The Great Year That Wasn’t: 2013 Cinema in Review


So what is there to  say about 2013 in film? Towards the end of the year a lot of critics and other movie folks deemed it to be a great year, perhaps even greater than 2007. I did like what cinema had to offer this years, and there were plenty of gems (otherwise there wouldn’t be a top 25), some of which could become all-timers. But a GREAT year? I don’t think so. A lot of these conversations happened on the level of Oscar films, but on a year when mediocrity like Philomena, American Hustle, and dreck like August: Osage County and Rush were even the conversation, that adjective didn’t deserve to be used. So, as far as overall quality goes, it was an average year. 

Thematically, I couldn’t find a narrative that would fit for the year. There were, of course, films like The Wolf of Wall Street, The Great Gatsby, and The Bling Ring that were about society’s obsession with fame, fortune, and power, but that thread seemed to be isolated within those three films. While writing about the films in my top 25 I realized that a few of them were about reality destroying dreams, but again, it’s not a theme that I could apply to the rest of the year.  So, yeah, nothing to write about here either.

So the the only thing I can say was that 2013 was a fine year for films. But as it tends to be the case, most of the films that made the year as good as it was were the kind that you’d be lucky to find in a local multiplex, and it will remain the same for the foreseeable future. Let’s hope 2014  is a year worth getting excited about.

So, as it has been in the years past, I now present my top 25 films of 2013, preceded by some honorable mentions. Those are then followed by other superlatives in various categories. Enjoy.


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bonner#25BonnerThis is Martin Bonner is a film that touched me in a way I never expected. The film is short and carefully paced and doesn’t have a strict narrative with intricate plot points or big melodramatic scenes, or any of the regular Hollywood drama tropes. It just tells the stories of two different people with completely different lives (one a man who was just released from prison and the other is someone who helps former convicts get back into society), but have something in common in their loneliness and crisis of faith and are only connected in a professional way. Even so, with it’s polished but restrained cinematography and warm, honest performances it manages to be touching in how it perfectly captures the many emotions any single person goes through on a seemingly-mundane day. It’s just a lovely, lovely film.

blingring#24BlingThe year saw the release of many films that criticized how our world is obsessed with money, power, and celebrity and they were all admirable in one way or another. In the end though, it wasn’t the excess of Baz Luhrmann or Martin Scorsese’s films that won me over, it was the simplicity of Sofia Coppola’s fifth film. It gets us easily from point A to point B, it’s as handsome as you can expect from one of her films, features some great work from the late Harris Savides, a great performance from Emma Watson, and, best of all, it’s super fun without trying so hard. Coppola just let the story speak for its self and for that reason it has stayed on my mind from the day I saw it. With each passing film, she keeps getting better and better and I can’t wait for whatever she has coming up next.

aboutTime#23TimeI was not anticipating About Time at all. Although I loved Love Actually, I stayed away from Richard Curtis’s follow up (The Boat that Rocked, aka. Pirated Radio), because it looked dreadful and the reviews seemed to back that up. Things seemed to be going the same way with this film.  The trailer promised a quirky story about a guy trying to conquer the manic pixie dream girl (Zooey Deschanel had even been attached to this at some point), but with a twist involving time travel. Thankfully, it ended up being much more than the silly romantic comedy that we were promised. Rather, it is a contemplative film about a man going through life, but with the advantage of having time travel abilities. He doesn’t use them for anything major, but rather learns to use them simply to take in the little details or to improve the bad day one of his friends have. It’s just lovely, low-stakes stuff, something that we need a lot more of. And it’s all made better by a great leading performance from Domnhall Gleeson, and another great Bill Nighy performance.

Blue Jasmine#22JasmineWoody Allen’s look into the nervous breakdown of a woman who caused herself to fall from grace is as well written and directed as we can expect one of his recent films to be. The cinematography, production design, and the costume designs (that white Chanel jacket could be iconic) particularly stand out. But what puts it over the top and makes it one of the most memorable films of the year are the performances. Cate Blanchett is, as everyone has said, great at playing this woman who always seems to be on the verge of losing her mind even when she seems sane. Sally Hawkins also is worthy of the praise she has gotten. But the supporting players, from those in important roles like Alec Baldwin and Bobby Cannavale to the more minor players like Andrew Dice Clay and Louis C.K. are key to the success of the film like the other that got the majority of the praise as they keep the film grounded.

