31/12/2013 06:26 GMT | Updated 01/03/2014 05:59 GMT

The Best Films of 2013

From tales of protagonists desperate to stay airborne to those determined to land, I laughed, cried and tried to ignore illuminated mobiles as cinemagoers checked their texts. Enough preamble. Here's my pick of the 30 best films of the year.

2013: a year of some despicable films, many addressed in a previous post. However, while a few left me desolated, others were life-affirming, tear-inducing, rib-tickling, memory-scarring masterpieces.

From tales of protagonists desperate to stay airborne to those determined to land, I laughed, cried and tried to ignore illuminated mobiles as cinemagoers checked their texts.

Enough preamble. Here's my pick of the 30 best films of the year.

30: Flight: Denzel Washington's powerhouse performance in Robert Zemeckis's nail-biting drama was front-loaded with that heart-in-mouth plane stunt. The rest was a hero fights his demons 'TV movie of the week' style drama, but mostly compelling nevertheless.

29: Don Jon: Joseph Gordon Levitt wrote, directed, starred (and made the coffee) in this snappy, sassy, sexy study of an Italian American porn-obsessed alpha male. Scarlett Johansson and Julianne Moore added colour and depth.

28: White House Down: Best of the bonkers DC-based Die Hard clones. Hero Channing Tatum and US President Jamie Foxx bounced off each other beautifully, while bad guy James Woods chewed chunks of scenery. Roland Emmerich's most engaging hit since '2012'.

27: The Hobbit-The Desolation of Smaug: Inevitably for the second of a trilogy, this had no start and no end. However, it also had bad effects in places, but was likeable enough, despite the padding. Martin Freeman and the barrels scene both unmissable.

26: The Great Gatsby: Baz Luhrmann's 3D take on F Scott Fitzgerald's classic boasted OTT visuals, a great cast and a killer soundtrack. Alas, too many references to 'old sport', but like Lana Del Rey's haunting theme, Leo, Tobey and Carey's collaboration lingered.

25: Iron Man 3: The most lucrative film of the year wasn't the best. A weak second act and OTT finale let the side down, but nobody does snarky superheroes better than Robert Downey Jnr; that left-turn plot development was a treat, and Brian Tyler's closing track, Can You Dig It, was a funky masterpiece. Roll on IM4.

24: Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa: This brilliantly localised comedy refused to fall into the the sitcom movie adaptation trap of 'same characters on holiday'. Steve Coogan retained his title of one of the world's greatest comedy assets.

23: Saving Mr Banks: Despite too many Australia flashbacks weakening the story structure, the dream team of Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks made this 'making of Mary Poppins' drama a welcome treat. Moving, funny, uplifting.

22: The Way Way Back: Heartwarming rites of passage comedy drama. Boasted a top against type perf from Steve Carell, the ever brilliant Toni Collette, and an outstanding Sam Rockwell as the young hero's surrogate older brother. In short: Little Mr Sunshine.

21: Anchorman 2: Troubled, especially during that crushingly unfunny family dinner scene, but on the whole a bonkers gem from Will Ferrell, Steve Carell and company. Was still laughing as I left the theatre, which hasn't happened in a long time.

20: Byzantium: Neil Jordan's return to form with a full-blooded vampire saga. Gemma Arterton superb as the lascivious blood sucker; Saiorse Ronan wonderfully otherworldly as her surrogate daughter. Sexy, scary and seductive.

19:World War Z: Brad Pitt tackled zombies in this epic spin on Max Brooks' literary history of the world (outbreak) part one. Epic where needed, but when in danger of losing focus via too many CG zombies, it turned into a gripping Torchwood-style thriller during the Welsh finale. In a prescient move, Peter Capaldi popped up a WHO doctor.

18: Wreck-it Ralph: Tron met Donkey Kong via Toy Story in this mash-up of great video games, with a superb vocal cast, including John C Reilly and Jane Lynch.

17: Stoker: Weird and wonderful gothic family drama with Matthew Goode and Nicole Kidman giving fine turns. Poetic, haunting and lyrical.

