While “12 Years a Slave” took the top spot in Indiewire’s recent 2013 poll of
more than 230 critics, journalists and tastemakers of the film world,
this smaller grouping of picks from Indiewire staffers and bloggers
highlights a wide range of movies large and small (but mostly small)
from this year’s release calendar. “12 Years,” “The Act of Killing,” “Gravity” and “Her”
received plenty of expected mentions, but there are a slew of solo votes
below equally worth consideration. Participants were invited to include films released theatrically this year.
Please share your own Top 10 list for 2013 in the comments section at
the end of this article (and don’t forget to include your name).
Dana Harris, Editor-in-Chief and General Manager
“12 Years a Slave”
“The Act of Killing”
“Short Term 12”
“Stories We Tell”
“Sun Don’t Shine”
“The Wolf of Wall Street”
Eric Kohn, Chief Film Critic and Senior Editor
Nigel M. Smith, Managing Editor
1. “Prisoners,” Denis Villeneuve
2. “Spring Breakers,” Harmony Korine
3. “Gravity,” Alfonso Cuaron
4. “Her,” Spike Jonze
5. “Frances Ha,” Noah Baumbach
6. “Inside Llewyn Davis,” Joel & Ethan Coen
7. “12 Years a Slave,” Steve McQueen
8. “Simon Killer,” Antonio Campos
9. “The Spectacular Now,” James Ponsoldt
10. “The Past,” Asghar Farhadi
My favorite film that still has yet to come out: “The Immigrant”
Honorable Mentions (in order of preference): “The Place Beyond the Pines,” “This is the End,” “Sightseers,” “Star Trek Into Darkness,” “Captain Phillips,” “Sun Don’t Shine,” “Before Midnight,” “Blue Jasmine,” “Cutie and the Boxer,” “Enough Said,” “The Wolf of Wall Street,” “The Conjuring,” “Laurence Anyways,” “The Act of Killing,” “Blue is the Warmest Color,” “Labor Day,” “Drinking Buddies,” “20 Feet From Stardom,” “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints,” “Fruitvale Station.”
Favorite Performances (in no particular order): Jennifer Lawrence (“American Hustle”), Tom Hanks (“Captain Phillips”), Joaquin Phoenix (“Her”), Olivia Wilde (“Drinking Buddies”), Scarlett Johansson (“Don Jon”), Jake Gyllenhaal (“Prisoners”), Greta Gerwig (“Frances Ha”), Robert Redford (“All is Lost”), Brady Corbet (“Simon Killer”), Cate Blanchett (“Blue Jasmine”), Adele Exarchopoulos (“Blue is the Warmest Color”), Oscar Isaac (“Inside Llewyn Davis”), James Franco (“Spring Breakers” and “This is the End”), Chiwetel Ejiofor (“12 Years a Slave”), Jonah Hill (“The Wolf of Wall Street”).
