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).
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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….
Director of Digital Strategy, Film Society of Lincoln Center. Indiewire co-founder and former editor-in-chief.
1. “Inside Llewyn Davis,” directed by Ethan Coen & Joel Coen [Movie, Theatrical]
The best new movie I saw this year, a humorous but achingly insightful portrait of a nearly famous artist and his struggles marrying maturity with musical success.
2. “Manakamana,” directed by Stephanie Spray & Pacho Velez [Movie, Locarno/NYFF]
A simple journey comprised of numerous short, real time trips to and from a mountaintop temple. Beautiful.
3. “Scandal,” created by Shonda Rhimes [TV series, ABC]
Woven throughout my year and watched in spurts via my Apple TV, this series offered a long form escape from the cinema. Kerry Washington’s Olivia Pope is a terrific TV character, tough and tender, bright and bitchy. Love her.
4. “12 Years a Slave, directed by Steve McQueen [Movie, Theatrical]
The brutality that McQueen depicts is stirring debates but the beauty captured through extended scenes of tranquil Southern landscapes and the poignant songs sung by slaves offer pained and powerful flourishes that make this exceptional film memorable.
5. “Last Summer,” directed by Mark Thiedeman [Movie, Outfest/Newfest]
A good friend directed a really good movie – set in the rural South – the story of two boys dealing with the end of their relationship and the start of the rest of their lives.
6. “These Birds Walk,” directed by Omar Mullick & Bassam Tariq [Movie, Theatrical]
Simply put, this is one of the best new documentaries of the year.
7. The Outs,” created by Adam Goldman [Miniseries, Vimeo]
The acclaimed low budget series about the lives of 20-somethings in Brooklyn reached its conclusion this spring. Taken as a whole, its as good as any American indie relationship comedy I’ve seen in recent years.
8. “Wolf of Wall Street,” directed by Martin Scorsese [Movie, Theatrical]
Excess and obsession viewed through an American lens. It would be solely scary and sad if it weren’t also so outrageous and funny.
9. “At Berkeley,” directed by Frederick Wiseman [Movie, Theatrical]
A few years ago I wrote, in Indiewire, that Wiseman is the greatest documentary filmmaker working today. He still deserves that title.
10. “Happy,” by Pharrell [24 hour music video, Online]
Infectious and clever. It just may get an Oscar nomination (the song is from “Despicable Me 2.” Quite a year for Pharrell, huh?
Runner-up: Chloe Goes to Disneyland (YouTube). Her side-eyed glance says it all.
2) Resolutions: Mission driven film institutions and independent art house cinemas are facing an array of challenges, from changing moviegoer viewing habits to the demise of film prints. We need to resolve to be strategic, nimble and collaborative as we aim to preserve and promote cinema culture and find new ways to engage artists and audiences alike. Easier said than done, but I’m quite optimistic.
3) Looking Forward: Tie: Lars von Trier’s “Nymphomaniac” & Andrew Haigh’s “Looking.”
Managing Editor FilmLinc.com
Deadline Hollywood Contributor (and former Managing Editor of Indiewire)
I stuck to movies that were on the big screen, no diss to TV.
1. 12 Years A Slave – Required viewing, period.
2. The Wolf Of Wall Street – I had to go to the restroom part way
through this three hour insanity and was scared to leave. The quaaludes
scene is worth it alone – but constantly seducing. And Leo is Hot again!
(thanks for the nudity).
3. The Act Of Killing – It breaks a lot of rules. It’s beautiful, has
dynamic characters you sorta freak out about kinda warming up to some of
4. Blue Is The Warmest Color – Love pretty much sucks. It lives up to the hype. Go see it!
5. Frances Ha – I live in New York and I have some rich friends and also have awful jet lag when I go to Europe.
6. Wadjda – Such a great movie. I watched it on a plane and so regretted
not seeing it on the big screen. It’s such a surprise and so sweet. Not
being short listed is a real shame.
7. Inside Llewyn Davis – Fantastic film. Coens, cats and music I like… Done.
8. The Square – An unbelievable ride through history being made — and yet so personal.
9. Nebraska – You go Bruce Dern and June Squibb – fabulous performances.
10. I Killed My Mother – A crime it took so long to be released in the U.S.A. Great movie. Xavier Dolan is a filmmaking star!
