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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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20 CLOUD ATLAS

Director: Lana Wachowski, Andy Wachowski, Tom Tykwer
Cast: Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Sturgess, Jim Broadbent, Hugh Grant, Hugo Weaving, Ben Whishaw, Doona Bae
Best for... adapting an impossible book in an impossible fashion.

Sure, not all of the make-up quite works, but let that go. Cloud Atlas is an obviously impossible book to adapt, so the Wachowskis and Tykwer would deserve kudos for even the attempt. But in fact they succeed in finding a way to address the book's sprawling ideas onscreen, abandoning the Russian doll structure for an interlocking series of stories linked by the same cast playing characters across eras and races. It's an intricate and at times dizzying approach, but it's hard to imagine another half as effective.

19 BLACKFISH

Director: Gabriela Cowperthwaite
Cast: Tilikum the killer whale
Best for... making you reconsider your theme-park plans.

One of the few films to make the news as well as movie pages of our papers, Blackfish was this year's The Cove. It was also a horror movie if you happened to work in SeaWorld's PR department, because Gabriela Cowperthwaite's angry, enthralling documentary alerted the wider world to the conditions in which captive orcas are kept. An angry rejoinder by SeaWorld, convincing no-one at all that the hard-hitting film wasn't on to something, only drew further attention to the issues raised. The film's account of the death of killer whale trainer Dawn Brancheau, mauled and drowned by a 12,000lb bull orca in 2010, prompted serious questions of psychological trauma and safety but, like The Cove, this was an issues film that raced like a thriller.

18 ONLY GOD FORGIVES

Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
Cast: Ryan Gosling, Kristin Scott Thomas, Vithaya Pansringarm
Best for... a neon-soaked, gorgeously-shot vision of hell.

This is the only film this year to appear on Empire's best and worst lists, a division of opinion that we suspect will please its director far more than universal adoration might. In a colour-saturated Bangkok, a shady American called Julian (Gosling), is reluctantly dispatched by his appalling mother (Scott Thomas) to avenge his brother, who was himself murdered in revenge for killing a young girl. But Julian faces the Terminator-like Chang (Pansringarm), and the crime thriller that follows serves as a Grifters-like family drama, a critique of Western imperialism and an ode to the joys of karaoke.

17 THOR: THE DARK WORLD

Director: Alan Taylor
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins, Christopher Eccleston, Stellan Skarsgård, Kat Denning
Best for... bringing the hammer down.

The rumours were worrying. There were tales of rewrites, reshoots and every other manner of rethink. Turns out that, not only did we have nothing to fear, but the naysayers were punched into the middle of next week. The second Thor was funnier, more assured and pacier than its predecessor, giving us plenty more bromance between Thor and Loki and lots of capering about for the non-superpowered humans. Sure, the 'science' makes not a lick of sense and you can't get from Charing Cross to Greenwich in three Tube stops, but we were laughing too hard to care.

16 SHORT TERM 12

Director: Destin Daniel Cretton
Cast: Brie Larson, Frantz Turner, John Gallagher Jr., Kaitlyn Dever, Keith Stanfield
Best for... reminding us that American indie cinema can still tell small, perfectly-formed stories.

On paper, it's almost impossible to make Short Term 12 sound appealing to the casual viewer: after all, it's the story of a foster home full of damaged kids and the almost equally-damaged young adults who supervise them. But on screen, there is so much heart and humour that it feels a million miles from the sort of misery fest you might expect. Brie Larson was one of the breakouts of the year after her compassionate, complex turn as the home's leader Grace, who's a rock for her charges but who's crumbling inwardly herself. More of this, please.

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Have Your Say
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Your Comments

21 No Pacific Rim?
Considering some of the entries how is Pacific Rim not in this list at least in terms of sheer entertainment. More

Posted by spirals on Saturday December 7, 2013, 19:04

22 Just Wait
When 12 Years a Slave drops in England, you'll all see the second best movie of the year (Gravity rightfully takes #1) blow away these rankings. More

Posted by runkelcorey on Saturday December 7, 2013, 02:32

23 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

24
I can't believe 'The Way Way Back' isn't on this list. I think that is my film of the year. More

Posted by lankeymarlon on Friday December 6, 2013, 10:48

25 THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES
How on Earth this is only listed as high as 36 I'll never know. Top ten at least surely? It's much better than Lincoln for a start! More

Posted by d0m_l on Thursday December 5, 2013, 23:36

26 Only God Forgives
Many thanks for including Only God Forgives. Nicolas Winding Refn's misunderstood and criminally underrated visual tour-de-force. It's easily my favourite film of the year. A surreal, mesmerising cinematic masterpiece. More

Posted by Ennio Morricone on Thursday December 5, 2013, 21:47

27 RIDICULOUS
I'm sorry but any list that has Only God Forgives in it that doesn't have 'FUCKING WORST EVER' in it's title cannot be taken seriously. Truly the worst ever experience I have ever had in a multiplex and I would strongly recommend NEVER watching this pile of tripe...boring, nonsensical shite! How this can place above any film in ANY list is fuckin beyond me...WANK! More

Posted by Fozola on Thursday December 5, 2013, 13:04

28 The Impossible @caberma
spanish people goes under hispanic, not caucasian More

Posted by JosteinAsk on Thursday December 5, 2013, 09:43

29 No Elysium ??
Seriously !? That movie was tits ! More

Posted by JosteinAsk on Thursday December 5, 2013, 09:41

30 The Impossible
What do you mean "recasting its true-life family with Caucasian actors"?! The movie is based on the story of a Spanish family, and Spanish are Caucasian, usually with darker hair, eyes or complexion, but Caucasian anyway. More

Posted by caberma on Tuesday December 3, 2013, 19:35

31 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

32 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

33 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

34 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

35 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

36 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

37 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

38 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

39 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

40 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

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