Finally ladies and gentleman, I know you've all been dying for this, my top ten films of 2013. I apologize for not posting more articles I am actually working on writing an adaptation of a book about Audie Murphy (don't get excited nothing is in production, the author gave me permission to try).
My process when I do my Top Ten Films is to be different from most film critics who do a Top Ten List.
Here is Metacritic's list of the films most mentioned by film critics in their top ten lists. http://www.metacritic.com/feature/film-critic-top-10-lists-best-movies-of-2013
Now certainly most of these films mentioned are really good but I think there are some films that critics have underrated or forgotten about. As you'll see, I have a mix of universally acclaimed films and some that fall into the category of forgotten or unsung.
Sure there were movies I also really liked like 12 Years a Slave and a lot of these awards contenders but these were the most personal for me.
Top Ten Films of 2013:
1. Spring Breakers - Harmony Korine
No film this year has captivated me like Harmony Korine's Spring Breakers. Harmony Korine is a "controversial" filmmaker who brilliantly sets up this film from the very first opening sequence. Shot almost like a music video, we see beautiful bodies and teens living their American Dream. He captures the audiences (especially kids who promote that kind of behavior) voyeuristic impulses. However just when you think that this is what the movie is going to be about, he switches gears into something more deeper, darker, that serves as a commentary on our current society. James Franco delivers a brilliant performance, something that will be talked about decades from now. To quote Calum Marsh of Slant Magazine; "Korine, deliberately or not, seems to set his film up for failure from the outset. The galling, conversation-starting montage which opens Spring Breakers suggests that one is settling in for a very different sort of experience: Sumptuous, slow-motion tracking shots across endless rows of disconcertingly young-looking bodies as they cut loose on the beach are clearly designed to implicate the audience in the film's immediate and rather lecherous voyeurism (a few close-ups of rump-shaking resemble no less than Chris Cunningham's music video for Aphex Twin's "Windowlicker," though naturally these faces, when they're acknowledged at all, remain model-perfect). What's established here—and established with great skill, mind you—is an angry cynicism regarding the subject matter that would have grown exhausting had it been retained over the course of the film. But when Spring Breakers switches gears minutes later, shifting from the bodies on the beach to those of its winsome quartet of protagonists, that in-built bitterness dissipates almost entirely, and a sudden empathy and generosity overtakes the proceedings; rather than cruelly mocking or dismissing his leads in contempt of their insipid sensibility, Korine probes them for something deeper."
2. The Wolf of Wall Street - Martin Scorsese
At 71 years old, Martin Scorsese pushes the envelope again for current movie making. The Wolf of Wall Street serves both as a black comedy of these characters, but also, despite what many people have been "outraged" about, the film also serves as a cautionary tale against greed and corruption. I thought that message came across pretty clear but instead of a simple morality play, Scorsese goes for a razor sharp comedy approach that I think works very well. This is one of the funniest films I have ever seen! Knockout performances all around from Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie, Kyle Chandler, and with a handful of scene stealing moments - Rob Reiner. People who criticize this film say that it's so exhausting to sit through, well.....THAT IS THE POINT OF THE FILM! It's supposed to be exhausting! Scorsese immerses you into his world's and by the time you come out it's an exhausting, yet exhilarating experience.
3.Upstream Color - Shane Carruth
If you haven't heard of Shane Carruth I highly recommend you check his two films out, both playing on Netflix. His first film premiered 10 years ago called Primer, which won the top prize at Sundance and became a mini cult classic. It took 9 years, but Carruth's second film Upstream Color (also playing on Netflix), is nothing short of astounding. This is one of the most original films I've EVER seen. Don't even ask for an explanation, Carruth isn't concerned with the audience keeping up with the film's complicated "heist" story. He is interested in telling his story through visualization, rather than expository dialogue. I was reminded of Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life in terms of style and telling a film almost silently. If you need help with plot explanations, go online there are plenty of articles dissecting the film but I would suggest first seeing it not knowing anything about it. Don't try and be a detective just let the film wash over you. It's not always about making sense of the plot but about the overall effect the film has on you emotionally.
4. Gravity - Alfonso Cauron
Alfonso Cauron has given us a reason to go back to the movies again! This is the most amazing visceral experience I've had at the movies since James Cameron's Avatar. However, unlike Avatar, I think Cauron's script is perfectly fine for the material. You'll hear some haters describe the script as simple and poorly written, but I think it perfectly fits this space melodrama. Sure, does everything hold up logically upon inspection? Of course not. However I'm not a scientist, I am a movie goer, and what takes place on screen for an hour and a half in Gravity was first rate, revolutionary entertainment.
5. Her- Spike Jonze
Her is one of the most brilliant films I've ever seen on the current human condition. Ultimately its about where we are, where we're going and what it's like to live in this world dominated by social media and the idea that our realities are being fabricated and actual human experience is dwindling and although we have all this technology and advancements that there's still loneliness and there is nothing that can replace actual human companionship and real feelings and experiences. Those same flaws exist with technology and as I type this on something that is meant to be a replacement for that its quite disturbing and confusing. No film has made me think more about not only my life but where our lives and society is going in general. Its profound.
6. Passion - Brian DePalma
Yet another misunderstood film from Brian DePalma, who critics routinely love to savage. However I think this film is really good, and essentially it's a DePalma thesis film. He gleefully goes back to his pet themes and style, which if you're a Brian DePalma fan like me is great news. There's shots in this film that belong in a museum. The film's plot is light and twisty and I'm not sure if it doesn't quite make sense but again who cares! DePalma has stated this film is meant to be a fun exercise and that's exactly what this film is. Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace both give great performances but I would like to highlight the supporting work of Karoline Herfurth and Paul Anderson.
7. Trance - Danny Boyle
Danny Boyle, after two Oscar heavy films, just goes for the jugular here stylistically with Trance. I love Danny Boyle films and this is an example of trying to shine a light on something I felt was underrated. Sure it comes off as Christopher Nolan light, in terms of plot, but the performances and the daring direction make this a very good film.
8. The Counselor - Ridley Scott
Here is a film that somehow is completely underrated. You have a great director, a great writer, and a great cast, yet The Counselor got really poor reviews when it came out in November. However I think, like many Ridley Scott films, this will live on and years later will grow in appreciation. I just think everyone came in with certain expectations but The Counselor isn't interested in being typical or answering those expectations. The film is sexy, violent, campy and free of the trappings of a morality tale. It also features a scene with Cameron Diaz that has to be seen to be believed (something to do with a car....you'll see).
9. Only God Forgives - Nicolas Winding Refn
Again, like The Counselor, I think film critics were jumping on the bandwagon with hate for this misunderstood film. Like Shane Carruth and Terrence Malick, Nicolas Winding Refn is interested in telling this story visually and almost virtually dialogue free. The result is an acquired taste but I thought it was fascinating and features a great performance from someone I've never heard of, Vithaya Pansringarm. He is incredible as a Thai inspector who serves as the films "God" (for all intensive purposes). Just his face and his presence alone in this film is astounding. No one has commanded the screen like this in a long time. Kirsten Scott Thomas is also great in the one juicy, hammy role of the film.
10. Stoker - Park Chan Wook
A forgotten film that came out in Sundace, Stoker is one of the best modern inspired twisted Hitchcock tales outside of anything Brian DePalma does. I loved the twisted narrative and the kinky and campy way it plays with "Shadow of a Doubt". The underrated Matthew Goode gives the performance of his career and Mia Wasikowska is one of the best young actresses we have today. Nicole Kidman is also fun and thankfully not comatose in her role of "evil" mother.