Tokyo Weekender’s movie writer Christopher O’Keeffe looks back at his personal picks for the top movies of 2013—a mix of Hollywood blockbusters and indie flicks.
It’s being released this month and many people won’t have seen it yet, but there’s going to be very few critics who don’t put this on their ‘Best of’ list. An outstanding work of filmmaking and a true tour-de-force.
The Tale of Princess Kaguya/The Wind Rises
2013 was very special for Ghibli fans, with two films on release. While Hayao Miyazaki’s final full-length work may have captured the headlines, The Tale of Princess Kaguya is the better film, a beautiful retelling of a classic Japanese folk tale.
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Centered around a very big performance from young Quevenzhané Wallis, the eight-year-old actress who picked up an Academy Award nomination for her role as young Hushpuppy, a little girl who “lived with her daddy in the bathtub.”
Another from this month, Blancanieves tells the story of Snow White with the heroine as a bullfighter in 1920s Spain. Beautifully shot and acted. To read more about the production of Blancanieves, read our interview with director Pablo Berger.
Shown at this year’s Tokyo International Film Festival, this documentary is a tribute to wonderfully talented surrealist filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky and a film that was never made.
In a quiet year for comic book movies, Dredd did less well than it deserved. A tightly scripted siege thriller sees cult 2000AD character Judge Dredd trapped in a tower block controlled by drug baron “Ma-ma,” with tough action and some trippy effects.
A lo-fi indie treat set around the clubs and record stores of LA, which sees aspiring musician Brett coping with losing his girlfriend and then his band before taking off into the desert on a road trip.
Like Father, Like Son (Soshite Chichi ni Naru)
The familiar premise—two babies are swapped at birth—is saved from typically mawkish melodrama by fine direction from one of Japan’s best, Hirokazu Koreeda. Stars musician and actor Masaharu Fukuyama.
Zero Dark Thirty
Kathryn Bigelow directed insight into the CIA’s hunt for Osama Bin Laden. Great central performance from Jessica Chastain and an intense finale in this Best Picture Oscar nominated work.
Great sci-fi action with two charismatic leads and a lot of good ideas. Joseph Gordon Levitt is a mob-hired killer who takes out people sent back from the future. His life takes a turn when it’s his older self, played by Bruce Willis, who is sent back to be disposed of.