Well, 2013 is drawing to a close, so of course, everyone is rolling out their year in review lists. Me? I've only seen around 30-40 films of 2013, so I'm not the best person to come to if you're expecting a list filled with 12 Years a Slave and American Hustle and Short Term 12, this ain't the one. Come back in June next year, and I probably would have sussed out 2013 film wise. However, I do have 15 favourites out of the 2013 releases I did manage to catch this year, so here they are, in all of their "Stevee picked me!" glory:
15. Spring Breakers, Dir. Harmony Korine
I'm never sure of how to explain Spring Breakers in a way that makes it seem like a favourable experience. That's because it isn't the kind of film that can be easily summed up, but you can put a few colourful adjectives under the umbrella of the "Spring Breakers experience". I have to applaud Harmony Korine for being different, and not choosing to put a filter on it (which we'll see more of further down in this list), and for all the anti-feminist statements that could be made about this film, there's plenty of pro-feminist statements to back that up. The four girls in this film are awesome. And hey, how awesome is the "Every Time" scene? Definitely one of my favourite scenes of the year.
14. The Past, Dir. Asghar Farhadi
I saw this back at the New Zealand Film Festival, and just like I was with A Separation, I was left utterly in awe of how Asghar Farhadi can create a thriller with words. He is so deftly talented at writing, creating these very real accounts of life which don't need copious embellishments and adjectives to help get them off the ground. The performances are all fantastic in this, particularly from Berenice Bejo, the Cannes winner, who sheds every ounce of Peppy Miller in The Artist to play one of the most difficult characters of the year. I'm a little shocked that it didn't make the Foreign Film shortlist, and will most likely pass without a whimper because of that. Which is a great shame, because Farhadi hits the mark yet again.
13. Frances Ha, Dir. Noah Baumbach
All I can say is that I'll be watching this when I'm Frances' age, and I'll probably find plenty of parallels. Which is either depressing, or kind of cool, because I'd love to be Greta Gerwig.
12. Disconnect, Dir. Henry Alex Rubin
One of the years most cruelly underseen and underrated films, but such an important film on so many levels. It is too rare that films can get the dangers of technology so right and not get caught up in the "zeitgeist" of looking cool with their Facebook/Twitter/Instagram plugs. Even when things perhaps get a little bit too overdramatic, there's some fantastic performances by the likes of Jason Bateman, Jonah Bobo, Andrea Riseborough, Paula Patton, Alexander Skarsgard and Max Theirot to make it an extremely special film. I'm calling it: this should be required viewing at schools.
11. Stories We Tell, Dir. Sarah Polley
Another film I caught at NZFF, and one that surprised me to no end. I wanna be Sarah Polley. It was so brave of her to make her family story the subject of this documentary, but also to comment on the way that stories are passed down through the years. Stories We Tell does so much more than it says on the packet, and is all kinds of awesome and inspiring.
10. The Hunt, Dir. Tomas Vinterberg
I honestly think that this is the most depressing film I've ever seen, perhaps even more so than Requiem for a Dream. Because...ugh, people suck. Just the morality issues and Mads Mikklesen's face...I just can't even deal with this movie. But yeah, it is a pretty damn good film, even if it breaks my heart just to think about it.
9. Side Effects, Dir. Steven Soderbergh
One of the first releases of the New Year (well, in America anyway), and still one that I count among the best. Steven Soderbergh's medical thriller features some top performances from Rooney Mara and Jude Law, and also more than enough twists in the prickly storyline. It's a shame that this went by mostly unnoticed, as this is as Hitchcockian as we can get in modern times.
8. The Spectacular Now, Dir. James Ponsoldt
Definitely my answer to The Perks of Being a Wallflower for 2013 releases, even if it didn't hit the heights that that movie did. I watched it at a perfect time, though: the film kind of charts the last year of high school, the graduation, and then the big "what next". It didn't have the answers I was looking for, but it was a perfectly honest, frank portrayal of teen life. Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley weren't alienating, either.