In the House#21HouseI have now seen In the House two times, and both times I’ve come away thinking that this is about as French as French films could possibly get. That is not a slight against it as it’s what makes it as great as it is. It’s a darkly funny story of voyeurism that involves lust between a grown woman and a 16 year-old child (and some homoeroticism for good measure), that blurs the lines between what’s real and what’s fiction and it’s all set to a melodramatic instrumental score. It all starts relatively innocent, but as it goes on it goes places that only the French would dare go in a film of relatively high profile. From the opening credits sequence, I was hypnotized by the world François Ozon, and I enjoyed going down this dark path with these characters.

enough said#20EnoughEnough Said is the type of movie that’s so small and doesn’t try to break any new ground but still manages to sneak up on you and rock your world. At first it may seem like it is First World Problems: The Movie, but it’s told with such warmth and honesty by Nicole Holofcener that you can’t help but get caught up in this world she has created. It’s all perfectly anchored by two of the best performances of the year, from Julia Louis-Dreyfus and James Gandolfini. It’s just lovely and everyone should give it a chance.

Saints#19SaintsI really have no big reason why I loved Ain’t Them Bodies Saints. It’s a story as old as time about a man wanted by the law making his way to the woman he loves just as is just starting to move on from her old life. I like that story, but Bradford Young’s cinematography, Daniel Hart’s brilliant score, and top-notch performances from Rooney Mara, Ben Foster, and Casey Affleck made me love it.

12Years#18SlaveIt took me two viewings to truly appreciate how great this film is. Perhaps due to high expectations, the first time I watched it, Steve McQueen’s matter-of-fact presentation of the subject matter left me cold and unemotional. The second time, however, watching it on a more intimate setting, I was able to pay close attention to the details, and what I found to be its weakness at first, ended up being its greatest asset. I was now able to see how internal Chiwetel Ejiofor’s  performance, and it showed me that Solomon Northup was not a passive character, but one that was passive because that was the only way he would survive, but inside he was suffering more than he let on. And it reinforced how haunting the occasional juxtaposition of shots of the beautiful landscapes of the south with the suffering of Solomon and the thousands of slaves that lived in that area. Granted, I still have my problems with it (the script is kind of bad and barely hangs in there because of Northup’s story), but in the end, thanks to McQueen’s tough, but graceful take on the subject, it’s very much a film worthy of its praise and accolades

blue#17BlueBlue is the Warmest Color made history at the Cannes Film Festival by becoming the first film to win the Palme D’or not only for its director but also to its two main performers. Watching the film you can see that it was the right choice. Abdellatif Kechiche’s “raw” way of filming, combined with Adele Exarchopoulos’s gut-wrenching performance as “Adele” perfectly capture the confusion a person feels when they realize that they might not be what society deems normal, the relief and weariness that one feels when meeting someone that understand you, and then what it’s like to have a great love, and the tremendous pain that you feel when this love is lost. I could have done with shorter sex scenes, but even so it’s the most complete coming-of-age drama that I’ve seen, and I loved every minute of it.

blancanieves#16blancaWith Blancanieves, director Pablo Berger pays homage to silent cinema, but unlike The Artist, his film feels thoroughly modern and feels less like a novelty, which immediately makes it more timeless. Not only that, but he takes the story of Snow White and makes it feel refreshed back to its darker roots, leaving behind any Disney-isms that we may have expected it to have, and setting it in a world where bull fighting and flamenco dancing reigns surpreme. That, plus the gorgeously perfect cinematography, costumes, production design, and score, makes Blancanieves a much more rewarding experience than any cinematic version of the tale (including my beloved Mirror Mirror). Simply put, it’s a must see.

