppola's film is the horror movie of the year, offering up a bleak, almost nihilistic view of the empty lives of over privileged teens in Los Angeles, youngsters who value all the wrong things and are willing to do anything to get them with very little thought to the consequences. In other ways, this is a natural progression for Coppola, who has always focused on people dissatisfied with their own lives and shifting about in an attempt to fill the empty spaces they find therein. But this one's her funniest yet – even if the best lines, like "I want to lead a country one day, for all I know" come straight from real life.


Director: Jonathan Levine
Cast: Nicholas Hoult, Teresa Palmer, John Malkovich, Rob Corddry, Analeigh Tipton, Dave Franco
Best for... proving that there's love life after death.

Perhaps surprisingly, the most romantic version of Romeo & Juliet this year wasn't the sumptuous, Italian-set medieval one, but the grimy, post-apocalyptic one about zombies. Jonathan Levine and his cast pulled off the nearly impossible trick of making us root for the undead in this tale of girl meets zombie, zombie falls for girl after eating her boyfriend's brain, zombie tries to convince girl that he's alright really. It helps that Nicholas Hoult is strangely adorable even when he's half-rotted, but props to the quietly effective Teresa Palmer for selling the other half of the romance.


Director: Rich Moore
Cast: John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, Alan Tudyk, Mindy Kaling, Joe Lo Truglio
Best for... letting the bad guy win.

Empire has argued in the past that it's entirely possible to make a great video-game movie, as long as you don't bother making the game first (see also: Crank, Scott Pilgrim) and here is further proof. Wreck-It Ralph takes the side of the underdog, positing that sometimes even the bad guy needs a win, and its hapless (anti)hero's attempts to overcome his own nature make him more interesting than almost any Disney Animation lead we've seen before. With glorious game-hopping adventures (if anything, the film needed more) and a welter of big-name cameos, this has enough heart that you don't have to be a gamer to love it. One caveat, however: the Sugar Rush segments may be leave you with a well-nigh unquenchable craving for sweets.


Director: Derek Cianfrance
Cast: Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendes, Dane DeHaan
Best for... combining Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper in a sexy chemical reaction that might easily have exploded the planet.

If audiences came for two of People magazine's Sexiest Men, they stayed for a layered parable of crime, families and the responsibilities of fatherhood. Presumably to protect our eyes, Baby Goose and B-Coops share only a few brief scenes in the film that lurches unexpectedly from crime thriller to something more, well, profound at its midway point. If that makes it sound like 2013's answer to Heat, the comparison isn't too far off the mark. Cooper and DeHaan, calculating politico and vengeful youngster respectively, show how bad decisions can reverberate through the years. We knew Blue Valentine's Derek Cianfrance could nail the intimate moments, but this ambitious tale with overtones of Greek tragedy proved that a bigger canvas held no fears for him either.

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1 RE: Some Missing Pictures
I know it's a UK magazine, I'm from the UK. However they placed films like The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and The Hobbit before UK release, therefore I was just making some suggestions that could have equally have been 'Late Entries' More

Posted by CalRhys on Sunday January 5, 2014, 16:40

2 RE: Some Missing Pictures
Your timing is out for 2 - neither Fruitvale nor 12 Years a Slave have been out - this is a UK site/magazine was disappointed at the absence of Act of Killing in a list that can find room for the likes of Warm Bodies, and other entries in my personal bottom 50 of the year. More

Posted by elab49 on Monday December 23, 2013, 11:40

3 RE:
I'll echo the surprise lack of love for The Way Way Back but also add that Flight is more of a surprise omission from the list. On a positive note it's nice to see Mud so high on the list. More

Posted by Dee Jay on Friday December 6, 2013, 21:51

4 RE: World War Z??
I would have liked to have seen the way way back on there as well as side effects but it is a good list. I find it weird that Django and Zero Dark Thirty are on there as they seem like last years christmas movies. Don't know if they where released in 2013 but it feels like ages ago. More

Posted by beardyphysics on Tuesday December 3, 2013, 17:42

5 RE: Stoker?
L: chris wootton Bollocks on't hold back tell us what you really think More

Posted by rich on Monday December 2, 2013, 22:49

6 RE: The 50 Best Films Of 2013
Some great films in that list - Mud, Zero Dark Thirty, Man of Steel, Gravity, Frances Ha, Only God Forgives, A Field in England and Upstream Color are superb choices. Although it is surprising to see The Act of Killing omitted. Was it released in the UK this year or last year? Oh and I wish Leviathan had gotten a place on the list. It's still my favourite of the year so far. More

