More Great Films in 2013: Another New Times Critic Weighs In
Here's where I write about how hard it is to draw up a 10-best list at the end of the year. Except it isn't: I think of drawing up a list as an honor and a necessity, a way of putting 12 months of moviegoing into some sort of perspective -- if not necessarily into any semblance of order -- before moving on to the next. Beyond the first three or four titles, the order is mutable. How do you rank a comedy against a drama that moved you deeply, or a documentary that challenged or delighted you? It's impossible, so I don't sweat it. And this is, of course, a very personal and thus idiosyncratic list of 11 movies. The main thing is to take stock of the movies worth caring about, and 2013 brought plenty of choices. Here are the pictures I loved best:
Gravity -- Alfonso Cuarón's lyrical and terrifying 3D adventure was one of the big blockbusters of the year, but maybe now's the time to take a few spacewalk steps away from it and consider how meditative it is. Some found Sandra Bullock's not-so-interior monologues a bit taxing, but her performance connects with something beyond words. Gravity explores both wonder and the thing that makes wonder possible: despair. It's harrowing and comforting, intimate and glorious, the kind of movie that makes you feel more connected to the world rather than less.
Blue Is the Warmest Color -- The hot topic of conversation surrounding Abdellatif Kechiche's three-hour drama about love, desire, and loss is the explicit nature of the sex scenes -- plus, the reported after-the-fact squabbles between the director and his lead actresses, Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux. But as beautifully carnal as those scenes are, it's the movie's tenderness that sticks with you. Falling in love is easy; it's the end of love that tells you what you're made of, and Blue's willingness to face that truth makes it devastating.
Inside Llewyn Davis -- This is Joel and Ethan Coen's warmest, most emotionally direct movie, and possibly their best. Oscar Isaac gives a sterling performance as a dislikable (if gifted) folk singer in 1961 New York. The music he plays is ostensibly all about connecting with humanity; he just can't get the hang of it in real life. To borrow a line from an old, old song that also figured in a Coen brothers movie, he really is a man of constant sorrow.