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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: 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.


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.


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.


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.


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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