moving pictures 2013

This entry was posted by on Saturday, 28 December, 2013 at

(A reminder of the rules – these best of lists are based on the films, books and music that were new to me this year. They may or may not have been released or published in 2013.)

Here are the five movies which moved me most deeply, stayed with me long after they were finished, made me think and made me wonder:



A Separation

Searching for Sugar Man

The Perks of Being a Wallflower


And here are the next five which just missed the cut: Lincoln, Django Unchained, Silver Linings Playbook, To The Wonder, The Boy With The Bike

And here are five which were just good old-fashioned, uncomplicated, pop-corn-munching, cinematic fun: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Argo, Looper, Good Vibrations, The World’s End.

I also watched and enjoyed a lot of kids’ movies, of which the most delightful were The Croods, Wreck-it Ralph, Turbo and Despicable Me 2.

Biggest disappointment of the year for me was The Master, with honourable mentions for Moonrise Kingdom and Star-Trek: Into Darkness.

And by far the worst movie I watched this year was the absolute mess that is AI: Artificial Intelligence. I’d never got round to watching it, but always wondered what happens when you mix the eccentric genius of Stanley Kubrick with the populist story-telling of Steven Spielberg. Now I know. (I would also include Star Wars Episodes I-III in this category but I couldn’t even stay in the room for their horrible duration).

And finally, the TV series I have most enjoyed this year have been Mad Men, Borgen, Community, The Good Wife and New Girl. After five seasons I’m now ready to officially induct Mad Men into the premium “five star” category along with some very select company (West Wing, Friday Night Lights, Firefly).

Now it’s your turn. Which flickering images on the wall of your cave have most captivated you this year?

25 Responses to “moving pictures 2013”

  1. to my shame I watched 6 entire seasons of Dawson’s Creek on LoveFilm while breastfeeding Imogen… had to see it through to the end… wouldn’t recommend this particular trip down memory lane. New to me and much more enjoyable this year was the Killing, the Bridge, Downtown and Call the Midwife … the BBC period drama / Scandinavian Thriller combination is a good one! My favourite series of the moment is the Newsroom. I barely saw a movie … the Perks of being a Wallflower was definitely my favourite.

    Will 2014 be the year you finally watch the Wire so it can be rightfully inducted into your 5 * category??!

  2. jaybercrow

    Ah, Dawson’s Creek. I think I’ll just leave that memory in the mists of nostalgia where it belongs.

    And yes, I think this needs to be the year of The Wire. But is it really as good as Firefly?!

  3. your love of Firefly will always remain one of life’s mysteries…

  4. Chris

    JM my dear friend, I am not one to usually comment on things like this and I know in the past we haven’t quite seen eye to eye on this particular faux pas, but I feel I must comment now publicly on the abonimation that firefly was. There is no way to compare that excuse for a program with the likes of The Wire, they are in two completely different categories, in fact the only category for Firefly is, “they should have left the whole thing on the cutting room floor! “

  5. jaybercrow

    Chris, my dear brother-in-law. Firefly is a work of perfection and beauty which doesn’t need my defence. But in most other ways you are a man of remarkable good taste and good character so I’ll let it pass. Maybe I should hurry up and watch The Wire so we can (hopefully) talk about something we agree on.

  6. Thumbs down first for Julie & Julia and this year The Master? What have you against Ms Amy Adams?

    So glad Mad Men made the cut! I’d be intrigued to see how the writers would handle the era of Billy Graham’s New York crusades. For a series that so truthfully documents human experience, it largely shies from the overtly spiritual despite the religiosity if the wider culture. There’s a moment when Draper’s kids ask why the family doesn’t go to church each week. They’re told, “Because we don’t need to.”

    The Master wasn’t the movie I was hoping for, not by a long shot. But maybe its utter singularity of vision means it will age well?

  7. jaybercrow

    I love Amy Adams! And I liked Julie & Julia – I’m just not quite as enraptured as you seem to be. If anything, I think I’m not altogether that big a Meryl Streep fan – I know that’s a kind of heresy though.

    It’s very hard to judge The Master fairly as my expectations were so high. You may be right and it may deserve a second visit.

    Interesting thoughts on Mad Men. There is something relentlessly hopeless about its world-view, which I find refreshingly honest. But yes, the inclusion of at least one genuinely religious character would add a lot to the story. Not sure Peggy’s lapsed catholicism counts?

  8. Ricky_mcallister

    Hi JM,

    Interesting reading as always. I loved Amour too and it was nice to see you enjoyed it despite your Haneke reservations!

    My film of the year by some distance was Blue Jasmin. I predict in the years to come it will be considered up there with his best. I found it an unremarkable year, but worthy mentions include:


    Only God Forgives

    Alpha Papa

    The Desolation of Smaug

    I finally got to seeing Twelve Angry Men which immediately went into my top 10 of all time. In terms of the small screen the Breaking Bad bandwagon was definitely worth getting on and that show, for me, is right up there with The Sopranos and The West Wing. Friday Night Lights is also a thing of understated emotion and beauty.

  9. jaybercrow

    Great to hear your thoughts Ricky. Amour was a difficult watch at times but also beautiful and touching, and it has stayed with me and made me think.

    Only God Forgives sounds a bit brutal, no? Twelve Angry Men is just brilliant.

    I need someone to persuade me to give Breaking Bad a go – I don’t want to commit to five seasons of something that is well-acted and well-written and quite blackly funny, but ultimately kind of hopeless and without any kind of moral heart. Can you persuade me??!