Kill Your Darlings
Dallas Buyers Club
Lee Daniel’s The Butler
20 Feet From Stardom
Inequality For All
The Broken Circle Breakdown
Stories We Tell
All Is Lost
Author, “My Lunches With Orson” and programmer, FilmColumbia
12 Years a Slave
Blue Is the Warmest Color
Masters of Sex
Game of Thrones
The Good Wife
Co-President, Submarine Entertainment
Blackfish brings pain and sorrow to my heart. These majestic and intelligent animals in captivity are forced to perform like circus clowns; I see this film as an indictment of some of the worst instincts of the human race.
(Disclosures: The last four on the list were sold by Submarine. I haven’t seen Blue Jasmine yet, otherwise I’m sure it would be on the list.
Director of Programming, Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival
I think the goal when working in documentary is always to find more
funding avenues for filmmakers, but specifically I’d like us to find
more funding for artistic documentaries, that perhaps don’t have that
obvious audience/issue. I think we at festivals can also be finding
better ways to deal with the pressure of premieres so that the
filmmakers don’t suffer because of it.
for Hot Docs I’m enjoying, and looking forward to, seeing the exciting
work for next year’s festival, and then the absolute high of bringing
that work to an audience at the festival.
Senior Programmer, Sundance Film Festival
TOP 10 List of films and TV
12 Years A Slave
20 Feet From Stardom
Cutie and the Boxer
The Way, Way Back
“The Good Wife”
“Top of the Lake”
To let go a bit and delegate responsibilities without fixating on the details.
Looking Forward To:
Sundance London 2014
Program Associate, Sundance Film Festival
my soul; to tears, in awe, in laughter, in shock, and gripped my heart.
the New Black – At first I suspected this series of a white upper
middle class women lead in prison would not be able to deliver the
shady, dark and authentic experience, as much as the funny it promised,
but after last season’s finale, I’m more than convinced and recognized
another layer to Piper that’s been so cleverly developed.
Powers Eastside & Down – There is something about endearing
oneself to a flawed character in which you brush off his
irresponsibility, and immorality because of his moments
The Wonder by Terrence Malik – I don’t know if its because I’m getting
older but I was able to reconcile rather than be infuriated about how
relationships could be born like a big bang, then die, then come back
half dead, half alive, and so on and so forth…. that there is just
complete irrationality surrounding love and that its always elusive.
Cultura by Saul Schwartz – Eye opening and incredibly shot. There is
much to discuss and contextualize here about the historical and
socio-realities of the mexican american experience.
is Dayani Cristal? by Marc Silver and Gael Garcia Bernal- I love the
narrative structure, and unapologetic meta quality. Out of all the
border crossing films I’ve seen, this is the least didactic, most
originally artful, and therefore most effective
Dirties by Matt Johnstone- Clearly a taboo subject for a theme, but the
film’s audacity delivers a scale of depth, that was only achieved by
getting this uncomfortably close.
of Killing -Joshua Oppenheimer I can honestly say I’ve never had as
many long-lasting and passionate arguments about any other film this
year than I’ve had about this film. Which is why I love it.
Breakers – like a good acid trip, I still get neon flashbacks from
seeing this film. I don’t find the provocation totally novel as much as
I love getting high and drunk off the hyper sensational sensory
audiovisual blasts, like I did with Gaspar Noe’s Enter the Void.
2014 I plan on broadening beyond a curatorial/programming focus and
immersing myself in other parts of the ecosystem of supporting film as a
tool for change and social awareness. This is in part because I’m now
running a film festival and I’m now obligated to negotiate the financial
support of sponsors, the support of the local government and current
politics where you place the festival, as well as integrating rather
than inserting oneself within the grassroots social services community
who have many more years in the grind working towards towards
democratizing rights and culture of arts. I also hope to continue to review and spotlight films that I don’t think are getting a fair shake out there through my blog.
looking forward to more filmmakers embracing the online distribution
platform so they get to distribute their films directly to audience. It
seems like we are sharing more information among us in the filmmaking
community about what it was like to work with so and so, and using such
and such, which helps us as a whole make better decisions. I think
documentary is going to continue to explode and give dramatic features a
run for their money, because the documentary grounds are where
aesthetics, truth and innovation are being smashed up and reinvented,
transforming perception and creating new perspectives. I’m also really
looking forward to launching the Ambulante Documentary film festival in
California. There’s something both old school and radical in the
concept of traveling to different neighborhoods to bring and unpack a
Paramount Home Media
1. Before Midnight
2. The Act of Killing
3. Blue is the Warmest Color
4. Spring Breakers
7. Post Tenebras Lux
8. 12 Years a Slave
10. Gravity/The Past (different approaches to the mystery of causality)
*excluding Paramount pictures from my list to avoid any perceived conflict of interests, but I dig a lot of those too!
