Top 10 films of 2013: Frozen

Odd List Simon Brew 19 Dec 2013 - 07:27

We kick off our countdown of our top 10 movies of 2013 with Disney's wonderful Frozen...

Over the past few weeks, Den of Geek writers have been voting for their favourite films of the year. The votes were weighted, calculated, and compiled into a list of our favourites of 2013's films. Here, at number 10, is Frozen...

10. Frozen

I've had the joy of seeing Frozen a couple of times now, and I continue to conclude that no film of 2013 has made me quite so happy. Cards on the table: I've always loved good Walt Disney Animation Studios movies (and have remained steadfastly intolerant of the bad ones) and had lost any real hope of seeing the long-in-gestation Disney take on The Snow Queen brought to the screen.

Then the announcement came that the film was back in production. Then the announcement came that its release date had been brought forward. Then the day came when I sat back and saw the movie, unsure what kind of Disney movie I was going to get. A pretty special one, as it turned out.

I left it a few days before penning my full review of the film, which is on the site here, and then sat back a bit puzzled at some of the more negative reactions that followed. But in truth, there are criticisms of Frozen that hit. If you don't warm to the songs, for instance, you're all but out of the movie. If you're looking for a conventional fairy tale, or a slavish take on The Snow Queen, you're also out. I also get that some warm to Tangled more - a film I also have a lot of love for.

But Frozen felt very special to me, and on repeated viewings, even more so. What struck me in particular wasn't necessarily the issue of gender - although you can't help but acknowledge that this is one of only two massive films of 2013 to be headlined by two females (The Heat being the other) - but that of loneliness.

I've long held the belief that films targeted, at least in part, at younger audiences have a very special and privileged opportunity to talk about issues that otherwise are hard to sometimes address. Just look at how Tim Burton's Frankenweenie opened up themes of death and loss, and how we deal with it, woven brilliantly into the midst of a wonderful animated movie.

In the case of Frozen, we get to explore two very different, both heartbreaking perspectives on loneliness. On the one hand, we have a character who knows why they're lonely, knows why they don't fit in, and are tortured by it. On the other, there's the loneliness that has a smile plastered on it, as Anna - the film's main character - portrays continual optimism, in spite of the fact that she's got no understanding at all of why she's been left on her own. Screenwriter Jennifer Lee - who also co-directed - explored this with the character of Vanellope in Wreck-It Ralph, and she fleshes it out even more here.

On top of that, Frozen doesn't forget that its raison d'etre is to entertain, and it does just that. On the musical front, Do You Want To Build A Snowman is the highlight, the best Disney movie opening number since The Belles Of Notre Dame. The comedy hits hard too, and the sheer visual spectacle of Frozen is something to behold as well.

Then there's one key moment, that I don't want to spoil here. Just to say that at one screening of the film I attended, this resulted in the loudest gasp I'd ever heard from a cinema audience. That said moment works so well - and it's not the most important feature of Frozen at all - is testament to how well put in place everything is. There's reason and logic, there are small details attended to properly, and there's at the heart of the film the two characters I've rooted for the most on the big screen all year. Don't get me wrong: I wasn't sat during Gravity wanting Sandra Bullock to meet her maker or anything, but I really, really wanted Anna and Elsa to get together while watching Frozen.

And in a blockbuster world where goals are no longer contained, where the saving of the world is the entry-level aim, that rooting for Anna and Elsa was why Frozen worked for me. Because in the midst of the many other things I enjoyed about the film, I simply sat there wanting two lonely souls to find each other again.

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That brief tracking shot at the day of the Queen's crowning where it introduced the characters passing by is brilliant to look at, before revealing the castle in its grand glory. 'Let It Go' is my song of the year.

saw this last night and absolutely loved it! Lovely, touching, sweet, very funny... the songs were great.. and the 3D was wonderful (especially with the ice... being able to see *through* it while still knowing it was solid ice you were looking at) was just wonderful. And yes... we had that gasp from everyone too. So much that it got a giggle right after as everyone realised they'd all gasped "ooooh!!!' or "ohhhh no!" at the same time.

Lovely stuff!

Not seen Frozen yet - may take my daughters to it over Xmas - but wanted to pick up the comment on Disney songs. You said "Bells of Notre Dame" was your previous favourite, I'm more in love with pretty much all the songs in "Princess and the Frog". 'Going Down The Bayou" was a particular fave. I know music is always subjective, but what do my fellow DoGs think?

I absolutely loved 'Tangled', but having seen it twice I couldn't sing you one song from it. I saw 'Frozen' on Sunday and have woken up 'Let It Go' in my head every morning this week, and can also easily recall Olaf's song about summer and the aforementioned 'Do You Want to Build a Snowman'. Which, incidentally, made me cry two minutes into the film (and I'm a 32 year old guy)!

I thought it was fantastic and the animation was sublime. It's excellent for the whole family for so many reasons, not least of which is that it sends a good message about sisterly love and doesn't end in the traditional way that you expect a Disney film to end that features Princesses and handsome Princes. Great characters, great songs, great action and a real emotional journey with a liberal sprinkling of comedy - what more could you want from a Disney movie?

