Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Favorite Films of 2013

Last January I walked out of the Palm Springs International Film Festival screening of Rafaël Oullet's devastating familial drama Camion – an unknown entity I had chosen based on an affection for French-Canadian cinema and a Best Director prize at Karlovy Vary – assured that I had just watched what would become my favorite film of 2013. Over the next 12 months, the only work that came close to usurping the top spot was Alain Guiraudie's XXX-rated formalist thriller, Stranger by the Lake, which topped Cahiers du Cinema's 2013 list and barely registered elsewhere, a lapse I expect will be rectified once the good folks at Strand Releasing put it out in the U.S. next month.

I only saw 143 films in theatres this year – 41 of those being revival/repertory screenings – my smallest personal tally in almost two decades. Still, I managed to watch a helluva lot of excellent movies in 2013. Below is a list of my ten favorite narrative features, 28 honorable mentions and a dozen favorite documentary features.

Ten Favorite Narrative Features
Camion (Canada, dir. Rafaël Oullet)
Stranger by the Lake (France, dir. Alain Guiraudie)
Blue is the Warmest Color (France, dir. Abdellatif Kechiche)
Before Midnight (USA, dir. Richard Linklater)
Museum Hours (Austria/USA, dir. Jem Cohen)
Like Father, Like Son (Japan, dir. Hirokazu Koreeda)
Vic+Flo Saw a Bear (Canada, dir. Denis Côté)
Crystal Fairy (Chile, Sebastián Silva)
Spring Breakers (USA, dir. Harmony Korine)
The Strange Little Cat (Germany, dir. Ramon Zürcher)

Narrative Feature Honorable Mentions
American Hustle (USA, dir. David O. Russell)
Barbara (Germany, dir. Christian Petzold)
Berberian Sound System (UK, dir. Peter Strickland)
Blancanieves (Spain, dir. Pablo Berger)
Blue Jasmine (USA, dir. Woody Allen)
The Delay (Uruguay, dir. Rodrigo Plá)
Frances Ha (USA, dir. Noah Baumbach)
Fruitvale Station (USA, dir. Ryan Coogler)
Gorbaciof (Italy, dir. Stefano Incerti)
Gravity (USA, dir. Alfonso Cuaron)
The Great Beauty (Italy, dir. Paolo Sorrentino)
Hannah Arendt (Germany, dir. Margarethe von Trotta)
Her (USA, dir. Spike Jonze)
A Hijacking (Denmark, dir. Tobias Lindholm)
In the House (France, dir. François Ozon)
Key of Life (Japan, dir. Kenji Uchida)
Like Someone in Love (France/Japan, dir. Abbas Kiarostami)
Mai Morire (Mexico, dir. Enrique Rivero)
Magic Magic (Chile/USA, dir. Sebastián Silva)
Mud (USA, dir. Jeff Nichols)
Our Children (Belgium, dir. Joachim Lafosse)
Paradise: Love (Austria, dir. Ulrich Seidl)
Pieta (South Korea, dir. Kim Ki-duk)
Pit Stop (USA, dir. Yen Tan)
The Place Beyond the Pines (USA, dir. Derek Cianfrance)
The Sightseers (UK, dir. Ben Wheatley)
Something in the Air (France, dir. Olivier Assayas)
Stoker (USA, dir. Park Chan-wook)

Dozen Favorite Documentary Features
The Act of Killing (Denmark/UK/Norway, dir Joshua Oppenheimer)
Belleville Baby (Sweden, dir. Maria Engberg)
Bettie Page Reveals All (USA, dir Marc Mori)
Drought (Mexico, dir Everardo Gonzalez)
I Am Divine (USA, dir. Jeffrey Schwartz)
Iceberg Slim: Portrait of a Pimp (USA, dir. Jorge Hinojosa)
Leviathan (France/UK/USA, dir. Lucien Castaing-Taylor, Verena Paravel)
Mercedes Sosa: The Voice of Latin America (Argentina, dir. Rodrigo H. Vila)
Paul Bowles: The Cage Door is Always Open (Switzerland/Morocco, dir. Daniel Young)
The Search for Emat Bakia (Spain, dir. Oskar Alegria)
Stories We Tell (Canada, dir. Sarah Polley)
Twenty Feet from Stardom (USA, dir. Morgan Neville)