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‘Act of Killing,’ ‘Gravity’ Lead Sight & Sound’s Top 10 for 2013

'Act of Killing,' 'Gravity' Lead Sight & Sound's Top 10 for 2013

Following Cahiers du Cinema by a few days, Britain’s Sight & Sound has announced its own Top 10 for 2013. Since U.K. release patterns more closely follow those in the U.S., there are fewer outright shocks, but still a handful of noteworthy films that either haven’t been released here — The Selfish GiantNorte, The End of History — or those like The Grand Beauty that haven’t figured prominently in the year-end conversation. Be sure to scroll down for the individual ballots so you can see some list-making love for LeviathanMuseum Hours and Stories We Tell, among others. Cast your own vote in Sight & Sound‘s readers’ poll here.

Sight & Sound’s Best Films of 2013

1. The Act of Killing

2. Gravity

3. Blue Is the Warmest Color

4. The Great Beauty

5. Frances Ha

6 (tie). A Touch of Sin

  Upstream Color

8. The Selfish Giant

9 (tie). Norte, The End of History

   Stranger by the Lake

Some choice quotes from the ballots:

Nick James:

Upstream Colour really stands for three films — I tie it together with Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin and Spike Jonze’s Her, all of which represent fresh kinds of cinema about the way we live and think now. Shane Carruth’s film has many troubling morbid insights. I need to see Glazer’s film again but I have the feeling it’s a future classic about empathy as a virus. Her I’ve only just seen, think is tremendous, but want to hold back for next year’s poll.

Isabel Stevens:
We started the year surrounded by the ocean in Life of Pi and ended it there too, with JC Chandor’s All is Lost. In between two smaller, but no less remarkable films floated along: Shaina Anand and Ashok Sukumaran’s collaboration with Indian cargo sailors, From Gulf to Gulf to Gulf, but above all, Leviathan. Interestingly, it was this documentary about a fishing trawler, and not the sublime-courting Gravity, that offered the more immersive and disorientating spectacle about the horror of being adrift in an abyss.

Nick Bradshaw:

I chose The Act of Killing in last year’s poll, but saw it anew (in its longer “director’s cut”) this year while watching its journey around the world, and continued to be enthralled by the ways in which it reconfigured the movies in front of our eyes, commandeered the writing of public history with ingenuity and courage, and threw up myriad moral challenges that cut to the quick.

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I assume 12 Years A Slave has not released in Britain yet?

Keegan W

I admit I haven't seen The Selfish Giant, Norte the End of History or Stranger By the Lake. But I find the inclusion of Frances Ha and A Touch of Sin to be beyond me. 12 Years A Slave, Stories We Tell, Blue Jasmine and The Hunt were all fantastic films that I think are significantly more worthy. The Act of Killing was a good choice and I don't know why Gravity is being dismissed by some commenters. It was a visual masterpiece of cinema and people need to acknowledge that the visual experience is an equally as important part of film, especially when it's emphasized to be the focal point. This I why I think Avatar is a masterpiece, even though I found the actual narrative to be disappointing.

James S

Gravity's acclaim is overwrought. The technical marvel of it all can't disguise that the fact the movie is about Sandra Bullock hurtling from one absurd set piece to the next. Her character is one-note, and the attempts at some deeper meaning are feeble. I think people are afraid to criticize the movie because they desperately want it to be revolutionary. We're so starved for daring, inventive filmmaking. Same goes for All Is Lost, which is, basically, Gravity at sea.


The Act of Killing is equally disturbing and profound. Moments of beauty and horror. A Brilliant film that should be seen.


Excellent list. Very diverse and truthful. Despite the few critics who attacked these two films, Act of Killing & Gravity without a doubt masterpieces, whether you agree or not.

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