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The Best Films of 2013

Honorable mentions: Stuck in Love, What Maisie Knew (both unreleased theatrically in Canada)

10. Elysium: Neill Blomkamp's followup to 2009's District 9 is an improvement in virtually every regard, with Elysium's smart storyline heightened by Matt Damon's stirring performance and a plethora of engrossing action sequences.

9. You're Next: You're Next overcomes a rocky opening half hour to become the best home invasion thriller to come around in ages.

8. Saving Mr. Banks: The very definition of good, old-fashioned entertainment, Saving Mr. Banks combines behind-the-scenes drama with low-key character study to often engrossing effect.

7. Fruitvale Station: This true-life story isn't exactly subtle, but it unquestionably packs a potent emotional punch.

6. Upstream Color: Shane Carruth returns with this inexplicable, unexplainable effort that nevertheless holds the viewer hypnotized from start to finish.

5. Short Term 12: Anchored by Brie Larson's captivating performance, Short Term 12 quickly establishes itself as a subdued yet thoroughly compelling little drama.

4. Blackfish: This heartbreaking, essential documentary is difficult to watch at times, yes, but it's also an important film that works as both a piece of cinema and a call to action.

3. The Broken Circle Breakdown: Designed to leave even the hardiest viewer a blubbering mess, The Broken Circle Breakdown is undoubtedly the most emotionally affecting film I saw all year.

2. About Time: Richard Curtis returns to the romcom genre to impressively engrossing effect, with the film's time-travel elements merely the tip of the iceberg in terms of its pleasures.

1. Captain Phillips: Armed with Paul Greengrass' taut direction and Tom Hanks' masterful performance, Captain Phillips is an exciting, enthralling, and entertaining picture that earns its place as the best of 2013 many, many times over.

The Worst Films of 2013

10. Escape from Tomorrow: A gimmick in search of a movie, Escape from Tomorrow squanders a relatively promising opening stretch to become a seriously tedious (and ridiculously incoherent) piece of work.

9. The Fifth Estate: The Fifth State has absolutely nothing of relevance or interest to say about Julian Assange, which ensures that its 125 minutes feel like an eternity.

8. Only God Forgives: Full of style but devoid of substance, Only God Forgives even manages to drain Ryan Gosling of all his considerable charisma.

7. Berberian Sound Studio: What starts out as a promising behind-the-scenes thriller devolves into a head-scratching, impenetrable mess.

6. A Good Day to Die Hard: It's been said before but this bears repeating: A Good Day to Die Hard makes Live Free or Die Hard look like Die Hard.

5. Oblivion: Joseph Kosinski takes what could've been a decent hour-and-a-half sci-fi thriller and expands it to a punishing 124 minute fiasco.

4. Kill Your Darlings: A meaningless, incomprehensible disaster that grows more and more unwatchable as it (slowly) progresses.

3. Pacific Rim: An emblematic example of everything that's wrong with contemporary blockbusters, Pacific Rim's many, many problems are compounded by videogame-like action sequences and a surfeit of one-dimensional, underdeveloped characters.

2. The Great Gatsby: Baz Luhrmann employs his notoriously flashy sense of style within the context of a deliberately paced and rather uneventful narrative. It doesn't work.

1. Leviathan: This absolutely interminable and aggressively unwatchable "documentary" is devoid of positive attributes and often feels like a cinematic endurance test. The worst of the worst.

© David Nusair