allislost#15AllLostAll is Lost may not have the wow factor and exemplary form of Gravity, but I found it to be an equally impressive and thrilling story of survival. While Alfonso Cuaron’s film relies on the visual effects and Sandra Bullock’s performance, director J.C. Chandor put the whole weight of the film on Robert Redford’s shoulders. This proved to be the right choice. His role is virtually silent (except for one great use of “fuck”) and there’s no background to the character, but Redford gives plays him with such grace and his face carries all of his years of experience that you I could not help but get involved in his journey and feel his desperation and brief moments of happiness.

hobbit#14-1HobbitIt’s quite easy to fall for the cynicism that has surrounded Peter Jackson’s second journey into Middle Earth since he announced he’d be making three films out of one book. And I can see why people would be cynical about them since neither An Unexpected Journey or The Desolation of Smaug have been as dramatically complete as the individual chapters of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and despite the years of technological advances, that early trilogy is more visually appealing. Even so, as I watched this, I could not help but be filled with joy. I simply love they way Jackson brings Middle Earth to life, and I love the story, even if it’s being unnecessarily stretched and stuffed with long, complex, and silly action scenes. And then there’s that climax with Smaug. Even if the rest had benn a complete disaster, this would have made the whole experience worth it. Despite the flaws, these films are still magic to me.

And speaking of films that fell victim to pre-release cynicism…
loneranger#14-2RangerIt’s kind of hard to put aside the history of the production of The Lone Ranger the first time you are about to watch it because you wonder if a western is worth making for $250 million. When it’s all said and done, the answer is no, but I never thought about it while I was watching the film because I was having a blast. Though the story may be basic in plot and politics, it delivers plenty of opportunities for entertainment, and Verbinski takes advantage of them all by staging the fantastic, overtly choreographed action sequences that he has become known for. The performances are adequate, with Johnny Depp being the stand out with his committed portrayal as Tonto. Also, it very much looks like a movie that cost as much as every craft aspect of it is downright gorgeous. I guess, that when it’s all said and done, these two films are here because it gives me so much joy that there’s still room for art and distinct styles in Hollywood blockbuster film making. These are the two finest examples of it from 2013.

WindRises#13WindHayao Miyazaki became famous around the globe because with his films, he took us into gorgeous worlds that we could have never imagined. But for his final film, he decided to stay relatively grounded in reality with The Wind Rises, a film inspired by the man who created the Zero plane that because instrumental in World War II, and it could not have been a better subject for his swan song. The story itself is not particularly one that absolutely needed to be told, but it gave him the chance to make a film that melded together his passions for flight, fantasy (through dream sequences), activism, and allowed him to question if the sacrifices one makes in order for his dreams to become reality are worth it in the end. The film is not without its flaws (the biggest one being the slow pace), but the content is so compelling, and the animation is so damn gorgeous that I felt compelled to overlook them. It may not be one of his best films, but few directors have a career as good as his and gets to end it in such a high note as this.

monsters u#12MUDespite all the “Pixar is going down the drain” talk, Monsters University ended up being one of the boldest films the studio has ever created. Under the disguise of a college comedy (a very funny one), is a film that manages to be very inspirational despite going to some very dark places. First, it tells us that we should not settle for the roles that society places upon us because we might not fit a certain archetype (as show through the members of RΩR). But the bolder move is that it says that a college education may not necessarily the best place to start building your dreams. It’s kind of an odd message coming from a group of people that work for a studio that recruits the best animators from some of the most famous universities in the world, but its a nice message for those young people who don’t have anyone supporting them in making their dreams come true and are told that a college education is the only way to go.

world's end#11WorldMuch like Monsters University, The World’s End is a film that hides something meaningful behind its comedic/sci-fi façade. Edgar Wrights previous films in his “Three Flavours Cornetto”  trilogy had their share of dramatic, emotional moments, but I did not expect the last entry in the trilogy to go to the dark places it went. As with the best science fiction films, Wright and co-writer Simon Pegg use the action-infused story of five childhood friends returning to their hometown to complete a drinking challenge they failed when they were teenager to take a deeper look into humanity. Here they take us the into the life of Gary King (Pegg), a man who peaked when he finished high school and failed so hard at life in the following years that he just spent the rest of his life trying to relive those years, years that simply weren’t as good as he remembered them to be and he is so oblivious to that fact that he even chooses to ignore the alien invasion that’s going on around them for the chance to relive the glory days even for one second. The drama is poignant, the comedy is as hilarious as we have come to expect from Wright and Pegg, and it’s all anchored by a perfect and surprising performance from Pegg. Wright has been getting better with each passing film, and this solidified him in my mind as the most exciting filmmaker of his generation.

