Editors Note: Earlier tonight we were treated with Jason’s list, and now we present to you our very own Kate Royal’s best films of 2013 list. She’s done so with a top 5. See Kate’s selections below.
5. Blue Jasmine
Beyond Cate Blanchett’s stunning performance, I found this film to be one of the most unique approaches to discussing the gap between the rich and poor in modern America. I know people of both Jasmine and Ginger’s ilk, and Woody Allen does a wonderful job capturing everything inspiring about the latter and everything revolting about the former. We never quite know what to make of Jasmine. Every time we get close to feeling sorry for her, she reminds us how little she deserves our sympathy, largely due to how desperately she craves it. Blanchett’s performance makes the entire film, but there is more to uncover here in terms of Allen’s commentary on the 1% that I feel has been sadly neglected in the pursuit for acting Oscar gold. In the midst of Blanchett’s victories, it seems people have forgotten about the film itself.
4. American Hustle
I consider myself a proud member of the ever-growing David O. Russell fanbase. To my mind, he is the only director in Hollywood that has actually successfully captured the heart of the blue-collar north-eastern – in all their loud, fiercely loyal glory. While I do find Jennifer Lawrence’s performance wonderful if highly overrated, Russell’s greatest strength is building ensembles. He has essentially rounded up his A-team for Hustle, and we get to reap the benefits for a few delightful hours. It’s smart, sexy, superbly acted and written, and just a damn good time.
3. 12 Years a Slave
I suppose there’s really nothing I can say about this film that hasn’t already been said by more qualified and eloquent critics than me, but this film was hands down the most emotional experience I had in a movie theater this year. Steve McQueen allows history to speak for itself in his tale of Solomon Northup’s journey, and gives cinema one of its greatest success stories of the year in the astonishing performance of Lupita Nyong’o.
2. Spring Breakers
The neglect of Harmony Korine’s hypnotic film about a group of college girls in Florida on spring break is one of the biggest travesties of this awards season. Taken at face value, the film appeared to just be a drug-addled party movie featuring a bizarrely dressed James Franco and a bunch of Disney girls gone wild. What it proved to be was one of the most terrifyingly accurate depictions of the millennial generation. Korine has somehow turned the party movie into an art film, and delivers truly fine performances from his leading ladies. Everything about this movie worked for me, some in ways that I’m not too proud to admit – but therein lies the genius of it.
I had to almost stop myself from putting this at #1 if only for the sake of predictability, but as I discuss in my piece about the film, I am in fact in a reviled minority of the gay community for loving this film as much as I did. It’s a sad joke to me that the only awards this film will walk away with this year are its two Critics Choice trophies (both well-deserved, but frankly consolation prizes in the grand scheme of things). It’s a bittersweet time for this film, because while it exploded in America for being as beautiful as it is controversial, its total absence from the discussion of major awards prove just how far we are from actually being ready for a film like that in this country.
Adele Exarchopoulos gives one of the greatest performances I am ever likely to see in my lifetime, and whatever the truth may be about Kechiche’s treatment of his actresses, he has done an invaluable service toward gay representation on film. It may not be getting any Oscars, but there is no doubt in my mind it will stand the test of time (and not just because it is being inducted into the Criterion Collection in February).