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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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Your Comments

41 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

42 RE: LOUD NOISES
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

43 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

44 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

45 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

46 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

47 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

48 RE: Vampire rasicm, Zombie favouritism
Also, to those complaining about release dates, I'm pretty sure they're going by the British schedule, to find more details, visit launchingfilms.co.uk More

Posted by odddaze on Monday December 2, 2013, 00:43

49 RE: Vampire rasicm, Zombie favouritism
Sad to see no love for Spring Breakers or Kings of Summer. Sad to see love for Man of Steel, Warm Bodies, Now You See Me and The Bling Ring. More

Posted by odddaze on Monday December 2, 2013, 00:42

50 RE: The 50 Best Films Of 2013
Silver Linings Playbook was released in 2012. More

Posted by Tiggerspal on Sunday December 1, 2013, 20:05

51 RE: The 50 Best Films Of 2013
They seem to have forgotten Silver Linings Playbook. Best film of the year! More

Posted by Beetlejuice! on Sunday December 1, 2013, 19:30

52 RE: Seriously????
L: Hector26 Iron Man 3 at no.7 after the laughably pointless 'twist'? t's Empire's list, they can put it wherever they want. More

Posted by Whistler on Sunday December 1, 2013, 18:54

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