10. Mud – dir. by Jeff Nichols
A tale of love, regret, vengeance and lost adolescence, Mud continues Nichols’ remarkable streak of documenting poor Americans in poor situations. He’s the only filmmaker currently telling stories of this kind, and we should all start paying more attention. On DVD/Blu-Ray Aug. 6
9. Frances Ha – dir. by Noah Baumbach
Frances Ha is one of the most unconventional films we’re going to see this year; a digital, black and white indie about a girl trying to figure it all out. If you’re into Baumbach’s unique tone, then there’s simply no reason not to love this. Currently in select cinemas
8. The Bling Ring – dir. by Sofia Coppola
A highly stylized semi-non fictional retelling of Hollywood’s famed Bling Ring, a group who robbed celebrity homes for the hell of it. This may be the most out-and-out entertaining movie of Coppola’s career, but that doesn’t make it any less essential. Also, gorgeous to look at. Gorgeous. RIP, Harris. Currently in select cinemas
7. Side Effects – dir. by Steven Soderbergh
What could be Soderbergh’s final theatrical release, Side Effects is a twisty pharmaceutical thriller that had me guessing throughout. I know its third act angered some viewers, but not me. It was perfectly… Soderberghian. Please, good sir, do not quit now. On DVD/Blu-Ray
6. The Hunt – dir. by Thomas Vinterberg
This import from Denmark is a patient thriller about a kind schoolteacher accused of molesting his students. Vinterberg knows how to set a mood of grim isolation, and star Mads Mikkelsen knows how to live it. I seriously doubt I will see a more infuriating film this year, and I mean that as a compliment. Limited theatrical release begins July 12
5. To the Wonder – dir. by Terrence Malick
Terrence Malick’s methodically paced story of love and love lost, To the Wonder is that rare type of film that forces its way into my mind nearly every day. Like all of Malick’s work, it creeps in and stays, without a hint of going away. Currently available through various OnDemand providers; on DVD/Blu-Ray Aug. 6
4. The Place Beyond the Pines – dir. by Derek Cianfrance
Someday my pain/someday my pain will mark you. Harness your blame/harness your blame, walk through.
What might have been lost.
What might have been lost.
On DVD/Blu-Ray Aug. 6
3. Before Midnight – dir. by Richard Linklater
At this point, I’m convinced there is nothing Richard Linklater can’t do. With a career defined by bold, innovative features, perhaps his most significant are the Before films. Each one is more unnecessary than the one preceding it, and each one is better than the one before. How does he do it? Currently in select cinemas
2. Spring Breakers – dir. by Harmony Korine
“Sprang breayyyyyk. Sprang breayyyyyk. Sprang breayyyyyk. Sprang breayyyyyk. Sprang breayyyyyk. Spring break foreva, y’all.” On DVD/Blu-Ray July 9
1. Upstream Color – dir. by Shane Carruth
If I’m lucky, I get one of these movies every year. Shame in 2011, Rust and Bone last year, and it seems as though my crown jewel of 2013 is destined to be Upstream Color. Now, I understand that may seem presumptuous; we have six months of movies to go, and many of them sound fantastic. But the inspiration I feel from watching Upstream Color is so uniquely profound. Yes, it’s “out there.” Yes, it doesn’t answer all the questions it asks. Yes, it’s different. But if different is done right, you’ll never hear an argument from me. Now available on DVD/Blu-Ray, various OnDemand providers, and Netflix Instant
Best Of Categories
Best Director, Best Actress, Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Editing, Best Score, Best Sound Mixing, Best Sound Editing
It hits on every level. Lead actress Amy Seimetz delivers what is (by far) the best film performance I’ve seen this year, while Carruth proves he’s not only a great director and writer, but an exceptional DP, musician, editor, sound mixer (and on, and on) as well. Fair warning: I’m going to be talking about this film a lot in the ensuing months.
Mads Mikkelsen – The Hunt
Much of what is so maddening about The Hunt is the way Lucas (Mads Mikkelsen) handles the situation he’s stuck in. He doesn’t rant, he doesn’t rage, he doesn’t even ask the right questions. He sits. He thinks. And then he reacts. There’s power in this performance.
Best Supporting Actor
James Franco – Spring Breakers
“Sprang breayyyyyk. Sprang breayyyyyk. Sprang breayyyyyk. Sprang breayyyyyk. Sprang breayyyyyk. Spring break foreva, y’all.”
Best Supporting Actress
Eva Mendes – The Place Beyond the Pines
It’s been brought to my attention on more than one occasion that Eva Mendes ages in The Place Beyond the Pines. Given that the film covers a substantial amount of time, most everyone in the picture ages, but she ages. Sunken, dark eyes, frizzy, gray hair – tired. Thing is, people are using Mendes’ aging as a criticism. I beg to differ. Given all the shit this woman has gone through, I think she aged very appropriately. But make-up is nothing more than a mask to accentuate an actor’s skill. Mendes has skill, all right. Evident in her every scene of Cianfrance’s rather perfect film.
Most Surprisingly Awful Moment in an Otherwise Good Film
The shower scene in 42…
…in which a white baseball player tells Jackie Robinson, “Come on… take a shower with me, Jackie,” which Robinson does, as the violins are literally cued. Breaking down the barriers of race, one shared bar of soap at a time.
Most Surprisingly Sexual Moment in and Otherwise Good Film
The shower scene in Stoker…
…I’ve known Mia Wasikowska was a forced to be reckoned with for quite some time, but I didn’t know she could (or would) do that.
Best Line Delivery (that shouldn’t have worked, but did exceptionally)
“I want to, rob.” – Emma Watson, The Bling Ring
Best Film I Never Thought I’d Like
This Is the End
Movie I Most Hope is Nominated for Oscars
I never thought I’d be in a position to actually champion the Academy’s idiotic “nominate 5-10 movies for Best Picture” rule but if that allows Before Midnight to sneak in, then consider me converted.
Movie I Liked Much More Upon Reflection
The Bling Ring
That’s the power of Sofia Coppola. Ask me in December, and I’m sure I’ll love The Bling Ring even more.
Movie I Liked Much Less Upon Reflection
Man of Steel
With the exception to responding to the occasional comment my review for this film gets (thanks for those, by the way!) I haven’t spent one minute thinking about Man of Steel. Oh well.
Biggest Cinematic Letdown
M83’s Score for Oblivion
M83 frontman Anthony Gonzalez has been outspoken about the way Universal Studios treated him while he crafted the score to Oblivion. They disregarded his initial, M83-esque tracks and demanded something generic. M83 is my favorite band, and I certainly hope the shit experience on Oblivion does not stop Gonzalez from creating film scores in the future.
Best Matthew McConaughey Moment
Chest Pounding in The Wolf on Wall Street Trailer
“Mmmm, hmm, hmm (bump, bump). Mmmm, hmm, hmm. (bump, bump).” Repeat x10. Whistle. “Yeah.”