Short Term#10ShortShort Term 12 is about the lives of kids that reside in a temporary living facility for kids that are not wanted by or were taken away from their parents, as well as the secretly painful life Grace (Brie Larson) of one of the guardians of the facility. Given this and some of the events that transpire, the film could have been blatant misery porn. However, director Destin Cretton walks this thin line perfectly by choosing to shoot the film in a natural way with almost no intrusive shaky cam, natural and great performances from pretty much everyone in the cast, and by mostly not resorting to histrionics and over-the-top emotional moments.

nebraska#9NebraskaWith The Descendants, Alexander Payne tried to fully tap into his sentiment film, and that didn’t work, so I was weary of whatever he would cook up next. However, Nebraska ended up being the most interesting film he has ever made. Here he is taking on the subject of ageing and those who try to take advantage of it with the right combination of sweetness and cynicism, as he did with About Schmidt. The result is a film that doesn’t glamorize the getting old, but in fact shows it as it probably truly is: it sucks. It sucks because you don’t have much more to look forward to, and when you want something, chances are that there is going to be someone there telling you that you can’t do it anymore, or there is going to be someone to exploit you. The stark black & white landscapes of the Midwest and the uneventfulness of small town life further drive this point home. In the end though, things don’t have to suck that much as long as you have people who love you in your life who are willing to support you in any way they can.

before midnight#8MidnightBefore Midnight has everything that made Before Sunrise and Before Sunset: Great performances, great dialogue, and great direction by Richard Linklater. However, it doesn’t have the romanticism that the other two, particularly Sunset had. This was a bit jarring while watching it, but it’s the natural way to proceed with the stories of Jesse and Celine. Now that they are together and have a family, there’s nothing left but try to lead a normal life, even though that entails facing every day the consequences of what they had to sacrifice in order to finally be together. It’s a sobering reminder that although they got a fairy tale ending in Sunset, life goes on, and life is not a fairy tale and we must fight to have what we want in life. It’s another masterful entry in this series that should be considered as one of the greatest achievements in cinema.

Top of the Lake#7TopLakeIt’s been almost a year since I experienced Jane Campion and Garth Davis’s and almost every day since I’ve been haunted by random scenes and images from it. Their story of a town filled with dark secrets hidden beneath the beautiful landscapes of New Zealand at first looks like it’ll be just like every other film of this type. But even so, as the eight hours progress we do into far more disturbing places than we could have imagined, and even then, towards the end, in the last minutes of this journey, reveals information that we should have realized we in front of us the whole time, and makes it all more disturbing in retrospect. Campion and Davis’s clinical direction combined with Adam Arkapaw’s hauntingly beautful cinematography, and career-topping performances from Elizabeth Moss, Peter Mullan, and David Wenham, made what could possibly be the greatest film ever made for television, and one that will continue to haunt me for years to come.

gravity#6GravityPlenty of words of praise have been written about Alfonso Cuaron’s lastest film by much better writters than me, so I’m not even going to try to write something profound here. I’ll just say that besides being a technical marvel with an emotionally resonant story, it gave me the single greatest cinema experience I’ve ever had watching it opening day on an IMAX screen. If The Lone Ranger and The Hobbit reminded me of the magic of the movies, Gravity reminded me why I fell in love with the movies in the first place.