  10. Ricky_mcallister

    There is a defiantly moral compass shouting (a mixed metaphor I know) throughout breaking bad. The creator of the show Vincent Gilligan has said he is not sure that there is a heaven but is certain that there is a hell. The idea that there is good and evil and that evil demands some kind of justice or balancing of the scales is a thread that emerges unscathed through what is a dark, funny, disturbing, shocking, moving, complicated and intelligent show. Unlike the sopranos, the protagonist is sympathetic but never empathetic. Any sympathy is gained only from the acting of Bryan Cranston who somehow manages to rescue some humanity from an otherwise diabolical character. It really is worth checking out. I had reservations but it satisfied more than possibly any other show i have seen.

  11. jaybercrow

    You make a very eloquent case for it. I might have trouble persuading Debs to watch it with me. She pulled the plug in the second or third episode when they were trying to dissolve the body in acid in the bath! I think The Wire will be our next big watch. Will keep Breaking Bad on the list though.

  12. glenners

    2013 actually saw a lot of films break into my favourites of all time.

    Before Midnight completed a perfect trilogy. For me, it’s easily in the top 5 trilogies of all time. Untouchable is now my favourite comedy (ok, I don’t watch a lot of this genre but still) and it handled physical disability with wonderful warmth and humanity. I have a soft spot for coming-of-age indies and the gem Perks of Being a Wallflower is probably my all-time favourite. Sorry Ferris.

    Other films I enjoyed: The Hunt was one of the most disturbing films I’ve seen in years but it takes such a unique angle that it was uncomfortable but compelling viewing. The themes and songs in Les Miserables still linger.

    Biggest disappointment of the year was Gravity. Not the film but the experience thanks to the unruly Philistines in the row behind me! It’s an N/A. Gutted.

    So, films that engaged me:

    Les Miserables
    The Perks of Being a Wallflower
    Before Midnight
    The Hunt

    Worthy mentions go to Django, Mud, Blue Jasmine, Amour, After Lucia.

    TV: Enjoying The West Wing, albeit long after the party has ended. I’m saving FNL series 5 to savour down the line! The Fall was good. Homeland series 1 was so good that I found series 3 very poor by comparison.

  13. jaybercrow

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who loved The Perks of Being a Wallflower. I feared I might get some abuse for putting it in my list ahead of heavyweights like Lincoln and Django.

    I guess I’ll have to put the Before Sunrise trilogy at the top of my watchlist for 2014. But now I’m intrigued to know which other trilogies make your top five of all time?! Star Wars? LOTR? Three Colours?

    I haven’t seen Les Mis (I have to overcome my natural terror of musicals) or Untouchable. Or Mud or Blue Jasmine. The Hunt sounds like hard going.

    I forgot about The Fall. I enjoyed it too. Not sure I can be bothered with Homeland. And FNL is just fabulous.

    Happy New Year Glen!

  14. Breaking Bad is the most gripping and, appropriately given the subject matter, addictive series I have ever seen. Don’t be put off by the opening episodes. The writing team were finding their way and intending to dispatch a key character. The portrayal of family rings wonderfully true. There are many characters whom I recognise from real life but have never seen on film or television before. It channels Crime and Punishment to the point of outright plagiarism, and also gives you a crash course in the modern phenomenon that is Tex-Mex America – a new frontier-world where people are rushing in search of big, affordable housing, but where the dynamics of the Wild West are very much still alive.

  15. jaybercrow

    Another eloquent defense of Breaking Bad! Maybe I’ll watch it on Wednesday evenings when Debs is out at class…

  16. I feel inspired to rectify my poor movie watching this year… I don’t know how I completely missed Before Midnight existed! Love the first 2, will have to start with it.

    Also, JM, you should give a warning for anyone following your foreign recommendations … I’m still recovering from the year a little French film was on your list and we mistakenly watched a rather brutal Estonain one of the same name!

  17. jaybercrow

    A yes. I gather “The Class” is a very different experience depending if you end up with the French, Estonian or American movies of that name. I can only speak for the French one, which is brilliant.

    I don’t think “Amour” or “A Separation” have any similar issues.

  18. … you would like the Estonian one (on a Wednesday night), but it was hard watching.

  19. glenners

    Here it is for what it’s worth:

    Toy Story
    Godfather (by consensus)
    Lord of the Rings
    Before Sunrise trilogy
    One space left – probably Three Colors.

  20. jaybercrow

    I forgot about Toy Story! That’s a good shout.

    I’m a bit “meh” about The Godfather I have to admit. Such an iconaclast I am (I don’t like The Beatles either).

  21. glenners

    I’m actually not a big fan of either, either! But I caved in on its reputation. For enjoyment, I would personally go for Nolan’s Batman or Indiana Jones whose legacy was almost ruined by that ludicrous 4th installment – which is why I still regard it as a trilogy!

    Toy Story is flawless.

  22. Ricky_mcallister

    Toy Story is perfect as a trilogy…. Part 3 had me a blubbering wreck near the end. I haven’t got round to seeing Before Midnight yet but lioved the first two. Another trilogy worth throwing into the mix is the Apu Trilogy. They are simply told but very poetic and very moving. And unlike the Godfather Trilogy, all 3 are worth watching.

    Oh and the Madagascar movies.

    You know, for the kids.

  23. So this is a deadly serious suggestion. I think you two – Glenn and Ricky – should start a film blog. I would LOVE to read regular film reviews from both of you, and it would provide a great place for people like me to throw in our pennysworth and have a good debate. Seriously. Do it.

  24. glenners

    We are going to do it. Details to follow…

  25. jaybercrow


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