MV5BMjMzNjU1MTg5NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMTExMTcwOQ@@__V1_SX640_SY720_10. Trance

For me Danny Boyle is about as close as it comes to a no-brainer in cinema, continuously churning out brilliant film after brilliant film. Trance is no exception! With a plot involving art robberies, back stabbing and more twists than I can even remember, this was a definite highlight of 2013 for me. 4/5

MV5BMTQxODE3NjM1Ml5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMzkzNjc4OA@@__V1_SX640_SY720_9. This Is The End

The minute I saw the trailer for This Is The End I instinctively knew I’d love it, with a cast that every comedy would die to have it could never go wrong. Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg team up yet again to bring you their own brand of crude, rude and downright stupid humour that I can’t get enough of. 4/5

MV5BMTQzNzExMDg3Ml5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODU1NzEzMDE@__V1_SX640_SY720_8. Captain Phillips

The concept of Captain Phillips didn’t appeal greatly to me at first but after sitting down and giving it some deserved time I can certainly say I’m glad I did. With a first half that plays out more like a ‘Home Alone on a boat’ and a second half nail biting hostage scenario, I was pleasantly surprised. All packaged together with the always brilliant Tom Hanks it is worth the watch. 4/5

MV5BMTc3ODA1NTI0MV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwOTE4OTUzOQ@@__V1_SX640_SY720_7. The Kings of Summer

This one came to me by accident really, after stumbling around Tumblr and seeing someone rave about it I decided to give it a shot. What I found was a charming and very relatable coming-of-age story about a group of kids who run off into the woods to live by their own rules. Great performances by the kids and a brilliant supporting cast made this one a firm favourite for me. 4/5

MV5BMTAyMjQ3OTAxMzNeQTJeQWpwZ15BbWU4MDU0NzA1MzAx__V1_SX640_SY720_6. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

The Hunger Games is a phenomenon that I have fallen into somewhat by accident. Having watched the first instalment on Netflix while hungover and unemployed I found myself surprised. I was expecting Twilight/Harry Potter but in fact found myself praising some of the acting, hooked by the story and dare I say it rooting for the characters. It made sense then that I should invest and make the trip to see Catching Fire and once again I wasn’t disappointed! 4/5

MV5BMjA3MTcyNjk3NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNjkzNzUzMDE@__V1_SX640_SY720_5. The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman

I am not usually a fan of Shia LaBeouf, I found him utterly irritating in both Transformers and Indiana Jones, but after watching Charlie Countryman all is forgiven. The story is nothing too new but it is Shia and Mads Mikkelsen who make this one really worth watching. Mads is utterly terrifying and channels his inner Le Chiffre brilliantly for this role, while Shia as Charlie is an unlikely hero that I really found myself getting behind, Bravo Shia! 4/5

MV5BMjIyNTQ5NjQ1OV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwODg1MDU4OA@@__V1_SX640_SY720_4. Django Unchained

Having never found myself especially bothered by Tarantino’s work, I didn’t have a great deal of expectation for Django. But it wasn’t long until I found myself chuckling along to the shear outlandish hilarity and over the top nature of the film. Christoph Waltz is yet again brilliant and Jamie Foxx brings just the right amount of ‘cool’ to the table to make this one a thoroughly enjoyable adventure. 4/5

MV5BMjA5MTc0NTkzM15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwODEwNjE3OQ@@__V1_SX640_SY720_3. The Spectacular Now

Very rarely do I shed a tear at a film, and I tend to take it as a sign that said film is bloody brilliant. This is definitely the case of The Spectacular Now. Following the life of a young fun loving teen with a love of alcohol and partying it instantly struck a chord. What I didn’t expect was to find the film to be a story of responsibility for one’s actions and the struggle between preparing for the future and living in the moment and enjoying life. It is something that all youngsters feel but rarely think or speak about. 5/5

MV5BMzU0NDY0NDEzNV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwOTIxNDU1MDE@__V1_SX640_SY720_2. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

This one was always going to be near the top of the list for me being the massive Lord of the rings fan that I am. But I couldn’t help be somewhat apprehensive after a disappointing first instalment. Luckily for me though I was in for one of the greatest films of the year, and the Hobbit film that we had all been waiting for. Words cannot describe my excitement for the next! 5/5

MV5BMjc1OTEwNjU4N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNzUzNDIwOQ@@__V1_SX640_SY720_1. The Place Beyond The Pines

Derek Cianfrance is for me one of the best directors out there at the moment, Blue Valentine affected me more than I ever thought a film could and after hearing exceptional reviews of The Place Beyond The Pines I couldn’t wait to see it. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t slightly shocked and angry at the early twist, but once settled down and engrossed in the film I found it made sense. What follows is a brilliant story of actions, consequences and repercussions that I couldn’t take my eyes off. With brilliant performances from Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper, this was my number one for 2013. 5/5

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The story of Spike Jonze’s ‘Her’ is one that I feel is as relevant today as it will ever be. Centred around the life of Theodore Twombley (Joaquin Phoenix), an unassuming man living out his years writing handwritten love letters for other couples. The viewer immediately gets the sense that this is a very hollow existence for Theodore and we soon find out that he is in the process of a divorce. It turns out that the divorce proceedings have been going on for quite some time now due to Theodore‚Äôs refusal to let go and his love for his wife Catherine (Rooney Mara). It is at this point that he stumbles across an advertisement for a new computer operating system capable of creating a virtual life with which the user interacts with. It is this relationship that forms the basis for ‘Her’ and the love story that grows between the operating system Samantha (Scarlett Johansson) and Theodore himself.

For me the film is at its best when struggling with the acceptance of dating an OS, for many people this can be echoed in today’s online dating scepticisms and these ideas draw many confused reactions from the films supporting cast. However when the popularity of the OS grows it is clear that Theodore is not an exception to the rule and that many others are feeling this way but are not quite so open about their feelings. Theodore’s friend Amy (Amy Adams) begins a friendship with her OS that eventually results in the demise of her current relationship. It is only when she fully understands Theodore’s love for Samantha that she truly begins to understand her own feelings.

While often an extremely bleak film, I found Her to be very charming in parts and Joaquin Phoenix in particular puts in a brilliant performance as the very polite and likeable Theodore. The film breaks ground by touching on subjects that are rarely seen in cinema today and by looking forward to the future in a slightly Orwellian fashion it shuns the sugar-coating of modern romantics in favour of sending a warning message to viewers.

3/5