By now, virtually every film critic has offered up a top 10 list surveying the year in cinema. But what about the rest of the film industry? Countless distributors, programmers, publicists and other film professionals see hundreds of new movies each year. So Indiewire has made it a tradition to give them some space in this conversation. Here are some of the most influential indie film people working today weighing in with their favorites of the year. In addition to inviting them to provide their top 10 lists of film and TV, we also asked participants to share their new year resolutions as well as what they're anticipating in 2014.
Co-President, Sony Pictures Classics
I've expanded my view of what it means to be "cinematic" after reading David Thomson's amazing book "The Big Screen" and A.O. Scott's excellent essay in The New York Times about auteurism no longer being the province of cineastes but now a commodity for the masses (we are all auteurs now with our personal cameras).
This has been an amazing year for movies, television, theater, and books (especially from astounding female authors like Kate Atkinson, Eleanor Catton, Donna Tartt, and Nobel Prize winner (yay!) Alice Munro).
With the usual disclaimer that I am not including Sony Pictures Classics films (more difficult than usual in a year that includes so many films I adore), here are the best cinematic experiences I had in 2013:
1 HOPPER DRAWING
Whitney Museum of American Art
This exhibition of a lifetime confirmed Edward Hopper as America's greatest painter and visual storyteller. Each gallery had scores of drawings detailing every stage of his process in creating each major painting. And there they hung, before the exit of each room, those glorious completed Hopper masterpieces framed and presented perfectly. Edward Hopper is a master filmmaker. Think about it. When you look at Nighthawks, there are stories within stories in the context of a complete world (it's all about the light). You say he's not a director of motion pictures? Look at the drawings for Road and Trees and I dare you to tell me those trees aren't moving!
Truly a great American movie. No filmmaker understands America like Alexander Payne. Detractors from this film have never been to Montana, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, or Texas. This one gets deeper with every viewing (I have already seen it four times).
3 BREAKING BAD
Episodes "Felina," "Ozymandias," and "To'hajiilee" and MAD MEN Episode "In Care Of"
American independent filmmaking doesn't get any better than these shows.
4 THE FLICK
A play by Annie Baker, directed by Sam Gold presented at Playwrights Horizons
Imagine you're in the film The Purple Rose of Cairo and you the audience are characters on the screen, larger than life, observing the interior of the movie theater watching and eavesdropping on the detailed everyday lives and interactions between the ushers and the projectionist. A mind blower on realism AND heightened reality. Sam, when are you going to make that movie?
5 AMERICAN HUSTLE
David O. Russell has that Preston Sturges gift of matching his words with his actors perfectly without losing any of his own rich and eccentric character.
6 12 YEARS A SLAVE
Finally a major motion picture undiluted on the subject of American slavery. The artistic partnership of Steve McQueen and Michael Fassbender is now the stuff of cinematic legend.
7 SIX BY SONDHEIM
A great artist who many of us thought was unknowable. James Lapine's perfect documentary gives us the depth of the man and his process.
8 THE ZAPRUDER FILM of the JFK assassination slowed down to 17 minutes accompanied by a reading by Don DeLillo from his novel Underworld at the Telluride Film Festival.
A definitive experience that went to the unsettling heart of an event that changed our outer and inner lives.
9 STAR TREK IN DARKNESS
JJ Abrams could be a 21st-century Howard Hawks.
10 WORKERS LEAVING THE LUMIERE FACTORY IN LYON (1895, Lumiere Brothers, 45 seconds).
The first movie ever made reshot on the same location in 2013. I (along with over a hundred European film directors, actors, and film professionals) was directed in a movie by Quentin Tarantino, Jerry Schatzberg, Michael Cimino, and Fatih Akin this year. Film savior Thierry Fremaux at his amazing film festival in Lyon orchestrated something indescribable. First he screened for us the original Lumiere film and then we became actors, recreating the original film 118 years later, playing modern workers coming out of that same building four times, directed by four auteurs. Tarantino asked us to be natural, Schatzberg calmly conducted us all as one unit, Cimino spurred us on as if in an action film, and under Fatih Akin's guidance we were in an avant-garde movie.
Performance of the Year
YouTube, April 11, 2013
Glenda Jackson speaking before the House of Commons on the death of Maggie Thatcher. To those of you who remember Glenda Jackson as a great actress, she's back. To those of you who are under 40 and don't know who she is (she won two Oscars for Best Actress in 1970 and 1973 without doing any interviews or even showing up), it's time you did. She gave up acting decades ago and became a successful Member of Parliament. Here she gives an 8-minute speech following a bunch of politicians, one after another, canonizing Maggie Thatcher. Glenda Jackson stands up in her eloquent, fiery, direct and classy way and blasts these guys to kingdom come. The subtext of the speech goes something like this: "Are you guys out of your fucking minds? Have you forgotten what she did to our society and why we threw her out of this place?" Her colleagues are so incensed they try to censure her for bad decorum, but the Speaker of the House of Commons demands they show Ms Jackson respect. Wow. If you saw this live in person you'd give her the Tony. If you saw this on a small screen she deserves the Emmy. And if you watched it on a big screen I say give her a special Oscar as actor and humanitarian. Glenda Jackson rules in the new age of cinematic technology.
Co-President, Sony Pictures Classics
1 Wolf of Wall Street
3 Spring Breakers
4 La Grande Bellezza
6 Second episode of the third season of Boardwalk Empire
7 Howard Stern's Steve Carell
8 Act of Killing
10 A Hijacking
Looking forward to discovering great movies in 2014…………
To get the State of New Jersey to pass a bill that creates a competitive Film and Television Tax Rebate incentive plan….