Top 15 Films from 2013: Part One

Now that the Reel Voice Awards are over, it’s time to reflect on the films that will forever define 2013 for me. Admittedly, I haven’t seen every film released in theaters this year. It’s a caveat that plagues me every year I sit down to compile a “best” list, but I hope you can stomach my egregious behavior. Of course, releasing the list doesn’t make it concrete by any stretch of the imagination. It’s a malleable article, one that I will have no problem adjusting throughout the years to reflect my shifting opinion and mood. For example, Moneyball is one film that continuously moves up my top ten list for 2011, while The Descendants, previously my number one film from that year, has fallen a few pegs.  Regardless, a great film is a great film, and not even time can erase that. Here are the first five films from Top 15 list for 2013, as well as some of the films that didn’t make the cut.

Cutting Room Floor:

Director’s Cut

15. Frozen:

 I actually never took the time to review this vibrant Disney creation, a fact I’m regretting at the moment, but it’s a wondrous animated film that skirts the conventions and archetypes Disney has reinforced over the last fifty years. Instead of framing the film around royal romance, Frozen is ultimately about reinforcing the irreplaceable bond between two sisters. Romance is certainly part of the film’s winning formula, but female empowerment takes precedence over archaic animated plot points. In many ways, Frozen feels more in line with a vintage Pixar film than it does Disney. Nonetheless, Frozen is a gorgeously animated adventure buoyed by a lively voice cast and musical numbers that are as poignant as they are amusing.

14. Dallas Buyers Club:

Despite only seeing it a day ago, I can say without hesitation that Dallas Buyers Club is an impressive character study. Anchored by a phenomenal, complicated lead performance from Matthew McConaughey as Rob Woodroof, a man who sold unapproved AIDS remedies to those afflicted by the terrible sickness, the film beautifully captures the struggle many HIV/AIDS patients encountered in the 80’s when the AIDs epidemic was playing out like a modern-day plague. As proper treatments went unrecognized by the FDA, Woodroof ferociously battled against a passive mindset that inflamed the prowess of an ugly virus. Because of its uncompromising approach, Dallas Buyers Club is a triumphant reflection of a dire time where a cutting fear was held off by unwavering courage.

13. The Place Beyond the Pines (Click Here for Original Review):

Derek Cianfrance exploded onto the film scene in 2010 with the bittersweet Blue Valentine, a tremendously acted film burdened with an inescapable romantic dread. In The Place Beyond the Pines, an ambitious tale of sons alienated by their father’s legacies, Cianfrance further demonstrates his exemplary grasp on mood and character. Running nearly three hours in length, Beyond the Pines is a slow burner, reveling in the darkest recesses of our character’s souls. Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper are stellar as two random strangers serendipitously drawn to one another, setting off a violent chain of events that cripple the future of their offspring. From a haunting score by Mike Patton to calamitous scenes reeking of desperation, The Place Beyond the Pines is a thunderous, unforgettable tale from a blossoming talent.

12. Frances Ha (Click here for Original Review):

Adorable is one word to describe Frances Ha, writer/director Noah Baumbach’s Frakenstein creation composed of mumblecore and French New Wave body parts. Shot in black and white, Frances Ha follows the childish, bitter antics of a woman who refuses to grow up in present day New York. Featuring a hip soundtrack and a crackling energy, Frances Ha is a film that never loses our attention despite its meandering tendencies. Leading the charge is Greta Gerwig as Frances, and she is nothing short of a marvel on-screen. Her warm smile and charming performance turns Frances into a hilarious and lovable character, even if her behavior suggests she’s bewildered by the very notion of maturity. And when Gerwig’s aloof Frances dances throughout the streets of New York, it’s hard not to dance with her, even if it makes us look just as childish.

11. Inside Llewyn Davis (Click here for Original Review):

A disenchanted, artistically driven folk singer and a cat are the epicenter of the Coen Brother’s latest film, Inside Llewyn Davis. Taking place in New York’s Greenwich Village circa 1961, Inside Llewyn Davis finds us following folk singer Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac) as he attempts to stake his claim to fame in the music industry. The only problem plaguing Llewyn, outside of his foolish attempts to portray the dedicated starving artist, is that no one seems to care about his musical existence. Through a wandering narrative and piercing music, as well as nostalgic cinematography by Bruno Delbonnel, the Coen Brothers dissect their title character’s hard exterior with wry humor and chilly character interactions, exposing a man plagued by the past and disheartened by the future.