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Added by robertstackvoice on 1 Dec 2013 04:58
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best films of 2013

Presented again in alphabetical order. I went with a top 18 instead of 20 as there are two very specific films I have no way of seeing until next spring. Its annoying but I still love this list, hopefully you guys do as well.

Honorable mentions: Before Midnight, The Conjuring, Short Term 12, Pacific Rim, Dirty War, Blackfish, A Band Called Death, Captain Phillips and Room 237.
Sort by: Showing 18 items
Decade: Rating: List Type:
Frankly 12 Years A Slave had me constantly surprised and thoroughly engrossed. Now in general I did think this would be a strong and effecting film. And imagined it would be well acted and well shot. But also imagined it would be despair filled. There came my surprise. It avoided the over brutalization that occasionally comes with slavery films.

Now this isn't to say its fucking cheery. Its extremely moving but it also doesn't dwell. It continues moving and paces itself excellently. Always while exceeding my assumptions. John Ridley's screenplay is poetic and while I understand the criticism over the occasional monologist style, I absolutely love it. This is a film filled with talented performers let's see them perform. And in addition create a dreamy, frightening and sometimes portrait-sque vision of the south.
Set during the English civil war, a group of deserters come across an alchemist who recruits them to find treasure he's lost. This is the easiest way to explain this surreal mind fuck. And I say this lovingly.

From the brain trust of Amy Jump and Ben Wheatley, creators of Kill List and Sightseers (which is also on this list) A Field in England is unapologetically bizarre. It is not a war film or a treasure hunting adventure. Its an acid period piece unlike anything in recent memory. I'll very much admit this won't be everyone's bag, but for lovers of the experimental you won't be disappointed.
David O. Russell films are joys to watch. American Hustle is an emotionally complex con story. Its characters work wonders to trick each other and often the audience but not for the purpose of the big pay off. All these people are hurting in one way or another. Through white collar crime to blue collar people they found an way to improve and heal.

The charm that each actor brings to these roles makes it easier to fall in with them. You get in their headspace. Russell spends extended scenes with characters solo that may be the only real moment you see them in before they become whatever character they need to be. It takes a psychological approach and has a lot of fun with it. And yet another amazing ensemble.
For Steven Soderbergh's final film he couldn't get a studio to back it. Being told repeatedly the movie was 'too gay' HBO picked up. If you ask me the studios fucked up. Both Douglas and Damon are in top form. Soderbergh's qusi drama likes to bridge the gap between eccentric performer and geek show megalomaniac. I knew next to nothing about Liberace before watching the film nor did I have much interest. But its so well made, so well acted and written that its easy to get sucked into their decedent yet controlling lifestyle and romance. Also Rob Lowe is guaranteed to make you laugh out loud here.
For me this is without question Woody Allen's best film since Match Point. This is a beautifully done tragic romantic dramedy that doesn't let on how tragic it really is until its final frame. Cate Blanchett gives an absolutely amazing performance. For my money an award worthy one.
This is a really honest comedy. I feel like the situation Frances get into and the series of decisions she makes on those heels are as brave as some are illogical. But its a real and relatable set of issues. Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach create a very witty and real character obsessing with life not love. For some the reality of the picture might come off as a bit depressing. I sort of took away the truth that there's always options to improve your life you just need to be patient and attentive. You may not live your dream but maybe you can come close.

This is also one of the few digitally shot black and white films that looks nearly as great as if done on film.
A thriller not for the faint of heart. The 90 minute Filipino film is a layered tragic tale of and moral ambiguity. A driver for a popular politician becomes a pawn in a ransom and revenge plot and at the heart of it is a horrible truth.

I kid you not this gave me a number of jaw dropping and squirmy moments. Its not a flashy Taken-sque thriller, its a nearly ripped from the headlines cold to the bone type affair.
Visually its groundbreaking and will be studied for years looking into its techniques and innovations. Thematically there's a universal purpose and emotional resonance to each imagine and sequence. In 3D it is exceptional. That's a rare compliment.

Mud

Mud is my kind of love story and my kind of adventure story. It takes an honest look at the emotion. The reality versus the fantasy of love through a coming of age southern adventure. Excellent performances by the young boys and another notch on the belt of new & improved McConaughey. Jeff Nichols who also made Take Shelter and Shotgun Stories continues to be one of the best working American filmmakers.
Its rare nowadays that studios embrace darker dramas like they used to. Once in a while because of someone like David Fincher or the Coens they might take that gamble, but these stories have mostly been moved to TV. Which basically means they can play the mystery for years and people will stay tuned in until they get bored.

