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My 11 favourite films of 2013

31 Dec












It’s that time of year again, looking back with a nostalgic twinkle in the eye as you remember all the great (and occasionally rubbish) films you have watched over the past 12 months. Why 11? Why not? These Top 10 lists all need turning up to 11…

Anyway, down to business. Here are my Top 11 favourite films that were released in UK cinemas in 2013, this is THE definitive list of the best films of the year by the way, so enjoy:


A mighty and ambitious project that deserves to be mentioned in the same sentence as 2001: A Space Odyssey; the 3D looked great and the symbolism superb, best film of the year and perhaps the century too (big call, I know).

The Act of Killing

A harrowing and insightful documentary featuring former Indonesian death squad leaders re-enacting their killings and mass murders; the banality of evil gets a fresh upheaval in this remarkable, heavy and ultimately necessary film.

Before Midnight

The cute couple get a trilogy. This is the third film featuring the delightful relationship of Jesse and Celine as they walk&talk around scenic European locations; funny, casually profound and with a great script to boot, who says sequels supposedly decline in quality?

Zero Dark Thirty

Bigelow’s brilliance shows again as she returns to the troubled Middle East, this time higher up the chain of command and no bomb disposal teams around. Chastain delivers a knockout performance as she tries to track down Osama bin Laden by any means necessary.

Captain Phillips

Veteran Hanks and newcomer Barkhad Abdi duel on the high-seas in Greengrass’s taut thriller. His trademark camerawork is perfectly suited for this film; all about Somali pirates but also dealing with so much more; a real masterclass in suspense.

The Impossible

An emotional sucker-punch? It certainly is. Too soon? Perhaps. Another certainty are the strong performances from Watts & co. and the devastating visuals of the tsunami and its destruction. A hard-to-watch human tragedy, but brilliantly done.


Hitchcockian splendour is what Park delivers in his first English-language film based on Shadow of a Doubt. Deliciously dark and beautifully shot, this Hitchcock homage will cause wry smiles aplenty and a new take on growing up in rural America.


One of the most famous Presidents is bought back to life thanks to Day-Lewis’s invigorating performance and Spielberg’s patient and unintrusive directing. Speeches are made, fists are waved and slaves are freed in this epic of historical proportions.

Blue Jasmine

Blanchett carries Allen’s latest film with gusto and she delivers a perfect and weighty performance as a New York socialite spiralling into denial and madness whilst living with her sister in San Francisco. Even when Allen doesn’t hit the peak, he is still miles ahead.


A bleak road-trip movie shot in serene black and white. Featuring Woody as an ageing alcoholic (played by the brilliant Dern) trying to claim a $1m prize which is a couple of states away. Payne gives us another heart warmer with his trademarks of poignancy and humour in equal doses.

This is the End

This is the funniest comedy of 2013, in a year when many comedies were surprisingly lacking in the humour department (Hangover III, The Heat…etc). It has its flaws but an interesting plot and gags by the cameo-load allow a film with Rihanna in it to bookend my yearly Top 11.


Clip Joint: Fireworks

18 Dec

Bonfire Night may have been and gone but that doesn’t mean fireworks are forgotten for another year. Films provide a broad canvas for plenty of pyrocentric antics, and here are some films with memorable scenes where the sparks fly.

1. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

Smaug may not be in the Lord of the Rings trilogy but the quaint town of Hobbiton experiences a dragon of their own on the night of Bilbo Baggins 111th birthday, which opens the first film in the trilogy with a dragon-shaped bang.

2. Toy Story

In Toy Story’s action-packed ending, a firework takes centre stage, as Woody and Buzz Lightyear use a huge combustible to catch up with their owner Andy; they fly, and fall, in style. Without said firework, they would never have caught up with Andy and Toy Story 2 and 3 may have never been made. The horror.

3. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 

More wizard magic, another firework dragon; fireworks play the role of the disruptor in the fifth Harry Potter film when the Weasley twins unleash a fiery display in the main hall right in the middle of an exam. The despotic headmistress Dolores Umbridge gets a good scare too – this is definitely one of the Weasleys’ better pranks.

4. Mulan

As well as using rockets to defeat an army with an avalanche, Mulan and her guardian dragon (there seems to be some kind of link between dragons and fireworks) Mushu manage to defeat the evil Hun Shan-Yu with a well-aimed firework, which then sets off a spectacular display to celebrate China’s victory. The Chinese did invent fireworks and Mulan teaches us what happens when you disobey the instructions and aim fireworks at other people.

5. Jackass: The Movie

Sometimes an alarm clock just doesn’t cut it, according to the Jackass crew; setting of fireworks in the bedroom, on the other hand, is guaranteed to wake up everyone in the house.

Featured in GuardianFilm:

Minute Reviews

23 Aug

First blog post in a while due to exams and travelling but the blog is back!

A new feature arrives too in the form of a new review format: Minute Review.
Minute in both senses of the word as it based on the films length (in minutes) and it is also minute in size.

If a film is 90 minutes long, then it gets a 9 word review. One word for each 10 minutes of glorious (or awful) cinema.
These short reviews will be quick to read and will give a general sense of what to expect from the film and a rating out of 10 will also be included.

An experiment with hashtag reviews might take place whereby each word of the review is a hashtag, so a film can be summarised in e.g. 9 different words if readers want to quickly know what to expect from a film and don’t have time to read a 500 word review full of sentences and other wordy nuances.

Look out soon for the first Minute Review.

Wondrous websites and other film habits.

26 Mar

So you’re probably wondering what websites I use to enhance my experience of films and to discover yet more of those hidden away gems and the popular films that everyone needs to see (not everyone actually needs to see them).

So here is a rundown of the best film related websites I use almost daily to discover and learn as much as possible about those moving pictures, simply click the website name to be whisked away:

  • IMDB – The definitive film database packed full of trivia and useful nuggets of information. They pretty much have every film ever released so a good foundation to start from. Their ratings system is useful too, I rate every film I see which also allows me to keep count and remember what I have and have not seen.
  • iCheckMovies – A fantastic website to keep track of what films you have seen and discover the thousands you have yet to see. Uses lists to categorise films which is a great way to find more films to watch such as the IMDB Top 250, Empire 500…etc which will be discussed in details in a later post.
  • Empire – A brilliant website for an equally brilliant film magazine. The most popular film magazine in the UK and famous globally for it’s reviews, interviews, lists and latest film news.
  • ViewFilm – A neat website that lets you know when and what films are on TV in the UK, combine this with a recording device and hundreds of films are yours to watch.

These are the main sites I use to make film watching even more enjoyable and sometimes slightly more bearable.

Where do I watch all these films you ask?

Well: cinema trips, DVDs, Lovefilm, Sky Movies and TV via Viewfilm are the main formats I use.

I also highly recommend listening to the weekly BBC Radio film podcast. Just listening to it will make you a more interesting, knowledgable and funnier person (probably) as you are serenaded by the dulcet tones of film critic/wise film doctor Mark Kermode and host Simon Mayo.

Hopefully this post has given you and inside look into great film websites and well as my viewing habits and podcast choices, until next time.

Roll up!

26 Mar



This will serve as a brief introduction to my new film blog.

Here I will discuss and review all the films I watch as well as write about the magic of all things cinema. This blog will also include lists, articles and reviews that I write for the Newcastle Courier student newspaper. Numerous pithy posts and comments may also make an appearance.

– Jacob Crompton-Schreiber