Better late than never, right? I tried to get this post done before the Academy Awards, and my time abroad just kept me from sitting down on the iPad mini and typing it out. I thought for awhile about how I would come up with this list. What criteria would I use to make my selections? So I decided on getting hard data by using a spreadsheet and giving scores to five categories on each film. The categories were: Cinematic Aesthetics, Acting (or Characterization in a documentary), Personal Connection to the film, Replay Value, and Memorable. The average of these scores would then determine the film’s final score, which dictated my list. Three of the films I caught through the Seattle International Film Festival organization, and two films that made my list are unreleased in the United States as they have released in France. Without further ado - My top 10 films of 2013.
Not many movies in recent memory have shown the power of how getting to know someone different than yourself may just in fact change you to your core. The powerful acting from Oscar winners Jared Leto and Matthew McConaughey make this a must see film of 2013.
We find out that the tumultuous upbringing of Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers helped inspire some of the details surrounding the origins of the magical nanny. My own tumultuous childhood intertwines with Mary Poppins, so this film scored high with a personal connection, not to mention it was fun to see some of the drama behind the making of the Disney classic. Emma Thompson, Tom Hanks and Colin Farrell shine in their roles and make this an easy movie to enjoy.
Ok folks. Les-be-honest here. Gravity wins because of the technical achievements behind the making of this picture. Some phenomenal advancements in filmmaking technology were pioneered by Alfonso Cuarón’s team, yet the story itself is pretty simple and nothing really happens. Some good tension and suspense are built throughout the film, but the lack of a better story in this environment keeps this film from scoring higher. Sandra Bullock does shine in her role, and without her, I’m not sure they would have been able to make it.
A shocking exposé of how American based Christian organizations have been (unknowingly) supporting the “Kill the Gays” agenda in Uganda. The must see documentary of the year. At release time the law had not yet been passed in Uganda, but it has since been passed. Now is the time for people to see this film and speak up.
A great indie flick about three boys running away and spending the summer making a place to live, finding food, and testing the boundaries of their friendships. Seattleite Newcomer Nick Robinson leads the cast with real life couple Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally playing bit parts as parents. The film resonates with its quirky yet relatable characters, the cinematography, and that connection to the kid in all of us that would have simply loved the idea of rebelling and doing something crazy like these Kings of Summer do in Jordan Vogt-Roberts well crafted indie.
Chinese Puzzle is the third part of a film trilogy preceded by The Russian Dolls and The Spanish Apartment. The film series follows Frenchman Xavier through college in Barcelona, a screenwriting job in the UK, and finally a move to the United States to stay closer with his children. I have followed the film series closely through my studies of French cinema and thoroughly enjoyed the final chapter. It releases on Blu-Ray in region B in April and should have a screening at the French Film Festival in Los Angeles next month as the festival is highlighting work by its director Cédric Klapisch.
As a recovering addict of romantic comedies, the way actor, writer, director Lake Bell intertwines the politics of working in Hollywood, with a twinge of romance, and a story set around the premise of those famous trailer words by Don La Fontaine, “In A World”, this combination just won me over this last year. Lake Bell is so charming, and has crafted a script with laughs and characters that make it easy to enjoy this film. Keep her on your Hollywood radar, you won’t regret it.
A harrowing, beautifully shot, film including an outstanding cast of a story that is pretty incredible. Oscar nominee Chiwetel Ejiofor, Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o, Oscar nominee Michael Fassbender, Producer and co-star Brad Pitt, Paul Giamatti, Paul Dano, Sarah Paulson, Alfre Woodard and Benedict Cumberbatch all dazzle in their abilities to bring the story to life. This is a film highlight an embarrassing past, but can hopefully enlighten and educate to help avoid any repeats in history for this generation.
Spike Jonze, the mastermind behind Being John Malkovich, returns with a quirky, new vision that was strikingly poignant and beautiful. Technology and relationships are center stage in this science fiction romantic comedy of sorts. Our world continues to get more and more connected, and sometimes the relationships around us get more and more distant. Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Chris Pratt and the voice of Scarlett Johansson all lend their talents to make this oscar winning original screenplay resonate for me as what I voted for Best Picture of 2013 - although I am glad the prize went to 12 Years A Slave
French filmmaker Jean Pierre Jeunet, famed director of Amélie, directs his second english language film about a young science prodigy invited to Washington DC to claim an award for his scientific discovery of the first perpetual motion machine. He must sneak out of his families’ ranch in Montana and make is way across the country undetected from authorities. Jeunet brings his quirky filmmaking style to the picture while new collaborator Thomas Hardmeier just winning the César award in France for best cinematography. Helena Bonham Carter and Judy Davis are the more internationally recognizable actors featured in the film, and hopefully soon The Weinstein Company will set a release date for this great, great film in the United States and abroad. A Region B blu-ray release is set for early June.
A few films almost making the top ten: Terms and Conditions May Apply, Philomena, This is The End, Out in The Dark and Prisoners. It was a great year for cinema, we shall see what 2014 has in store.