My top 7 favorite TV shows that aired this past year (I watch what I can…)
1. “Breaking Bad”
2. “Top of the Lake”
3. “House of Cards”
6. “American Horror Story”
7. “Orange is the New Black”
Peter Knegt, Senior Writer
My 10 Best Films of 2013:
1. “Inside Llewyn Davis,” Joel & Ethan Coen
2. “Her,” Spike Jonze
3. “Before Midnight,” Richard Linklater
4. “Frances Ha,” Noah Baumbach
5. “Gravity,” Alfonso Cuaron
6. “Stories We Tell,” Sarah Polley
7. “12 Years a Slave,” Steve McQueen
8. “The Act of Killing,” Joshua Oppenheimer
9. “This is the End,” Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg
10. “Blue is the Warmest Color,” Abdellatif Kechiche
Honorable Mentions (in order of preference): “The Wolf of Wall Street,” “The Great Beauty,” “Mud,” “Computer Chess,” “The Hunt,” “Laurence Anyways,” “The Past,” “Wadjda,” “Short Term 12” and “Enough Said”
If They’d Been Released In 2013, They’d Be On Here: “Stranger By The Lake,” “Gloria,” “What Now, Remind Me” and “Only Lovers Left Alive”
10 Television Shows I Watched and Loved In 2013 (Though I Don’t Watch Enough Television):
“The 70th Annual Golden Globe Awards”
“House of Cards”
“Masters of Sex”
“Orange is the New Black”
Paula Bernstein, Technology/Filmmaker Toolkit Editor
10 Best Films of 2013 (disclaimer: I haven’t seen “Prisoners,” “Wolf of Wall Street,” “Prisoners,” “Fruitvale Station,” “Wadja” “Short Term 12” or many more of the best reviewed films of the year)
1. “12 Years a Slave,” Steve McQueen
2. “Her,” Spike Jonze
3. “American Hustle,” David O. Russell
4. “The Act of Killing,” Joshua Oppenheimer
5. “Stories We Tell,” Sarah Polley
6. “Blue is the Warmest Color,” Abdellatif Kechiche
7. “Inside Llewyn Davis,” Joel & Ethan Coen
8. “Enough Said,” Nicole Holofcener
9. “Cutie and the Boxer,” Zachary Heinzerling
10. “Frances Ha,” Noam Baumbach
Runners Up: “Bastards,” “Blue Jasmine,” “Blackfish,” “Spring Breakers”
7 Television Shows (disclaimer: I don’t watch that much television)
1. “The Americans”
2. “Orange is the New Black”
3. “Breaking Bad”
4. “Mad Men”
5. “Orphan Black”
Bryce Renninger, Toolkit Assistant Editor
1. “Inside Llewyn Davis,” Joel and Ethan Coen
2. “Her,” Spike Jonze
3. “Gasland Part II,” Josh Fox
4. “Cutie and the Boxer,” Zachary Heinzerling
5. “After Tiller,” Lana Wilson & Martha Shane
6. “Blue Jasmine,” Woody Allen
7. “Leviathan,” Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Véréna Paravel
8. “The Act of Killing,” Joshua Oppenheimer
9. “Frances Ha,” Noah Baumbach
10. “Enough Said,” Nicole Holofcener
Performances of the Year: John Goodman, “Inside Llewyn Davis;” Lupita N’yongo, “12 Years a Slave;” Cate Blanchett, “Blue Jasmine”
Alison Willmore, TV Editor
For the first time in almost a decade, I’ve found myself unable to make a list of my top 10 films of the year. I officially joined Indiewire as the full-time television editor on January 1st, and while I still also love watching movies, the time spent keeping pace with the proliferation of smart small screen programming has left me with too many cinematic blind spots to feel comfortable picking a top 10. Instead, I offer my list of the best TV shows of 2013, a year that saw an exciting shift in the idea of the quality drama.
10. The Returned (Sundance Channel)
A ghost story, a tale of mourning and a possibly apocalyptic vision, this French import manages to feel both like an allegory and like a very (undead) flesh and blood small town drama. When the dead start coming back to life, just as they were when they passed days or years earlier, the living react with joy, bewilderment, fear and dread. The show delicately explores all sorts of scenarios in which its characters are confronted with loved one they’d mourned and let go, only to have back again, from the fiancée now married to someone else to the identical twin whose sister has grown into an adult, leaving her behind. Moody and beautifully shot, “The Returned” leaves certain large question so far unanswered, its focus more on the immediate human dramas unfolding as the line between life and death appears to grow thin.
9. Bob’s Burgers (Fox)
They are few shows as reliably charming and scruffily distinctive as Loren Bouchard’s animated comedy about the Belcher family and their humble burger restaurant. The terrific voice acting — from the indispensable H. Jon Benjamin, Dan Mintz, Eugene Mirman, John Roberts and Kristen Schaal, among others — helps create a real solidity to the show’s central group of oddballs and the seaside town in which they live. The show’s grown more and more into its voice and low-key sense of comedy in its third and fourth season, with storylines that start off as the stuff of typical sitcoms — Linda gets a job at a supermarket, Bob attempts to make the perfect Thanksgiving dinner — and then go off in directions that are delightfully and unforcedly unexpected. Who would have predicted where all those turkeys ended up in “Turkey in a Can,” or the inexplicable but kind of sweet explanation?
