The general consensus about 2013 seems to be that it was a ‘good year’. Certainly the major film festivals (and as a result, the year-end sweep-up that is LFF) were fortunate to host a large number of strong films. The Great Beauty and Stranger By The Lake were relatively minor side-events at Cannes, for example, but are now seen as major films. However, from a personal perspective I didn’t find it much different from any other year; and I was one of the few who felt 2012 offered a fair number of riches – none of the films in this year’s 10 resonated as strongly with me as my top 2 from last year (Holy Motors and Once Upon a Time in Anatolia).
I watched around 525 films in 2013 (at the time of writing = Dec 21st) and around 175 of those were new releases, so I’m fairly confident that I’ve seen most of the year’s most acclaimed films. Some notable omissions include Blue Jasmine, American Hustle, 12 Years a Slave, Her and The Wolf of Wall Street, although the last three of those are officially 2014 releases in the UK, in any case.
Although I’m happy with the broadness of my viewing, some may still feel that my list is unadventurous, and I would have to agree with them. That’s because I think people fall into two categories when compiling their favourites of the year – those who use their lists to emphasise the plurality and adventurousness of their tastes, and those who simply try to honestly list their favourites, or the ones they found the strongest or most innovative. This critical duopoly was recently expressed more succintly in this tweet by Derek Malcolm:
Love Jonathan Rosenbaum’s five best movies of year for Sight and Sound. Films nobody but he has seen. Mine,of course, boringly predictable.
— Derek Malcolm (@DerekMalcolm123) December 3, 2013
Obviously I consider myself in the latter camp. I could have included films like The Strange Little Cat or Play in my Top 10 – both innovative and impressive films that few people have seen, which would have added a sprinkle of idiosyncrasy to my list. But do I honestly think those films, despite their strengths, can stand convincincly alongside titles like Stray Dogs and Leviathan? Nearly, but not really.
Anyway here are my various Top 10s, along with some further ephemera.
Overall Top 10 Best New Films of 2013 (alphabetical):
The Act of Killing
Blue is the Warmest Color
Like Someone In Love
Top 10 UK cinema releases of 2013
(compiled and semi-randomly numbered for Wow247 website poll):
1. Upstream Color
2. Like Someone In Love
5. Blue is the Warmest Color
6. The Act of Killing
7. Hors Satan
8. Neighboring Sounds
10 A Field in England
(Although I’ve included A Field in England at number 10 here, in the end I actually chose it just because it’s British. Until I was asked to compile this particular list, there were 9 UK cinema releases of 2013 that I considered outstanding, and the 10th film could have been chosen from any of the following, which all rank about evenly in my estimation….)
Close But No Cigar…
Stories We Tell
A Field in England
Strange Little Cat *
Only God Forgives
All Is Lost
La Danza de la readlidad *
Celestial Wives of the Meadow Mari *
Under the Skin *
Stranger By The Lake *
(* = yet to be released in the UK)
Films I *have* seen and partly appreciated, but just not as much as others did:
In The House
Beyond the Hills
In The Fog
A small number of films I liked a little better than most critics, but not enough for a Top 10 berth:
For Those In Peril
These are ones that I have also seen, but they just weren’t… for me…
Zero Dark Thirty
To The Wonder
Caesar Must Die
Post Tenebras Lux
The Great Beauty
The Selfish Giant
My Top 20 older films of the year can be seen in my follow up post about older film watching in 2013. Here’s a direct link to the section.