But first, a quick review of the numbers.
· I saw 266 films in theaters (including festivals)
· 72 of them were documentaries
· 53 of them were repertory screenings
· 52 of them were at the IFC Center (aka the best place on earth)
12 Years a Slave
Kill Your Darlings
Remote Area Medical
In a World….
Valentine Road (aka bawlfest 2013)
This Is Martin Bonner
Blue is the Warmest Color
Best rep screenings - films I saw for the first time this year and loved:
Paths of Glory
Portrait of Jason
A Woman Under the Influence
Now, let’s zero in on only the best documentaries
JUST KIDDING No we will not do that! Documentaries are movies, same as the rest, and they don’t get their own list. They are well represented in my top ten. Sorry.
Fair is fair. I realized I couldn't put Rewind This! on my top ten since while I do think it is a delightful informative and entertaining documentary, I should endeavor to only list films that weren't directed by my fiance and shot/edited/produced by my dear friends.
But holy crap, will you love it! Check out my top 15 reasons you should download Rewind This! and after that, well, download Rewind This! Or buy the DVD from Amazon. Or if you like to collect things, buy the limited edition VHS (seriously!) from Amazon.
10. All the Light in the Sky
Had never heard of this movie until we got sold out of another movie (that I ended up not caring for when we went back and caught it). Kismet! This Swanberg-directed slice-of-life drama reminds you that Jane Adams is and always has been awesome. Here she is an L.A. actress of a certain age, just living life, really. Don’t look too hard for clichés though, because this movie is surprisingly without.
It feels weird to put such a universally-lauded film on my top ten list, especially when I saw it in theaters as part of the general release. Like there’s something un-special about saying “hey, I also loved this, too.” But, it’s great. I knew it would be great, and it did not disappoint in any way. My favorite parts were the colors, the performances, and the pants.
8. After Tiller
Far more than an “important” film (although that, too). Compelling and emotional story-telling. Brave and reverent approach to a difficult topic. I’d love to show this movie to my mom.
7. Museum Hours
This is unlike any movie I have ever seen. It has a rhythm to it that totally hypnotized me, for reasons I don’t even really understand. I do think it works best as an immersive experience. Watch this in the dark on as big of a screen as you can, even though you’d be used to getting that advice for a film like Gravity. Trust me – just let this one wash over you.
6. The Spectacular Now
All I can tell you is I loved it. I don’t even really remember why, but I think it has a lot of heart. Which is a good thing, in this case.
This one’s an explosively creative, funny and fascinating profile of Tomi Ungerer whom I knew nothing about but is now a favorite. There’s little I can say about this criminally under-seen film that I didn’t say in this “review” I wrote where I believe Iactually purport the filmmakers are “doing God’s work.”
4. Short Term 12
Staggeringly performed, gorgeously directed, challenging piece that deserves all the awards and all the money.
3. Frances Ha
Utterly delightful. Noah Baumbach’s best. A role tailor-made for Greta Gerwig’s particular brand of awkward-charming. Particularly enjoyable as a New Yorker who fondly recalls her own broke years.
2. Twenty Feet from Stardom
You, your friends, and definitely your mom will love this expertly crafted, moving story of the background singers that played a big part of making the music we all know and love. I could watch this movie once a week and not grow tired of it. I texted a friend of mine as I was standing amongst the crowd following the Sundance premiere as all 1200 people in the audience roared with applause: ‘This is one of the best documentaries I have ever seen.” And almost a year later, I stand by that.
1. The Act of Killing
I saw this one in 2012 at TIFF actually, but it has haunted me since then and will for a long time to come. I do think it has fundamentally changed the documentary film world and it absolutely has impacted the way I think of filmmaking but it also has oddly shaped how I think about people in general. There’s a scene or two of this movie that I’ve replayed in my mind many times since seeing The Act of Killing again this year. I continue to wonder at how moving, shocking, and actually quite funny this movie is. Can’t wait to see the director’s cut.
BONUS LIST! Films that I suspect will make my best of 2014 list because I saw them last year but they haven't been released yet
You’ve never seen anything like this and you never will again, you freak, you.
I wanted to stand up while I was watching this and make eye contact with every person in the theater, with a knowing, “oh my god are we really watching this!!” twinkle. I didn’t, but I will personally glance at each one of you when I see you next, wide-eyed and persuasively encouraging you to check out this rich and satisfying portrait of a mysterious artist.
We Are the Best!
Remember Lucas Moodyson’s Show Me Love and Together? Didn’t you love those? Yeah he made this one too, and it has the same sweetness, mixed with punk! rock! You must not, I mean NOT, miss this sweet, funny, and original Swedish film whenever you can get your hands on it.
A rallying cry for the artistic and independent spirit.
Mistaken for Strangers
This is one of those films you think is going to be something and then it turns out to be another thing that’s way awesomer than you thought. I would go into this one knowing as little as possible about it.
My Least Favorite Films of the Year
Nice try. Dor don’t play that way. Come over and have a drink with me and I might spill, but I don’t like to be a downer on the Internet.