By: Addison Wylie
Now that we’ve recognized the bad movies that were slingshot at audiences last year, it’s time to move on and engulf ourselves in the cream of the crop.
2013 introduced a wide variety of great films to audiences. I feel like I say that every year, but as I scour my selected picks, the only thing these movies share are the odd genre they’re grouped in.
Take documentaries, for example. Audiences were shown terrific autobiographies that opened their subjects like books. André Gregory: Before and After Dinner was one that caught my interest. Gregory is a writer, an actor, a director, an all around theatrical wiz, yet he presents himself as such a humble human being who could easily sweep the average movie goer off their feet. Director Cindy Kleine doesn’t have to stretch to find a comfortable groove for this pleasant doc.
Nicky’s Family wasn’t necessarily a straightforward autobiography like André Gregory: Before and After Dinner, but it told a revolutionary story involving Nicholas Winton. Winton, who rescued Jewish children before WWII, is shown in high regard with Matej Mináč’s film. Nicky’s Family may look like something you’d find on PBS on a Sunday afternoon, but the doc’s importance could impact a sold-out stadium.
Rounding out the list of sensational documentaries was Lucy Walker’s The Crash Reel, a film that snuck onto our radars when the year was winding down. The message about the importance of safety during extreme sports follows alongside snowboarder Kevin Pearce’s inspirational story. Walker’s doc is incredible, and you’ll never want to take your eyes off of it.
There were a few independent films that caught my attention and impressed me with their storytelling. The Oxbow Cure, for instance, is a film that moves deliberately slow. However, Yonah Lewis and Calvin Thomas were able to chill me to the bone with their frigid settings and drawn out creeping.
Sally El Hosaini’s My Brother the Devil was a fantastic feature film debut, providing superb performances from actors who could rationalize their drastic arcs quite well. Sean Garrity’s Blood Pressure was a worthy-enough thriller with an anchoring turn from Michelle Giroux. The film has its flaws, but I enjoyed myself all the way through this low budget drama.
And, Tower. I desperately wanted Tower and actor Derek Bogart to receive more recognition for their contributions to Toronto’s indie scene. It was an uncomfortable, often amusing and unhinged jarring character study from filmmaker Kazik Radwanski. I’ve seen a lot of fine performances from lots of actors in 2013, but Bogart’s portrayal of a disconnected wanderer stuck with me all year round.
Of course, I had some mainstream picks. I thought The Wolf of Wall Street was great fun. It was a lengthly film, but it showed audiences that Martin Scorsese is still a gutsy filmmaker willing to tackle any genre at any given time. August: Osage County was another strong contender. It’s ensemble cast knocked the film out of the park, and frequently had me in stitches.
Blue is the Warmest Colour, The Spectacular Now, and The Way, Way Back were three coming-of-age films that were unforgettable. All three featured moving performances from everyone involved, the creative minds behind the flicks were fearless, and nothing was sugarcoated. Movie goers could sense the filmmakers treating the characters with earnest gratitude, which helped sustain the staying power of each flick.
But, enough lollygaging. Let’s take a look at what fleshed out the top spots of 2013.
Wylie Writes’ Ten Best Movies of 2013
#10. Spring Breakers
Spring Breakers acts as a statement about the impatient youth of today, and about the need for constant change amongst a modern younger generation.
It’s also a stylistic blast and an interesting conversation starter. Filmmaker Harmony Korine reassures his fans that he isn’t leaving, and he brilliantly introduces younger audiences to a new way to look at movies.
Spike Jonze’s poignant work is a personal film about an impersonal society.
Downloaded is a fantastic documentary on the brink of a remarkable level involving the rise and the inevitable fall of the file trading peer-to-peer service Napster.
#7. 12 Years a Slave
An absolutely brutal, but rewarding watch that’s extremely well acted by its vast ensemble.
Filmmaker Steve McQueen shows an anthropological side to the relationship between an owner and his slave, as well as a fascinating, stomach churning outlook on how easy it was for people to consider other people “possessions”.
Jim Mickle’s We Are What We Are shows a hauntingly humanistic portrayal of something that’s downright unfathomable: cannibalism. The film is an excellent slow burn with a jaw-dropping payoff.
#5. A Hijacking
Unfortunately overshadowed, A Hijacking is a riveting docudrama that I hope gets the respect and attention it deserves despite ingredients that some may be seasick about.
Dallas Buyers Club is an all around exceptional piece of work with flawless lead performances by Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto.
Like the film’s stoic bluegrass backdrop, Mud resonates quietly. It’s an outstanding movie with phenomenal acting and careful direction.
#2. Before Midnight
Richard Linklater’s Before Midnight is brilliantly observant with its authentic portrayal of two people who love – and will always love – each other. The screenplay is simply one of the best.
A complete 180° for filmmaker Derek Cianfrance. This sweeping drama about redemption, fatherhood, and “doing the right thing” is absorbing and never drops the ball. A true classic in the making.
‘Ten Best Movies of 2013’ Artwork by: Sonya Padovani