I’m with Bibbs on this one. Temptation is hilarious because of its sincerity towards singularly one side of complicated issues. What’s amazing is not that it’s so churchy. We expect that from Tyler Perry. What’s amazing is that it is truly oblivious to the possibility that there is any other way of thinking. That takes preaching to the choir to the next level. For the rest of us it is some next level entertainment.
You know, I was totally engaged and captivated by this movie from the very beginning. It is a genre movie and I know the con artist genre, but like anything it’s how you present it. I felt I knew each character intimately from the moment they were introduced, and David O. Russell presents the plot as a fever dream of style, sex and danger. Well, as much of a fever dream as he could get away with in a mainstream movie, but it was just impressionistic enough for me. I’d also like to take this opportunity to recommend Russell’s first film, Spanking the Monkey. Seriously, it’s good.
Mr. Nobody was the best movie of 2009, the year it came out in the rest of the world. I didn’t discover it until 2011 and it finally came out in the States this year, via VOD. I still want to champion it, but maybe four years later calling it the best movie of 2013 is no longer accurate. Maybe if it was one year from its original release, but not four. I didn’t even write about it back then, but just know it is an awesome visual extravaganza that ends up being a profound existential sci-fi meditation on the concept of choice. Big stuff, and I believe every mind-bending second of it.
With a qualifying run before its January 10 release, Lone Survivor cracks my top 10. Writer/director Peter Berg constructs intense suspense out of a true story. I mean, we know how it ends. It’s in the title, but we’re still worried for the heroes. The film is harrowing as we feel the pain and impact of war injuries and the effects of shock. You all know handheld camera is not my preference, but Berg popularized it (not Greengrass) and I can actually see its use. Berg jerks the camera to show us something new, not just to artificially manufacture thrills. He doesn’t need any help on that front.
This is still the only Harmony Korine movie I’ve seen (that he directed) so I still assume they’re all awesome. I should maybe do some homework on Korine’s directorial oeuvre post-Kids at some point, but Spring Breakers was awesome. I never wrote about it fully but it is a fever dream collage of either what spring break really is, or what we think it is. It doesn’t even matter, either point of view is awesomely insane.
Ah, my beloved Furious 6. There wasn’t a faster, more furious movie all year. I adore every ridiculous moment of this movie, especially for how sincere it is. You can do crazy action and unrealistic tank jumping and that’s enough for me. When you totally land the sincere message about family, and make me feel that I’m glad Dom jumped over a freeway to catch Letty when she was hurled from the tank, that is what cinematic fantasy is all about.
I know, better than my precious Furious 6? Really? I guess the kid in me always wins out. And the Sam Raimi fan. I was so impressed with the way Raimi maintained his playful slapstick tone while exploring new corners of a magical world. I’ll go ahead and say it, this is the best prequel ever. Granted, there are really no good prequels otherwise. Going backwards is usually devoid of real drama and constrained by ending up where we began, but Oz found a real story in there and was so subtle about the reference that it worked.
Wow, here’s one that caught me way off guard. A drama about the foster care system, okay, should be poignant. The emotions of this film are so subtly powerful they really creep up on you until you didn’t realize how deeply you were invested. I got to write about Short Term 12 in full, but for a quick recap, it just did what I want emotional movies to do: be honest and constructive.
What a wonderful way to experience my first Cannes Film Festival. I really only saw La Vie D’Adele Pt. 1 & 2 because it was the movie showing that night. A three hour French drama about a lesbian coming of age sounded like the most obscure festival fare, and it was the opposite. It transcended language and running time to be a universal love story, one where the graphic passion served the emotion. Having recovered from Cannes exhaustion and thought about the film more, I wish I had rated it higher back then.
I discovered Coherence at Fantastic Fest and it actually got picked up by Oscilloscope for distribution next year. Technically, I should wait until then to list it but I figured if it played this year, I can help champion it by ranking exactly how highly I regarded the film. If I’m including Coherence I guess I should include Blue Ruin also. That’s also coming out in 2014 but I figured I could only pull this trick once. Please read my Fantastic Fest review and look for this one. It will be on my list next year too.
I was good and I waited two whole years for You’re Next to come out after I saw it in Toronto in 2011. I even did due diligence and saw the film again this year to be sure, but it lived up to my memory. The home invasion horror is really a thrilling kick-ass revenge story when Sharni Vinson fights back against the masked men attacking her boyfriend’s family. It plays with the audience in just the right ways that we entrust filmmakers to do. Take us on that right, and make us squirm.
When I saw Before Midnight at Sundance this year, I suspected I may have already seen my favorite movie of the year. Maybe I was even a little conservative back then to allow for the possibility that something in the ensuing year of movies might overtake it. But no, I only love Before Midnight even more with each passing month. Oh, and in January I contemplated whether this could be Richard Linklater’s best movie. Well, I did revisit Dazed and Confused and the other Befores and it turns out Midnight is in fact Linklater’s best film. Please read my full review of this one.