As a contributor to both publications, I’m not in a position to objectively examine the difference between The Dissolve and The A.V. Club’s year-end lists. But for proof that they’ve gone in different directions since the The Dissolve was formed by an exodus of The A.V. Club’s staff, it’s pretty notable that The A.V. Club’s #1, Before Midnight, finishes a lukewarm 17th at The Dissolve. Considering that it ranked third in Indiewire’s poll and fourth at the Village Voice‘s, that’s a pretty big drop.
Familiar faces Inside Llewyn Davis and 12 Years a Slave — the winners, respectively, of the Indiewire and Voice polls, as well as Film Comment’s 1 and 2 — follow immediately thereafter, but Short Term 12‘s strong seventh-place showing (versus 16th, 22d and 47th) is unusual, obviously tied to the admiration for Brie Larson’s performance reflected in The Dissolve’s list of best female performances. Simon Pegg’s like-feted turn in The World’s End helped that movie to #11 (24th in Indiewire and Voice polls, not in Film Comment‘s Top 50), and Francois Ozon’s In the House squeaked in at 20th place for its first significant showing in any year-end poll.
The Dissolve’s Best Films of 2013
1. Her. “Jonze’s screenplay acknowledges the innate absurdity of the film’s premise while spinning it into an elegant, heartbreaking depiction of human loneliness and the innate need for connection.”
2. 12 Years a Slave. “A year after Django Unchained brazenly pushed the topic into the realm of exploitation, McQueen and screenwriter John Ridley, working from Solomon Northup’s memoir, are even more unsparing in depicting its brutality and violence — and without the genre quotation marks.”
3. Inside Llewyn Davis. “The movie’s sneakily sophisticated structure loops back on itself like one of Llewyn’s finger-picked tunes, culminating in a quietly devastating scene about missed opportunities and sticky ruts.”
4. Frances Ha. Tthe real star of this show is Gerwig, who turns a self-absorbed, oblivious character into an old-school bumbling comedian: more Harold Lloyd than Lena Dunham.”
5. Upstream Color. “Carruth, who wrote, directed, acted, shot, scored, and edited (the last with crucial assistance from David Lowery), has created a unified work of art whose every element pulses to the same heartbeat.”
6. The Act of Killing. “It’s mesmerizing journalism, but also strange and daring filmmaking, in which a fish-shaped building and a chorus of dancing girls figure prominently.”
7. Short Term 12. “Wrriter-director Destin Cretton, adapting his own short film, finds a raw yet delicate tone that perfectly captures the rhythms of a group home:”
8. All Is Lost. “Immerses viewers in a gripping long-term battle of man vs. nature, where the former’s experience and determination is pitted against the latter’s indefatigable mercilessness.
9. Gravity. “It’s as visceral and personal as a film of this scope gets, and even with the occasional bit of clunky dialogue or forced exposition — which are arguably validated in such heightened circumstances — it remains engaging, terrifying, and dazzling from beginning to end.”
10. Computer Chess. “Any good movie about the past will really, sneakily be about the present, but it takes real vision to pull off that trick while imbuing both with an air of genuine, confounding mystery.”
11. The World’s End
12. Stories We Tell
14. The Wind Rises
15. The Wolf of Wall Street
16. Captain Phillips
17. Before Midnight
18. Blue Is the Warmest Color
19. The Past
20. In the House