Sunday, March 2, 2014

2013. Movies. You know the drill...

In 2013, I watched at least 175 movies for the very first time.  I say "at least" because I'm pretty sure I failed to record one or two maiden viewings over the course of the year.  And I stopped watching two others before they ended because they sucked, so I didn't count those.  Also, it's entirely possible that I counted wrong.  But 175 is close, anyway.

Of course there were a good number of 2012 films among the ranks.  You know the kinds I mean: those movies you really meant to see but somehow missed, and the other ones you heard really good things about but only after they weren't playing anymore, and of course that one movie you just kept putting off again and again until--what do you know--2012's over and everyone's moving on!  Yeah, those ones.  Anyway, I thought some of them were really good and want you to know about them:

(Don't miss the ones in bold.)
  • Barbara
  • Bitter Films, Vol. 2
  • Detropia
  • The Invisible War
  • Once Upon a Time In Anatolia
  • This Is Not a Film  [Especially great if you're interested in: filmmaking, storytelling in general, Iranian cinema and the constraints involved]
Some of the 175 were older still.  For example, I just saw The Muppet Movie this year.  Can you believe that?  28 years old and I just now got around to seeing The Muppet Movie?  Ridiculous, I know.  Turns out it's a wonderful film, and it wasn't the only one:

  • Before Sunset  [The best of the three, I think]
  • Carnival of Souls
  • Good Hair  [Seriously worth a watch]
  • The Guard
  • Jackie Brown  [Top 3 Tarantino]
  • The Muppet Movie
  • My Dinner with Andre  [Fair warning: It starts slow, but give it a chance--it gets great]
  • Slap Shot
  • Trees Lounge  [Directed by (and starring) Steve Buscemi]
Which brings us to 2013.  A fine year for movies but not one worth writing home about.  (Worth writing a slapdash blog post about?  Sure!)  I'll give you the first thirteen in order of preference, then switch back to alphabetical order for the rest.  Sound good?

  1. The Act of Killing  [Head and shoulders above the rest.  Likely one of the best documentaries I've ever seen, and I've seen some great ones.  It's up for a Best Documentary Oscar, much to my surprise/delight.  I don't expect it to win because I think it's way too heavy/abstract/sad/good for the Academy's taste, but I'm really hoping its nomination means many more people will see it.  Everyone should.]
  2. Short Term 12  [Head and shoulders above the rest of the rest.  Brie Larson is a terrific actress--I'm looking forward to watching more of her movies.  I hope that some of them are as good as Short Term 12.]
  3. Beyond the Hills  [I'm beginning to wonder if very many people saw my Top 3.  I feel like all of them were pretty underseen, even among those of us who knew about them and had access to them.]
  4. Spring Breakers  [I suspect this one is ringing a lot more bells.  Could be Harmony Korine's best film to date, though I know a handful of people who I'm almost positive would disagree heartily.]
  5. Prince Avalanche  [David Gordon Green + Paul Rudd + Emile Hirsch + remote location + low budget + late 80s period piece = GOLD!]
  6. Nebraska  [The best of the Best Picture nominees.  No chance it'll win, of course]
  7. The Great Beauty  [Hoping it wins the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar.  I've heard really good things about The Missing Picture, though, so who knows what the best pick is...]
  8. No  [Should have been among the Best Foreign noms, I think.  So should have Beyond the Hills!]
  9. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire  [Seriously.]
  10. Birth Story: Ina May Gaskin and the Farm Midwives  [I watched this doc about a group of women who have spent much of their lives promoting and practicing natural childbirth techniques in the Grand Illusion's tiny auditorium, surrounded by women.  Many of them were pregnant (some very much so) and I could just feel their power and pride filling the room as the insane feats of which they're capable were celebrated on screen.  It was incredible.]
  11. In a World...  [A feminist film of an entirely different color.  Lake Bell wrote, directed, co-produced, and starred in this movie, which is pretty nuts.  Taking on just one or two of those jobs is enough to make a person crazy.  Nonetheless, she nailed it.  In a World... manages to be socially conscious and self-aware without ever betraying its genre: it's one of the funniest comedies of 2013.  Killer cast, too.]
  12. Beware of Mr. Baker  [The best music documentary in a year flush with excellent music documentaries.  Ginger Baker is a madman.]
  13. Muscle Shoals  [I told you it was a good year for music docs.  I may be partial to this one for some personal reasons, but hey, it's my list.]
  • Before Midnight
  • The Bitter Buddha
  • Dallas Buyers Club
  • The Gatekeepers
  • Kings of Summer
  • More Than Honey
  • Room 237
  • Rush
  • Something In the Air
  • Stories We Tell
  • 20 Feet From Stardom
GUILTY PLEASURES  (I really liked them!)
  • Elysium
  • The Great Gatsby

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