Deputy Director & Head of Programming, IFP
Escape From Tomorrow – It’s been a long time since I’ve been completely, utterly surprised by a film and from the Sundance premiere to the expertly executed marketing materials, this is the one for better or worse I can’t get out of my head.
The Killing – Amy Seimetz masterful, transformative turn as a troubled, young mother anchored a strong season and even, dare I say it, overshadowed powerful performances by veteran actors Elias Koteas and Peter Sarsgaard. Thank you Netflix for bringing it back from the dead – again!
We The Animals – This beautiful debut novel by Justin Torres is currently being developed into a feature film by Jeremiah Zegar (In a Dream). Cried through the book, sobbed through the script and well, not ashamed to say that the screenplay reading nearly wrecked me. And I’m not a crier. 2014 list makers, don’t say I didn’t warn you…
We Always Lie to Strangers- As a gal with Oklahoma roots, I came into the film with high hopes and a heart full of Branson memories of my first Tanya Tucker concert and panning for gold in the stream near the Comfort Inn. AJ Schnack and David Wilson sure delivered, nailing the passions, kitch and perseverance that makes us midwestern folks a proud and wacky lot.
Fruitvale Station- Ryan Coogler has a long career ahead of him, as much for creating the indelible performances in his incredibly moving film as for his infectious goodwill, giving spirit and graciousness to anyone who comes along his path on the fest circuit. A class act we could all take a page from.
Top of the Lake – Totally twisted, well written mystery and Peggy Olson with a Kiwi accent. How could you not watch?
Dallas Buyers Club – MM has come a long way since “Alright, Alright, Alright.” Can’t wait for True Detective this winter…
Sharknado- Ian Ziering and a waterspout that lifts sharks out of the ocean and plops them in LA? F’ing brilliant.
Frozen – My first movie with my son was a feminist Disney film. I never thought I’d see the day that the princess chose the love of her sister rather than the bumbling, bo-hunk(s). My heart soared and the 3-D effects weren’t too shabby neither.
#Post Modem – Jillian Meyer and Lucas Leyva are the future of film. Or whatever it is we’re going to call visual storytelling five years from now.
Resolution is to watch more film and television, read more books, and discover new content online for myself and my kids…if only to keep up with my voracious, 95 year old grandmother Doris Puckett who had read, cast and practically produced the 50 Shades of Gray novels in her mind before any of us even knew that crazy little self published, e-book existed. Without her to guide my tastes (and my brood too), I’d still be eating Ho-Ho’s and watching Melrose Place on heavy rotation.
Looking Forward to a year ensconced in the Made in New York Media Center by IFP getting schooled and humbled by all the technologists and storytellers who will teach me to look at creators and collaborations in a whole new light. And hanging with my kids there, creating new worlds, having epic pretends at the lego station and laughing as our clothes magically change colors in the coolest bathroom in Brooklyn…
Festival Director, Denver Film Society
top ten list were that it I would only includes film (no TV) and
only films which have gotten a theatrical release in Denver as of
December 22. I also chose to leave off any film that were given a Red
Carpet Gala or Special Presentation slot at the Starz Denver Film
Festival – that would have felt like picking a favorite or two favorite
children. And, I decided to go with alpha-order vs ranking them
numerically outside of my #1…
kept me from including are many but of note: HER (haven’t gotten to see
it yet and it won’t open in Denver until mid-January but I suspect it
would have made my top ten otherwise), and Starz Denver Film
Festival darlings – CODE BLACK & DOOMSDAYS (neither have gotten a
continue to help support and move Colorado-based filmmaking forward.
