As 2013 comes to a close, it’s that time to put the year into perspective. That means going back through everything that’s happened this year and figuring out what really stood out and made itself known. In film, it means going back through all the movies released this year and narrowing it down to a list of 10 that represents the best and boldest of the year.
2013 was an interesting year in film, to be sure. The bloated blockbuster summer seemed to be even more swollen this year with the now annual tradition of flops — The Lone Ranger –, while others expected to flop somewhat succeeded — War World Z –. There was even one film that touched home for the Bay Area in Fruitvale Station. As film, in the literal sense of the word, continued the swift transition to digital, some films in this list are either in direct response to that shift or wouldn’t have been possible without it. Others pine for an era that will soon be lost. And so, SF Station presents its top 10 films of 2013.
10. The Wolf of Wall Street – At 71, Martin Scorsese crafts one of the most hilarious and decadent films of his career, with an astoundingly superb cast led by Leonardo DiCaprio.
9. Nebraska – Bruce Dern leads this touching tale from Alexander Payne about a life in reflection.
8. 12 Years A Slave – Steve McQueen’s gift for visual techniques illuminates the true tale of a free black man sold into slavery.
7. The World’s End – Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, and Nick Frost complete their thematically linked Coronetto Trilogy with the most mature film of their career without sacrificing their biting wit in this nostalgic science-fiction comedy.
6. American Hustle – Christian Bale leads this David O. Russell crime film with a comb over as ridiculous as its twisting plot.
5. The Hunt – Mads Mikkelsen gives a career best performance in this Danish film that tells the increasingly anxiety-riddled tale of a wrongly accused teacher.
4. Upstream Color – Shane Carruth wrote, produced, directed, scored, and starred in one of the years most unusual yet most visceral films — all outside of the Hollywood industry.
3. Gravity – Alfonso Cuarón creates a visual blockbuster with the eye of an art house auteur.
2. Inside LLewyn Davis – Not only one of the best music movies made in recent memory — largely thanks to the cast playing live — it’s also a complex character study of an artist searching for himself.
1. Her – Spike Jonze uses a subtle science-fiction backdrop to tell a heartbreaking tale about human relationships.