frozen#5FrozenWhat is it about Frozen that managed to captures the hearts and mind of people all over the world and made it not only the biggest hit in Disney history, but the biggest animated film of all time and a pop culture phenomenon? I honestly don’t think we can attribute the success to just one single thing, but rather how greatly the whole thing is put together. Every song, from “Do You Want to Build a Snowman” to the instantly-iconic “Let it Go” is catchy and memorable. The animation and the general design are gorgeous (despite some very obvious scenes that needed some extra rendering). It is also paced beautifully and the film reaches its climax before you realized how much time has passed. Even better, it has the two princesses with the best-developed personalities in the entire history of Disney Animation Studios. For some reason, this combination makes it never feel old even when you’ve seen the film about 10 times (six of them against my will). Plus, its great that newer generations of little girls have these different kinds of princesses to use as role models as they grow up.

mother of george#4GeorgeMother of George perfectly captures how difficult it can be for some of us from different cultures to try to assimilate to American life while trying to uphold the traditions from our own culture, even some that are archaic and have no place in our modern world. Sure, the story of the film, with Adenike (Danai Gurira in the best performance of the year), trying to do what her culture tells her and try her hardest to give an heir to her husband although he might be infertile, might be a tad melodramatic, but it was necessary to have this sort of story to get the point across to those who might be inclined to just say “Why doesn’t she just tell the truth” or “She doesn’t need to do that in America.” Director Andrew Dosunmu and cinematographer Bradford Young also get the struggle visually with the way Adenike’s colorful traditional clothes stand out against the gloomy, saturated lighting of the film. It is a film of painful beauty.

strangerlake#3StrangerAs far as plotting goes, I found Stranger by the Lake a bit silly since it embraces clichés that have been parodied for many years. But then I realized that there really hasn’t ever been a film like this before, and that it takes place in a world where the rules don’t apply so I had to throw any rational thinking out the window. Even if I hadn’t, the film would still be on the list because Alain Guiraudie directed the hell out of the film. With its careful pacing, great sound design, use of repetition to mark the passage of time, and non-exploitative, graphic sex scenes we are fully immersed into the world he created, and for better or worse, we see why this little shore by a lake is a haven for all the people that visit it, despite some of the least-attractive aspects of it (like, you know, murder). It’s a place where gay culture is not “normalized” and they can do what the gay rights movement fought for in the first place: the right to be who they are without hiding. Perhaps that alone is worth the risk of being killed by a handsome stranger.

frances ha#2-1FrancesThe promotional materials for Frances Ha promised me a joyous look into the life of a dancer trying to make it big in New York City. It kind of delivered on that, but I also got a film that shook me to my very core. In the beginning, Frances (Greta Gerwig) is a woman full of dreams living with the best friend she’s ever had. However, as it often does, reality came knocking, and everything started to fall apart. Despite the fact that the film remains joyous due to how comically she handles her situation, at one point things start to get sad watching her trying to make her dreams of becoming a dancer when the fact is that she is not good enough. We have all been through that, and as Frances does towards the end, we have to let things go and try to settle for the next big thing and maybe that will bring you more happiness than the other dream could have.

llewyn#2-2LlewynUnlike Frances, Llewyn Davis actually got to live the dream. However, as it’s often the case in the Coens’s films, because of bad luck or because God likes to fuck with people, the dream came crashing down. What we see in Inside Llewyn Davis is the life of a man who has become embittered by all the bad stuff that life has thrown at him. The dream to him is no longer that, but simply a means to earn money and he’s kind of lost the passion for it. Although he is far from the nicest person, I couldn’t help but feel like reaching out and give him a much-needed hug because I’ve been there (on a smaller scale), and it’s always sad to see someone like him. The Coens and Oscar Isaac created such a great character and surrounded him with other memorable characters in an iconic setting that in the end, I could not move from my seat in the theater. I was in awe because I had just witnessed not only one of the greatest character studies in film, but because I had just sat through something that will no doubt be remembered as one of the great achievements in art.