Working with the Colorado Office of Film, Television & Media and our
state’s new incentive program, I hope to have the time and space to
help further nurse and develop more robust filmmaker support programs
through the Denver Film Society including a filmmaker fund. There is
much good and creative work happening here in our Mile-High City and our
state but how do we look more like Austin? I’m resolving myself to
create those necessary in-roads via grant-making, education and
Tough. Looking forward to so much. GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL and GONE GIRL –
projects by directors that I greatly love and admire. But, I guess the
“one-work” I’m looking forward to most is the one I was last year
looking forward to most…THE MONUMENTS MEN. I came to the film industry
via Art History and thusly, a film based on the true story of a
fight by art academics to preserve art and culture – directed/produced
and starring George Clooney is something I can’t lie about being excited
about. Given, my anticipation for this project keeps waning a bit.
Nolan A. Gallagher
Founder and CEO, Gravitas Ventures
I had everyone from the staff weigh in so all 10 of the Gravitas voices could be heard.
Mia Bruno- Frances Ha for returning dignity to young women in their twenties.
Chad Miller – BEFORE MIDNIGHT – Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke once again prove that in this endless age of unimaginative retreads, that heartfelt voices of originality reward those who support independent risk-takers.
Michael Murphy- Kings of Summer. I loved that fact that I laughed out loud several times and felt like I was watching to a certain extent Stand By Me for 2013. The characters were compelling. I had many adventures in the Cleveland Metroparks growing up and loved that fact that some of the film was shot in the “emerald necklace.”
Rebecca Luna-Blackfish- The reason I stopped going to sea parks & zoos years ago. Wild animals are not meant to be kept in tiny spaces for our enjoyment and financial gain. Interesting that people are shocked when an elephant in a circus or orca kill someone but wouldn’t you if you were taken from your home and forced to be something you’re not.
Brendan Gallagher- Breaking Bad – In the new era of the second-screen and instant commentary on social media, the final season was so riveting that I had to watch it at its regularly-scheduled time and with my phone off.
Melanie Miller- Season Six of SOA (aka SONS OF ANARCHY) blew my mind along with their clubhouse this season. As their theme song states “you better have soul cuz when its business time, it’s life or death.” Sutter may be the soul of SOA but the shows rumbling heart is his amazing cast who bring his words to life with such raw emotion it’s as if you’re on the back of a bike & you’re holding on for dear life. It’s thrilling & wild, with tinges of pain & a love for life on the edge.
Joe Wilka- Game of Thrones: The Rains of Castamere – With a series that makes its money on subverting genre expectations, the Game of Thrones showrunners unleashed their magnum-opus with the penultimate “Red Wedding” episode. Long awaited by fans – it shocked, horrified, and thrilled while also setting the internet on fire with captured audience reactions during its grisly climax.
Mark Lyons -Dog With A Blog (Disney Channel)- for existing
Karia Brown- Criminal Minds – I have this fascination with crime fighting; something about catching the bad guy and bringing him/her to justice keeps my attention.
Nolan Gallagher- Shark Tank- because the show is excellently cast and produced and inspires millions of Americans to not be afraid to think differently
2) Resolutions: Tell us one or two things that you hope to do, change, question, improve, adjust, focus on in your professional life in 2013. Again, potential answers can be very broad, from something in your specific office or a certain project to something for the whole indie universe to consider. You can make them as personal or non-personal as you like.
I endeavor to have more 1 to 1 conversations with major media company execs to listen to their needs but also to invite them to think bolder and make bigger investments in independent filmmakers and documentarians.
3) Looking Forward: What is the one work- or entertainment-related thing that you are most looking forward to in 2013?
Bumping into friends and collaborators at all hours of the day in Park City, Austin, Cannes, Toronto, NYC, LA to name a few.
I’ve written my Top 10 without having seen a lot of the awards season’s
big guns, which I can savor better over the holiday break — Inside
Llewyn Davis, Her, American Hustle. All Is Lost, Nebraska and Wolf of
Wall Street. But if I fall in love with any of them, it would certainly
mean just having to somehow lengthen my list. (It’s often the
producer’s job to fit 100 lbs into a 10-lb. bag). Anyway, in alpha order,
a mix of both film and tv that moved me emotionally, one way or
another, the most:
The Act of Killing — one of the most chilling and disturbing profiles of
genocide’s perpetrators that I’ve seen. Nightmare-inducing, which I
mean as high praise.
The Crash Reel — as it relates to the parent-child struggle over
self-determination, the “Terms of Endearment” of sports movies, and I
also mean that as high praise.
