Ten Thousand Bytes of Cinematic Critique
Every year, the Byting Reviews crew gathers to record a best-of-the-year episode for Sound Bytes. During this episode, we each list our three favorite movies of the preceding calendar year, and each year, I am dismayed that the cutoff prohibits me from recognizing more of the movies I really, really loved. Thus, this:Sven’s Ten Favorite Movies of 201310. The Spectacular Now - There were a slew of solid coming-of-age tales in 2013 (including The Way, Way Back, Mud, and The Kings of Summer), but The Spectacular Now is easily the best of the bunch. The two leads (Shailene Woodley and Miles Teller) are incredible, and I have no doubt we’ll be hearing from them again in the future.9. Don Jon - Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s feature writing/directing debut is everything you could possibly hope for in a first film. His portrait of a well-intentioned sex/porn addict is confident, stylistic, and clever enough to give you something to chew on on the way home.8. Captain Phillips - I don’t think I can confidently give a broader recommendation to any other title on this list. Everyone with a pulse will like this movie. It doesn’t matter how familiar you are with the chronicled Somali hijacking, this movie (and Tom Hanks’ seminal performance) will surprise you in some (positive) way.7. The World’s End - Every time I see an Edgar Wright movie I come away with the same epitaph; that dude knows how to make a fucking movie. Few talents are capable of creating such a vibrant, visually-dynamic movie so spatially grounded. The World’s End, hilarious and entertaining in its own right, functions shockingly well as an endcap to the Wright/Pegg/Frost “cornetto trilogy.”6. Rush - I don't care about formula one racing, you don't care about formula one racing. Fortunately, that doesn't matter. This movie is a gripping, slick, entertaining portrait of obsession and competition, and I loooooooove compelling depictions of obsession.
5. The Wolf of Wall Street - A masterful film from a masterful film-maker, Wolf is a sublimely entertaining portrait of the attitude that all but felled a nation. DiCaprio is great (as usual) and the Jonah Hill/Martin Scorsese connection is magical.4. Short Term 12 - I’m crushed that I couldn’t squeeze this into my Top Three on Sound Bytes. If I’m trying to be objective, this (or 12 Years a Slave) might be the best movie I saw in 2013. The movie follows a damaged ex-orphan as she does her best to administrate a foster facility for unwanted teens. It may sound like difficult material, but it’s a supremely watchable movie that does everything a great film can. It’s funny, entertaining, poignant, touching, elegant, and important.3. Her - Joaquin Phoenix falls in love with his artificially intelligent operating system. This intriguing (but delicate) premise is handled masterfully. While primarily a love story, I am blown away by how well this movie functions as science fiction. The window dressing is dissimilar, but the world created is no less comprehensive or imaginative than more traditional genre-staples like Blade Runner or Star Trek.2. 12 Years a Slave - Everyone focuses on the power and importance of the subject matter, but even if you could somehow ignore that, the basic, fundamental story of this movie is fantastic. It’s gripping throughout, and the historical detail/period dialog add another dimension entirely. Along with Gravity, 12 Years a Slave is one of the most technically impressive films of 2013.1. Frances Ha - Listen to either of our latest Sound Bytes episodes (30 and 31) if you want to hear me gush in detail, but, put simply, Frances Ha is my number one because I had the strongest personal reaction to it. It’s the closest thing to a character study of myself that I’ve ever seen on screen. There are characters I’d rather be and characters I’d prefer to think of myself as, but none that are more objectively similar. This is an honest portrayal, a fair portrayal, an entertaining portrayal, and my number one movie of 2013.
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