7. The Great Gatsby, Dir. Baz Luhrmann
I know, I know. But I've seen this film six times this year. Six times. Why? As I've said, I don't like it that much because it is awful in comparison to the book. I just find it to be an immensely good time. It is just so wrong that it is so right. From the soundtrack to the over-indulgent excessiveness to the...well, everything. Baz Luhrmann is one of my favourite directors because he knows how to use film and all of its features to their very advantage. Plus, Leonardo DiCaprio was the perfect Gatsby, and I still haven't gotten over Elizabeth Debicki's flawlessness.
6. Blue Jasmine, Dir. Woody Allen
Being a modern update of A Streetcar Named Desire, of course this was destined to be a hit with me. Add in Cate Blanchett's perfect performance, and yeah, Blue Jasmine was one of my absolute favourite things of the year (along with going to a cinema and drinking wine because I'm such a classy grown up). As someone who isn't much of a fan of Woody Allen (though I loved Midnight in Paris), and after the really uninspiring To Rome with Love, Blue Jasmine was a pretty razor sharp tale of the rich life and all its misfortunes. Can we just take a second to appreciate how glorious Cate Blanchett is in that scene pictured?
5. Captain Phillips, Dir. Paul Greengrass
When I got an email from Sam saying that their preview screening of Captain Phillips was to be on the night that I was to meet her and Andrew in Sydney, I didn't even know what it was. Sit down to watch it, and come out the other side as shaken as a leaf. I don't know if I could ever go through this traumatising experience ever again, especially because of Tom Hanks' absolutely perfect acting at the very end. This film has a place so high on the list based on that scene alone...it is truly that powerful.
4. The Wolf of Wall Street, Dir. Martin Scorsese
Yeah, it has been only a matter of hours since I saw this, and perhaps in the future my love will fade (which is why I always do my proper list further down the track, because it is interesting to see how everything's settled), but I freaking loved this film. All three hours of it. It is just so disgustingly fun. I have plans for a mega post about all of the films from 2013 that explored capitalism, so I'll try keep my thoughts on this film under wraps until then, but yes, I want to be Martin Scorsese.
3. The Place Beyond the Pines, Dir. Derek Cianfrance
The Place Beyond the Pines is also a difficult film to sum up. I love it because it is so ambitious, giving us a triptych of stories instead of just focusing on one. I'm the kind of person that loves to see the reaction rather than the actual situation, and The Place Beyond the Pines is perfect for that: showing how one act led to another and its aftershocks are still felt into the next generation. Many people took issue with the last act, but I truly think it is the best part of the movie, because again, the reaction and the effects are far more interesting to me. And I think Derek Cianfrance had some guts to add that part in. Epic, ambitious independent filmmaking at its finest.
2. Before Midnight, Dir. Richard Linklater
I almost wish that I were a little bit older so I could grow up with the Before series, but I'm glad I'll always have Celine and Jesse to go back to at three stages of my life. If this is indeed the end of the trilogy, then I can safely say that it is one of the best trilogies ever made, however, I wouldn't mind seeing them again in nine years. While my least favourite of the trilogy, I'd say that this film has the most fully realised script out of all of them. Plus, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy are on fire. Richard Linklater definitely does have one of the most impressive resumes, doesn't he?
1. Gravity, Dir. Alfonso Cuaron
I know, such a predictable choice, isn't it? But Gravity is monumental, ground-breaking filmmaking. It fills up the cinema in the best way possible. It is just everything that seems just about impossible. I can't really say anything about this film that hasn't already been said, but damn, I'm glad that I was alive to see this movie in theatres. I'll probably be telling my grandchildren about it.
So this'll be my last post for 2013, as I'm off to the beach for a week to ring in the New Year (yay). Everyone, thanks for the support throughout the year, and stay safe on New Years. What do you think of my list? What were your favourite films of 2013?