8. Hannibal (NBC)
The most gorgeously disturbing show on the air this year, “Hannibal” managed to come up with scenes of horror that were shocking even in a TV landscape oversaturated with serial killer narratives. Bryan Fuller let go of his sense of whimsy for the show, but not his imagination, which is why imagery like people flayed to look like angels or tied onto a totem pole on the beach are so terrible and exquisite at once. Surrounded by scenes like that, no one could blame Special Agent Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) for being a little shaky on the sanity front, and Dancy makes Will an anguished, vulnerable martyr to the FBI, sacrificing his mental well-being to the pursuit of murderers while his doctor Hannibal Lecter, a nicely restrained Mads Mikkelsen, makes gourmet meals out of people. The show’s constrained scope suggests a world irreparably damaged and dark.
7. The Americans (FX)
Former CIA officer Joe Weisberg’s “The Americans” is a Cold War drama and a spy saga, but it’s also a show about marriage and about the immigrant experience, albeit as seen through a very dramatic lens. Elizabeth (Keri Russell) and Philip Jennings (Matthew Rhys) are playing at being a couple and playing at being American, but after years, both have started to seem real, and the show has made their relationship one of the most fraught, brutal and vital you’ll find on TV, all while navigating the sex they have with other people in the name of espionage. Commendable, also, is the way their dynamic flips the usual gender expectations, with Russell’s Elizabeth being the tougher cookie and the more loyal soldier while Phil searches for softness. The strong supporting cast, including Noah Emmerich, Margo Martindale and Annet Mahendru, help make this one of the best new shows of the year.
6. Game of Thrones (HBO)
HBO’s fantasy saga has ably demonstrated how television can be as epic in scope and look as a blockbuster, with a sprawl of characters over multiple continents continued to fight for power and survival. “Game of Thrones” is most impressive as sheer storytelling, moving easily from large scale events to intimate ones, and revealing with breathtaking ferocity that no character, no matter how apparently heroic, is safe. The “Red Wedding” scene wasn’t shocking just because of the characters it killed off, but because it bloodily underlined a point the show initially made when it lopped off Ned Stark’s head in season one. This isn’t a tale of good versus evil, just because a character represents order or honor doesn’t mean they’ll do any better in a world that’s savage under a thin veneer of civilization. By upending all of the typical rules of the genre, “Game of Thrones” remains terribly exciting high-end television.
5. Scandal (ABC)
After a scattered, short first season, Shonda Rhimes’ D.C. drama hit its stride in its second season. And this season it’s been on fire, going from a show about a fixer/Washington insider to a bonkers (and yet not irrelevant) one in which Olivia Pope’s (Kerry Washington) broken family is impossibly tied to the inner working of the U.S. government, including a secret organization called B613. Its hard to top the twist that your main character is in love with and has been having an affair with the President of the United States, but this year “Scandal” has managed to do just that by looping Olivia’s mom and dad into the equation and having them both be terrifying and loaded up with secrets. As “Homeland” gets loopier while maintaining a stiff facade of quality, “Scandal” has managed to be infinitely more riveting while occupying some of the same territory by owning its own wild-eyed plot twists, presenting an alternate universe in which the personal and the political of its power brokers are hopelessly intertwined and the rest of the world are there on the outside, just pawns to be manipulated.
4. Enlightened (HBO)
It’s sad, certainly, that Mike White’s melancholic and lovely show was canceled this year. But its second season, lasting just eight episodes, was all but perfect, capturing a character in her most maddening, yearning, inconsistent and hopeful. Amy Jellicoe (Laura Dern) is a character for the ages, well-meaning but self-serving, full of grand self-help talk that masked much more mundane intentions, a sharply believable portrait of a woman in search of higher meaning in corporate Southern California setting that was far from transcendent. An argument could be made that Amy ran a little too abrasive in the show’s first season, but this year on “Enlightened” was precisely calibrated and delicate in its timing and its portrayal of its challenging main character. And while Dern’s performance is the heart and soul of the show, the two instances in which it stepped away from her — to visit Levi (Luke Wilson) in rehab in Hawaii and to peek into the life of Tyler, played by White himself — were equally good, worthy of standing alone as shorts about loneliness and the yearning for connection.
