Saturday, 15 February 2014

2013 film countdown, finale

My top 5 non-2013 films of 2013 are all named after someone. There's the secret of success, folks! More fun stats at the bottom so as to avoid further countdown spoilers.

Pre-2013 films: top 5

5) The Godfather Part II

We start off with a film that is both a sequel and a prequel. Cop that, George Lucas.

Second in Francis Ford Coppola's Godfather trilogy, this continues the saga of the Corleone crime family after the events of the first film, and also shows us its beginnings. Al Pacino's Michael Corleone looks to expand his empire while flashbacks to the 1920s follows Robert de Niro's Vito Corleone surviving and thriving as an immigrant to New York.

Ahh, this is fantastic. It has the same beats as the first Godfather film, but what kept it interesting for me (apart from the great film making, which (spoilers!) I'll get more into later in the list) was the addition of the Vito Corleone flashback story. It brought a new dimension to the character in terms of portraying his meagre beginnings and his rise as a criminal leader. Similarly, Michael Corleone was further developed as a character, delving into what makes him tick and how his role in the family has consumed him.

4) Annie Hall

Another film featuring rough times in New York City. (Ha!)

Alvy Singer, played by director and co-writer Woody Allen, is a New York comedian who falls in and out of love with Diane Keaton's titular Annie Hall. This rom-com bounces back and forth and chronicles their relationship's ups and downs.

For me, it was Diane Keaton that made this film so good. I mean, it's a great film overall even without that--all fantastic are Allen's directing, the endlessly quirky script, the universal themes--but it's Keaton's irresistibly charming turn as Annie that is what made me fall in love with this classic.

One of the best romantic comedies of all time.

3) Searching for Sugar Man

A documentary about two South Africans and their quest to find out whatever happened to enigmatic 70s musician, Rodriguez.

I don't really want to say any more than that. This is one of those movies where the less you know the more you'll enjoy it; I came into this cold and think that contributed to me loving it so much. That said, I think it's a credit to the film makers that they told this so damn well that I'd watch this again even knowing the entire story. Which brings us to...
Yep, another documentary. Non-fiction is a blossoming love for me.

In 1974, high-wire artist Philippe Petit broke in to the New York's World Trade Center and did a wire walk between its famed Twin Towers. This film is about that day.

Even though this is a documentary, you feel as if you're watching a thriller, worrying for the protagonists even though you know they'll win the day. That masterful storytelling is what makes this film truly great. In contrast to Searching For Sugar Man, you know straight away how this ends. You are told all of this early on in the movie. I mean, he's the main guy they interview for the documentary, it's based off the book he wrote about the event, and a photograph of the act serves as the poster and DVD cover. And yet you can't help but be on the edge of your seat for 90-odd minutes. It doesn't hurt that it's a great story, too.

Possibly the best documentary I've ever seen.
Oh hey, look, another film with Diane Keaton in it. Anyway, I guess you saw this coming.

The first and arguably best of the Godfather films, this introduces us to the Corleone crime family, headed by the ageing Don, Vito Corleone, played by Marlon Brando. His age as well as recent events involving rival families sees him transfer power to his sons, the short-tempered Sonny (James Caan) and the reluctant Michael (Al Pacino), who must take it upon themselves to resolve the disputes in their own ways.

Everything in this film is just about perfect. Directing? Check. Great, well-paced screenplay based on an intriguing struggle for power story. Photography: lush. Distinctive music--that main theme is unforgettable. And what a powerhouse cast, from whom I can't remember any bad performances. They really did a great job of bringing out a range of different characters, mostly from within the same family. I think the most interesting character development to watch was Michael and how he shies away from the family business but eventually gets pulled into the fold. One of Pacino's best roles.

Fantastic movie to end my list. And with that, I give you the kiss of death. Till next year!


  • All 5 films named after a person (4 men, 1 woman)
  • 3 films starring Diane Keaton
  • 2 documentaries (first time any of my top 5s, I think)
  • 2 films from the same series (another first)
  • A combined total of 15 Academy Award wins (Marlon Brando declined his Oscar for Best Actor in The Godfather as a protest against how American Indians were portrayed in Hollywood)