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My 2013 Favorites - Xanadon't

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The List

My personal favorite films of 2013. Often also what I consider to be the "best" films of the year. But as importantly, the movies that gave me the most joy. The movies that I'm likely to revisit over the years. The movies that meant the most to me, stirred my excitement, or touched upon something inside me that made me sit up and take notice.
People who added this item 609 Average listal rating (380 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 7.4
Mud (2012)
Essentially a flawless film, and the best original story told all year. Mud isn't flashy or sexy or packed with an overly dramatic sense of style. It's just deeply and eternally good.

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People who added this item 1586 Average listal rating (865 ratings) 6.9 IMDB Rating 7.3
Baz Luhrman's latest won't see many top 10 list this year. And had I only watched it once, it might've even slipped out of mine. The first watch impressed me a good deal, but was also tasked with battling various expectations. But the second watch allowed me to simply see the movie for what it is. And the third... well, that was just for the rip-roaring good time.

Luhrman's movies move. They are the motion-esty motion pictures around. Why don't more people love that?

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People who added this item 1873 Average listal rating (1185 ratings) 7.6 IMDB Rating 8.2
Martin Scorsese's latest is 3 hours of exhilarating film-making, and just so happens to be one of the funniest movies I've watched all year. While the Tim Burton/Johnny Depp pairing seems to be played out, Scorsese and DiCaprio's fifth collaboration is a shining showcase of each man's talents and offers no reason why these two should stop working together. DiCaprio plunges even deeper into his role than we're used to seeing from him. I've sat through countless 2 hour films that have felt much longer than this wild and delightfully depraved 179 minute ride. Amazingly though, this wasn't quite my favorite DiCaprio movie of the year...

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People who added this item 539 Average listal rating (353 ratings) 7.8 IMDB Rating 7.7
Bruce Dern and Will Forte create the most purely engaging father/son duo to hit the screen since I don't remember when. Wonderfully shot, wonderfully scored, wonderfully acted, and scripted. A few moments in the first half miss the bulls-eye, but the entire second half of the movie unfolded perfectly for me. There's a lovely balance here between the celebration of beauty and the lamentations felt toward all that's fucking wrong with everything. Alexander Payne has delivered his best movie to date. And it's the only film that brought tears to my eyes all year. [*edit* - I've finally watched Enough Said and I whimpered and sniffled my ass off during a certain scene.]

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People who added this item 452 Average listal rating (306 ratings) 7.6 IMDB Rating 7.4
Another small black and white movie. But this one trades pastoral landscapes, small-town dealings, and old people angling for a leg up for a Brooklyn backdrop, urban socio-economic warfare, and youthful yearning. Much of Frances Ha's allure rests with the Greta Gerwig's immensely appealing performance, but the film as a whole provides her anchoring presence with an incredibly sharp and observant sense of time and place. This is not one of those "Look at ME!" indie-flicks. This is one of those "goes out and gets it totally fucking right" indie-flicks. And jeezus gawd, could we use more of those.

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People who added this item 261 Average listal rating (157 ratings) 7.3 IMDB Rating 7.4
Does this count as a 2013 movie? It arrived at my local theater in May of this year. I don't remember it being talked about in last year's Best Foreign Language Academy Award discussion. But it's not being talked about this year, either. Maybe because it's too smart? Too literary? Too post-modern? Too not about some 17th century European monarch or ground breaking historic voyage or third-world social epidemic or disenfranchised slum-dwelling population or Nazi Germany?

Whatever the case, In the House lands squarely in my top 10 because it had me riveted to my seat with my mind and senses on full-alert, as I took in every special, seductive, clever as all fuck minute of it.

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People who added this item 789 Average listal rating (478 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 6.8
Stoker (2013)
Moody, stylish, dangerous, smart. Provocative, stylish, penetrating. Intoxicating and stylish. Stylish stylish Nicole Kidman stylish. This movie has style and Nicole Kidman. It easily makes my top 10.

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Every bit as hilarious, joyful, and impassioned as I've come to expect from these guys. Simon Pegg gives easily one of the best comedic performances of the year and a surprisingly thoughtful take on the perpetual adolescent. I didn't know a sci-fi send-up comedy could be this well shot, edited, and put together. It's solid, entertaining, and impressive film-making and worth multiple viewings.

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A very anticipated and very satisfying third chapter to Linklater's examination and celebration of one of cinema's greatest couples. The location shooting in Greece lends the film a certain poetry and depth and the inclusion of more supporting characters (including two children) opens up the world and lives of these characters in an agreeable way. A thoughtful and grown-up adult drama that still packs a lot of charm and magic, even while sailing through some rougher waters.

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People who added this item 144 Average listal rating (58 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 7.2
Joss Wheden's delivered a small-scale, intimate Shakespeare send-up this summer, preserving the Bard's language word for word, but updating the attire and setting to modern time. I feared it might feel gimmicky and come across as a vanity project for the director and his closest friends in the biz. Instead I was utterly charmed and transfixed by the winning performances on screen. A genuinely fun comedy and irresistible romance. This movie kept a smile on my face more or less the whole way through.

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Some may find it nothing more than an agreeable, but somewhat "slight" movie. But I thought it a smarter and more generous movie than that description would indicate. Happily, there's a certain subplot to the film that is every bit as interesting as the central romantic story we're told. James Gandolfini treated us with a pleasant gift in his performance before passing. And I really don't think there's any way of improving upon the work that Julia Louis-Dreyfus does here. She flat out kills it, demonstrating a fantastic range between comic demands and dramatic touches. I enjoyed every minute spent with this movie.

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People who added this item 156 Average listal rating (91 ratings) 6 IMDB Rating 5.9
Oh boy, did I ever enjoy the atmosphere and mood created in We Are What We Are. Wonderful photography, a sensational score, appropriately drab costume and set design, and tightly coiled, unsettling, and basically brilliant performances from its core cast. This is a tough and often ugly (but wonderfully so) story and movie. It's a shame the final minutes disrupted the dark spell that the vast bulk of the movie casts.

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People who added this item 518 Average listal rating (344 ratings) 6.6 IMDB Rating 6.9
Trance (2013)
Truth be told, this movie has slipped from my mind a bit over the course of the year. What I remember is a lot of style, fun, and energy, and leaving the theater somewhat giddy. A rewatch is most definitely in order.

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Cutting Room Floor

Some very worthwhile movies that missed the cut. A few of these were VERY difficult to leave off of my top 13. Listed alphabetically.
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Favorite Documentaries of the Year

There's no real sense in ranking documentaries along side traditional movies. They're entirely different things.
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Sights Unseen

Before we get started, I should first note some major movies released this year that I haven't yet caught up with. I expect one or two of these could change things up a bit...

For anyone wondering, yes, I'm still alive.

Couldn't resist... it just wouldn't be January without creating a Year's Best list.

Cheers.

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