MY TOP TEN FILMS OF 2013
I know I take overlong hiatus from my blogging career, but it’s all about the fun of it and less about the number of posts. Quality above quantity right? No? Well I’m sorry then. I guess you don’t want to hear what my top ten favorite movies are; there’s the door…
WAIT WAIT COME BACK PLEASE! It’s so lonely out here in movie oblivion.
Look, this year was one of the best years of cinema since I honestly cannot remember. So, let’s get this party started.
DISCLAIMER: This is merely my favorites of the year and what I deemed best. For all I know you thought these were shit. So don’t take my word for it…or do if you love me.
Films I missed: The Wind Rises, Frozen, The Hunt, Blue is the Warmest Color, Philomena, Enough Said
Stoker (Dir. Chan-Wook Park)
We start our list with a film that will have you missing the days of ‘Psycho’ and ‘Les Diaboliques.’ First time writer Wentworth Miller (the dude from ‘Prison Break’) scribed a dandy of a Hitchcokian story. The three leads in Kidman, Wasikowska, and the eerie Matthew Goode, combined with ‘Oldboy’ director Chan-Wook Park’s beautiful visual storytelling make this film a delight from start to finish. It is a great mystery thriller that will keep you in the dark about its true intentions until the bitter end.
Favorite scene: Uncle Charlie gives India a piano lesson.
Gravity (Dir. Alfonso Cuaron)
The talented Alfonso Cuaron attempted (and mostly succeeded) in creating the next sci-fi epic classic in ‘Gravity.’ The film has become the new event movie, and if you see this one in an IMAX theater you will experience no greater thrill ride that will leave you holding your breath and digging your nails into the gum under the theater seats. Sandra Bullock is wonderful as the inexperienced rookie and George Clooney plays George Clooney. While the film shows off some of the greatest visual effects of all time at a break neck pace, it also suffers from shallow/common characterization and some of the cheesiest dialogue one has heard this side of ‘Man of Steel.’ Still this is one that should not be missed while in theaters.
Favorite scene: The initial debris field. Sets everything in motion.
Captain Phillips (Dir. Paul Greengrass)
It’s been a long time since Tom Hanks has been in a classic live-action film, and this year he did it in spades. Hanks goes toe to toe with a terrifying newcomer in Barkhad Abdi who wishes to hijack Capt. Phillips’ boat. Paul Greengrass yet again skillfully directs the action never making you feel nauseous by his hand held shooting, and always keeping you in the story regardless of whether you know the ultimate outcome. This and the two leads truly make this a thrilling action film to see.
Favorite scene: Hanks in the last ten minutes make this a career defining performance.
10. SAVING MR. BANKS (Dir. John Lee Hancock)
Yep, as snobby as I am I could not help but be emotionally invested in John Lee Hancock’s follow up to ‘The Blind Side.’ ‘Saving Mr. Banks’ transcends the usually forced emotional content that comes with making-of and biopic films and instead presents you with a look at how parents not only shape their children, but more-so influence what they will do for a living and why. Pitch perfect casting all around from Mr. Hanks (who becomes Walt Disney before your very eyes) all the way to Jason Schwartzman and BJ Novak as The Boys. This is not just a schmaltzy mainstream Hollywood film I could live with people seeing, but one I may want to watch again myself.
Favorite scene: Mrs. Travers is introduced to “Let’s Go Fly a Kite.”
9. INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS (Dir. Joel & Ethan Coen)
Is Llewyn Davis a musician ahead of his time, or just a pretentious douchebag? This one was a very tough call for me. Upon an initial viewing it is very hard to really enjoy ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’, but after thinking about it and letting it digest I have a feeling this movie will warm up to me more over the years. Returning to the realm of surrealism they set forward in films such as ‘Barton Fink’ and ‘A Serious Man’, the Coen Bros. yet again challenge their audience to escape into the world of the Village in Manhattan during the rise of folk music. The soundtrack is filled to the brim with great songs, and even in the absence of their usual director of photography Roger Deakins, the Coens and DP Brunel Debonnel manage to transport you into that place, that time, that moment. If you love the Coens, this should not be missed.
Favorite scene: Llewyn takes a gig recording “Hey Mr. Kennedy.”
8. THE WORLD’S END (Dir. Edgar Wright)
It’s both sweet and sad to see the Cornetto Trilogy reach its ultimate climax, but what a way to go out. (with the world’s end…see what I did there?) Headed by what will go down as one of the most underrated comedic performances in Simon Pegg as the disturbed Gary King, the ensemble cast is absolutely brilliant with a perfect script to support their talents. Director Edgar Wright yet again nails every aspect of filmmaking from shot composition to editing to the soundtrack. The film is absolutely balls-to-the-wall madness and it is a must-see.