Fruitvale Station — it’s hard to make movies about contemporary social
justice issues that don’t feel like after-school specials — and this one
tread the line expertly, letting the characters and story breathe and
leaving the commentary to the audience and pundits
House of Cards — the first episode was one of my favorite David Fincher
movies in a while. Nasty, funny and totally binge-worthy.
Orange Is The New Black — like the memoir on which it’s based, the show
explores issues of social and criminal justice in an insightful,
empathetic and humorous way. Notable to see how it stealthily built
word-of-mouth all summer to become a hit.
The “Red Wedding” episode of “Game of Thrones” — reinforcing the power
of simultaneous tv viewing, this was one of those times when you really
did need social media to process what you’d just seen
Short Term 12 — with subtle and beautiful performances,
perfectly-pitched direction and emotionally urgency, it gave “character
drama” not just a good name, but the best one
12 Years A Slave — an impeccable artistic triumph and an appropriately
horrific reckoning with our country’s history. I may’ve flinched, but
the director and actors certainly didn’t as they explored slavery’s
heart of evil and madness
20 Feet From Stardom — soul-stirring music, deeply-felt characters, and
the Lisa Fischer story (I used to listen to a lot of 98.7 KISS, so I was
waiting for this). I’ve had Merry Clayton on heavy rotation since.
The World’s End — the most fun that I had at the movies all summer — I
can’t resist a sci-fi mid-life crisis comedy with a Saint Etienne set
piece in the middle.
Other films I loved that I urge anyone who’s actually read this far to
seek out: After Tiller, American Promise, Computer Chess, Cutie and The
Boxer, Dirty Wars, Enough Said, First Cousin Once Removed, Kill Your
Darlings, Let The Fire Burn, Stories We Tell, What Maisie Knew
For 2014, I resolve to continually push the boundaries of what I
produce, whether it’s making familiar formats fresh or exploring new
I don’t want to jinx anything work-related by naming it — there’s a lot
that I’m ridiculously excited about, with some close friends and
lifelong creative inspirations who make me feel very lucky to do what I
do. I am looking forward to the series “Looking” — its creative team is
terrific, and I’ve been eagerly awaiting Andrew Haigh’s next one.
Sophie Gluck & Associates
funny, talky. Love Linklater’s mise-en-scene and how it integrates the
settings into the narrative: the airport, the car, the house by the
ocean, the hotel room. Hawke and Delpy are at their best. Linklater is
the US indie answer to one of my favorite directors: Eric Rohmer.
unique, sad and beautiful film experience. The scene in the café where
Adele sees Emma for the first time since their breakup is one of the
most moving this year. Love how language and literature are an essential
part of the film and i like to see a film character affected by what
she reads, often a key experience during adolescence.
Holland is one of the best directors working today. While this was made
for television – HBO Europe, it’s incredibly cinematic. With a unique
and personal perspective on historical events, it’s gripping from
beginning to end.
vision of the myth is trippy, dreamy, sometimes hilarious, always
insane. Bruno Delbonnel’s cinematography is literally out of this
world. I loved being immersed in the character’s journey.
of the most oddly pleasurable films of the year. Fantastic art
direction and design. Meticulously crafted without being gimmicky.
Ultimately very moving. And love that Scarlet Johansson’s voice is a
fully embodied character.
Ozon has written one of the best screenplays of the year, witty,
twisted, surprising, always playful. Love how literature, fiction, and
imagination are at the center of the film. The great Fabrice Luchini
gives one of his best performances.
favorite Coen Brothers movie in years. Human, sad, beautiful. Again,
amazing cinematography by Bruno Delbonnel. The night scenes, all shadows
and reflections, are to die for. No to mention the musical score.
Farhadi can do no wrong. Love how he creates a complex web of
relationships between several very flawed characters and across
generations. Has some of the best performances of the year, from Ali
Mosaffa to Bérénice Béjo, Tahar Rahim, Pauline Burlet and the best child
disclosure: I worked on it. Technically has not been released yet (It
will in January 2014 but was shown at the NY Fim Festival.)
gem from a truly original but still relatively unknown French
writer-director Alain Guiraudie. STRANGER BY THE LAKE and The Film
Society of Lincoln Center’s survey of his films should change that.
