Top Ten Movies of 2013 — Number Five

When director Richard Linklater unexpectedly delivered a sequel to the 1995 romantic drama Before Sunrise, he revisited the same characters nearly ten years later, largely sticking to the established formula. In Before Sunset, released in 2004, Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) had another decade of mileage on them, but the film offered a similar dance of philosophizing and courtship in a European capital. The novelty in seeing characters who were slightly more mature didn’t necessarily change the dynamic all that much. To me, at least some of the praise heaped on the second installment felt like a critical … Continue reading Top Ten Movies of 2013 — Number Five

Top Ten Movies of 2013 — Number Eight

In some quarters, the effectiveness of 12 Years a Slave was attributed to the emotional distance director Steve McQueen had from the specter of American slavery, since he was born and raised in England. That theory ignores McQueen’s own record as a filmmaker, notably his willingness to deal with the ugliest, most painful aspects of human existence. 12 Years a Slave is grueling, but not necessarily more so than Hunger, McQueen’s depiction of the 1981 hunger strike by Bobby Sands in an Irish prison. For this effort, John Ridley’s screenplay takes the original memoir of the same name by Solomon … Continue reading Top Ten Movies of 2013 — Number Eight

Top Ten Movies of 2013 — Number Nine

The kismet of cinematic artistry is elusive, which unfortunately alleviate the unfair sense of disappointment when the most creative individuals struggle through dry spells. By now it’s understood that Woody Allen is too prolific (and too unconcerned with anything other than simply getting down to work on the next project, whatever it may be) to deliver anything other than an unpredictable sine wave of quality. But when he lands in the right place, assembles the right cast, draws on the right well of inspiration, the results offer a reminder than he’s one of the truly great American filmmakers. Blue Jasmine … Continue reading Top Ten Movies of 2013 — Number Nine

Top Ten Movies of 2013 — Number Ten

Director Paul Greengrass is great at the particulars of a film’s story. That’s what made United 93 comes across a model of titanic restraint when it arrived, its keen attention to the simplest details of people reacting to terrible turns of history providing an emotional poignancy that Hollywood script speechifying could never muster. Even his contributions to the Bourne series are at their best when tightly focused on the physical mechanics of the scenes. And that’s what gives Captain Phillips its bracing immediacy. Based on actual events that took place in 2009, the film follows the hijacking of a cargo … Continue reading Top Ten Movies of 2013 — Number Ten