ErnestCelestine #1ErnestErnest & Celestine delivers on the cuteness, whimsy, and entertainment that the promotional materials promised, but it also gives us much more. When it comes to the story, it reminded me of stuff like Dumbo and Bambi in that the main plot is simple, cute and accessible to everyone- until stuff gets real and it becomes a powerful allegory featuring nightmarish imagery. When it comes to the film making, however, it’s more in line with the works of Isao Takahata- not just because of the use of watercolor backgrounds and character style (a deceptively simple art form that makes us think of the film that way), but because of it’s patience in developing both the characters and setting that make this 80 minute film feel so complete. All of this, combined with a fantastic, emotional ending, makes for one great viewing experience that is hard to shake off even days later. In the end, despite the fact that I watched and loved films about, among other thing, broken dreams, spiritual rebirth, and true-life struggles, the one film that managed to touch and wow me the most is the tale of two outcasts from different societies finding friendship and life purpose in each other.



  1. Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity
  2. Benjamin Renner, Stephane Aubier & Vincent Patar, Ernest & Celestine
  3. Andrew Dusunmu, Mother of George
  4. Joel Coen & Ethan Coen, Inside Llewyn Davis
  5. Noah Baumbach, Frances Ha
  6. Alain Guiraudie, Stranger by the Lake
  7. Edgar Wright, The World’s End
  8. Jane Campion & Garth Davis, Top of the Lake
  9. Alexander Payne, Nebraska
  10. Hayao Miyazaki, The Wind Rises


  1. Oscar Isaac as “Llewyn Davis” in Inside Llewyn Davis
  2. Simon Pegg as “Gary King” in The World’s End
  3. Leonardo DiCaprio as “Jordan Belfort” in The Wolf of Wall Street & “Jay Gatsby” in The Great Gatsby
  4. Robert Reford as “Our Man” in All is Lost
  5. Alden Ehrenreich as “Ethan Wade” in Beautiful Creatures
  6. Bruce Dern as “Woody Grant” & Will Forte as “David Grant” in Nebraska
  7. Ethan Hawke as “Jesse” in Before Midnight
  8. Joaquin Phoenix as “Theodore” in Her
  9. Chiwetel Ejiofor as “Solomon Northup” in 12 Years a Slave
  10. Toni Servillo as “Jep Gambardella” in The Great Beauty


  1. Danai Gurira as “Adenike Balogun” in Mother of George
  2. Adèle Exarchopoulos as “Adèle” in Blue is the Warmest Color
  3. Greta Gerwig as “Frances” in Frances Ha
  4. Cate Blanchett as “Jasmine” in Blue Jasmine
  5. Brie Larson as “Grace” in Short Term 12
  6. Julie Delpy as “Celine” in Before Midnight
  7. Sandra Bullock as “Ryan Stone” in Gravity
  8. Elizabeth Moss as “Robin” in Top of the Lake
  9. Emma Thompson as “P.L. Travers” in Saving Mr. Banks
  10. Julia Louis-Dreyfus as “Eva” in Enough Said


  1. Peter Mullan as “Matt” in Top of the Lake
  2. John Gallagher, Jr. as “Mason” and Keith Stanfield as “Marcus” in Short Term 12
  3. Bill Nighy as “Dad” in About Time
  4. James Gandolfini as “Albert” in Enough Said
  5. Jonah Hill as “Donnie Azoff” in The Wolf of Wall Street
  6. Sam Rockwell as “Owen” in The Way, Way Back
  7. John Goodman as “Roland Turner” in Inside Llewyn Davis
  8. Michael Fassbender as “Edwin Epps” in 12 Years a Slave
  9. Patrick D’Assumçao as “Henri” in Stranger by the Lake
  10. Joaquin Cosio as “Narciso” in Bless Me, Ultima


  1. Lupita Nyong’o as “Patsy” & Adepero Oduye as “Eliza” in 12 Years a Slave
  2. June Squibb as “Kate Grant” in Nebraska
  3. Kaitlyn Dever as “Jayden” in Short Term 12
  4. Amy Adams as “Amy” in Her
  5. Emma Watson as “Nicki” in  The Bling Ring & “Emma Watson” in This is the End
  6. Sally Hawkins as “Ginger” in Blue Jasmine
  7. Melonie Diaz as “Sophina” & Octavia Spencer as “Wanda” in Fruitvale Station
  8. Ziyi Zhang as “Gong Er” in The Grandmaster
  9. Kristin Scott-Thomas as “Jean Germaine” in In the House & “Crystal” in Only God Forgives
  10. Miriam Colon as “Ultima” in Bless Me, Ultima