16: Thor-The Dark World: The second hammer stroke was funnier, louder and more resonant. Chris Hemsworth's Asgardian warrior on the Tube was screen gold, while Tom Hiddleston stole every shot he was in.

15: About Time: Richard Curtis did Groundhog Day and Back to the Future in a feelgood tearjerker which left a million blokes phoning their dads just to say hello. Hankies required.

14: We're the Millers: Jennifer Aniston shone as a sexy stripper roped into fake family themed drug-running caper. And that kid from Son of Rambow? Brilliant.

13: Doctor Who - Day of the Doctor: After years of yelling at the TV, wondering why the BBC didn't screen some of the best David Tennant episodes on the big screen, they finally did... in 3D for the 50th anniversary episode. It was fabulous, unlike Matt Smith's humdrum TV swansong.

12: Rush: (Name drop/pending pun alert) Jackie Stewart told me Daniel Bruhl was more like Nikki Lauda than the man himself in Rush. And he should know. It may have looked like another Chris Hemsworth vehicle (as hedonist Brit racer James Hunt) but Bruhl stole the show in Ron Howard's best film for years. That throat-Hoovering scene was painfully unforgettable.

11: Man of Steel: Sombre, epic, overlong and brutal, but Zack Snyder and Christopher Nolan's Superman spin was must-see big screen viewing. Henry Cavill excelled as the eponymous hero, while Michael Shannon's General Zod was a suitably unnerving antagonist.

10: The East: Subversive shoestring thriller which boasted a standout dinner table scene, a great party trick for Come Dine With Me: diners sit in a circle and have to eat hands-free using wooden spoons. Seemed impossible for our heroine, until she realised feeding her neighbour was the secret to her own fellow diner feeding her. Simple. Inspired. Brilliant.

9: Despicable Me 2: The most lucrative CG 'toon of the year was a surprisingly funny farce with lashings of Gallic charm... and Steve Carell again. I laughed. A lot.

8:Pacific Rim: Guillermo del Toro's love letter to Japanese monster movies was a glorious comic-book-style romp. Great special effects, giant robot fighters, Idris Elba and most importantly, a heart. Everything the later Transformers films should have been.

7: Elysium: Matt Damon was riveting as a terminally Ill, mechanically enhanced freedom fighter attempting to reach the eponymous life-giving orbiting space ring. Great effects. Alas, the dodgy Jodie Foster ADR was reminiscent of a bad Spaghetti Western.

6: Star Trek Into Darkness: JJ Abrams' bolder Enterprise was epic sci-fi at its best. Great Michael Giacchino score too. Benedict Cumberbatch's Khan 2 attitude gave this depth, while the opening (especially in IMAX) and that ship-to-ship jump scene were breathtaking. JJ's Star Wars VII now more promising than ever.

5: Django Unchained: Quentin Tarantino's overlong revenge Western boasted a great script and superb performance from Christoph Waltz. A shame QT spoiled it with his awful cameo, but this was rip-roaring, disturbing and captivating. Leo DiCaprio and Sam Jackson were outstanding as the bad guys.

4: The Happy Lands: Robert Rae's star-free, community acted depiction of the 1920s Fife miner's strike was a powerful piece of work, beautifully lensed by the late Scott Ward. Not perfect, but a rough, sparkling diamond.

3: Captain Phillips: Tom Hanks' Lazarus-like comeback began with this nail-bitingly gripping fact-based thriller from Paul Greengrass. Oscar for Hanks? Hopefully.

2: Philomena: Thanks to a great script by Jeff Pope and Steve Coogan, as well as a top turn by Coogan and Judi Dench, the tale of an Irish mum's forgiveness after partaking in an enforced adoption packed a greater punch than most blockbusters. Oscars and Baftas await.

1: Gravity: Thrilling, moving, exhausting. Sandra Bullock deserves a shuttle-full of awards for her performance, the effects dazzled, while Steven Price's superb score has been on hard rotation on my iPod since.