Saturday, January 18, 2014

Jeremy's Top 10 (+41) Films of 2013

It was a good year. I can't believe how many films were at least contenders for honorable mention (which a film can receive for excelling in certain areas, even if other elements are flawed). 

NOTE: The film I most lament not seeing yet at time of list-making is "The Wind Rises."

1. Inside Llewyn Davis
Joel and Ethan Coen have made a lot of great films, but perhaps none so poignant as this portrait of an aimless folk musician who's failing in his career and at life. It's hard not to keep coming back to this film, reliving it .

2. Upstream Color
Another film that's hard to forget, Shane Carruth's surreal sci-fi odyssey taps into the difficulty of understanding human behavior and connections to other people. The writer/director's followup to "Primer" is a hypnotic poem of tone, color and rhythm.

3. TIE: The Consequences of Love / The Great Beauty
Paolo Sorrentino made "The Consequences of Love" in 2004 and "The Great Beauty" in 2013, but the former didn't come out in the United States until this year. Both films are excellent character studies boosted by leading man Toni Servillo, and both display a visual master who explores his themes with surprising wit, grace and style. 

4. Before Midnight
The "Before" films, starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, have more layers of power every time director Richard Linklater adds another chapter to them. Here, the couple we first met in 1995 struggles with disappointment, doubt and insecurity about their places in life. The film features great dialogue with Linklater and his stars' long dialogues, which mount to a glorious crescendo of emotions.

5. Blancanieves
Some of the most inventive, energetic filmmaking of the year came out of the past. Spanish director Pablo Berger retold the Snow White story with a full arsenal of silent film vocabulary, drawing heavily on the great European directors of the 1920s while crafting his own unique story.

6. Museum Hours
When you immerse yourself in art, a city or a human being, you find the most fascinating things. Writer/director Jem Cohen's contemplative film is a sweet work about the awkwardness and excitement that comes with making new friends and discovering a foreign place.

7. Blue is the Warmest Color
Ten years of passion is delivered like a punch to the face in Abdellatif Kechiche's story of a woman coming of age with an intense love affair. Adèle Exarchopoulos gives one of the year's best performances in the lead role.

8. Her
"Her" is a touching love story and a refreshingly atypical vision of future architecture, design and fashion. (No one would've batted an eye had everyone been wearing skin-tight spandex, but put men in high-waisted pants and everyone freaks the fuck out.) Spike Jonze explores the pitfalls of interacting with other people, and the very essence of what makes you a person.

9. All Is Lost
Lots of recent films have dealt with the struggle to stay alive in isolated circumstances, but "All is Lost" does so without contrivances, and with extremely efficient, smart visual storytelling. Although, personally, I would have said fuck a lot more than Robert Redford's character does.

10. The Wolf of Wall Street
It has a ton of great scenes, but Martin Scorsese's madcap exploration of excess and financial corruption will forever be embedded in my mind thanks to the Lemmon 714 sequence. It's the hardest I've laughed at a film in years, and features brilliant physical comedy from Leonardo DiCaprio.

11 Tied for 11th:
Ain't Them Bodies Saints
Beyond the Hills
Blue Jasmine
Frances Ha
Something in the Air
A Touch of Sin (Jia Zhangke)
The Paradise Trilogy
The Wind Rises
The World's End

Honorable Mention:
The Angel's Share
The Act of Killing 
The Attack
The Bling RIng
Computer Chess
Crystal Fairy
Fill the Void
Ginger & Rosa
A Hijacking
The Hunt
The Lone Ranger
Mother of George
Our Nixon
An Oversimplification of Her Beauty
The Past
Post Tenesbras Lux
The Selfish Giant
Spring Breakers
Strange Little Cat
The Square
This is Martin Bonner
This is the End
To the Wonder
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