  1. Frances Ha by Noah Baumbach & Greta Gerwig
  2. Inside Llewyn Davis by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
  3. Mother of George by Darci Picoult
  4. The World’s End by Edgar Wright & Simon Pegg
  5. Stranger by the Lake by Alain Guiraudie
  6. Bastards by Claire Denis & Jean-Pol Fargeau
  7. Blue Jasmine by Woody Allen
  8. Top of the Lake by Jane Campion & Gerard Lee
  9. Nebraska by Bob Nelson
  10. All is Lost by J.C. Chandor
  11. Enough Said by Nicole Holofcener


  1. Before Midnight by Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke, & Richard Linklater, based on the characters from Before Sunrise
  2. Ernest & Celestine by Daniel Pennac, based on the books by Gabrielle Vincent
  3. Blancanieves by Pablo Berger, based on the fairy tale “Snow White” by the Brothers Grimm
  4. Blue is the Warmest Color by Abdellatif Kechiche & Ghalia Lacroix, based on the graphic novel “Le Bleu est une couleur chaude” by Julie Maroh
  5. Monsters University by Daniel Gerson, Robert L. Baird, & Dan Scanlon, based on the characters from Monsters, Inc.
  6. The Wind Rises by Hayao Miyazaki, based on his manga.
  7. In the House by François Ozon, based on the play “El chico de la última fila” by Juan Mayorga
  8. C.O.G. by Kyle Patrick Alvarez, based on the story by David Sedaris
  9. The Bling Ring by Sofia Coppola, based on the article “The Suspect Wore Louboutins” by Nancy Jo Sales
  10. Short Term 12 by Destin Creton, based on his short film


  1. Mother of George
  2. Her
  3. Inside Llewyn Davis
  4. Blancanieves
  5. Gravity
  6. Spring Breakers
  7. Top of the Lake
  8. The Great Beauty
  9. Stranger by the Lake
  10. Passion


  1. The Great Gatsby
  2. Mother of George
  3. Stoker
  4. Her
  5. Bless Me, Ultima
  6. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
  7. The Great Beauty
  8. Saving Mr. Banks
  9. Blancanieves
  10. The Bling Ring
  11. Frances Ha


  1. Blancanieves
  2. The World’s End
  3. Gravity
  4. Stoker
  5. Spring Breakers
  6. Mother of George
  7. Inside Llewyn Davis
  8. The Wolf of Wall Street
  9. Nebraska
  10. Frances Ha


  1. Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa
  2. 12 Years a Slave
  3. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
  4. Blancanieves
  5. The Lone Ranger
  6. All is Lost
  7. Star Trek Into Darkness
  8. The Great Gatsby
  9. Saving Mr. Banks
  10. The Conjuring


  1. Ain’t Them Bodies Saints by Daniel Hart (Outstanding track: “Ruth and Sylvie“)
  2. Gravity by Steven Price (Outstanding track: “Shenzou“)
  3. Her by Arcade Fire (Outstanding track: “Dimensions“)
  4. Bastards by Tinkersticks (Outstanding track: Low Life )
  5. In the House by Phillippe Rombi (Outstanding track: “Générique debut”)
  6. Ernest & Celestine by Vincent Courtois (Outstanding track: “Variations sur le thème de Célestine”)
  7. All is Lost by Alex Ebert (Outstanding track: “Dance of Lillies“)
  8. Stoker by Clint Mansell (Outstanding track: “Becoming…“)
  9. Spring Breakers by Cliff Martinez & Skrillex (Outstanding track: “Pretend it’s a Videogame“)
  10. Man of Steel by Hans Zimmer (Outstanding Track: “What Are You Going to Do When You Are Not Saving the World“)


