Most mainstream film fans are saying that 2013 is a pretty bad year for films. It is true that from THE LONE RANGER to MAN OF STEEL, Hollywood has recently produced many awful or disappointing movies. We even had many franchise-destroyers like A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD, frustratingly shocking films like PAIN AND GAIN and cheap slapdash comedies like SCARY MOVIE 5 or MOVIE 43. Now, that doesn’t mean that I agree with the statement “2013 is a bad year for movies”. 2013 is just a bad year for Hollywood – with some exceptions obviously – and people should see this as an occasion to discover some new (and often better) things. I’m not trying to sound pretentious, even I probably miss a lot of great stuff and that’s kind of sad. The point is that we should all keep our minds open to more stuff, even if it’s not comic book related. I’m obviously exagerating the situation, the internet film community actually keeps improving in my opinion, but you still get what I mean. Now that we are almost 8 months into 2013, I though I could give you my top 10 favourite films of the year yet (to show that 2013 doesn’t suck) and my top 10 most anticipated movies for the rest of the year (to show that 2013 might continue to NOT suck) . I will eventually write a full article on my problem with summer blockbusters, but now, let’s talk positive!
READ THIS BEFORE THE LIST: Since I live in a small town, I have missed many movies that I wanted to see real bad so here are some ones that could potentionnaly be on my list if I did had a chance to see them: THE WORLD’S END (I know, I know, it looks indcredible), MUSEUM HOURS, SHORT TERM 12, THE SPECTACULAR NOW, 20 FEET FROM STARDOM, BLACKFISH, FRUITVALE STATION, VIOLA, BLUE JASMINE, THE ATTACK, YOU’RE NEXT. You now can’t get mad if you were expecting any of those. I know that my top 10 could be entirely different if I did see them, but I would have to drive at least 5-6 hours to see any of those – maybe more for half of them – since these movies are not big enough. It’s not that I don’t want to, it simply is that I don’t have this time with school – and I don’t have a car. So, I’ll talk about them later this year and for now, this is what I got:
TOP 10 2013 FILMS YET
10. Gideon’s Army
GIDEONN’S ARMY isn’t a game-changing documentary. Its technical particularities are the near-absence of music and the omission of narrator, but surprisignly, it’s for the best. Many people involved almost don’t treat this like a film, they simply bring some real true human emotions and open the eyes of the viewer towards the juridical system. If I had to describe this one in 1 word, it would clearly be “inspiring”.
9. Upstream Color
After PRIMER, many people were pumped for the next Shane Carruth film and when you wait 9 year after such a success, you better deliver. Guess what, he did! I would personally think that it’s not quite as good as PRIMER, but it’s also very different so it mostly is a matter of your personality and tastes. It is experimental cinema almost at its best and unlike Carruth’s first feature, it is more than maths and puzzles. The puzzles from this one are clearly not as impressive and intriguing as in PRIMER, but in this one we also get great cinematography and compelling drama. The film is affectionate, it moves at a cordial rythm and the character’s relationship is very refreshing.
MUD may not be as good as Jeff Nichols’s last movie, TAKE SHELTER, but it’s still pretty damn masterful at times. Seeing Matthew McConaughey growing as an actor is one of the main attractions of MUD, but it also has great tension, a story with heart and a terrific shootout. The message about love could not have been more in our faces and it felt totally forced, but MUD still deserves a spot here.
7. The Hunt
This Danish film is definitely one of the most entertainig ones of the year and it gets to the top in terms of emotional investment. Again, it’s not perfection, but most of the issues are pretty minor. I wrote a full review for this one so here are my complete thoughts: http://plouismovieblog.wordpress.com/2013/08/27/the-hunt-2013-movie-review/
6. Sories We Tell
Sarah Polley interviews her family to tell their story and to finally find out the truth about her father. Sonds pretty boring at first, right? As Joanna Polley says early in the film, “Who f***ing cares about our family?”. As self-centered as this sounds, it end up actually being about family mythology and the perception we get from memories. It’s a completely unique documentary that you watch being curious and excited like with a good detective thriller and that you then leave being warm in the inside.
5. The Place Beyond The Pines
If this film stopped after the first two acts, it would be even higher on my list, and would maybe even be nearly flawless. The third act failed at following the themes and messages of the beginning, it didn’t make any sense story-wise, it portrayed teens in the most cliched way possible, it lacked on the level of performances and jumped over such a long period of time, that it was hard to care about anything. I like to think that it stopped after two thirds – and I will probably rewatch it this way – but the truth is that it continues, so it’s my number 6.
4. Drug War
This Johnnie To film is what you should watch this year if you like hollywood action films, but always feel like you want a little more. DRUG WAR gives you more than a little more. The action is brilliant, but still restrained. The plot is surprising, but not dumb. The characters are all different, from eccentric to deeply muddled, but all fit the tone and are layered enough to make you care for almost all of them. It’s a technical achievment that will make your brain balance from left to right and keep your body on the edge of your seat. It is probably way better than every big budget action movie we got so far this year.
3. This Is The End
Who though that apocalyptic comedies would have a chance for best movie genre of the year? Especially when it includes a Seth Rogen film? Well, THIS IS THE END ends up being a complete success both as a sort of stoner comedy and as a hollywood satire. What made this movie so good is mostly the attitude of everybody involved. Being able to all parody themselves made the whole thing hilarious without feeling forced. It was also pretty impressive considering their budget and they all put all their heart in the making of this movie. I believe that THIS IS THE END is nearly perfect for what it is and deserves more praise than what it got.
