Thursday 19 December 2013

Films of the Year 2013

This is a final version. I've changed it after catching up with lots of films over the New Year and remembering some of the films I'd seen early in the year. Notable films I still haven’t seen are The Selfish Giant, Before Midnight, Gloria and Short term 12.
I’ve watched (or re-watched) well over 200 films this year, including around 80 Hindi films. As far as new discoveries are concerned I’d urge everyone to watch Wenders’ Pina, Mira Nair’s Monsoon Wedding and The Namesake, Satyajit Ray’s Goddess and The Big City, Peckinpah’s Ride the High Country and Cimino’s Heaven’s Gate. Watching Elem Klimov's Come and See for the first time was revelatory and probably my cinematic moment of the year.  I continue to catch up on classics included in Mark Cousin’s The Story of Film and have Simon to thank for Samurai Rebellion and Harakiri.

If you wanted to get into Bollywood (and Indian parallel cinema) I’d go for Kahaani, Mirch Masala, Mandi and Debaang – that would give any cinephile a real insight into the range of pleasures to be found.

It has been another good year. My Top 5 in a Sight and Sound stylee would be:

[Remembering A: It’s always hard to choose, mainly because I only get to see most of the films once and B: I should never judge a film on one viewing – I’m far too easily seduced!]

·         Beyond the Hills

·         The Act of Killing

·         Stories We Tell

·         Upstream Colour

·         Neighbouring Sounds

Five great films in any year and by any standard.

Naffest?  I don’t go and see everything anymore but The World’s End was diabolical. LOL. I think I saw all the blockbusters and will be happy enough if I never have to watch any of them again though seeing Pacific Rim with Andy was quite fun.

Some of you might think that is all too boring (shame on you), so….
A Top Twelve (ten was too hard)
  1. The Act of Killing
  2. Beyond the Hills
  3. Upstream Colour
  4. Neighbouring Sounds
  5. Stories We Tell
  6. The Great Beauty
  7. In the Fog
  8. Nebraska
  9. Lore
  10. Blue is the Warmest Colour
  11. Wadjda
  12. Blue Jasmine

I still need to watch A Field in England and Computer Chess again - weird in the best possible, mind-bending, thought-provoking way. Less weird but certainly beautiful, mysterious and elusive is Pat Collins's Silence.  Any of these could easily nudge into that top twelve. 

It was a REALLY good year for women and women’s roles. Sakia Rosendahl was sensational in Cate Shortland’s Lore as were Cosmina Stratan and Cristina Flutur in Beyond the Hills and Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux in Blue is the Warmest Colour. I loved Blue Jasmine AND Frances Ha – Cate Blanchett and Greta Gerwig were just amazing. Everyone should watch Wadjda and Philomena too. Admittedly I don’t see much TV these days – only box sets – but Jane Campion’s Top of the Lake was weird, exciting, dark and very cinematic – I LOVED it – even better than The Bridge!

Other films in or around that top twelve would be I Wish, Gravity, Django Unchained and For Ellen. American Hustle slid into 2014.

Good documentaries included Mea Maxima Culpa, Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer and Diaz – Don’t Clean Up this Mess though nothing could match The Act of Killing or Stories We Tell. University Rev socs and film societies should be joining forces to show all of these in the new year. There are lots more to catch up on, on DVD.

Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa made me laugh more than anything else by a long way. Sorry, but it did!

Really good Hollywood efforts: The Place Beyond the Pines, Mud, The Great Gatsby, Captain Philips, Prisoners, Much Ado About Nothing, Arbitrage and Stoker. I’ll include The Way, Way Back even though it was marred by some moments of dumb, gratuitous sexism – HUGE pity, but even so I could watch Sam Rockwell FOR EVER. And, I'll whisper this, as exploitative as it is, Spring Breakers is actually a lot more interesting than I could have imagined.
Really good World Cinema efforts include Pablo Larrain's No, Ozon's In the House, Kiarostami's Like Someone in Love, I'm So Excited and Something in the Air

Obvious one I’ve missed out: Only God Forgives. I’ve already written about it on this blog. Everyone should watch it but I need to see it again.

Popcorn pleasures: Trance, Wolverine, Warm Bodies and Catching Fire. Maybe even The Hobbit 2!

Would a Bollywood movie feature in a Top 10? Difficult question as there are lots of 2013 movies I haven’t seen, but I really enjoyed the verve (and madness) of Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola and the quiet beauty of Lootera. I’ll be able to judge better next year when my brain has processed all the new knowledge a little more.