The Best Films of 2013
Hey, all! It’s Oscar sunday, and so this means I am releasing my annual list of the best movies to come out in the previous year. I’ve finally had time to see most of the film’s necessary in order for me to make a remotely reliable judgement. Still, there are a couple I have yet to watch, including “Nebraska”, “Inside Llewellyn Davis”, “La Grande Bellezza”, “Dallas Buyers Club” or “Philomena”. However most the other big movies or Oscar contenders I have seen, and if you wonder why some aren’t on the list, it’s because they don’t deserve to be.
10. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
With the second Hobbit film, Peter Jackson apparently decided to stop fucking up and actually give us a movie that wasn’t a colossal waste of time. It’s still unclear if he’s learned a lesson I thought he’d already learned: That longer doesn’t mean better.
There’s an interview where Jackson is asked about his “Directors Cuts” of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, in reference to the extended editions, to which he replies that the theatrical versions were his directors cut and the extended DVD’s were just fan service. Why then did “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” play exactly like a film made by someone with no concept of editing? Luckily, this sequel rectifies the mistake, as despite it’s massive running time the film chugs along efficiently. Never did it feel long, in fact I was upset when it ended, as I wished it would continue. As Roger Ebert once said, a good movie is never long enough.
Anyway, everything technical is done remarkably well here, and story wise it’s entertaining and light. It’s nowhere near the level of the original trilogy, but few films are. Here’s to Peter Jackson completing this trilogy and finally moving on to something else so he can reach his full potential.
9. 12 Years A Slave
If you couldn’t tell, my reaction to the previous entry was a little lukewarm, and “12 Years A Slave” shares the same fate. 2013 was a remarkably weak year for film, and while none of the movies on this list are bad, per se, it’s not until about halfway through the list that there are any movies I’m particularly excited about.
Is “12 Years A Slave” a well made picture? Exceedingly so. Steve McQueen has excellent directorial chops. But is there really anything to this picture beyond the “importance” which the Academy loves to recognize so much when they begin to fellate themselves? Well… sort of.
Chiwetel Ejiofor is masterful, as always, as Solomon Northrup, and proves himself to be one of the best actors currently working. In fact, McQueen coaxes great performances from his entire cast (although the Oscar nomination for hitherto unknown Lupita Nyong’O is fairly confusing to me. I don’t remember her being more spectacular than anyone else).
In everything aesthetic the film is done perfectly, and if one is looking for historical drama and examination of human cruelty, well, you won’t find anything better. But the one thing to me that hold “12 Years A Slave” back is the fact that the film is called “12 Years A Slave”. From the outset we know how the film is going to end, with his release. Is it a compelling look at the horror of slavery? Yes, absolutely. Is it a compelling narrative? Not so much.