1. Blue Jasmine
Woody Allen's return to form continues with the melancholy Blue Jasmine. Starring Cate Blanchett in a career defining performance and set to the warm water colour like tones of San Francisco, Blanchett's Jasmine and her abrasive nature allows the audience to feel little empathy for this often disturbed woman. In what is an obvious love letter to Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire, Blue Jasmine is brilliantly performed by a stellar cast yet Blanchett makes this film twinkle, and it is her performance which makes it my favourite film of 2013.
Four years in the making with a number of cast switches, (originally written for Angelina Jolie and Robert Downey Jr) Mexican director Alfonso Cuarón will be more than happy that he opted for the superb Sandra Bullock and the ever charming George Clooney in this strikingly beautiful sci-fi thriller. Bullock and Clooney play two astronauts left fighting for survival after a cloud of debris hits their space shuttle. Quite literally the most visually stunning film I have ever seen, backed up by a stellar performance from Sandra Bullock, Gravity is immeasurably tense while instilling a sense of horror and awe echoing the fascination of 2001: A Space Odyssey.
3. Django Unchained
Being released very early into the year last January and coming into the 2013 Oscars cycle (yet was released too late for my 2012 list), i've had ample time to view Tarantino's spaghetti western a couple more times, and it gets better with each viewing. Jamie Foxx stars as the titular Django in this grimy, gorgeous epic while Christoph Waltz plays his bounty hunting partner in crime, Dr King Schultz. Bar a pretty dreadful Australian accent from Tarantino's cameo, the film is excellently performed, particularly from Leonardo DiCaprio's engrossing and wicked Calvin Candie while Waltz won Best Supporting Actor for his role. Django Unchained is brilliantly fun, while also being so beautifully made in terms of style and vision.
Easily the best thriller of 2013, Prisoners was gripping, tense and unpredictable. Terrific performances from its two leading men, Jake Gyllenhaal and Hugh Jackman, and an enthralling story set in typically eery small town America bring this dark film to life. Paul Dano's scene stealing performance as the broken Alex Jones is one of the best supporting roles i've seen this year. It's dark, depressive and absorbing, I look forward to what director, Denis Villeneuve, does next.
5. The Place Beyond the Pines
Blue Valentine director Derek Cianfrance returns to our screens, with Ryan Gosling in tow and adding Bradley Cooper and Eva Mendes to this moving crime drama. The Place Beyond the Pines is a dual tale of two fathers, one a criminal, the other a policeman, Cianfrance has created an atmospheric piece of cinema with two of the years stand out performances in Gosling and Cooper. While Gosling is his broody self, Cooper continues to surprise and excite, as he releases himself from the shackles of The Hangover films, becoming one of my favourite and most well rounded actors.
6. The World's End
Edgar Wright's pub crawl movie, completing his highly anticipated 'cornetto' trilogy, continues to be as fresh and original as Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead were. Teaming up with usuals Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, as well as Martin Freeman, Eddie Marsan and Paddy Considine, The World's End is a hilarious and hearty end to what are three of the best British comedy films in decades.
Another Irvine Welsh adaptation hits the big screen, this time his 1998 novel of the same name got the Hollywood treatment. Directed by John S. Baird and starring James McAvoy as vile and corrupt Scottish policeman Bruce Robertson, it's a twisted, brutal film, yet its dark nature doesn't draw away from some if its more hilarious scenes. In fact it's that very ability to switch so easily between the fouler and more comedic aspects of the film that make it such a mix of depraved and brilliant. It is also the strength of McAvoy's performance that makes this film one of my favourites of 2013.
8. Don Jon
Joseph Gordon-Levitt writes, directs and stars in this film about a twenty-something Italian American whose attempts to have a meaningful and loving relationship halt after his girlfriend, Scarlett Johansson, realises he has a porn addiction. Gordon-Levitt's directorial debut is original, poignant, funny and most importantly real. Its resolution is far more real than any other romantic/ drama comedy this year, and it's so stylishly put together.
9. Star Trek: Into Darkness
JJ Abram's Star Trek: Into Darkness is an adrenaline pumping action packed sci-fi, and a more than worthy predecessor to the 2009 original. Featuring a brilliant ensemble cast including Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana and Simon Pegg with newcomers in the form of Alice Eve and antagonist Benedict Cumberbatch. Its fast and thrilling from the very start, it packs an emotional punch while also being funny throughout. Its visually stunning yet it is often the high quality of acting that surprises, Cumberbatch is at his very best throughout, becoming the complete Trek villain.
10. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
A late entry into my top ten, and I'm still unsure whether it should be in my list. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, directed by and starring Ben Stiller, co-starring Kristen Wiig, Sean Penn and Adam Scott, it is the story of a negative asset manager at Life magazine, who goes on the search for a missing photo needed for the final cover of the magazine's last issue. The film at times threatens to be overly self-indulgent, but it's life affirming and moving. You cheer Stiller's Mitty on to the very last scene, a truly common hero. The very likeable Stiller plays him with understated modesty.