' ' Cinema Romantico: The 9th Annual Prigges: Top 10 Movies Of 2013

Monday, January 06, 2014

The 9th Annual Prigges: Top 10 Movies Of 2013

As always, this is an eclectic list but, as always, these were the best movies I saw in 2013 regardless of genre, budget, box office, critical/audience consensus, or 'importance'. (Click on the title to read the review.)

10. The Bling Ring / Spring Breakers. Two deliberately emotionally vapid movies - one centered around the icy cool of celebrity-infested L.A., one centered around the party-hardy neon of Miami - and both darkly funny critiques of capitalist America and its apparent disinterest in anything remotely resembling consequences. Also, zebra doesn't go with leopard.

9. Blue Is The Warmest Color. Sections of the media are terribly hung up on the veracity of the sex scenes, which are key, but far from the whole picture. Initially it is the Parisian-set story of a young girl's sexual awakening, but ultimately the film - encompassing matters of love, friendship, class, dependency, and dreaded "life plans" - is less about an awakening than a spiraling disorientation.

8. 20 Feet From Stardom. Ostensibly a documentary about the toil of female backup singers from the past up 'til now, it winds up an authentic exploration not just of the profession but of the struggle to make peace with your place in life.

7. American Hustle. Not a wrenching commentary on hustling for the American Dream or some such, nor meant to be, "American Hustle" is the Abscam Follies, a freewheeling joy ride about the thrill and danger of dressing up and burying yourself in the part.

6. Frances Ha. "A sweet bedtime story for anxious millenials." - A.O. Scott

5. Stories We Tell. Sarah Polley's exploration of her own family history quietly opens up into so much more - an examination of the documentary format and how it can be used to shape the stories it tells, and how the stories we all tell in everyday life can be employed to ease pain, bury wounds, give joy, and shape our own narratives.

4. In A World... Set in the insular world of Hollywood voiceovers, Lake Bell's directorial debut is sweet and simple at first glance, belying a rich tapestry of interconnected characters, all allowed to live and breathe without forsaking the funny, and ultimately going to show how so many of them (and us) struggle to find our voice and belt it out to the back row.

3. All Is Lost. What begins as the most straight-forward story imaginable - Robert Redford stranded alone at sea in a decrepit boat - gradually, gorgeously gives way to a breathtaking parable, one man forced to lose everything before he may begin anew.

2. Mud. Jeff Nichols' river-set adventure fable is cinematic storytelling at its purest - writing, direction, cinematography, music, acting, and theme all coming together in an effortless confluence.

1. Ain't Them Bodies Saints. A cinematic poem, not merely in the lyrical way its shot, but in the way its story is drawn. Each character and the plot into which they settle is effectively drawn in but a few lines, yet each line offers a wealth of insight, a plethora of heartbreak. A mother's devotion to her daughter is complicated by the love she feels for the imprisoned father, the love from which she cannot untether. Emotions are never cut and dried and what's best does not always align with what we feel in our hearts, but what we feel in our hearts so often overpowers what's best.


Dan said...

Nick, you've got a lot of my favorites on this list. It's very cool to see In a World mentioned. Mud, Stories We Tell, and Frances Ha were all great too.

Ryan McNeil said...

In a strange way, I love that 3 of your selections are films I'm yet to see. Reminds me that for everything I see in a year, there are still gems that will get past me.

Great choices sir - here's to more cinematic beauty in 2014.

Nick Prigge said...

Dan: I'm happy whenever someone else says they enjoyed "In A World..." I want to get all the attention. I love it so much.

Ryan: Thank you, sir. And such a true statement. Perusing other Top 10's had made realize the same thing.

Alex Withrow said...

Great list, love that we have a few in common. I just watched 20 Feet From Stardom for the first time recently, and I absolutely loved it. That "Gimme Shelter" bit was sensational. Ah, I loved it.

Derek Armstrong said...

We're probably going to have two of our top ten in common, but I can't say which until next week. I also haven't seen three of your top ten (Blue, Lost, World, all victims of not getting Australian release dates in time). I'm also going to do what you do this year, I think, and give a blurb about each of my top ten -- though I'm still married to the idea of revealing my #1 with my artwork for the post, so we'll have to see about that. Great list - I always look forward to yours each year with a special sense of anticipation.

Nick Prigge said...

Alex: Yeah, the "Gimme Shelter" section was great. I mean, that song is just great. One of the best, and it's nice to have seen the story behind it.

Vance: Thanks, man. And I strongly encourage you to do the blurbs. I'd love to read those, especially since you don't traditionally do reviews. They're not easy, though. I swear I spend more time on those blurbs then on actual reviews, and I'm often still disappointed in them.