Culture Fix's Top 20 Films of 2013

As the end of the year fast approaches it is time to sit back and reflect on the past twelve months of cinema. There has been a lot to choose from, but we have managed to pick our twenty cinematic highlights of the year - ranging from the world of camp glitter-covered concert pianists to modern crime masterpieces.

We'll also be bringing you lists of 2013's worst films, trashiest moments, and finest albums. So without further delay, here is the first in our season of Winter lists: The Top 20 Films of 2013...

20 Stoker

This deliciously warped slice of Southern Gothic was one of the most pleasant surprises of 2014. With a twisted story packed with a brooding atmosphere, murder, sensuality, and ice-cream, Stoker completely delighted.

19 Oz: The Great and Powerful

Decadent visuals, magical storytelling with an exuberant performance from leading man, James Franco, Oz transported us back to our childhood and proved that there is still life in the wondrous work of L. Frank Baum.
18 The Canyons

The Canyon's darkly comic, hyper-sexual portrait of the vacuous lifestyles of young adults in Malibu, both delivers gritty realism and soapy trash value. Also featuring (*serious voice*) Lindsay Lohan's strongest performance to date, and a darkly magnetic performance from the adult film industry's James Deen.

17 Frances Ha

Both a love-letter to New York and showcase for the undeniable talents of Greta Gerwig, Frances Ha is an amusing glimpse at the crossroads in life that many twentysomethings will undoubtedly find (or have found) themselves at. Instantly relateable to many a young-adult, completely charming, and occasional poignant, Frances Ha is a complete gem.

16 Zaytoun

This gripping and ultimately moving story looks at the unlikely friendship between an Israeli pilot and a Palestinian youth, handled with complete delicacy from director, Eran Riklis, and cast, Stephen Dorff and Abdallah El Akal.

15 The Place Beyond the Pines

Albeit slightly overlong in its last chapter, The Place Beyond the Pines is a staggering ambitious piece of American cinema. Derek Cianfrance tackles simple yet powerful themes in an authentic and affecting style, with Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper delivering some of their most electrifying performances.

14 Bernie

Bernie's mix of light comedy and true crime story resulted in an offbeat but instantly loveable combination. Richard Linklater directs Bernie as a docudrama with Jack Black in truly marvelous form as the camp title-character, perhaps the nicest American killer of all time. 

13 Don Jon

Don Jon is a staggeringly impressive directorial debut from Joseph Gordon-Levitt and certainly has us excited for what's to come in the future. It is undoubtedly insightful, heartfelt, authentic, edgy, and has just made us love Joseph Gordon-Levitt even more.

12 Lovelace

Lovelace is an intelligently-crafted and emotionally raw look at the life of Linda Lovelace that simultaneously captures the glitz and sleaze of the porn-industry, perfectly showcased through a sublime performance from Amanda Seyfried. The sassy ageing waitress photo of Sharon Stone above is probably not the most relevant, but we liked it. 

11 Only God Forgives

Many will be tired by the ambiguous nature of Only God Forgives, others will be mesmerised by Refn's astounding visual style and poignant, intense, ultra-violent tale of vengeance in the Bangkok underworld. 

10 The Butler

The Butler won us over with its glossy, sweeping style and impressive cast. Grand in scale, Lee Daniel's first film on this list, puts a beautifully human spin on a story that showcases the changing political and social landscape of the USA. It also contains a mental Mariah Carey :-(

9 The Way Way Back

The Way Way Back is filmmaker with true heart and soul, a gorgeous coming of age story that is as amusing as it is touching. Warning, likely to make you yearn for your lost childhood or make you want to work in a water park with Sam Rockwell.

8 Philomena

Philomena is understated yet tremendously powerful, thanks to a touching and effortlessly amusing screenplay from Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope. Stephen Frears directs with an endearing optimism whilst Judi Dench and Coogan make for a tremendously watchable on-screen double act. Philomena also contains one of the ultimate Judi Dench lines of all time: “I didn't even know I had a clitoris, Martin."

7 Filth

Jon S. Baird has crafted an electrifyingly stylish, darkly comic feature that proves to be the strongest Irvine Welsh adaptation out there - more impressive than Trainspotting in our book. We're not just saying that because it has an AMAZING David Soul cameo.

6 I'm So Excited

I’m So Excited may not be the pinnacle of Pedro Almodóvar’s career, but it is undeniable fun serving as a visually stunning and magnificently performed piece of garishly camp escapism. Your next plane journey is going to seem terribly dull after watching this, unless you decide to perform your own Pointer Sisters number (please do).

5 Prisoners

Prisoners is a masterfully gripping and enthralling watch packed with a sense of raw humanity. DenisVillneuve has crafted a modern crime masterpiece. Prisoners also turns the concept of a shower with Hugh Jackman into a truly terrifying prospect, just ask poor Paul Dano.

4 Blue Jasmine

All that really needs to be said is Cate Blanchett. Now give us a tub of prescription medicine and a Stoli martini with a twist of lemon.

3 Django Unchained 

Like Blue Jasmine, Django Unchained showcases a director still at his best. Tarantino delivers terrific fun from the onset with stellar performances, gripping dialogue and more than a few homages to the classic Euro-western.

2 The Paperboy

The Paperboy is a thrilling, sweat soaked Southern-Noir, rich in atmosphere and directorial vision. The varying tone, camp aesthetics and powerful performances from Kidman and Efron completely overshadow any of the narrative inconsistencies. The Paperboy is a must-see.

1 Behind The Candelabra

In our eyes, Behind the Candelabra is the strongest feature of 2013. Douglas and Damon lead this tale of romance and hurt against a marvelously crafted backdrop of Hollywood kitsch, excess, and isolation.

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