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Best Cinema 2013: Shawn Stone

by Shawn Stone on December 24, 2013


Before Midnight


1. Gravity

This lost-in-space story balances the human drama of a pair of astronauts (Sandra Bullock, George Clooney) with dazzling 3D special effects for the best 90 minutes of cinema this year.

2. Before Midnight

Film number three in Richard Linklater’s saga of Celine and Jesse (co-writers Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke) finds the now long-married couple in midlife crisis. The emotions cut deep.

3. The World’s End

This is the smartest, funniest, best-written film of the year. Edgar Wright’s a heck of a director, too.

4. Fruitvale Station

The last day in the life of an average man who dies for no reason other than being young and African-American. Devastating.

5. Frances Ha

Greta Gerwig shines in Noah Baumbach’s comedy about realizing that, eventually, you have to grow up.

6. Spring Breakers

It’s hard to forget Harmony Korine’s hypnotic, ridiculous, obscene and hilarious art film about American youth behaving badly. “Spring brayyyyk, for-everrr!”

7. Blue is the Warmest Color

It took a couple of weeks for the full effect of this one to sink in. It’s a wrenching, true portrait of a relationship’s rise and fall.

8. Passion

Brian De Palma is back, baby! This remake of a French thriller is sleek, sexy and—of course—bonkers.

9. American Hustle

David O. Russell’s method-acting orgy is terrific fun.

10. Rush

Engaging, exciting Formula One racing drama directed by Ron Howard, with great performances by Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Brühl as rival drivers.

Worst of 2013

1. Oz: The Great and Powerful

Not much L. Frank Baum in it, but plenty of CGI and contemporary horseshit. (This was brought hilariously home when Warners released the impressive 3D IMAX version of the 1939 Oz.) If you want to see a decent Oz reinterpretation, rent Disney’s earlier Return to Oz.

2. World War Z

Turns out the only thing you need for a zombie apocalypse is Brad Pitt.

3. To the Wonder

The restless, endlessly moving camera in Terrence Malick’s drama made me queasy, restless and bored.

4. A Good Day to Die Hard

This is worse than bad. It’s incompetent.

5. Star Trek: Into Darkness

J.J. Abrams and company managed to screw up the “wrath of Khan” scenario. Nice going, jerks.