Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Top 25 Best Movies of 2013: Part I (#25-11)

My original plan of making my year-end countdown into a massive video list fell apart once I realized that my face/voice on camera was a horrifying combination more suitable for being on display in the Mutter Museum than it would as a YouTube video. The result made me quite sad, as I was hoping to nerd-out about how much I love movies for 40 minutes on video, but now that I'm typing this, I can definitely see why the very thought of this was terrible from the very beginning.

And now, before I scare everyone away, here are my top 25 favorite movies of 2013:




25. UPSTREAM COLOR



One of the more bizarre movies of the year, Shane Carruth's sophomore directorial effort was intriguing in many of the same ways as his first film, Primer. An ambitious film that manages to live up to its potential and present a unique story in a creative way that only gets better on repeat viewings.




24. AN OVERSIMPLIFICATION OF HER BEAUTY



While Upstream Color is only one of the more bizarre, unique movies of the year, this one probably takes the cake as the most. Part documentary, part fantasy, part animation, all wrapped into one strange, memorable little indie film that deserves to be seen.




23. BEYOND THE HILLS



A brilliantly-shot, slow-paced religious drama with fantastic performances and a haunting atmosphere. Though the film itself does drag at times, the slow burn of the way the story unfolds gives the film an apocalyptic sense of dread that sticks with you long after it's finished.




22. 20 FEET FROM STARDOM



An informative, entertaining, and insightful documentary filled with great music that showcases and builds appreciation for the underrated talents of the music industry. I had a lot of fun with this one, more than I have with most documentaries I've seen.




21. ALL IS LOST



Though it took me a little while to get into the events of this film, by the halfway point I was hooked and it wouldn't let go. The music, cinematography, and sound design are all terrific, with Robert Redford giving the best performance of his career. J.C. Chandor, you have my attention.




20. ENOUGH SAID



A touching romantic comedy with great performances by its two leads, and serves as an excellent send-off for James Gandolfini, who just passed away this last June. Though the story is generic and the plot is predictable, I still found myself drawn in to this movie, rooting for a happy ending for these characters. One of the most lovely, sincere, and honest movies of the year.




19. BEFORE MIDNIGHT



The possible conclusion of one of the most highly-acclaimed film trilogies ever made, this is my least favorite of the bunch but I still admired it greatly. Delpy and Hawke still have great chemistry and give nuanced performances, displaying all the maturity and difficulties of their lives in a believable fashion. The least magical and most devastating film of the three.




18. SHORT TERM 12



I'm not generally a fan of coming-of-age films, but this is one that really worked for me. Brie Larson gives one of the strongest performances of the year, helping to elevate the movie above what could have been fairly ineffective. Great performances by the whole cast, this is an emotionally resonant film with one of the best scenes of any movie from 2013.




17. THE HUNT



Easily the most aggravating movie of the year - and possibly since the 1996 adaptation of The Crucible - this movie serves as a wonderful showcase of Mads Mikkelsen's talents, as he gives the best performance of his career, and one of the best performances of the year. Emotionally-draining, powerful, brilliantly-acted, and incredibly infuriating.




16. RUSH



One of my very favorite Ron Howard films (behind only Frost/Nixon), this is a fast-paced, amazingly shot and edited racing movie with a great musical score provided by Hans Zimmer that's hampered only by its familiar plot and uninvolved characterization. But anything it may lack in the story department, it more than makes up for from a technical perspective.




15. PRISONERS



For some reason, this movie seems to have been forgotten by most critics when naming the best movies of 2013, and I can't understand why. A great cast giving some of the best performances of their careers, with a dark atmosphere and tone very reminiscent of David Fincher and great cinematography by Roger Deakins. Tense, gritty, powerful, and difficult to shake.




14. LEVIATHAN



Wait, did I say An Oversimplification Of Her Beauty was the most unique movie of the year? If I did, that was probably a lie, because this movie is really something else. A "documentary" that doesn't document much of anything, but instead works as an exercise in cinematography and editing - an exercise that, for whatever bizarre reason, had me totally mesmerized the entire time.




13. LIKE SOMEONE IN LOVE



A somewhat strange step for Kiarostami, but still very reminiscent of his previous works, this beautifully-shot melodrama has great acting and an ending that leaves enough up to the imagination to make it all the more powerful. This Japan-based Kiarostami film has all the trademarks in style and tone of the director's classic works, just in a different, equally fantastic setting.




12. GRAVITY



One of the most visually breathtaking films of the decade, this movie is worth watching even if just for the technical aspects involved in the making of it. Never before has a movie felt so much like it was really shot in space, and despite being largely CGI, never feels any less authentic. Though the writing is a bit underwhelming and the story is familiar, the overall effect is unforgettable.




11. THE PAST



Spiritual successor to the Oscar-winning A Separation, this movie doesn't quite meet the excellence of Asghar Farhadi's previous film, but still stands as one of the most powerful dramas of 2013, and makes me all the more excited to dig deeper into his filmography. Great acting, fantastic pacing, with a dramatic punch that can't be ignored, not including this movie in my top 10 of the year was difficult to do, but was a sacrifice that had to be made for reasons soon to be revealed...
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