With the long and difficult process of film distribution internationally, it’s hard to know what really qualifies in what year. For example, Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave looks likely to win Best Film and Director awards at the most famous ceremonies this year – and probably deservedly so – but us mere mortals in the UK won’t see the film until January 2014. And then the wonderful I wish hit cinemas all the way back in January this year, but was originally released in Japan in 2011, so while it may be unfair, labelling it as one the best films of this year doesn’t quite fit. Then there is the hundreds of annual film festivals globally, and far from enough time to visit them all. Thus we haven’t had to chance to check out A Touch of Sin, master filmmaker Claire Denis’ Bastards or Saudi-Arabian breakthrough Wadjda, nor The Selfish Giant or The Great Beauty. Spike Jonze’s Her has received acclaim, and while unlikely to better any of the those listed below, a film with Joaquin Phoenix is often worth seeing for his acting alone.
(in alphabetical order… there’s a lot of B’s):
Before Midnight is a film that can be enjoyed alone, but you’re doing yourself a huge favour watching them all in order. Linklater has gifted us with a perfect trilogy that selfish fans, like us, hope grows to a quartet and beyond.
Beyond the Hills – The arthouse shocker
You simply haven’t seen an exorcism film like this before. Don’t expect a horror, expect a very slowly paced drama equally devastating and provocative.
Blue Caprice – The unconventional horror
Moors’ feature film debut is an ambitious one, tackling. Isaiah Washington’s performance is electric, and the film’s gaze is both terrifying and contemplative. It plays out like a horror film, maybe an artistic werewolf or vampire film – two men devolving and disassociating themselves from the world around, perhaps at the hand of Washington’s character. It may not help you understand it’s characters, but it will raise many questions.
Blue is the Warmest Colour - The tearjerker
A lot of controversy needlessly surrounded the film. The sex scenes are quite long, but not pornographic as the timid may claim. What you have is a powerful love story and journey of self-discovery that captures the romance in a very french way, yet always rings honest.
Nebraska – The “bleakly uplifting” film
Rarely does the theme of time get captured so exquisitely in a medium which is relatively quite a short running time. Nebraska hints and nods, but never goes unnoticed. Bruce Dern, and all the cast really, give performances to be proud of, and help to characterise a part of America so often forgot, while playing out a really beautiful story.
One of the boldest films this year. A double edged sword: primitive, base & raw, yet also intellectual, layered & academic. Auteur NWR has definitely reached a peak in what he considers his second life as a filmmaker – let’s bring on the exciting next cycle!