Film.com Staff December 24, 2013
Oh, what a year it’s been at the movies! Inarguably the best year for film since 2012, and possibly 2011 before that.
Okay, clearly we’re a bit spent when it comes to reflecting on the year that was, and each of the various features below opens with a lucid and wise look back on the movies that defined the last 12 months. So before we get to the site’s official, collective list of the year’s 10 best, enjoy all of our Year in Review coverage in one convenient place:
THE 10 BEST FILMS OF 2013: FILM.COM’S OFFICIAL LIST:
And now for the final touch. The site’s official list was assembled rather simply. Nine writers submitted their ranked top 10 lists. Each #1 pick was awarded 10 points, each #2 pick was awarded 9 points, and so on and so on. Obviously that formula favors films that had a slightly broader appeal and explicitly works against more polarizing choices, but we encourage you to to take a close look at the writers’ individual lists on the 2nd page of this post. With 90 possible slots, 52 different films received votes, which is compelling evidence that 2013 offered great movies for viewers of all kinds.
From all of us at Film.com, thank you so very much for reading.
Honorable Mentions: “Museum Hours”, “Short Term 12”, “At Berkeley”, “The Wolf of Wall Street”, “Mud”, “Beyond the Hills”, “The Wind Rises”, “Philomena”, “Spring Breakers”
10.) STORIES WE TELL (Sarah Polley)
“Any attempt to portray an event through personal recollection is already a doomed affair, as the past is remembered falsely, our minds working overtime to change events, making them more palatable or interesting, sometimes even worse. Polley seems to believe that if she can get enough personal accounts of the same stories, that there’s a way to sift down through the silt to a few grains of truth that might explain not only who she is, but who they all are. It is in our relation to one another, and especially in our relation to our families, that we are reflected back most truly.”
9.) FRANCES HA (Noah Baumbach)
“To be fair, the film is so engaging because it’s so damn funny. Baumbach and Gerwig’s co-authored script is lucky enough to be populated with people who place a premium on being quotable, so les bon mots are frequent and furious. It’s Nick and Nora Charles removed from the Waldorf-Astoria and placed in a Brooklyn walkup. If you cross your arms at this film and say, “fmmf, people don’t really talk like THAT,” well, sorry, you just need to find cooler friends.”
8.) THE WORLD’S END (Edgar Wright)
“Gary’s anxiety over shedding his teenage mindset for a rational adult existence is palpable throughout, countered equally well by Frost’s long-simmering frustrations over his comrade’s self-destructive tendencies. Both kinds of fights offset a certain degree of familiarity with the formula of Wright’s informal blood-and-ice-cream trilogy. A knowing take on movies and maturity alike, ‘The World’s End’ is just as thoroughly thoughtful as those which came before it, and maybe more than ever, you’ll find yourself laughing to keep from crying.”
7.) BEFORE MIDNIGHT (Richard Linklater)
“If Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy do indeed give their beloved Celine and Jesse a break from reuniting every nine years in a different European locale to hash out their romance, no small comfort could be taken from the fact that “Before Midnight” manages to be an emotionally astute and tremendously enjoyable conclusion to this rather improbable trilogy.”
6.) BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR (Abdellatif Kechiche)
“Love comes in all kinds of flavors but none linger like first love. It might not be the right love, or the best love, but it is a transformative love, a necessary love – and there is no dearth of films that have tried to capture its special blend of exuberance and heartbreak. Abdellatif Kechiche’s ‘Blue Is The Warmest Color’ (also known as ‘La Vie D’Adele: Chapitre 1 & 2’) ranks in the very highest percentile of such attempts. If you don’t see yourself in its fierce depiction of intense emotion I both envy and pity you. It is a masterpiece of the genre, a damn near perfect film.”
5.) LEVIATHAN (Lucien Castaing-Taylor & Verena Paravel)
“The fish-eyed view of the world offered by ‘Leviathan’ is made all the more alien by its fleeting human counterpoints — those brief on-board excursions among the ship’s thoroughly waterlogged crew. It’s telling that despite the natural vigor of the footage captured at the bleeding edge of possibility, ‘Leviathan’s’ most memorable sequence is a static long take filmed in the inner reaches of the boat’s lower decks: there we find a lone crewman watching the heightened reality of one of those ‘extreme’ fishing shows on the Discovery Channel, bored senseless and gradually drifting off to sleep. It’s perhaps co-directors Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Verena Paravel’s boldest move, but the payoff is immeasurable.”
4.) GRAVITY (Alfonso Cuarón)
“Much like any art form, great cinema is defined by its ability to transport those who experience it — to an invented place, to a bygone time, even into a stranger’s state of mind. The medium can take us where we could never otherwise go, and in the case of Alfonso Cuarón’s effortlessly riveting ‘Gravity,’ it can introduce us to fears that we never knew we should have in the first place.”
3.) HER (Spike Jonze)
“Perhaps the most striking thing about Spike Jonze’s ‘Her’, a tender Vonnegut-esque fable about a man who falls in love with his phone’s sentient operating system, is how seldom the film feels like a high-concept exercise. It’s to the immense credit of Jonze’s script, a sensitive and genuinely curious look at programmed living and the follies of possessive love that unfolds like “When Harry Met Skynet”, that the film’s central relationship ultimately feels like a somewhat typical portrait of modern romance. The story evinces such empathy for its characters and respect for their emotions that the film never threatens to become a gawking sideshow that makes a spectacle of redeeming its hero (I’m looking at you, ‘Lars and the Real Girl’), and the movie’s premise seldom overwhelms its plot. Of course, in this day and age it would be harder to imagine someone who isn’t in love with their cell phone.”
2.) 12 YEARS A SLAVE (Steve McQueen)
“’12 Years a Slave’ might be the most grimly accurate depiction of American slavery committed to film, which in turn threatens to render monotonous countless inhumane offenses as the story stretches into its third hour. It’s not that McQueen and writer John Ridley (working from Northup’s own memoir) could help it, assuming they even wanted to. The subject matter doesn’t exactly invite comic relief, while cutting away to Solomon’s surely concerned family up north would have rung false and detracted from such an aptly oppressive experience.
McQueen nonetheless manages to reinvigorate these cruelties on each occasion, whether cutting between the sounds of music and the sights of agony during scenes of mandatory celebration or forced separation, or subtly incorporating his trademark long take during an extended whipping scene as the potential for maximum emotional and physical anguish aligns with a harsh sense of inevitability.”
1.) INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS (Ethan & Joel Coen)
“While I do sometimes get misty-eyed at the movies, it’s rare that tears ever start pouring down my face. And when it happens (and, again, it’s rare) it most often happens at some point of catharsis – when characters I know and love experience great triumph or tragedy. Why was it, then, that I was bawling at the five-minute mark during Joel and Ethan Coen’s ‘Inside Llewyn Davis?’ The story hadn’t started. I didn’t even know anyone’s name. Was it the cat?”
READ OUR WRITERS’ INDIVIDUAL TOP 10 LISTS ON PAGE 2
Categories: FeaturesTags: 10 Best Films of 2013, 12 Years a Slave, Calum Marsh, Daniel Walber, David Ehrlich, Eric d. snider, Gravity, Her, Inside Llewyn Davis, Jake Cole, Jordan hoffman, Kate Erbland, Laremy legel, Sandie angulo chen, Top 10, Year in Review