Posted by garvielloken on Monday December 2, 2013, 19:06

7 RE: The 50 Best Films Of 2013
There's plenty on your list that I'd take exception to, but it's good to see you got the number 1 right. ike others on the thread though, I'm sad to see no place for the Way Way Back. That film took me completely by surprise at how emotionally engaging and well observed it was. I also thought it would be something right up your alley, at least to break the top 50 anyway. More

Posted by Qwerty Norris on Monday December 2, 2013, 18:48

8 RE: The 50 Best Films Of 2013
For those who don't want to click and click and click: here's the full list. 50. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty 50. Anchorman 2 50. The Hobbit 2 47. Now You See Me 46. Prisoners 45. The Conjuring 44. Kill Your Darlings 43. Much Ado About Nothing 42. Robot & Frank 41. World War Z 40. Nebraska 39. The Bling Ring 38. Warm Bodies 37. Wreck-it-Ralph 36. The Place Beyond The Pines 35. Saving Mr Banks 34. Star Trek Into Darkness 33. Les Misérables 32. The Impossible 31. About Time 30. Frances Ha 29. Philomena 28. Man of Steel 27. Trance 26. Hunger Games 2 25. A Field In England 24. Filth 23. Blue Is The Warmest Colour 22. All Is Lost 21. Upstream Colour 20. Cloud Atlas 19. Blackfish 18. Only God Forgives 17. Thor 2 16. Short Term 12 15. Blue Jasmine 14. Behind The Candelabra 13. Django Unchained 12. The World's End 11. Zero Dark Thirty 10. Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa 9. The Great Beauty 8. Before MidnighMore

Posted by dseys on Monday December 2, 2013, 18:38

9 RE: The Way Way Back
L: LetsKissToMakeItReal L: DeadlyDave Though I fully accept that there isn't room for everything and you certainly can not please everyone, personally I feel the omission of The Way Way Back is criminal. econded! It's just unforgivable. Thirded! I think there's enough of us,shall we start a cause ? Mr Rockwell is with us.. More

Posted by Magenta on Monday December 2, 2013, 17:46

10 RE: The Way Way Back
L: DeadlyDave Though I fully accept that there isn't room for everything and you certainly can not please everyone, personally I feel the omission of The Way Way Back is criminal. econded! It's just unforgivable. More

Posted by LetsKissToMakeItReal on Monday December 2, 2013, 17:36

11 RE: RE:
Also some love for Blackfish, saw it recently and glad I did. A gripping documentary, perhaps not as obviously upsetting as Grizzly Man (although that guy was plain weird) but more subtle and thought-provoking. Free Willy indeed! I forgot to mention Trance, unexpected gem of a film and easily for me Boyle's best since Sunshine. Strong cast, interesting premise and definitely one of those films where each will come to their own conclusions. Not quite the British 'Inception' but worth watching for sure. More

Posted by MDG_78 on Monday December 2, 2013, 17:26

12 RE: RE:
L: Magenta I agree this year has been stronger than 2012 and the list as it goes is on the whole is a good one. though very surprised not to see The Way Way Back? explanations Empire? So very peased to see ]so high and perplexed to see Now You See Me,which I also think was awful,I think the trick was I sat through it! t because of the unexplainable release date is Bernie and consequently it's slipped throught two years netting,which is a shame and like a lot of really good films I scream two words " Limited Release!!" o pleased that at least my local has some sense,next stop Nebraska. ll in my top 10 More

Posted by Whistler on Monday December 2, 2013, 17:13

13 RE: RE:
I agree this year has been stronger than 2012 and the list as it goes is on the whole is a good one. I am although very surprised not to see The Way Way Back? Any explanations Empire? So very peased to see Mud so high and perplexed to see Now You See Me,which I also think was awful,I think the trick was I sat through it! One that because of the unexplainable release date is Bernie and consequently it's slipped throught two years netting,which is a shame and like a lot of really good films I scream two words " Limited Release!!" So pleased that at least my local has some sense,next stop Nebraska. More

