A list seen this year in Australia, Austin, New York and San Francisco, hence some 2012 releases making it in.
Warning: I rate films too highly. Take it as a relative measure. I begrudgingly preface this post every year with the same message, in various word lengths.
In alphabetical order…
Ain’t Them Bodies Saints
Quite simply, everything works. A character-driven, brooding, complex, Malick-esque romance.
All Is Lost
A near-wordless marvel! Robert Redford’s physical, nuanced performance commands admiration. The score and sea, worthy allies.
An Unreal Dream: The Michael Morton Story
An unbelievable true story that grew off the screen into a once-in-a-lifetime, shared experience at SXSW, with the man himself being there.
The perfect ending to the perfect trilogy on love.
The lighting, the symmetry, the composition. Just, wow. One of the most beautiful looking films I’ve had the pleasure of watching.
For Those in Peril
There’s no way a debut has any right to be this good in nearly every respect. Haunting, assured filmmaking, with an ending that’s hugely rewarding, yet ambiguous. I do remember screaming “FUCK YEAH!” I had the same reaction to ‘Take Shelter’.
If cinema is about the moving image, this embodies it to its fullest. Like nothing I’ve seen. Cuaron and Lubezki are gods.
Thank you, Spike Jonze, for an utterly brilliant, exploratory look at our future, and the collision of humanity and technology. Joaquin Phoenix confirms yet again that he’s one of the best actors going around. Scarlett Johannson’s voice acting, a joy.
Inside Llewyn Davis
My favourite character and performance of 2013. Oscar Isaac is a revelation. I felt hopeless and sad.
Saving Mr. Banks
Very, very special. No expectations going in, floored on every count. Hit me harder than anything this year.
Incredibly thought provoking, visceral and hypnotic. Carruth’s writing, score and direction are all stunning. The sound design melds right in too. The film that stuck with me most.
What Maisie Knew
Emotionally turbulent in the best possible way. Onata Aprile gives a most captivating performance.
Zero Dark Thirty
A remarkable, gripping achievement in storytelling. A rollercoaster through Jessica Chastain’s head and a quietly devastating ending.