08:00 Friday 27 December 2013

A look at cinema during 2013

Written byROB SMYTH

YET another year has gone by and cinema has seen it all.

The return of Superman, the advent of space as a great cinema medium and even Doctor Who found its way onto the big screen during 2013.

While there has been ups and down and pleasure and pain, here at the Mail we decided that we wanted to celebrate all that has been good about the silver screen during the past 12 months.

So, reporters Rob Smyth and Nigel Powlson have searched back through their minds to find their top three films of the year.

NIGEL POWLSON

THERE were plenty of films this year that seemed to offer promise but which failed to hit the heights – from Baz Luhrmann’s stab at The Great Gatsby to the disappointing latest from the arthouse giant Pedro Almodovar (I’m So Excited).

But there was enough quality out there, even if it felt like you had to work hard to find it.

Ken Loach reminded us why he should make more documentaries with his hymn to the great social awareness that existed in the post-war era. The Spirit of 45 demonstrated just how lacking in vision our modern crop of political leaders are.

Paul Greengrass again delivered a thriller that was both thought-provoking and gripping with Captain Phillips and Tom Hanks delivered one of the best performances of his career in the title role. Think how bad this film might have been if I had been a vehicle for Tom Cruise.

Of the Oscar contenders released at the beginning of the year, Les Miserables largely delivered, whereas Lincoln was hard work. The most interesting though had to be Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty, a compelling account of the hunt for Osama Bin Laden that didn’t shy away from exposing American torture tactics.

Of the special effects blockbusters, one stood out head and shoulders above the rest – Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity pitched Sandra Bullock and George Clooney into a life and death struggles in space. It was a rare example of using 3D and digital effects to truly enhance the story.

After Drive last year, Ryan Gosling appeared in two of the year’s most intriguing films. The first, with Drive director Nicolas Winding Refn, was the stylish, ultra- violent Only God Forgives, which deserves credit for being one of the least mainstream offerings of the year.

But it was Gosling’s other 2013 release, The Place Beyond the Pines, that for me was the year’s best. A multi-layered exploration of the relationship between fathers and sons, it marks director Derek Cianfrance out as a major talent.

My top three are:

1) The Place Beyond the Pines

2) Gravity

3) Zero Dark Thirty

ROB SMYTH

WHETHER cinema has had a good year is an extremely subjective question.

People have differing expectations, which can leave them very pleased or disappointed.

But, for me personally, it has been a year of triumph and there have been some great films on offer to cinema audiences.

World War Z was my film of the year and I am so relieved to be able to say that.

Based on one of my favourite books, the film decided to throw much of the source material out of the window to create an epic zombie movie with a real global feel.

Brad Pitt excels in the lead role and some of the action sequences are stunning.

A change of pace toward the end should not work but it does and provides a neat finish for a five star film.

We all know the law of diminishing returns when it comes to sequels but when it comes to threequels there is often little or no hope.

This is why it is a delight to say just how good Iron Man 3 was.

Robert Downey Jr is again on top form and is helped with a whip smart script, great action and a great storyline.

He simply is Iron Man and owns the screen in a role that was made for him.

My third favourite film has to be Hunger Games: Catching Fire.

The sequel to the smash hit, this is based on the second of three books and the one often regarded as the best.

Jennifer Lawrence continues to shine as Katniss Everdeen and is ably supported by the likes of Woody Harrelson, Donald Sutherland and many others.

I already cannot wait for the two part finale.

I would like to make special mention for Star Trek Into Darkness, Man of Steel and Thor - the Dark World.

All three were great films but just failed to make it into my top three.

My top three are:

1) World War Z

2) Iron Man 3

3) Hunger Games: Catching Fire

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