Guiraudie has created a minimalist gem, all beautifully shot in natural
light. One of a kind.
hopefully initiate my 8 year-old daughter to the pleasures of Buster
Keaton, Harold Lloyd, Marx Brothers amongst others and continue showing
her world animation, from the likes of Miyazaki.
that in mind, i would like to offer more viewing options to her
elementary school so that teachers have a greater variety to offer the
children than the latest animated blockbusters. The next generation of
film viewers is in school. I find it important to open their eyes and
minds to world cinema and i would like to be more active in film
have not had a chance to figure out what the exciting
entertainment-related things will be in the new year so I will let
myself be surprised!
Carlos A. Gutiérrez
Co-Founding Director, Cinema Tropical
– Crystal Fairy (Sebastián Silva, Chile). A quirky film from Silva, which confirms him as a great director.
– Gloria (Sebastián Lelio, Chile). A fantastic character study with an amazing performance by Paulina García.
– El alcalde / The Mayor (Carlos Rossini, Emiliano Altuna, Diego Osorno, Mexico). A great and very timely Mexican documentary with an irresistible character.
– El otro día / The Other Day (Ignacio Agüero, Chile). Another gem from one Latin America’s leading documentarians.
– La chica de sur / The Girl from the South (José Luis García, Argentina). One of the best Latin American documentaries of the year, which sadly has had very limited exposure in the U.S.
– Los mejores temas / Greatest Hits (Nicolás Pereda, Mexico). A playful doc/fiction hybrid film which consolidates Pereda’s filmography.
– No (Pablo Larraín, Chile). A skillful and astute and meditation on advertising and politics.
– Post Tenebras Lux (Carlos Reygadas, Mexico). Reygadas’ most recent film is an intricate hypnotic work with a cinematography to die for.
– Tanta agua / So Much Water (Ana Guevara and Leticia Jorge, Uruguay). An assured directorial debut that continues the legacy of recent Uruguayan cinema.
– Viola (Matías Piñeiro, Argentina). An instant Latin American classic. Piñeiro opens an exciting, unusual, and playful door for Latin American cinema.
Honorable Mention: Nebraska (Alexander Payne, USA), could easily be mistaken for an Uruguayan film.
2) We cannot longer talk about the coming-of-age of Latin American cinema as it’s been almost 15 years since it reached a new level of artistry with the New Argentinean Cinema. Yet, it is regrettable that despite the magnitude and global influence of Latin American films, they still receive meager coverage from most of the film media outlets. My personal and professional resolution is to keep heralding this outstanding body of work that is not showings any sign of weariness yet.
3) I’m excited about the new crop of Argentinean film due out in 2014 including Martín Rejtman’s Two Gun Shots, Piñeiro’s The Princess of France, Lisandro Alonso’s untitled film, and Celina Murga’s The Third Side of the River. Also glad that Lucrecia Martel is set to start production of her most recent film in the new year.
Director, #ArtistServices / Sundance Institute
Rather than list my 10 favorite films of the year, here are 10 distribution campaigns I’ve admired (omitting any I’ve worked on). These films showed innovative windowing and marketing strategies in a climate where nothing is certain:
1a. BEYONCE / iTunes exclusive. I’m praying Tarantino is paying attention.
1b. BLACKFISH (CNN Films/Magnolia Pictures)
2. SOUND CITY (Roswell Films/Gravitas Ventures)
3. 20 FEET FROM STARDOM (RADiUS/TWC)
4. SOMM (Samuel Goldwyn)
5. GRAVITY (Warner Bros.)
6. MUD (Roadside Attractions/Lionsgate)
7. A BAND CALLED DEATH (Drafthouse Films/Image Entertainment)
8. FRANCES HA (IFC Films)
9. DRINKING BUDDIES (Magnolia Pictures)
10. SPRING BREAKERS (A24)
Cutting the cord. It’s hard to justify $170/month.
We’re working on a research project focused on the non-theatrical & educational distribution space. You rarely read about such distribution methods in outlets like Indiewire, but we think there is strong potential for revenue and impact.
Marie Therese Guirgis
Top 10 Films Released in 2013, not ranked. The films I loved the most.
12 Years a Slave
Cutie and the Boxer
Something in the Air
The Great Beauty
Saving Mr. Banks
Films I am sorry not to have yet seen by directors I love:
Touch of Sin
Wolf of Wall Street
Special THANK YOU to BAM, FSLC, AMMI, Film Forum,
Anthology, IFC Center, MOMA for all the great repertory films I saw this
year, often with special guests present. You make the crazy cost of NYC
Most inspiring Q and A of the year:
Shane Carruth, Berlin Film Festival
I will work harder to maintain utter gratitude that I get
paid to work in a medium that I love more than any other (even when
cursing the lack of anything healthy and readily available to eat at
Sundance). I am lucky, period. All of us who make even one dime working
in film are lucky. Now, let’s make sure we all make at least a dime!
