Top 20 Films of 2013 – Part One: 20 to 11.


The Iris is proud to present a list of our top twenty films of 2013, voted by our contributors. All films on this list are subject to the Australian release dates – not the original release date in the film’s home country. And we kick off with one such film, released in 2012 in the US but unleashed in Australian cinemas in 2013… let’s do this!

20. Life of Pi (USA)

A stunning film. An breathtaking achievement in 3D. One of the director’s finest works.

19. Mud (USA)

There was a point in Matthew McConaughey’s career where… well, the guy just couldn’t get a decent gig. But this changed in 2011 after a string of impressive performances in indie film Bernie and The Lincoln Lawyer proved Matthew had life in him yet. This arc in his career comes fully realised in the brilliant film Mud, which should see McConaughey get his hands on an Oscar nomination. And deservedly so. This may be the Texas born actor’s finest moment, and makes it onto our list as one of the best films of 2013.

18. Sound City (USA)

Just edging out The Act of Killing as our favourite documentary of 2013, Sound City is Dave Grohl’s (Nirvana, Foo Fighters) directorial debut, looking at the history and current life of the historic Sound City studios. The film captures Grohl’s love and excitement for pure music in a beautiful, infectious way and might just be the most inspiring film of the year. If you don’t leave this film wanting to make music – or at least consume a shitload of vinyl – you’re doing it wrong.

17. The Conjuring (USA)

Terrifying, clever and well crafted, Australian director James Wan brought an Exorcism style horror film to the big screen this year and made it the world’s highest grossing horror film since The Ring. For fans of the genre, it was one of the finest in years and will no doubt set the path for a sequel and a new range of films trying to achieve similar greatness. But can you ever beat the first? Something tells us this one will stand the test of time…

16. Spring Breakers (USA)

Absolutely insane. Any film featuring James Franco, Britney Spears, and pink unicorn balaclavas is going to be a wild ride – though understandably divisive. It’s a visual feast paired with a sly commentary on society’s delusions of grandeur.

15. About Time (UK)

This movie came out of nowhere and absolutely blind-sided me. It is one of the most moving and heart-warming movies I’ve ever seen. What starts off as a generic rom-com (with added time travel) ends up being a beautiful portrait of the relationship between a father and son, and a reminder to cherish the people we love. A masterpiece.

14. Upstream Color (USA)

A meditative and thoughtful examination of life and the connections we make in it, from the director of the brilliant Primer. It’s as dense and tricky as films come without falling into Malick territory, but the rewards to offers for careful and thoughtful examination are boundless. Nothing this year reached so high and achieved so much.

13. What Maisie Knew (USA)

First released in the US in 2012, this is a film that has had a fascinating life as it has travelled the festivals of the world and received limited theatrical releases along the way. It was Australia’s turn before the end of the year, and the independent film, based on the 1897 novel of the same name by Henry James and fronted by True Blood‘s Alexander Skarsgård quickly became one of the most talked about films in the country. Maisie was such a beautiful character you couldn’t help but be invested in her from start to finish and the story was as dramatically compelling as you get. A must see.

12. Pacific Rim (USA)

After the seeing the trailer I was so pumped, this film was everything I expected and more. Guillermo Del Toro manages to instill the ethos and feel of traditional Japanese anime and monster movies into a blockbuster. Yes the story and characters may seem like a rip-off of NeonGenesis Evangelion but it’s done so convincingly well that I can forgive this. Ron Perlman steals every scene he’s in, Idris Elba maintains his BAMF status and the relationship between Charlie Hunnam’s Raleigh & Rinko Kikuchi’s Mako is based on mutual respect more than intimacy. Also it has big giant freakin robotos fighting big giant freakin monsters. What more could you want??

11. Before Midnight (USA)

The perfect conclusion (or is it?) to The Trilogy That No One Saw, it’s a pitch perfect portrait of a marriage and the territory that comes with sharing your life with someone. Outstanding performances from Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke, and a brilliant screenplay make this a must watch.

Stay tuned to for the top ten films of 2013….


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