The 50 best movies of 2013

41. Trance

The Movie: Fresh from Olympic glory, Danny Boyle went back to his roots with a twisty/turny caper movie with added mentalism.

Impact: The perennially underrated Dawson reminded everybody of how good she can be, while McAvoy showcased a whole new side of himself--not for the last time in 2013.

40. The Act Of Killing

The Movie: Mass murderers came with smiles in Joshua Oppenheimer's stunning shock-doc about the perpetrators of the Indonesian genocide of 1965-6. While Oppenheimer gives the killers enough rope to hang themselves by letting them recreate their crimes in the style of their choosing, the scary thing is, they're only too happy to oblige.

Impact: Oppenheimer has introduced a rich new idea into the documentary maker's toolbox, but he is intent on only one thing: forcing a nation to ask serious questions of itself. He's already working on a follow-up.

39. All Is Lost

The Movie: J.C. Chandor executes a perfect 180-degree swerve from the all-star, dialogue-heavy Margin Call, with his pared-down study of one man (Robert Redford) on a boat and struggling against the elements.

Impact: Between this, Life Of Pi and Gravity, survival stories are clearly in vogue--and this stands up to the comparisons with its peers. Better still, Redford proves he's still got movie star charisma in a near-silent performance. Oscar ahoy?

38. The Impossible

The Movie: The 2004 Boxing Day tsunami is brought into bleak, vivid life in J.A. Bayona's terrifying disaster movie, as Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor's family is separated while on holiday in Thailand.

Impact: Watts was Oscar nominated and screen son Tom Holland (the stage Billy Elliott) delivered one of the year's most impressive breakthroughs, but the film proved controversial not only for choosing to concentrate on a Western family over the millions of Asian victims, but also for casting English-language actors when the real-life people were Spaniards.

37. Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa

The Movie: A-ha! Norfolks finest negotiated his big screen debut with ease; better still, in the kind of swerveball typical of Steve Coogan and Armando Ianucci, he did so in a proper action movie.

Impact: Although not quite the Inbetweeners Movie-style phenomenon some predicted, the joy here was the ease with which Partridge pumped-up into an action hero, giving future Britcom TV-to-film makeovers an example to follow that doesn't rely on going abroad.

36. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

The Movie: In which Bilbo and company continue to transform Tolkien's single volume classic into a three-part Peter Jackson juggernaut. This time, the emphasis is on action: spiders, barrels and Benedict Cumberbatch's titular dragon.

Impact: This time last year, the harsh reaction of critics to Jackson's pioneering high-frame-rate didn't dissuade audiences from coughing up a global $1 billion box office. But will they return for more, especially given that the story still won't have finished come the end credits?

35. The Kings Of Summer

The Movie: Heart and laughs as three teens left home to live off the land, in Funny Or Die Presents director Jordan Vogt-Roberts' promising debut.

Impact: Along with Mud, this was quite the year for young'uns going native, Tom Sawyer-style, even though anybody who's seen Parks & Recreation half-wanted it to be supporting actor Nick Offerman (aka Ron Swanson) who lived in the woods.

34. Thor: The Dark World

The Movie: "Dark?" Not really. Everybody was having far too much fun as the Marvel party hopped from planet to planet, from Thor catching the tube to Greenwich and show-stealing Loki taking the permanent p*ss.

Impact: Mark our words, Game Of Thrones director Alan Taylor's promotion to A-list movie director is a sign of things to come. Until then, though, we're living in Tom Hiddleston's world, and he's loving it.

33. Short Term 12

The Movie: This bittersweet indie--sad, funny and everything in between--tells the story of Grace (Brie Larson), the supervisor of a foster care facility with a dark past of her own.

Impact: The big winner at this year's SXSW Festival - which in itself is a reminder that Sundance doesn't rule the roost any more - this is destined to become known as the moment Brie Larson emerged as one of her generation's finest hopes, alongside Jennifer Lawrence and Elisabeth Olsen.

32. Les Miserables

The Movie: How do you follow Oscar-hog The King's Speech? In Tom Hooper's case, by shearing off Anne Hathaways hair, getting Russell Crowe to 'sing' and earworming the world.

Impact: Your mum made the cast recording of the iconic songbook one of the UK's biggest-selling albums--but you were too busy watching YouTube mash-ups about a singing Wolverine.