Filmed entertainment I am most excited to see in 2014: Tie between Girls and Mad Men. Sorry, movies!
Co-founder, Tangerine Entertainment
I thought this was a great year for movies. Granted, I didn’t see everything. But all of these films made me excited about the art of filmmaking and hopeful for the industry. Sadly, only three movies in my top ten
of 2013 were directed by women. (Even sadder, is that my 30% is more than three times the average of
female-helmed projects represented at the US box office each year!)
Anyway, here is the Hub top ten for 2013 in
12 YEARS A SLAVE – Don’t let the devastating subject matter
overshadow this fantastic piece of filmmaking. It is extraordinarily acted and beautifully shot by Sean
Bobbit. Steve McQueen managed to make an accessible Hollywood movie and not
lose his unflinching art world style.
CONCUSSION – It is hard to believe this is Stacie Passon’s
first feature. She directs an
incredible performance by Robin Weigert.
What I love about this movie is its exploration of class, identity and what
it is like to be in a long term, suburban relationship. The fact that the protagonist is a
lesbian is secondary, and yet opens the movie up into a world most audiences
haven’t seen before.
GLORIA – This movie made me so happy. It’s a slice of life about the kind of
person that society so commonly and easily dismisses. Insightfully directed by Sebastian Lellio, with a super
winning performance by Paulina Garcia.
Here’s to more screen time for beautiful, average middle aged women!
HER – How did Spike Jonze do it? HER is high concept and yet so nuanced, layered and
uncanny in it’s understanding and treatment of relationships, not to
mention how we interact with technology.
Genius casting and use of Joaquin Phoenix, who gives his best performance
yet while mainly acting alone.
This movie was really a surprise to me and probably my fave of the
**Extra points to Jonze
for checking all the Above The Line boxes in 2013 – writer, director, producer, actor, and being a top ten triple
threat (he produced BAD GRANDPA and acts in WOLF OF WALL STREET). What a year!
INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS – A sheer gift to Coen Brothers fans and New
Yorkers like me! The music is
fantastic, Bruno Delbonnel paints the time period beautifully and Oscar Isaac
is totally compelling. I find all the Coen-isms comforting. I even like the
JACKASS PRESENTS: BAD GRANDPA – Let’s face it, Johnny Knoxville is a genius. I
laughed so hard, I nearly snorked my Diet Coke (and Bacardi) into my
popcorn. The filmmakers are smart enough to be sentimental under all the
extreme humor. Young Jackson Nicholl holds his own with Knoxville and
is odd and natural and hilarious as Billy.
MUSEUM HOURS –This movie is stunning. It’s quiet and deep
and made me think about truth in art and in friendships. As a long time fan,
I am can say that Jem Cohen’s work keeps getting deeper and better. 2013 was another prolific, successful
year for him with this beautiful feature and the extraordinary
installation/performance, WE HAVE AN ANCHOR presented in September at BAM.
STORIES WE TELL – Sarah Polley’s first foray into non-fiction
is entertaining, brave,
innovative and a refreshing twist on the traditional “personal
documentary.” She is such an exciting filmmaker. I love that this film is garnering so much (very deserved)
attention without being a caused based doc. Just goes to show that good storytelling can trump
“important” subject matter.
WADJDA – It’s amazing that a woman is the first to
direct a film shot entirely in Saudi Arabia! Haifaa Al-Mansour’s sure-handed debut is a simple, strong and even risky, feminist story featuring natural, emotional
performances by Waad Mohammed and Reem Abdullah. And as great a piece of
storytelling as it is, it is also a fantastic feat of low budget, clandestine film production.
WOLF OF WALL STREET – Next to BAD GRANDPA, the funniest movie of 2013. Leonardo DeCaprio’s physicality is a revelation. The “Lemon 714” scene alone makes this worth seeing twice. Heavy hitters prove they are worth all the
accolades – Robbie Robertson’s soundtrack, Rodrigo Prieto’s cinematography and
Thelma Schoonmaker’s editing are all spot on and keep up the kinetic absurdity
of this crazy American story. Remarkably, Martin Scorsese still has the vision and audacity
of a newcomer. This one is way up there for me!