Favorite scene: The initial montage really let’s you know what you are in store for. (Wink-wink)
7. UPSTREAM COLOR (Dir. Shane Carruth)
After taking a very long break from filmmaking after his sci-fi classic ‘Primer’, auteur Shane Carruth finally returns with yet another modern masterpiece. Taking notes from Terrence Malick and Stanley Kubrick, Carruth constructs a cerebral plot wrapped in a blanket of beautiful cinematography, music, and acting (all of which he is a part of). Co-starring is the talented Amy Seimetz as Carruth’s new girlfriend. The two have great chemistry, which really helps give their relationship and the film weight. Lastly (but definitely not least) is Andrew Sensenig as the mysterious Sampler, who is the true lynchpin of the film both plot-wise and emotionally speaking. Nearly every frame of the film looks like a portrait. This one will leave you breathless.
Favorite scene: The final montage, connecting all the pieces together.
6. AMERICAN HUSTLE (Dir. David O. Russell)
The con is on! Yet again we are privy to an ensemble con-artist film, that yet again works. David O. Russell makes you forget about Danny Ocean and introduces you to the spirit of the 70’s. Hustle is filled with many nods and winks to Martin Scorsese and Paul Thomas Anderson’s ‘Boogie Nights’, yet is still able to be its own story. Christian Bale and Jennifer Lawrence vanish into their roles, and this is no discredit to Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams, or Jeremy Renner, who all deliver when needed. This is a fun film plain and simple. It has a great pace, great soundtrack, and some of the best performances of the year.
Favorite scene: Richie reaches his breaking point with Sydney, and Irving interferes.
5. FRANCES HA (Dir. Noah Baumbach)
Most of Noah Baumbach’s work have been a tough pill to swallow for me. His characters usually seem whiney and pretentious and I just cannot relate to them (or maybe they’re too relatable to me). But with Frances, he and Greta Gerwig have made one of the most endearing characters in modern cinema. Baumbach brings back the idea that Manhattan can be a character in itself (in beautiful black and white) and Frances is left on her own to tango with it (and boy can that girl dance). Gerwig is beyond lovable in this film, and you cannot stop sympathizing and rooting for her to succeed (is it obvious I now have crush on her?). If you’re looking for the feel-good movie of the year, ya found it kid.
Favorite scene: Frances dances down a New York City street and into cinematic history.
4. BEFORE MIDNIGHT (Dir. Richard Linklater)
Coming from a heart-warmer like ‘Frances Ha’, we move into one of the most soul crushing films I saw this year. Richard Linklater executes yet another perfect entry into his ‘Before’ series. The brutal realism of where Celine and Jesse have come from their sweet beginings is an earnest and honest portrayal of human emotions and the relationships we have. Linklater, Hawke, and Delpy again prove themselves to be masters of dialogue and characterization and put you square in the emotionally darkest depths of a relationship you will ever see. It’ll make you cry, it’ll make you smile, and it’ll make you wanting this series to go on forever.
Favorite scene: Celine and Jesse have their confrontation in the hotel room.
3. THE WOLF OF WALL ST. (Dir. Martin Scorsese)
DiCaprio and Scorsese yet again deliver when needed in bringing you another classic rock-n-roll, curse your brain out, snort some coke, take some loods, and strap yourself the fuck in thrill ride of a picture. Wolf is a runaway train you just cannot wait to see crash into a wall. Every bump and switch-track leaves your eyes widened in disbelief that such acts can really be happening before you. DiCaprio and Jonah Hill are forces of nature in this movie. Nearly all of the characters have their moments of extreme animalistic behavior, but DiCaprio and Hill do it from beginning to end. Three hours fly by as you feel like you’re, much like the title character, in a state of drug induced delirium. The film in the end teaches you more or less the intoxicating effects of money and power.
Favorite scene: Time to take the lemons, the super-loods.
2. HER (Dir. Spike Jonze)
Spike Jonze easily makes his best film to date in bringing us a frighteningly accurate look at humanity’s future. This is one of those films that nails literally every aspect of its production. The remarkably beautiful color palette chosen make everything pop from the sets to the wardrobe to the cinematography. This is without a doubt the most beautifully shot film of the year. Joaquin Pheonix and Amy Adams further bolster their immense filmographies with great performances, and Scarlett Johansson captures her beauty with nothing but her voice. It’s a film about not just about the time we live in, but our relationships with each other; and that’s what makes it so great.
Favorite scene: Samantha takes Theodore on a trip to the amusement park.
1. TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE (Dir. Steve McQueen)
With only three films under his belt, director Steve McQueen has proven he is one of the most important and influential directors working in the industry today. ’12 Years a Slave’ makes ‘Django Unchained’ look like a game of patty cake, and replaces Tarantino’s exploitation & mandingo fighting with rich and deep characters stuck in the middle of one of America’s most disturbing and disgusting times. Chiwetel Ejiofor and Lupita Nyong’o give the performances of their lives in this film, and they are only the icing on top of this talent cake which include Michael Fassbender, Michael K. Williams, and Benedict Cumberbacht just to name a few. It is thought provoking, unforgiving, and beautiful; everything McQueen stands for as a director. This one is long and away the best picture of the year.
Favorite scene: Solomon is forced to punish Patsey on Master Epps’ behalf.