3. Top of the Lake (Sundance Channel)
A procedural only in the most technical sense, Jane Campion’s miniseries played out the gender battles that she’s explored so masterfully in her film work and laid them out over a remote New Zealand town to which Det. Robin Griffin (Elisabeth Moss) returns, bearing resentments and emotional wounds. On one side, you have the men, led by the rough but charismatic Matt Mitcham (an excellent Peter Mullan), in dark compound filled with illicit business dealings, while on the other you have the women’s camp, overseen by the equally harsh GJ (Holly Hunter), a minimalistic gathering of shipping containers out in the wilderness. And in between you have a missing, pregnant 12-year-old, an old lover, a boys club of a police force and themes about the fall of man. Campion’s work here look little like anything you normally see on TV, in the best way — it’s cinematic, mysterious and moving, with a thrillingly complicated sense of personal relationships and how communities fit or fail together.
2. Orange is the New Black (Netflix)
The most unexpected, piquant pleasure of the year, “Orange is the New Black” was the Netflix original with the least obvious hook — no major stars, no pre-established brand from which to get a push, and a premise seemed fantastically uncommercial by all cynical standards. And goddamn, has it been good — smart, surprising, engaged, raunchy and almost shockingly new. Jenji Kohan’s show is about women talking, befriending, fighting and sometimes falling in love with other women, and it also has a cast filled with such wonderful actresses of types so rarely given good platforms because of their ethnicity, age, body type or other non-studio standard quality that its very existence feels like a rebuke against the lousy female representations that still dominate the big and small screen. “Orange is the New Black” can be funny and it can be wrenchingly sad, but it also deserves a salute for being important in largely nondidactic ways, for taking Piper (Taylor Schilling), a woman who is, in her own words, a nice white lady, and using her story to examine privilege, race and class and the ways in which they affect the characters’ kaleidoscoping lives.
1. Breaking Bad (AMC)
Endings are hard. But “Breaking Bad” managed to run at full, breathtaking speed towards it own, and then stick the landing, against all odds, wrapping up the sad, strange story of Walter White (Bryan Cranston) by giving him a little bit of peace while also refusing to let him off the hook for all his awfulness. This breakneck final half season shook Walt’s world apart right after it seemed like he’d managed to get away with everything, with his dogged brother-in-law Hank (Dean Norris) on his tail, Jesse (Aaron Paul) aware of what he did to Brock and the cancer back and eating away at his health. Those three final episode were killer — “Ozymandias,” which overturned everything, “Granite State,” with its spooky depiction of a kind of purgatory and “Felina,” in which Walt managed a tiny bit of redemption, all incredibly taut, waste-free installments. And it’s the fact that it wasn’t the thought of what he’d done to his family but his resentment against his old partners, Elliott and Gretchen, that pushed him toward that end game that made the closure he ultimately managed forgivable. Walt’s not a good guy — something he at long last came to terms with admitted to Skyler (Anna Gunn), that what he did was for himself, not for his family. Between Mr. Chips and Scarface, he finally found some kind of emotional honesty — he didn’t deserve to be a hero, but he earned being able to try to set things right.
Runners up: The first season of Cinemax’s fearlessly over-the-top “Banshee” was guilty fun. “Veep” continues to grow on me, improving in its second round of episodes. “Archer” is always profanely funny, while “Orphan Black” had a throwback feel to it that was very enjoyable and a multitasking lead in Tatiana Maslany who deserves the attention she’s been getting. “Key & Peele” remains the best-looking sketch comedy series around, while even on an off season, “Mad Men” is very worth watching. Sour and sweet, “The Mindy Project” remains interesting in part because it still feels like it’s being tinkered with, the kinks slowly getting worked out. “Broadchurch” and “The Fall” were both dreamy, emotionally intense Brit murder mysteries. Josh Thomas’s Aussie twentysomething comedy “Please Like Me” was quirky in all the best ways in its first season, while “Rectify” captured an indie film quality of the type rarely seen on television. It was great to see the tremendous, clever UK sci-fi anthology series “Black Mirror” finally come to the US, and both “Parks and Recreation” and “New Girl” remain solid and genial.
