Friday, March 28, 2014

Top Ten of 2013

I'm sort of sneaking this in even though we're fully three months into 2014. I just haven't really had the chance to get around to it in the last six weeks. But here it is officially - my top ten movies of 2013.

1. 12 Years a Slave dir. Steve McQueen - An all-around brilliantly executed movie and with the added bonus of being not only historically, but contemporarily significant. This is arguably the best slave narrative in the history of filmmaking. It gets the number one spot not only because it's a great film, but for its unparalleled historical significance.

2. Her dir. Spike Jonze - A beautiful, warm, and honest romance. The only thing the movie lacked for me was a real emotional hook. I was right there with it all the way through its marvelous production design and perfect screenplay. But it never had that emotional elevation moment for me.

3. La vie d’Adéle (Blue Is the Warmest Color) dir. Abdellatif Kechiche - This got a lot of press for reasons that rather unfortunately eclipsed the fact that it's a really good movie. Here's a movie romance that did have that emotional hook, except I don't know it had me until late in the film, making it all the more powerful for its sneaky effectiveness.

4. La grande bellezza (The Great Beauty) dir. Paulo Sorrentino - An absolutely gorgeous Italian near-homage to Fellini. No doubt a deeply layered film that could be more readily peeled back by a Roman. Nonetheless, a totally enthralling picture.

5. Before Midnight dir. Richard Linklater - You might think this little gimmick would wear thin, but eighteen years later, this little collaboration between Linklater and actors Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke just keeps growing in weight and significance.

6. Much Ado About Nothing dir. Joss Whedon - He goes from one of the biggest Hollywood movies of all time to a small black and white adaptation of a Shakespeare play and turns out one of the best little confections of the year. I didn't think much of this play until seeing Whedon's adaptation and I was simply enthralled from start to finish.

7. Prisoners dir. Denis Villeneuve - A deeply flawed final twenty minutes notwithstanding, this was one of the most interesting mainstream offerings of the year. To watch Hugh Jackman crumble to pieces in a misguided attempt to get his kidnapped daughter back is gut-wrenching.

8. The Counselor dir. Ridley Scott - Everyone (critics and audiences alike) be damned! I loved this movie. Cormac McCarthy may be a better novelist than a screenwriter, but this had a quintessential McCarthy novel feel and I let Ridley Scott's breezy direction sweep me along.

9. Inside Llewyn Davis dir. Joel and Ethan Coen - The Coen brothers go challenging more American myths and folklore as well as storytelling convention. I think there's a lot more to this movie that time will reveal. Meanwhile, it's not their greatest film (quite a steep mountain to climb at this point in their careers), but it'll do for the number nine spot.

10. Captain Phillips dir. Paul Greengrass - That scene. That one scene after he's rescued and being tended to by the Navy medical team. That's what did it. That scene right there puts this at number ten.

All films seen from 2013 (based on US commercial release dates)

* reviews available on this site.
title in bold received at least one Oscar nomination.