2. The Act Of Killing
This is a documantary that people could enjoy even if they don’t like documentaries. Back in 1965, the Indonesian government was overthrown which started a dictatorship. Many gangsters were employed to kill communists who were opposed to this dictatorship. Because of these men, more than a million communists were killed innocently and even nowadays, many Indonesians are still proud of these murders. This mind-bending picture follows Anwar Congo and Adi Zulkadry in today’s indonesia and is likely to unsettle anybody who’s from another country – or at least most countries.Back in 1965, these two mens were gangsters – which they define as free men – for the blackmarket movie buisness. They worked for the death squads and Anwar himself, killed around 1000 people… Structurally, what makes this film so unique is relative to the awarness of the people in it. In their cognizance, Anwar and Adi are not making a documentary, they are making a film where they reenact their murders and are inspired by their favourite film genres. As they reenact them, they sometimes try make their work funny at times, moving at other times, and even artistic on occasion. We see them making this film, we see them promoting this film and we see them discussing their repugnant acts. THE ACT OF KILLING literally approaches perfection. Not a lot of movies in the past were able do examinate human nature as this film did. It is raw and hurtful to watch, but every minute of it is worth your time. It’s scarier than any horror film, it’s more thrilling than most blockbuster, it has more guts than any american production and it gave me more goosebumps than most movies I saw this year. The surreal aspects mostly comes from the killers’s ideas for their reenactments, but the directors manages to use them to create a dream-like vision, while exploring lucid facets of man. Only for opening people’s eyes to this hidden tragedy and to the mind of Indonesia, this movie was certain of at least deserving some deference, but these filmmakers brought the movie to such a sharpened level that I have to say, it is possibly the best experience I ever had with a documentary.
Note: Sorry for dragging on, I felt like writting a full review for this one, but this will substitute for it I guess.
1. Before Midnight
What a beautiful film. BEFORE MIDNIGHT takes a look at human relationships without insulting, without exagerating, without ridiculising, without pretentiousness and without being superficial. This painfully honest picture is flawlessely written, doesn’t rely on the earlier success of the franchise to succeed and balances comedy and drama in literally the best way possible. As much as I love BEFORE SUNRISE and BEFORE SUNSET, I think this is the most mature and intelligent film of the trilogy and it is yet, the only 2013 film deserving a place on my list of perfect films!
TOP 10 MOST ANTICIPATED FILMS FOR 2013 (well, the rest)
Honorable mentions: Nymphomaniac, Her and Sin City: A Dame To Kill For
NYMPHOMANIAC sounds pretty perverted, HER sounds like a good concept more than a good movie and SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR sounds like a sequel that could be a cash-grab. However, I love Lars Von Trier, I love Spile Jonze, I love Joaquin Pheonix and I kind of love SIN CITY too so there is a lot of potential in all of these.
I know I know, this could turn out as a space version of OPEN WATER (which can also be seen as a positive), but Alfonso Cuarón blew me away too many times already to let me lose my faith. However, the cast is kind of weird.
9. The Immigrant/Blood Ties
I’m not exactly a fan of James Gray, but he’s definitely an interesting director and THE IMMIGRANT looks like his most personal work yet. If THE IMMIGRANT ends up disapointing, there’s no need to panick because he also wrote BLOOD TIES’s script with Guillaume Canet. Both of them could be really good 2013 surprises.
8. Le Congrès (The Congress)
A sci-fi flick where live-action and animation intersect. It looks like WHO FRAMED ROGER RABIT meets HOLY MOTORS and it’s from the french director Ari Folman who created the amazing WALTZ WITH BASHIR in 2008.
7. Labor Day
The truth is, I don’t know anything about this movie except that it’s directed by Jason Reitman. UP IN THE AIR, JUNO and THANK YOU FOR SMOCKING are three great movies in my opinion and even YOUNG ADULT was pretty damn good. This will probably end up being a 2014 release, but right now they say 2013 so here it is.
6. The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty
The only movie that got a place on this list only because of the trailer. It literraly made my jaw drop and looks creative as hell. Just watch the trailer, it looks good enough to turn Ben Stiller into a very respected director\actor, which is kind of saying a lot. (Not saying I personnaly hate him)
5. 12 Years A Slave
As much as I love DJANGO UNCHAINED, I am still excited to see this movie, which looks like the exact opposite. It does sound pretty conventionnal for a Steve McQueen production, but the cast alone makes me excited as hell.
4. American Hustle
Now that looks fun! After his success with SILVER LINING PLAYBOOK, this is the best direction David O. Russel could have taken. He did keep some actors…but gave them very different roles. He did keep similarities in the tone (I assume that from the trailer)…but the setting is entirely different. I think the director might manage to make this film as fun as his last one without making it feel similar and that is just great!
3. La Vie D’Adèle (Blue Is The Harvest Color)
The Cannes Film Festival is obviously what brought this to my attention, but the more I hear from it, the more i’m looking foward to it. It will be a very long scene and will probably feature some never-ending erotic scenes, but i’m just ready to see a warm intimate movie about passion, joy, complexity, sadness, faith, soul, entity and life. In this one, I don’t think the runtime will matter.
2. Inside Llewin Davis
Great reception so far, great cast, great trailer(s), great style, great filmmakers… Do you need anything else? At this point in their career, I will probably look foward to most films the Coen brothers (FARGO, NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, THE BIG LEBOWSKI) make. I won’t read too much about this one so I don’t have a lot to say, but I can’t find a single reason to not be excited.
1. The Wolf Of Wall Street
THE WOLF OF WALL STREET’s trailer has kind of a similar tone to AMERICAN HUSTLE’s one, but manages to look even better. Scorsese being one of my favourite directors, it’s hard for me to not be excited for his films, but after seing the trailer, I am confident that it won’t be only good because Scorsese made it. It looks fresh, funny, entertaining, it doesn’t make me think about any other Scorsese movie and the top notch cast are all looking like they’re at their best form.