Anne Thompson, Editor-at-Large; Thompson on Hollywood
Alfonso Cuaron’s deceptively simple space epic breaks new cinematic ground in VFX, but it’s Sandra Bullock’s balletic grace and human heart that fuels this space opera. They couldn’t have done it without her.
Alexander Payne and writer Bob Nelson take us on a meandering (black-and-white) road trip as a family deals with a disappointed father (Bruce Dern, the best role of his life) who needs something to hold onto. He finds it. This is a zeitgeist movie that shows us who we are and what we’ve lost.
3. “12 Years a Slave”
This movie needed to be made and Brit Steve McQueen pulled it off with elegance and grace. It’s his most accessible film to date, formally thoughtful, spare and precise, and yet the filmmaker does not pull back from what he wants us to immersively experience for the first time in our cinema’s history.
4. “Captain Phillips”
Paul Greengrass soars back with this unexpected pirate adventure that reveals how vulnerable Goliath can be. And Tom Hanks gives the most naturalistic and moving performance of his long and storied career.
5. “Short Term 12”
With his sophomore film, this year’s breakout talent Destin Daniel Crettin coaxes a moving performance from young actress Brie Larson that deserves Oscar recognition, but also shows a sure hand in telling an authentic story about young people in crisis.
6. “Before Midnight”
Richard Linklater and his gifted writer-actor collaborators Etha Hawke and Julie Delpy return 18 years after starting their relationship trilogy with “Before Sunrise” to present an amazingly complex and accurate portrait of a modern partnership that reveals the dynamics of men and women today in a way that no one else has. Kudos to all.
Spike Jonze has returned with a vengeance, for the first time writing as well as directing the well-constructed sci-fi fable of a man on the rebound from a failed marriage. “Her” can be viewed as the flip side of Sofia Coppola’s Oscar-winning movie about the end of their relationship, “Lost in Translation,” a visual/aural tone poem that followed lonely, disconnected Scarlett Johannson around modern Tokyo, as she finds a soulmate with whom she can never truly mate. Jonze also puts Johannson front and center–but not-on-screen–in this fractured future vision of a city, a digitally reconstructed Los Angeles. She plays sultry, brilliant OS 1 system Samantha, who “bonds” immediately with Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix). They fall swiftly in love. Their sex is satisfyingly erotic, and their relationship believable. The film grapples with some of the issues Ridley Scott confronted in “Blade Runner,” about what it means to have consciousness, whether human or not. It’s about who we are now. And who we want to be.
8. “Enough Said”
Nicole Holofcener’s fifth feature in 17 years is by far her most accessible movie to date: witty, sharply observed, painful and entertaining. Her characters ring true, and this relationship comedy provides a perfect vehicle for smart comedy actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who co-stars with James Gandolfini, in what unfortunately turned out to be his penultimate movie role–and could earn him a posthumous Oscar nomination. After an LA party, Eva, an L.A. divorcee and masseuse trying to get back into the dating scene, gets involved with Albert, also divorced, as well as poet Marianne (Holofcener regular and muse Catherine Keener), who becomes a client and friend. They all have daughters heading for college. Things get tangled when it turns out that Marianne is Albert’s still-angry ex-wife.
9. “Fruitvale Station”
Rookie filmmaker Ryan Coogler figured out how to film a day in the life of a struggling black man whose unaccountable loss wreaks havoc on his family. He recreates the last day in the life of Oscar Grant (Michael B. Jordan), who at 22 years old was shot and killed by an Oakland police officer at the titular BART station on New Year’s Day, 2009. It’s a gut-wrenching tearjerker in the “Precious” tradition.