Posted by Magenta on Monday December 2, 2013, 17:03

14 RE:
I too think it's been a really good year for films, surprised Django didn't rank higher and was disappointed with Lincoln but agree with many choices. Gravity, Rush and Captain Phillips all really good mainstream drama's that don't treat their audience like dolts and although Iron Man 3 was entertaining both Star Trek and Man Of Steel were better (the latter featuring very highly on my own Top 10 list, can't understand the hate for it). Now You See Me though...easily the worst film I have seen this year. At first I thought it was average fare and inoffensive pop BUT as it dragged on and on and I started to dislike nearly everyone single person in it (exception of Melanie Laurent) and got a headache from the camera spinning around all the time and the annoying music and rubbish CGI-enhanced 'magic' tricks (see The Prestige and The Illusionist for examples of how it can be done) , I came to the conclusion that it was indeed a piece of garbage. Shame to the friend who recommended thMore

Posted by MDG_78 on Monday December 2, 2013, 16:20

L: chrispdaniel How dare you Empire, I am a generic movie goer who didn't see all of the films released this year, but does see more than your average Joe/Jane, and you failed to mention some of my favourite films and/or rated some films more highly than I would have done. You nincompoops! Do you professionals know nothing. Clearly I am right because I say I am, and therefore I shall use this comment section to voice my anger at your betrayal of all that is good and holy about subjective opinions. I am so disappointed, but not nearly as disappointed as I would have been had you not compiled such a list for me to agree or disagree with in the first place. Then I would have been mad! Yours sincerely I M Right p.s. I thought this was a good read, and actually think it has been a good year for films in general. Keep up the good work everyone. :D] More

Posted by waltham1979 on Monday December 2, 2013, 13:40

16 RE: Great list!
L: dseys Empire's Top 50 won't alter my own Top 50, s as valid as theirste] How do you figure that? More

Posted by Macavity on Monday December 2, 2013, 13:05

17 RE: Great list!
L: MikeTheActorMan Gravity definitely deserved Number 1, absolutely stunning and incredible film! Unlike anything else released this year! And Captain Phillips at number 2 is very well deserved too. I'm so glad About Time was on this as well... I went into that thinking it'd be a romantic comedy with a time-travel twist, but about half way through he gets the girl and it turns into an exploration about the bond between father and son and nearly made me cry! Disappointed Pacific Rim isn't on here?? I thought that, Man of Steel and Star Trek: Into Darkness were the three best blockbusters this year! Also, Oblivion! Where's the love for that? The story, the acting, the cinematography, the special effects in that were stunning, and I really think it's a great semi-original and gripping sci-fi film that really surprised me this year! gree with everything you said. I think Empire's Top 3 (Gravity-Captain Phillips-Rush) is near perfect but the rest is really weird. Man of SteeMore

Posted by dseys on Monday December 2, 2013, 12:11

18 Iron Man 3 & Stoker
Really glad to see theentan 3 achieving a high slot in the list. A genuinely funny, thrilling, surprising flick and one of best superhero films ever made. Equally happy to see Stoker hit high too. It feels like an instant cult-classic. I'm not so sure about Gravity. It's a good film (one that can only really be appreciated in the cinema) but is it really the best of the year? In comparison to last year's equally stunning Life of Pi it feels pretty bereft of weight. More

Posted by Macavity on Monday December 2, 2013, 11:59

19 RE: Gravity is the shit at the top (or bottom) of the pile
L: Jonny24 at a shit year for movies was worse than the last, which was worse than the year before that, etc. Only World War Z and Oblivion were any good, and that was surprising in itself. Of course neither got much credit around here. ou're not looking hard enough. 2013 has been one of the best years for film in recent memory. More

Posted by garvielloken on Monday December 2, 2013, 11:32

20 RE: WTF
L: That other movie guy For those who hate clicking, these are top 10 from Empire 1:Gravity 2: Captain Phillips 3: Rush 4: Mud 5: Lincoln 6: Stoker 7: Iron Man 3 8: Before Midnight 9: The Great Beauty 10: ALAN PARTRIDGE: ALPHA PAPA Omg worst top 10 movies I've ever seen my a movie website, How is Iron man 3 in there? even though Cloud Atlas came out end of last year that movie would wipe Iron Man 3 with toilet paper.. Where the heck is Oblivion in all of the top 10? ut of the 10, I've seen 7, out of the 7 I've seen I adored 5, the other 2... I was fine with Iron Man and cared very little for Lincoln. Pretty good list if you ask me. More

Posted by odddaze on Monday December 2, 2013, 00:46

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