*12 Years a Slave dir. Steve McQueen [USA]
*20 Feet from Stardom dir. Morgan Neville [USA]
*Admission dir. Paul Weitz [USA]
The Act of Killing dir. Joshua Oppenheimer [UK]
Ain't Them Bodies Saints dir. David Lowery [USA]
*All Is Lost dir. J.C. Chandor [USA]
American Hustle dir. David O. Russell [USA]
August: Osage County dir. John Wells [USA]
*Before Midnight dir. Richard Linklater [USA]
*Behind the Candelabra dir. Steven Soderbergh [USA]
*Blackfish dir. Gabriela Cowperthwaite [USA]
The Bling Ring dir. Sofia Coppola [USA]
*La vie d'Adéle (Blue Is the Warmest Color) dir. Abdellatif Kechiche [France]
*Blue Jasmine dir. Woody Allen [USA]
*The Book Thief dir. Brian Percival [USA]
*The Broken Circle Breakdown dir. Felix Van Groeningen [Belgium]
*Captain Phillips dir. Paul Greengrass [USA]
*Closed Circuit dir. John Crowley [UK]
*Computer Chess dir. Andrew Bujalski [USA]
*The Counselor dir. Ridley Scott [USA]
*The Crash Reel dir. Lucy Walker [USA]
*The Croods dir. Chris Sanders and Kirk DeMicco [USA]
*Cutie and the Boxer dir. Zachary Heinzerling [USA]
*Dallas Buyers Club dir. Jean-Marc Vallée [USA]
*Despicable Me 2 dir. Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud [USA]
*Dirty Wars dir. Rick Rowley [USA]
*Don Jon dir. Joseph Gordon-Levitt [USA]
*Elysium dir. Neill Blomkamp [USA]
*Enough Said dir. Nicole Holofcener [USA]
*Epic dir. Chris Wedge [USA]
*Ernest & Célestine dir. Stéphane Aubier, Vincent Patar, and Benjamin Renner [France and Belgium]
*The Fifth Estate dir. Bill Condon [USA]
*Frances Ha dir. Noah Baumbach [USA]
*Frozen dir. Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck [USA]
*Fruitvale Station dir. Ryan Coogler [USA]
*The Grandmaster dir. Wong Kar-wai [Hong Kong]
*Gravity dir. Alfonso Cuarón [USA]
La grande bellezza (The Great Beauty) dir. Paolo Sorrentino [Italy]
*The Great Gatsby dir. Baz Luhrmann [USA]
*Her dir. Spike Jonze [USA]
*The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug dir. Peter Jackson [USA]
*The Hunger Games: Catching Fire dir. Francis Lawrence [USA]
*The Hunt (Jagten) dir. Thomas Vinterberg [Denmark]
*Identity Thief dir. Seth Gordon [USA]
*In a World... dir. Lake Bell [USA]
*Inside Llewyn Davis dir. Joel and Ethan Coen [USA]
*The Invisible Woman dir. Ralph Fiennes [UK]
Iron Man 3 dir. Shane Black [USA]
*Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa dir. Jeff Tremaine [USA]
*Lee Daniels' The Butler dir. Lee Daniels [USA]
*A Letter to Momo dir. Okiura Hiroyuki [Japan]
Life According to Sam dir. Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine [USA]
*The Lone Ranger dir. Gore Verbinski [USA]
*Lone Survivor dir. Peter Berg [USA]
*Mama dir. Andres Muschietti [USA]
*Man of Steel dir. Zack Snyder [USA]
*Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom dir. Justin Chadwick [UK/South Africa]
*Monsters University dir. Dan Scanlon [USA]
*Much Ado About Nothing dir. Joss Whedon [USA]
*Mud dir. Jeff Nichols [USA]
*Nebraska dir. Alexander Payne [USA]
*Now You See Me dir. Louis Leterrier [USA]
*Oblivion dir. Joseph Kosinski [USA]
*Olympus Has Fallen dir. Antoine Fuqua [USA]
*Only God Forgives dir. Nicolas Winding Refn [Denmark]
*Oz the Great and Powerful dir. Sam Raimi [USA]
*Pacific Rim dir. Guillermo del Toro [USA]
*The Past dir. Asghar Farhadi [Iran]
*Philomena dir. Stephen Frears [UK]
The Place Beyond the Pines dir. Derek Cianfrance [USA]
*Prisoners dir. Denis Villeneuve [USA]
The Reluctant Fundamentalist dir. Mira Nair [USA/UK]
*Rush dir. Ron Howard [USA]
*Saving Mr. Banks dir. John Lee Hancock [USA]
*Short Term 12 dir. Destin Cretton [USA]
*Side Effects dir. Steven Soderbergh [USA]
*The Spectacular Now dir. James Ponsoldt [USA]
The Square (Al midan) dir. Jehana Noujaim [Egypt]
Star Trek Into Darkness dir. J.J. Abrams [USA]
*Stories We Tell dir. Sarah Polley [Canada]
*This Is the End dir. Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg [USA]
Tim's Vermeer dir. Teller [USA]
*To the Wonder dir. Terrence Malick [USA]
Trance dir. Danny Boyle [UK]
*Upstream Color dir. Shane Caruth [USA]
War Witch (Rebelle) dir. Kim Nguyen [Canada] - Oscar nomination was for Foreign Language Film the previous year
*The Way, Way Back dir. Nat Faxon and Jim Rash [USA]
We're the Millers dir. Rawson Marshall Thurber [USA]
*Which Way Is the Front Line from Here? The Life and Time of Tim Hetherington dir. Sebastian Junger [USA]
The Wind Rises dir. Hayao Miyazaki [Japan]
*The Wolf of Wall Street dir. Martin Scorsese [USA]
*World War Z dir. Marc Foster [USA]
The World's End dir. Edgar Wright [UK]

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