Judy Thorburn's Top 10 Films of 2013

When it came to the movie going experience, 2013 was like every other year, in that it was filled with some great movies, and to put it bluntly, some really bad ones.  Recollecting those that stood out as the cream of the crop, the following is my list of the ten best.  I find it interesting that the majority of my choices were based on or inspired by a true story. Although very different in subject matter, each flick featured great performances, unforgettable characters and struck some sort of emotional chord, whether excitement, sympathy, sorrow, anger, or joy.

12 Years a Slave – Tells the devastating true story of Solomon Northup (a deeply felt, breakout performance by Chiwetel Ejiofor) a free man from upstate New York who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in the South before finally being freed twelve years later. It offers a raw and significant look back in America's history and sends a message about injustice, human respect and as a reminder of our responsibility to each other.

Rush  - Oscar winning director Ron Howard delves into the world of competitive Nascar racing with this beautifully shot, compelling drama about the 1970s Formula 1 rivalry between charismatic, thrill seeking British playboy James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and his more reserved, disciplined Austrian rival, Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl). Featuring spectacular, adrenalin pumping racing sequences that keep you on the edge of your seat, Rush, surely lives up to it title.

Dallas Buyers Club  -  In this superb emotional drama that deals with homophobia, drugs and AIDS,  Matthew McConaughey turns in an Oscar worthy, tour de force performance as a homophobic, hedonistic rodeo cowboy diagnosed with the deadly disease and Jared Leto is equally outstanding as his unlikely ally, a transgender aids patient who joins forces with him in their fight to pursue and eventually distribute alternative remedies.

The Sapphires -  Inspired by a true story, this charming and highly entertaining little gem from Australia features some of the best Motown songs and sparkling performances from the talented cast.

The Hunger Games – Catching Fire – The second installment of the franchise is even better, grander, and more engaging than the first. Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence once again shines, brilliantly commanding the screen as the complex lead character, a strong willed but reluctant heroine who represents a symbol of hope for the repressed masses in the post apocalyptic, former United States of the future.

Her  -  Visionary filmmaker Spike Jonz directed and wrote the most original script of the year. The offbeat, sensitive love story set in the near future revolves around a divorced, lonely man (Joaquin Phoenix) who falls in love with his computer operating system (voiced by Scarlet Johanssen) and vice versa. In this modern age of technology, it sends a valuable message about what it really means to be connected.

Philomena  -  Dame Judi Dench stars in this poignant, heart wrenching film as an elderly woman  who joins up with a non believer journalist on a desperate search for the son she was forced to give up 50 years earlier.

Captain Phillips – Tom Hanks plays the real life Captain from Vermont in this harrowing true story of a commercial ship that was attacked by Somali pirates in the middle of the Indian ocean in 2009.

Prisoners –  Hugh Jackman delivers his best, most fierce screen performance yet, in this intense and gripping crime thriller about a desperate, grief stricken father who goes over the edge and beyond the law to find his missing daughter that was abducted, without a trace, in front of his home.

Mandela – Long Walk to Freedom – The remarkable life of South African leader Nelson Mandela from his 20's to late 70's, as excellently portrayed by Idris Alba, is recounted from the diaries the anti apartheid, human rights activist wrote in prison.

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