Seen this twice in 4 days now. Once with my 3 1/2 year old and last night with my partner. Enjoyed just as much the second time.
The Micky Mouse short at the beginning blew me away. Incredibly ambitious and very enjoyable. The more remarkable feat is that Uncle Walt himself voices Mickey.
I agree with so many here, "Let It Go" is incredible. A beautiful song about self acceptance and being happy with yourself. A message that should hopefully inspire young people to be far more accepting of others or to be true to themselves.
A part of me wishes they had taken the film down a slightly darker route. They skirt around the edges of showing how a good person can fall from grace and be perceived as "bad" by others but it's Disney so they couldn't go too far off the beaten path. Sven and Olaf are a great comedy duo and it doesn't follow all of the Disney tropes.
At 33 years old, I make no apology of welling up at "Would you like to build a snowman" and "Let It Go". Just an absolutely magical film.
PS - With the cameo of the two leads from Tangled, could we see some sort of Disney Princesses Assemble film in a few years? How awesome would that be? :D

I've seen Frozen twice already and it's absolutely fantastic. I like that it dares to deviate from fairytale formula, especially with its interesting ending. Could've done with a climactic musical number, but that's my only criticism.

I saw this the other day (in French unfortunately, as the English language version isn't being shown in Rennes), and although I thought it was pretty good, I don't think it's 'Top 10 of the year' good; at least one film (Django Unchained) should have been higher placed than this in your rankings, but oh well, such is life when it comes to lists like these.

I have to agree with your comments on what I assume to be the major twist moment I think you're referring to, though. That was cold (no pun intended), and it got me hook, line and sinker too.

Do You Want To Build A Snowman isn't the opening number. It's also awful. Lyrically and musically. At least some of the others have good music attached (although none of them have good lyrics).

My girlfriend also had the issue that all of the characters talk (or sing) like they're in 2013, not in 19th(?) century Norway. Compare this with the Disney renaissance films, where they all have classical speaking styles, with the exception of the non-human characters like Sebastian and the Genie. This didn't bother me as much as, say, rhyming door with more 4 times in the space of 3 songs... but I still think it's a valid criticism.

I'll admit it's got some strong character ideals, but how they are arrived at is very clunky. Very vague 'And then Elsa hurts Anna', 'And then the trolls fixed her', 'And then Elsa or her parents decided she should be kept away' 'And then the parents died and Anna never saw Elsa again, or perhaps she did but only rarely, and Anna was trapped in the castle by someone who wasn't her parents who were dead or her sister who was ignoring her, but someone else who we never see' 'And then Elsa brings back the Snowman by accident just because'. Now, some of the payoffs are quite good (the scene at the coronation party where Elsa accidentally shows off her powers packs a bit of a punch), but without the proper setup it feels quite hollow. The film is gorgeous, but the script needed a lot more work.

For my money, Hunchback has some of the finest songs in the Disney canon, beautiful lyrics attached to emotionally flowing music. (Bells of Notre Dame has lyrics like 'At a figure whose clutches were iron as much as the Bells...' those are some powerful and beautiful lyrics right there)

The Princess and the Frog had some very fun songs too. It's a while since I've listened to the soundtrack (I should probably dig it out), but my general impression was that the songs were all good, if somewhat derivative of previous Disney efforts. Friends on the Other Side is kind of a twisted version of Friend Like Me (in style and musically: listen to the final line and imagine Genie dancing to it). When I'm Human is similar in idea (if not similar in music) to Human Again from Beauty and the Beast (extended edition), and there were a few other things that stuck out. That said, I enjoyed it, and the songs were certainly good fun.

(Have just watched Bayou on youtube, and the music is great, if the lyrics very simplistic. But it's coming from simpler characters, and it's only a minute long, so it works fine. Friends on the Other Side has much more complex lyrics, and that suits that character perfectly too)

But is Do You Want To Build a Snowman as good as Let's Build a Snowman from Cannibal the Musical??

I'm near Rennes too! Went to see the Hobbit in 48fps instead of Frozen last weekend. It's a shame they didn't have it in English.

Nice! I went to see The Hobbit last week end, too. I'm not sure which film you're referring to when you say they didn't have it in English, but my local Gaumont definitely has the new Hobbit film in VO.

What are you doing in Rennes, by the way?

I loved Frozen but as a lover of musicals my only gripe was they seemed to forget about the songs for the last twenty minutes. It should have finished with a huge show stopper.

I saw it twice and loved it, definitely one of my favorite films of the year and definitely the best animated film of the year. It is such an unexpected deviation from the norm. If you think about it, Frozen has a really dark and somber tone throughout. Even the humor which is great does not detract from the sadness. A lot of emotional turmoil and character complexity going on in there. The songs are very essential as they represent dialogue in song, emotional expression and story progression, they are not fillers.

There is a lot of foreshadowing in the songs and each song has darkness and sadness in it, if not immediately when heard then later when the story progresses and certain norms are shattered. Frozen heart at the beginning foreshadows a lot if you hear the lyrics. Fixer Upper may be happy but it has a lot of profound wisdom based on Anna and her sister if listened to well. Fixer Upper also may seem like a filler but it has a great life lesson and ingeniously showcases Elsa's feelings and provides the solution to certain predicaments. You have to pay attention to the lyrics. Disney really hit i out of the park and then some with Frozen.

I adore nearly all Disney films and Frozen is no exception, absolutely loved it. It is just different and in a great way. Though i would really love to see the romantic sweet central aspect brought back in later fairy tale adaptations from Disney, something like Tangled and The Princess and the Frog. Though that is just me.

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