Tuesday, March 4, 2014


     2013 was an absolutely fantastic year for film. There were great films from Hollywood studios (Gravity, The Wolf of Wall Street) to wonderful indies and foreign films (All Is Lost, Blue Is the Warmest Color). Great performances, writing and directing from all over. This was a very hard list to compile and most of the films in my top ten could easily be higher than there ranking, but it is fun to put this list together. My Top 3 just stood out a little bit more than rest. More relevant with social and cultural importance. Most of my "just missed" films could easily have been in the top ten as well. Great year in all and I am really happy the Academy got the best picture correct. Well, almost... No one is like Scorsese, but really happy for 12 Years a Slave. Also, at the end of my Top Ten I have my Best of list. Enjoy!

Just Missed...
  • Dallas Buyers Club
  • Short Term 12
  • In A World...
  • The World's End
  • Blue Is the Warmest Color
  • Upstream Color
  • Frances Ha
  • Captain Phillips
  • Ain't Them Bodies Saints
  • Fruitvale Station

10.  Prisoners

    An extremely dark, moody, intense thriller from Denis Villeneuve, with exceptional performances from Hugh Jackman and especially Jake Gyllenhaal. The film is one of the best looking films from last year and it is hard not to expect that from the great Roger Deakins. Not the most pleasant films and a long one, but I love dark, suspense thrillers, and this one is very good.

9.  Mud

     I first got to see this film at last year's South by Southwest Festival and it won me over right away. A southern gothic of revenge, lost love, families and friendship. Jeff Nichols best film to-date and another great performance from Matthew McConaughey, but the real treasure is a fierce, touching turn from Tye Sheridan. Nichols is one of the best young filmmakers in the game and I cannot wait to see whats around the corner.

8.  Gravity

     My most anticipated film from last year and it did not disappoint. One of the best blockbusters made in some time with supreme vision and innovation from the great Alfonso Cuarón. Bullock delivers her best performance and Emmanuel Lubezki's visuals are unparalleled. The film is a roller coaster ride and full of nail-biting, suspenseful moments. A great piece of escapist cinema. A dazzling technical achievement.

7.  Nebraska

     We should all be thankful that Alexander Payne is a film director. The best filmmaker at presenting real life, and real people, as honest as possible on film, and does it with humor, wit and a beautiful talent for storytelling. A skilled craftsman and what gorgeous black and white cinematography from Phedon Papamichael. Dern and Squibb are knockouts. 

6.  All Is Lost

     What an amazing, monumental piece of filmmaking. What creativity and greatness from the legend Robert Redford and another fantastic young filmmaker J.C. Chandor. A film with hardly any dialogue and starring one actor, this is an unreal survival tale on the high seas. There is not a dull moment and Redford shows how he is still acting his ass off at such a high level. An important piece of cinema and the better survival film in comparison to Gravity.

5.  Her

    A love story. A sci-fi story. A relationship story. Spike Jonze has crafted on the most innovative, emotional and beautiful stories, encapsulating honesty and realism in what it is like to be in a relationship. Jonze is a genius and understands the sensibilities, sweetness and heartaches of meaningful human connection. What great performances from Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlet Johansson. One beautiful scene after another.

4.  Before Midnight

     The third film in Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy's amazing "Before" trilogy, is another knockout from the three. Containing an argument scene that should be studied for decades, Before Midnight is just real and honest about marriage, kids, love and sex. There is not a false note made and these three just get it. As great as Her was at examining relationships, this film is even better. Thank you Linklater, Delpy and Hawke for making these films. I could watch these every 8-10 years and I hope another one is on the way.

3.  Inside Llewyn Davis

     Aw... the Coen brothers. They do not make bad films and when they blend high art and great music, along with their dry, morose sense of humor and irony, it does not get any better. A film about an artist who is always too early or too late, and full poor decision making. The Coen's are brilliant at being honest with their characters and showing a derailed sense of pride and hope. Build it up and slam it down. Bruno Delbonnel's hazy cinematography is the best of the year and fits the 60s Greenwich Village scene perfectly. Oscar Isaac gave an unfiltered, brilliant performance and Carey Mulligan was perfection.

2.  12 Years a Slave

     Steve McQueen directed one of the most honest, brutal and visceral films in years, if not film history. This film is not easy to sit through, but is beautiful in its telling of the unbearable depravity of slavery in America. Chiwetel Ejiofor, Lupita Nyong'o and Micahel Fassbender (along with the whole cast) are flat out amazing in every scene. This is one of the strongest films made in awhile and filmmaking that is mesmerizing on all levels. Sean Bobbitt's phenomenal cinematography adds the visual style that accompanies McQueen's films, but it is the cultural and social importance that is so striking.

1.  The Wolf of Wall Street

     And still the best. Martin Scorsese proves once again why he is not only the best living director in the world, but possibly the greatest filmmaker ever. A film that is so in-your-face and pummels you with degradation, social dishonesty and thunderous irresponsibility. The Wolf of Wall Street is nothing short of brilliance. DiCaprio gives his finest, most well rounded performance of his career and Jonah Hill is unbelievable. This film is one of the most important films, along with 12 Years a Slave, at chronicling and depicting the devaluing of the human condition and examining the lack of respect in our society. Scorsese is the man!


BEST FILM:  The Wolf of Wall Street
BEST DIRECTOR:  Martin Scorsese, The Wolf of Wall Street
BEST ACTOR:  Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street
BEST ACTRESS:  Brie Larson, Short Term 12
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR:  Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:  Lupita Nyong'o, 12 Years a Slave
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY:  Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy & Ethan Hawke, Before  Midnight
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY:  tie: Joel & Ethan Coen, Inside Llewyn Davis & Spike Jonze, Her
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY:  Bruno Delbonnel, Inside Llewyn Davis
BEST FILM EDITING:  Thelma Schoonmaker, The Wolf of Wall Street
BEST SCORE:  Alex Ebert, All Is Lost
BEST SONG:  "The Moon Song" Karen O, Her
MOST OVERLOOKED PERFORMANCES:  Brie Larson, Short Term 12; Greta Gerwig, Frances Ha; Adèle Exarchopoulos & Léa Seydoux, Blue Is the Warmest Color; Tye Sheridan, Mud

Photo credits by ropeofsilicon.com.

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