This year has been one of the best years in films for movie fans. It seemed whatever type or genre of movie appeals to your sensibility, there was a large array of movies for you. The year saw the emergence of big summer blockbusters such as “Man of Steel,” “Fast & Furious 6,” and “Iron Man 3,” while it also showcased foreign directors coming to America to make their first English-speaking films, most notably Chan-wook Park’s “Stoker” and Kim Jee-woon’s “The Last Stand.” Overall, any year that delivers new movies from David O. Russell, Spike Lee, Martin Scorsese, and Baz Luhrmann will always be considered a win among moviegoers and cinephiles. Here are my top 10 movies of 2013:
10. The We & The I (dir: Michel Gondry)
This very small and experimental movie from director Michel Gondry floored me. The film takes place on the last day of school for a group of high schoolers in the Bronx, New York. Mainly taking place on an MTA bus as it drops off each student, “The We & The I” shows off a wide array of feelings, emotions, and pathos from each student featured in the film. You can genuinely feel the whole weight of the world on the single MTA bus driving through New York.
09. The Act of Killing (dir: Joshua Oppenheimer)
The film that examines the actions of violent men during social, political, and racial genocide in Indonesia, first time director Joshua Oppenheimer displays whether these men see their past actions as right or wrong through the power of cinema. “The Act of Killing” might be the most violent film released in 2013, without showing any acts of cinematic or real violence. The way these men describe their past actions is truly haunting, which makes for a memorable, yet disturbing movie.
08. The Past (dir: Asghar Farhadi)
Much like Michel Gondry’s “The We & The I,” director Asghar Faradi has a knack for high stakes in such small settings. “The Past” takes a look at a couple in the middle of a divorce that escalates when their past actions are unearthed. The film centers on the idea that after all the turmoil a family can experience, we are still connected to each other, whether we like it or not.
07. Captain Phillips (dir: Paul Greengrass)
Director Paul Greengrass has a penchant for the docudrama with such films like “Bloody Sunday” and “United 93.” This year’s “Captain Phillips” is no different. Not so much a movie about adversity, but more about how social and political actions affects everyone around the world. “Captain Phillips” is a movie about globalization and how the world’s citizens fit into the new world.
06. The Wolf of Wall Street (dir: Martin Scorsese)
Anytime Martin Scorsese comes out with a new film, it will always be an event. “The Wolf of Wall Street” is a movie about the absurdity of American economics, greed, and excess. While Scorsese’s film just might be his funniest in a long time, it’s also haunting when you consider that it’s based on a true story from a best-selling memoir.
05. Europa Report (dir: Sebastián Cordero)
“Europa Report” is a small movie that challenges big notions of space exploration. While the moniker “found footage” might be considered a pejorative in today’s moviegoer’s mind, “Europa Report” damns its critics by delivering one of this year’s best shot and photographed films. The film doesn’t try to be anything more than it is, but stays firmly in its genre. It’s also an expertly made and put together piece of true science fiction.
04. 12 Years a Slave (dir: Steve McQueen)
Steve McQueen’s disturbing tale of American cruelty shows that human adversity can trump injustice. “12 Years a Slave” is a constant reminder of the evils of America that should never be forgotten.
03. Inside Llewyn Davis (dir: Joel & Ethan Coen)
The Coen Bros’ “Inside Llewyn Davis” is a film about failure. Oscar Isaac’s winning performance as a struggling folk singer/songwriter in the 60s is a shining portrait of mediocrity. The Coens have a knack for examining failure and depression in such a way that is actually funny and absurd. The film’s cyclical structure emphasizes an artist’s temperament for expression, while showing that failure is mostly self-inflicted.
02. Before Midnight (dir: Richard Linklater)
The third film in the “Before” film series, “Before Midnight” grows with each viewing and is a statement on love and aging. Love takes different forms as you go through life and with movies like “Before Sunrise,” “Before Sunset,” and now “Before Midnight,” Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, and Ethan Hawke have perfectly captured different phases of love and romance.
01. The Wind Rises (dir: Hayao Miyazaki)
Master animator Hayao Mizazaki’s final film is the perfect swan song for the Japanese artist. “The Wind Rises” shows that art and love can exist anywhere, even in terrible killing machines. The story of an engineer in love with flight is palpable and is true to the idea of love and design. “The Wind Rises” makes engineering and design an awe-inspiring act that rises above the rest of this year’s film releases.
“Nebraska” (dir: Alexander Payne)
“Upstream Color” (dir: Shane Carruth)
“American Hustle” (dir: David O. Russell)
“Furious 6” (dir: Justin Lin)
“The Great Gatsby 3D” (dir: Baz Luhrmann)
“Pain & Gain” (dir: Michael Bay)
“Side Effects” (dir: Steven Soderbergh)