10. “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints”
While it’s easy to compare David Lowery’s movie to Terrence Malick’s “Badlands,” from its magic hour photography to its content, which Lowery considers an antecedent to his two young bank robbers trying to grab happiness as their future disappears, the filmmaker puts his own stamp on this familiar material. He places his actors, led by hapless robber Casey Affleck and his wife Rooney Mara (who has his child while he is serving time in prison) inside a timeless sepia universe of ramshackle houses and wind-blown grasses.
BEST FOREIGN FILM
“The Hunt,” Denmark’s shortlisted Oscar entry, marks an extraordinary collaboration between Thomas Vinterberg and Mads Mikkelsen. He plays a mild-mannered schoolteacher falsely accused of sexually molesting one of his young kindergarten charges. How he is treated–and how he reacts to being ostracized by an entire community, including his closet friend– is tough to watch. Mikkelsen deserved the 2012 Best Actor win in Cannes.
Canadian actress-writer-director Sarah Polley’s family memoir “The Stories We Tell ” is remarkable for its innovative, organic transparency, as Polley discovers and shares secrets about her long-lost mother, who died when she was ten, her family and her parentage.
BEST ANIMATED FILM
With gorgeously wrought 2-D “The Wind Rises,” Hayao Miyazaki escapes from the family film ghetto into Japan’s pre-World War II past, as the country was growing into a modern power. He celebrates a young designer who over many years becomes the star creator of the prototype for the Tiger fighter plane. The movie has sparked controversy in Japan–but Miyazaki is clearly presenting a pacifist point-of-view. He identifies with the artist, not the warmonger.
Sam Adams, Criticwire
I’m hoping to do a final, this-time-I-really-mean-it list for Criticwire at the end of the year, but for now I’ll stick with the Top 10 from my ballot, even though I’ve seen a few movies since that might eventually qualify. Part of the difficulty of year-end cram sessions for me is that the implicitly replace the question “What did I think of this movie?” with “Is this one of the best movies of the year?” — which, almost by definition, is not a question that can or should be asked while the credits are still rolling. I saw five of the movies in my Top 10 for the first time at Sundance in January, and two of them (“Room 237” and “No”) before that, and “The Wolf of Wall St”’s 10th-place finish is in some ways a placeholder until I can get to a second viewing. (I’m quite sure it’s great, not just how great.) “The Past,” “First Cousin Once Removed,” “These Birds Walk”– these may end up nudging their way onto the list, but I haven’t had time to judge whether they’ll stay with me or not, which may be the ultimate test of a truly great movie. I’ll defend every one of these 10 to the death, but I reserve the right to throw any of them under the bus myself.
1. “Upstream Color”
2. “12 Years a Slave”
3. “Room 237”
5. “The Spectacular Now”
6. “Before Midnight”
8. “In a World”
9. “Crystal Fairy”
10. “The Wolf of Wall Street”
Leonard Maltin, Leonard Maltin’s Movie Crazy
Lists seem to exist for the sole purpose of provoking argument, which is one reason I avoid making them whenever possible. But as a member of the IndieWire team, I don’t want to be thought of as a spoilsport, so here are my choices for the best of 2013. I know that this is a somewhat iconoclastic list, as I am not crazy for several of the most lauded year-end releases, but I assure you that it is sincere. Is it coincidental that so many of these films were written by their directors? I don’t know, but I do believe that writer-directors bring an extra degree of passion to their endeavors. It’s not a rule, just an observation. If I were allowed to expand the list, I would include “The Way Way Back,” “The Hunt,” “Stories We Tell,” “12 Years a Slave,” “The Past,” “Wadjda,” “A Hijacking,” “The Great Beauty,” and “The Wind Rises,” among others.
