Best and Worst of the Big Screen 2013

In 2013 I watched 111 movies. Around half of these were new cinema releases, the majority of which were screened at the QFT. If you’re anyway interested in film at all, you should definitely consider purchasing QFT membership in 2014. Not only did it get manage to prise me off the couch and an almost constant diet of Poirot and Marple, it also saved me an awful lot of money, most of which found its way back to the afore-mentioned establishment via the QFT bar. It’s not an expensive investment. You’ll be supporting one of Belfast’s best-loved, and hardest working, arts venues and you’ll get two free tickets, a couple of pounds off each movie you see all year and free entrance into all members’ screening.

It was a good year for movies and, in drawing up my best of list, I’ve actually been hard-pressed to narrow my choices down to ten. I thoroughly recommend tracking down some of these wee treats on DVD as soon as they appear and would love to hear your feedback. I’ve also listed the five movies which most bored me to tears this year. There are some sacred cows in there so I fully anticipate your wrath. Let’s just say, (in my humble opinion), 2013 was not a good movie year for Ryan Gosling, musicals are not my thing and even the mighty have to make the occasional bad decision, and we’ll agree to differ on the rest.

Hoping 2014 is a stellar year for new releases and you all get out and support your local independent cinemas whatever corner of the planet you find yourself in.

Top Movie of the Year-



“A timely film about the meat industry which packs a mighty punch with some incredibly mature performances and a wonderfully obtuse plot. Must see.”

Other Essentials in Chronological Order-

2.Zero Dark Thirty


“Bigelow does it again. This time with a  bigger budget but the same ambiguously American standpoint and a heck of a lot of uncomfortable truths. Jessica Chastain is a hurricane.”



“Amazing stuff. Refreshing to watch a right triumphs wrong movie which resists triumphalism at every turn. Gael Garcia Bernal under-acts brilliantly. The supporting cast is fabulous. Cinematography is a bit odd though, looks like the whole film has been shot on Instagram.”



“This is a really great little British film. Superb cast featuring the very handsome Tim Roth and Cillian Murphy. Wonderful soundtrack. Great story. Like Mike Leigh’s grittiness with a generous spoonful of ‘Submarine’s’ quirky warmth.”



“Another class act from Jeff Nichols. ‘Summer of my German Soldier’ meets ‘Badlands’ with beautiful cinematography, fantastic performances from two young actors and Matthew McConaughey back on something resembling form.”

6.The Iceman


“Michael Shannon is fast becoming one of my favourite actors. This is tense, tightly scripted and reminiscent of the ‘Goodfellas’/’Mean Streets’ glory era of clever violence. However, this is a modern take on the gangster themes and Shannon’s character unravels with the kind of claustrophobic inner angst lately explored in movies like ‘Drive’, ‘Michael Clayton’ and ‘Arbitrage’. Unmissable.”

7.Frances Ha


“Noah Baumbach’s done his homework on Woody Allen. This falls somewhere between ‘Annie Hall’ and a really good episode of ‘Portlandia’. I realise that sounds like some people’s idea of Hell but I was thoroughly charmed.”



“Bullfighting is the new boxing. Shot like Guy Madin, told like an old school Tim Burton. Silent, Spanish ‘Snow White’. Delicious.”

9.12 Years a Slave


“Good job Steve McQueen. Once again you win with just the right mix of beauty and ugliness.”



“Simple concept, stunningly explored. Gentle and extremely powerful.”

Can I Have My Money Backs?” of 2013 in Chronological Order-

1.Midnight’s Children


“Salman Rushdie tackles his own novel with surprising heavy-handedness and what emerges is a prettier version of ‘X Men’. Only served to remind me how much I prefer the book.”

2.Les Miserables


“Too much singing. Sorry. I tried.”

3.To the Wonder


“Preface-I love Terence Malick and this has some gorgeous cinematography plus Javier Bardem’s miniscule part is absolutely wonderful BUT the rest of this is poorly cast, self-indulgent, lens flare. Like a two hour long engagement shoot. I’m not angry Terence. I’m just disappointed.”

4.The Place Beyond the Pines


“There are no pines in this movie. Neither is there any point. 40 minutes of Ryan Gosling and pseudo-‘Drive’ cinematography provides a schizophrenic intro to what could only be described as a made for TV movie. Bradley Cooper is particularly painful to watch. Avoid like the plague it is.”

5.The Wolverine


“Couldn’t get a picture of High Jackman, so here’s Morrissey to tell you all that when it comes to ‘X Men’, one X Man just isn’t enough. Substandard except for the extra post-credit appearance from Messrs. Stewart and McKellen.”


(Special thanks to Deborah McIlwrath my faithful QFT partner for 2013, together we have peered over the baldy domes of many large-headed men, drank many small bottles of Cabernet Sauvignon, lost tickets, found tickets, smuggled snacks past the watchful eyes of the QFT ushers and fallen in love, hate and apathetic indifference with this year’s cinematic offerings).


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