I know, I’m late for this! Unfortunately, my schedule and location did not allow me to see all the movies I wanted to in 2013, so it took me a while to catch up. There are still several movies I need to see but at this point, I’ve seen enough movies that my Top 10 list is really turning into Top 10 Runner-Ups, Top 10 Other Runner-Ups That I Forgot About, Another 10 Because Why Not, and so on.
I say it every year and I’ll say it again, top 10 lists are silly. Why are we ranking films?
Because it’s silly and fun and really, that’s why.
So let’s get to it:
10.) YOU’RE NEXT
This is how you make thrilling movies, okay? It’s a character-driven contained home invasion film that manages to be smart, funny, terrifying, and inventive, often in the same beat. That is highly unusual. I thought the movie was a blast while I was watching it but it wasn’t until I got home and tried to go to sleep without checking under the bed and in the closet and behind all the doors that I realized just how effective it was.
9.) THE WORLD’S END
Edgar Wright’s third entry in the Cornetto trilogy is his most mature movie to date. This movie probably takes more viewings to really get than Shaun of the Dead or Hot Fuzz but it’s worth a revisit. Wright explores the nature of alcoholism through an intricately constructed apocalyptic prism and his action sequences have never been more fun. Simon Pegg gives his best performance yet, walking an incredible tightrope between pathetic and sympathetic.
I wasn’t going to put Gravity on this list. I really loved the film but I thought something else would bump it out. And something else did. But then Gravity bumped right back in all over again. How can you deny the stunning craft on display here? Alfonso Cuarón and Emmanuel Lubezki are my dream team of Director/DOP and the feat they have pulled off is stunning. It is the epic movie of the year.
7.) THE WOLF OF WALL STREET
I know, all my friends hated this movie. Well, tough. I laugh every time an older director talks about how their career is coming to an end and retirement is just around the corner, because it usually means they’ve got something up their sleeves. Boy, did Scorsese ever! This is the movie most beginning filmmakers would kill to make, even though it would probably kill them instead.
6.) DALLAS BUYERS CLUB
The movie I thought I would hate was one of my favorites. Of all the movies on this list, this one flew by the fastest for me. The performances are extraordinary, the writing taut and full of surprises. Everything about the concept should scream Oscar-bait, but it comes across instead as one of the most emotionally urgent films I’ve seen this year.
5.) FRANCES HA
I knew I was going to love Frances Ha pretty much as soon as I heard of it and it still managed to surprise me. From the gorgeous black and white cinematography to the intricate performance of Greta Gerwig, Noah Baumbach’s wonderful character study provides a truly exceptional look at the single life of somebody who just hasn’t figured anything out yet.
4.) THE ACT OF KILLING
In 20 years, they will talk about how The Act of Killing changed the face of documentary filmmaking. Maybe in less time than that. Joshua Oppenheimer’s movie is unlike anything I’ve seen before. Watch out for anything this man does in the future because he is taking us places.
3.) SHORT TERM 12
Child abuse is a difficult topic to talk about but Short Term 12 begins a dialogue. This movie isn’t just surprisingly entertaining, it is necessary. I wouldn’t just recommend this movie to my friends, I’d insist they watch it. Brie Larson strips down emotionally to expose everything she’s got in a heart-wrenching performance that stands as one of this year’s best, and the supporting cast matches her vulnerability note for note. Everything from the script to the incredible song written for the film is honest and true and important.
Spike Jonze just gets me, man. Maybe that’s all there is to it. I would like to think he gets a lot more about modern humanity than we’d like to admit. Her isn’t about technology at all, it’s about humanity. It’s about empathy. Teddy doesn’t fall in love with his phone, he falls in love with Samantha. It’s not about Artificial Intelligence, it’s about real emotion and the capacity to love that resides within all of us. Ultimately, it’s a film about hope and possibility.
1.) INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS
I’ve already ranted about how much I love this movie and I don’t see that changing. The Coen Brothers have re-established, yet again, themselves as masters of their craft with a niche carved out just for them. This is their most personal work to date, a haunting, but ultimately heartfelt film about loss and embracing that loss to turn it into something beautiful.
There are still so many films I have to see that I just didn’t get a chance to for one reason or another. That’s the beauty of this, isn’t it? So… what’s your list?