The 50 best movies of 2013

31. Stoker

The Movie: The director of Oldboy makes his first American film from a script by the guy out of Prison Break? The result was even madder than that combo suggests: a black comedy about a dysfunctional family as seductively stylish as it was bloody.

Impact: Mia Wasikowska subverted her sweet and innocent persona to reveal a fully-formed star, while Nicole Kidman did some of her best work in years. But - in the year that Oldboy got its own Transatlantic makeover--Park Chan-wook conquered the international cross-over merging cool style and hot collars (and cuffs).

30. The Great Beauty

The Movie: Paolo Sorrentino looked sourly upon the sweet life of Rome in his odyssey about a shallow middle-aged journalist and playboy, a modern-day successor to the great Italian art-house classics of Fellini and Antonioni.

Impact: Just as La Dolce Vita is the definitive account of early 1960s Rome, so many are claiming this to be its modern-day, Berlusconi-era equivalent. Or you could just enjoy the endless parties.

29. Nebraska

The Movie: Alexander Payne's moody, monochrome road movie revisits his earlier work--especially About Schmidt--with a more sombre edge, as Will Forte is dragged along for the ride by dad Bruce Dern on a hunt for prize money.

Impact: Having already won Best Actor at Cannes, Bruce Dern is the favourite to win the Oscar at the age of 77, which would make him the category's oldest winner. That would also be Alexander Payne's third consecutive film to generate a golden baldie, making him one of the most reliable directors of modern times.

28. Man of Steel

The Movie: Angry Henry Cavill took down Michael Shannon (and many skyscrapers), while Russell Crowe flew around on space beasties, in Zack Snyder's moody/manic Superman reboot.

Impact: Here's proof that the superhero genre is as split in personality as Kal-El and Clark Kent, torn between exec producer Chris Nolan's seriousness and Snyder wanting to blow stuff up. And then there was the small matter of the sequel being announced, and the week we will hereby remember as Batfleckgate.

27. Philomena

The Movie: The true story of how journalist Martin Sixsmith helped Catholic mother Philomena Lee to search for the son she was forced to give up for adoption, becomes a heart-warming road movie in which Steve Coogan and Judi Dench laugh and cry under Stephen Frears' direction.

Impact: Amidst more bad press for the Catholic Church, the big story here is Coogan, who also co-wrote and co-produced the film and could even be in with a shout of several Oscar nominations.

26. The Way, Way Back

The Movie: Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, Oscar-winning co-writers of The Descendants, directed a smart coming-of-ager that overcame comparisons with Little Miss Sunshine (reuniting stars Steve Carell and Toni Colette) to plough its own bittersweet furrow.

Impact: Liam James, teenage star of The Killing, proved more than capable of taking centre-stage in a movie. No mean feat when Sam Rockwell is on scene-stealing form.

25. Much Ado About Nothing

The Movie: Joss Whedons mates assembled in his house and nailed Shakespeare by realising the Bard invented hipster snark. Better still, they did it during a brief lull in production from Avengers Assemble.

Impact: Whedon's decision to shoot in black-and-white proved prescient--it's not the last monochrome film on the list--but the overriding feeling was of envy, after seeing how nice Whedon's house is.

24. A Field In England

The Movie: Brit Indie darling Ben Wheatley, unearthed the horrors of Civil War in his fourth film in as many years, confirming his status as our great cult hope with his nightmarish tale of soldiers tripping on magic mushrooms.

Impact: On-screen, this was as freaky deaky as we wanted, but the real trip occurred behind the scenes, with the bold move of distributing the film in cinemas, online, on Blu-ray and on freeview THE SAME DAY. Is this the future?

23. Kill Your Darlings

The Movie: An origins story for the Beat Poets, this sees Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs (as played by Daniel Radcliffe, Jack Huston and Ben Foster) become embroiled in a murder committed by friend Lucien Carr (Dane DeHaan).

Impact: This is practically a 'next generation' of acting talent, as Radcliffe, DeHaan et al stake their claim to become the heavyweights of the future, as well as proof (after Howl and On The Road) that the Beat hep-cats are still cool.

22. Behind the Candelabra

The Movie: Deemed too gay by Hollywood, Soderberghs Liberace biopic slipped into bed with HBO and gave us one hell of a ride. It had plenty to say about fame, and it bulged with wit, pathos and Matt Damons tackle.

Impact: HBO's involvement blurred the divide between film and TV some more, although the rest of the world--including the UK--had no such quibbles and put it on the big screen. And if this indeed proves to be Steven Soderbergh's swansong, he's gone out on a high.