In a year full of great films, 12 Years A Slave stood out amongst the rest as one of the most important movies in recent memory. Chiwetel Ejiofor leads a brilliant cast, along with scene stealing turns from Paul Dano, newcomer Lupita Nyong'o and a genuinely frightening performance from Michael Fassbender that will leave viewers squirming in their seats for generations to come. McQueen's visceral, no nonsense direction creates an intense and bleak atmosphere that reflects the grim stain in American history the film depicts. A truly powerful film that will resonate through the ages.
Before Midnight- Directed by Richard Linklater
My most anticipated film of the year did not disappoint. If 12 Years A Slave hadn't brought the historical/social gravitas, Before Midnight would have reigned supreme as my favorite film of 2013. The latest in Richard Linklater's "Before" film series is a raw examination of adult relationships. Less romance, more melancholy and monotony but captivating all the same. The characters of Jesse and Celine have come along way from their starry-eyed first encounter in Before Sunrise. Unlike in previous chapters (of this... possibly the greatest trilogy ever?) it's not time that's their enemy, it's everyday life.
Her- Directed by Spike Jonze
I've always liked Spike Jonze. I grew up watching his music videos and commercials before I realized he was goofy Conrad from Three Kings. When I saw Adaptation, I was too young to fully understand his ingenious subtlety behind the camera but I knew something awesome was taking place onscreen. Well, Spike's latest film Her is nothing short of a masterpiece and I can say with confidence, Spike, I love you man. Joaquin Phoenix delivers another career defining performance as Theodore, a lovelorn writer who falls in love with his computer OS. This movie encapsulates the emotional weight of Nicolas Cage and Meryl Streep's elevator scene in Adaptation, but takes it into the stratosphere. A truly beautiful film.
The Place Beyond The Pines- Directed by Derek Cianfrance
The most overlooked film of the year? I think so. Derek Cianfrance's sprawling crime/family epic is one of the most emotionally jarring films of 2013. It's dark and morbid, but poetic and touching. Everyone in the large ensemble cast delivers great performances but Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper do the best work of their careers in this film. Say what you will about the plot or execution of this ambitious film, the acting, cinematography and musical score are untouchable and are all worth a viewing in their own right.
Pain & Gain- Directed by Michael Bay
2013 was an amazing year in cinema. I should have posted a top 10 list for all the great stuff I saw this year but for the sake of continuity, kept the top 5 tradition going. Anyways, here are the rest of my favorite films from last year:
Dark, Law & Order: SVU plot, with Jake Gyllenhaal's scene stealing performance/hair.
The most fun I had at the movies all year. In IMAX 3D or standard, Gypsy Danger rules in any format.
David O. Russel continues his streak of awesomeness. Enough said.
I will defend this film til my dying breath! James Franco and his neon lit femme fatales are amazing to watch.
Only God Forgives
Despite it's flaws, I simply could not stop thinking of Refn's latest film long after I left the theater. Don't agree with me? "Wanna fight?"
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