  1. Let it Go” from Frozen
  2. The Moon Song” from Her
  3. Young & Beautiful” from The Great Gatsby
  4. So You Know What It’s Like” from Short Term 12
  5. Becomes the Color” from Stoker
  6. Amen” from All is Lost
  7. Together” from The Great Gatsby
  8. Oblivion” from Oblivion
  9. Over the Love” from The Great Gatsby
  10. Happy” from Despicable Me 2


  1. Her
  2. The Great Gatsby
  3. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
  4. Bless Me, Ultima
  5. The Conjuring
  6. The Grandmaster
  7. The Wind Rises
  8. Blancanieves
  9. Monsters University
  10. Oblivion


  1. Gravity
  2. All is Lost
  3. Inside Llewyn Davis
  4. The Grandmaster
  5. Pacific Rim
  6. Captain Phillips
  7. Man of Steel
  8. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
  9. The World’s End
  10. Stoker


  1. Gravity
  2. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
  3. Man of Steel
  4. Pacific Rim
  5. Oblivion
  6. The Lone Ranger
  7. The World’s End
  8. The Great Gatsby
  9. The Wolverine
  10. This is the End


  1. Top of the Lake
  2. Short Term 12
  3. Monsters University
  4. Mother of George
  5. Saving Mr. Banks
  6. 12 Years a Slave
  7. Nebraska
  8. Inside Llewyn Davis
  9. Frances Ha
  10. Ain’t Them Bodies Saints


  1. Dan Scanlon, Monsters University
  2. Evan Goldberg & Seth Rogen, This is the End
  3. Régis Roinsard, Populaire
  4. Maggie Carey, The To Do List
  5. Lake Bell, In a World…

supriseBanner surprise


failureBanner failure



  • The earthquake, The Wind Rises
  • “Modern Love” from Frances Ha
  • The first party scenes in The Great GatsbyThe Great Beauty, and Spring Breakers
  • The video in Bastards
  • Bathroom fight in The World’s End

linesBanner“I’m sorry, I’m not a real person yet”  as spoken by Greta Gerwig in Frances Ha

“Get back in your rocket, and fuck off back to Legoland you cunts!” as spoken by Simon Pegg in The World’s End

“There you are, you cock-sucking tenor fuck!” as spoken by Matt Damon in Behind the Candelabra

“Well, slap my ass and call me Sally!” as spoken by Emma Thompson in Beautiful Creatures


The Bling Ring


Mother of George



hershot-f hershot2-f

In the House






her poster



blingsound ildsound


  1. 47 Ronin– Despite the $250 million budget, it looks cheap and ugly. Worst of all, it’s a lifeless bore.
  2. Elysium– Wouldn’t mind having the political message shoved down my throat if the story was any good or if the film making wasn’t so ugly and amateurish.
  3. August: Osage County- Under the guidance of a great filmmaker, this could have been iconic. Instead we got a directionless, over-the-top, mess.
  4. A Good Day to Die Hard– Don’t have an emotional attachment to the original film because I haven’t seen it. However, a shitty movie is still a shitty movie.
  5. Parker– To be honest, I don’t remember much about the film, other than I was bored throughout, and that Jennifer Lopez was terrible.
  6. The Kings of Summer– Carefully assembled to appeal to the Sundance crowd, but feels artificial, offensive, and downright annoying
  7. Despicable Me 2– Down there with stuff like Chicken Little as the worst big studio animation has to offer.
  8. The East– Hipsters with daddy issues want to save the world.
  9. Behind the Candelabra– An uninteresting film about the the uninteresting story of one uninteresting couple.
  10. World War Z– Big budget “film making” at its worse. Even with something like Transformers: Revenge of the fallen, you get memorable action sequences. This? Pure ineptitude.

And so, that was the year that was. Leave your thoughts on the lists in the comments section, and for a complete ranking of every 2013 film I saw go to Letterboxd (here’s you can track any changes I make as I watch some of the films that I missed).

2 thoughts on “The Great Year That Wasn’t: 2013 Cinema in Review

    • I liked Saving Mr. Banks but felt it needed a more stylish visual approach. As it stands, Emma Thompson, the costumes, and the production design were the only things that stood out for me

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