Happily despite Prisoners having a plot that could be serialized and drawn out further its simply a two and half hour dread soaked drama with a slew of fiery performances and shot with class and a very steady hand. Like Graceland Prisoners leaves you in a strange headspace after subjecting you to some complex moral dilemmas.
By about half way through Rush became my favorite Ron Howard film. Now it isn't some extraordinary drama or emotion filled ode to friendship. In fact its more like a 90s Don Simpson\Jerry Bruckheimer production with a better head on its shoulders.

Its all about energy and this keeps the energy high and with a lot of style thanks to DP Anthony Dodd Mantel (he shoots all Danny Boyle's films). Its casted well and uses the drama as much as the impressive racing scenes to keep the tempo going. Loads more fun than I expected it.
The second film by Ben Wheatley to make my best list this year. Sightseers is a very dark romantic comedy that's centered around two seemingly normal people who have compulsions to commit murder.

Wheatley's style is on full display and is really the shifter switch for the film. It can turn a normal scene into something slightly psychedelic; or shift human drama into black humor at a moments notice. It keeps you on your toes and gives those complex laughs where you slightly question yourself for laughing so hard at the situation. It also has one of my favorite endings of any film this year.
Spring Breakers has everything daring cinema needs. Style, character, great tonal shifts and conflicted characters basking in excess. Harmony Korine has long been a filmmaker trying to remind audiences film can is still an art form. While this may be his most accessible its still not light by any stretch.

Despite the badness and over the top antics these are still very human characters. They don't see consequence only youthful venturing with a why the fuck not attitude. It may not be easy to swallow but it is the sort of mindset so many have or at some point in their lives have. Though not everyone would become a stick up kid for a low level rapper and drug dealer.

What can I say about Franco here? The dude owns the part. He's a controlled fire knowing when he raise up the weird and when to keep things grounded. Its smart performance and the type you like to see from good actors. Ones where they are clearly into it.
I don't know what can prepare you for this film. Its tough and it sticks with you for a while. It was the only thing on my mind for weeks after seeing it. The Act of Killing is an experimental and surreal documentary following the members of an Indonesian death squad from the 60s that are responsible for acts of genocide. Now whereas to many it would seem like these men ought to in prison for war crimes they are in fact held as celebrities in their country. This is mainly because the government wanted the public to believe these murders were for the good of the world; stomping out communism.

The facts are most were not communist who were killed and if they were they weren't spies or soldiers. These were people living in small villages that would be abducted and gleefully tortured and killed. In same cases whole villages destroyed. The men who did these killings are wisely not treated as monsters or villains by the film, they do it in their own words. They talk openly about what they did and even goes as far as to perform in reenactments inspired by their favorite films.

The result is a loaded film. At times you forget who these people are when seeing them joke around and make light of their current lifestyle, but everyone of them at some point admits to how wrong what they did was. No how genuine they are is the mystery of The Act of Killing. Seriously there isn't a more important film that was released this year.

So often westerners only care about western problems but seeing how history was distorted and how a governmental power can shape the future of society...its scary. Its something that is universal and something everyone should be paying attention to in their own country.
A very original, heavy hitting generational crime epic. A touch on a lengthy side, but the final act is an absolute killer.
Relentless excess from the word go. 2013 may have been the year of the complex comedy... Or dramedy. Its only been a short time since seeing The Wolf of Wall Street but I think it might be my favorite Scorsese\DiCaprio collaboration yet. It invokes the storytelling style of Goodfellas but with loads more humor than in any of his prior films. Leo is unstoppable and tearing scenes up like never before. Jonah Hill shows Moneyball was no fluke and again kills it.

The Wolf on Wall Street is so out of fucking control. Absolutely loved this rollercoaster of a movie.
Absolutely the funniest, nastiest and most creative studio comedy in a long time.
Only the second film from writer/producer/director/actor Shane Carruth. Years ago he brought us the no budget but very original time travel film Primer. Upstream Color takes things in an even more experimental direction. Its best described as a science fiction drama wherein two lost souls who have both been victims of a criminal using mind altering plant secretions end up finding each other and trying to fix themselves.

The film is one of most beautifully photographed movies I've seen this year. While its story doesn't make itself necessarily clear (my description still leaves a lot out) it keeps you coming back to dissect the possible meanings. However ultimately the film works as an emotion piece best for me.

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