1. “Mud,” director: Jeff Nichols
2. “Gravity,” director: Alfonso Cuarón
3. “Nebraska,” director: Alexander Payne
4. “The Place Beyond the Pines,” director: Derek Cianfrance
5. “Saving Mr. Banks,” director John Lee Hancock
6. “Dallas Buyers Club,” director: Jean-Marc Vallée
7. “Enough Said,” director: Nicole Holofcener
8. “Short Term 12,” director: Destin Cretton
9. “Blue Jasmine,” director: Woody Allen
10. “Fruitvale Station,” director: Ryan Coogler
Caryn James, James on Screens
1. “Her,” Director Spike Jonze
2. “12 Years a Slave,” Director Steve McQueen
3. “Nebraska,” Director Alexander Payne
4. “Inside Llewyn Davis,” Directors Joel & Ethan Coen
5. “The Wolf of Wall St.” Director Martin Scorsese
6. “American Hustle,” Director David O. Russell
7. “The Invisible Woman,” Director Ralph Fiennes
8. “The Broken Circle Breakdown,” Director Felix Van Groeningen
9. “Top of the Lake,” Director Jane Campion
10. “The Selfish Giant,” Director Clio Barnard
For a fuller version of her list, go HERE.
Jerry Beck, Animation Scoop
Since my beat is animated films I’ll stick to doing a top ten that are primarily or entirely animated, hand drawn or computer generated.
1. “Gravity” Director: Alfonse Curon – It won’t be nominated in the Animated Film category, but who can deny this was the best “animated” film of the year. A spectacular state-of-the-art use of the medium to tell a human heartfelt story. Bravo.
2. “The Wind Rises” Director: Hayao Miyazaki – Miyazaki closes his career with a masterpiece of storytelling, using all he has learned as a filmmaker and sticking to his hand drawn style – which he has truly mastered.
3. “The Day Of The Crows” Director: Jean-Christophe Dessaint. This feature film hasn’t been released (yet) in the U.S., but I saw it at the Toronto Animation Arts Festival International in June. It’s about a boy raised in the wild who encounters civilization when he brings his unconscious father into town for aid. Hand drawn, from France, and one of the best animated stories I’d seen in years.
4. “Get A Horse” D: Lauren MacMullan This Disney short was certainly one of the best – and unforgettable – films I’d seen this year. A thrilling “theme park ride” cartoon that unites the beginnings of the Disney studio to its present day sensibilities with charm, humor and technical innovation. Walt Disney would have been proud.
5. “Frozen” Directors: Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee. If the goal was to combine Disney traditional storytelling with modern computer graphics techniques, Frozen nailed it perfectly. With memorable characters, settings and songs, and a twist ending that satisfied, Frozen was fresh and funny – and finally, a modern classic.
6. “The Croods” Directors: Kirk De Micco, Chris Sanders. Funny cavemen cartoons preceded The Flintstones, but The Croods was a fresh take on the stone-age modern-family dynamic. A top-notch voice cast, a funny story (with a message) and the gorgeous prehistoric visuals make this one of the best of the year, without a doubt.
7. “Despicable Me 2” Director: Pierre Coffin, Chris Renaud. I wasn’t crazy about the first film, but the second times the charm – and there’s no denying the appeal of the Minions. Entertainment counts – and Despicable Me 2 had it from the first frame to last.
8. “Monsters University” Director: Dan Scanlon. I had a smile on my face the entire time. Fun, pure fun. Pixar maintains their standard here – didn’t exceed it, which disappointed the critics – but a solid picture nonetheless.
9. “Ernest and Celestine” Directors: Stephane Aubier, Vincent Patar, Benjamin Renner. The story of an unlikely friendship between a bear, Ernest, and a young mouse named Celestine. This cute hand drawn French film reminded us that animation can look and feel any way the mind imagines. Sweet, sentimental and gorgeous to watch. We need more films like this.
10. “Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2” Directors: Cody Cameron, Kris Pearn. The first film was a surprise – fresh, funny and “cartoony”. The sequel didn’t drop the (meat)ball – it maintained the original film’s look and silly point of view – with wonderfully “delicious” art direction and funny “food animals”. I ate it up.
Women in Hollywood