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Celebrating 17 Years of Film.Biz.Fans.
by Eric Kohn
December 24, 2013 10:00 AM
17 Comments
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Critic's Picks: 10 Movies That Deserved More Attention In 2013

"See You Next Tuesday."

Like everybody else in this racket, I've already published my top 10 list -- well, a lot of top 10 lists, including my favorite distributed and undistributed movies, best performances and so on -- but no single numerical overview can possibly convey the full range of movie experiences this year. As a result, much slips through the cracks, and even after publishing list after list I'm left with a desire to single out a few more titles.

So once more with feeling: Here are 10 movies I like quite a bit but either discovered too late in the game or realized after the fact that I could have done more to spread the word about them. Collectively, they paint a very different, far more exciting and diverse portrait of 2013 at the movies than the relatively pat narrative created by awards season fervor.

10. "The Selfish Giant"

Clio Barnard's first narrative feature is a tender and profoundly melancholic look at two boys who form an unlikely friendship in an isolated countryside. It has the gentle flourishes of Shane Meadows' coming of age movies but builds to a far more powerful emotional climax than anything in his oeuvre.

9. "Ilo Ilo"

Singapore's Oscar submission won Directors' Fortnight in Cannes yet barely gained any recognition in the U.S. because it's so low key. But Anthony Chen's directorial debut about a 10-year-old boy who forms a bond with his Filipino caretaker while his parents war over money issues is a stirring look at catharsis amidst familial discord.

8. "RPG OKC"

There are dozens of shorts that screen at festivals throughout the year and never get noticed beyond them. But I was privileged to serve on a jury at the Philadelphia Film Festival and award this charming and innovative short, made with 16-bit graphics and centering on a romance between two retro video game characters, which perfectly illustrates how a great gimmick can develop into an emotionally involving story. Watch it below:

17 Comments

  • Eli | December 31, 2013 8:31 PMReply

    All fine movies, but why no mention of BETWEEN US which ended year with A- average on Criticwire? Have you so little faith in your own metric; Eric, did you ever see it? Some of the best performances of the year; director Dan Mirvish deserves at lest a mention for his adaptation;

  • john | December 26, 2013 6:33 PMReply

    DEAD MAN'S BURDEN must have been produced by someone at IW's rich uncle. Definitely not a stand-out film from 2013.

  • Hyperbolog | December 24, 2013 7:50 AMReply

    4 other little seen films from 2013 that are amongst the years best:
    Norte, the End of History dir. Lav Diaz
    Stranger by the Lake dir. Alain Guiraudie
    Manuscripts Don't Burn dir. Mohammad Rasoulof
    Vic + Flo ont vu un ours dir. Denis Cote

  • bob hawk | December 24, 2013 1:07 PM

    STRANGER BY THE LAKE has had a good festival run in 2013, beginning with Cannes, where it was picked up by Strand Releasing. U.S. theatrical engagements begin on January 24th and it deserves as long and deep a run as possible.

  • G | December 23, 2013 10:17 PMReply

    This Is Martin Bonner, Dead Man's Burden, and Post Tenebras Lux are all streaming on Netflix. As is Jafar Panahi's This Is Not a Film.

    Thanks for this article. Great list.

  • Steve Warren | December 23, 2013 7:11 PMReply

    Am I the only one who saw Ramin Bahrani's "At Any Price"? Or did I dream it? It may not have been quite as good as his "Goodbye Solo," but it was still better than at least 95% of the crap that came out of Hollywood. Bahrani and Yen Tan ("Pit Stop") may be the best American indie filmmakers working today, and they should be allowed to keep working instead of spending most of their time raising money for their next projects.

  • Pierre | January 2, 2014 4:34 PM

    Wow, I had completely forgot that passed through 2013. I read the Times review what seems like an eternity ago and haven't heard a word about it since.

  • Ryan Lattanzio | December 23, 2013 6:07 PMReply

    Eric, if we're talking undistributed films, too, how about "The Congress"? Such a shame that most critics and viewers were so close-minded about this radical and truly amazing movie. Hopefully there will be more noise around it next year...

  • john | December 26, 2013 6:34 PM

    It's playing the Edinboro Film Series in April...

  • Chase | December 23, 2013 11:23 PM

    Drafthouse Films is distributing THE CONGRESS.

    http://www.indiewire.com/article/drafthouse-films-and-films-we-like-acquire-ari-folmans-cannes-entry-the-congress-starring-robin-wright

  • TC Kirkham | December 23, 2013 3:10 PMReply

    Eric, couldn't agree with you more about "Vanishing Waves" - we caught it at the Boston Underground Film Festival, and it is one of the best sci fi films of recent memory - truly haunting visuals, intriguing story idea, and an original feel that permeated the entire experience. I wish it had received more attention than it did - it was absolutely worth the mindblowing experience.

  • Steve Rhodes | December 23, 2013 2:24 PMReply

    The new president of Iran has made statements saying artists are important and shouldn't be censored by the government, so I don't think Closed Curtain getting distribution would make things worse for Panahi.

  • Joe | December 23, 2013 2:22 PMReply

    Trance

  • Hahaha | December 25, 2013 12:40 AM

    agree with JD. One of the worst scripts I've had the misfortune to cover. How it got past anyone's desk is a mystery.

  • JD | December 24, 2013 11:24 AM

    What!? Trance got WAY more attentio than it deserved and it wasn't good attention either because it wasn't a good movie.

  • Lucky | December 23, 2013 2:15 PMReply

    Mostly foreign films. If this list says anything, it's that we are not paying enough attention to foreign films, and especially those with a dreamlike, ethereal aspect to it. Good filmmaking can be found outside the US, it's just a shame that it's not more accesible.

  • Armak | December 23, 2013 1:36 PMReply

    Why not tack Closed Curtains on the end of the other article so it can be found by people googling the list? I'm sure the filmmakers would appreciate it.