Associate Director of Programming, Los Angeles Film Festival
“40 Years from Yesterday”
Robert Machoian and
Rodrigo Ojeda-Beck made their feature debut with this meditation on
death and family, the most criminally underseen American indie of the
“Drug War” Dir. Johnnie To
Hong Kong maestro
Johnnie To delivers one of his best, slyly working under the watchful
eye of Mainland China censors to deliver a high octane crime movie that
leaves no one, cops
or robbers, unscathed.
“Expedition to the End of the World” Dir. Daniel Dencik
Few films this year
delivered as many surprises or covered as much philosophical ground as
this documentary about a team of scientists, biologists, ecologists,
and poets exploring the Artic Circle.
With just the
perfect amounts of De Palma, Argento and Hitchcock, this high concept
thriller delivers on everything its cocktail pitch promises—“Speed” with
After getting his
first tour of a Hollywood studio, Orson Welles remarked, “This is the
biggest electric train set any boy ever had.” After seeing “Gravity,” I
couldn’t help but think
that Alfonso Cuarón had just reinvented the train set.
“Inside Llewyn Davis”
Llewyn Davis is a
fascinating, elusive, mercurial character, and with each viewing of the
film (I’m up to three now), his journey down his lonely road grows more
meaningful and melancholy.
An S&M comedy
of humiliation and joy, Hitoshi Matsumoto’s film is ridiculous fun, at
times meta, at times Pythonesque, but mostly just hilarious. Is there an
award somewhere for Editing
with the Best Sense of Humor?
“A Touch of Sin”
Never has a Jiao
Zhangke film felt so angry. Few films can be summed up in a single
image, but this one can—a blood-spattered woman brandishing a dollar
bill at her side as if it
was a sword in a martial arts movie.
“Vic + Flo Saw a Bear”
There has been a
remarkable outpouring of films from Quebec filmmakers in recent years.
Denis Côté was one of the first and remains the most adventurous,
unafraid of bending genre
and narrative conventions to his own remarkable ends.
“We Are the Best”
returns to top form with this irrepressible movie of three preteen punk
rockers in 1980s Stockholm, which will be pure catnip to anyone who ever
dyed their hair or
donned a pair of Doc Martins.
“The Women and the Passenger”
maids at a Chilean no-tell hotel discuss love, romance, marriage and, of
Without ever snickering or leering, Valentina Mac-Pherson and Patricia
Correa deliver a wonderfully warm portrait of some remarkable women.
BEST LINE OF THE YEAR:
“That’s what bullets do.“ From “Blue Ruin,” written and directed by Jeremy Saulnier
2013 found my son
discovering Doctor Who, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, EC horror comics and
ComicCon. I can’t wait to see what pop culture nonsense he gets up to in
2014 (and my apologies
to my wife for turning our home into a den of geekery).
I have no idea if it will be ready in 2014,
but I’m looking forward to seeing the documentary Laura Poitras has been
making for the past couple of years on the NSA and domestic
surveillance. So far she’s released two videos that hint at what’s to
come: PRISM — THE WHISTLEBLOWER (her storied 12 1/2-minute interview
with Edward Snowden about NSA spying, released in June of this year) and
the 2012 New York Times Op-Doc “The Program” (on NSA
codebreaker/whistleblower William Binney). Poitras’ own experience of
being detained by Department of Homeland Security officials upon
re-entering the U.S. over 40 times in the last 8 years (according to an
interview she gave to The New York Times), her groundbreaking interview
with Snowden, and her expertise as an investigative documentary
filmmaker makes this a must-see whenever it’s finished.
1. Top 10 for the year:
As usual, sticking to films that
were theatrically released in 2013, and Variance releases are excluded…
but I can honestly say that if they weren’t, two of them would be on
here (I’ll never tell which, though).
Also have to note that my
usual is to catch up on the awards contenders over the holiday break, so
I’ve yet to see an embarrassing number of films including Wolf of Wall
Street, Nebraska, The Great Beauty, Beyond the Hills, and Inside Llewyn
Davis, all clearly contenders.
as one-man bands go, Shane Carruth now has my complete and undivided
attention. This is one of the best shot, best sounding, and most
tonally perfect independent film in quite some time, and one of the
very few that demands a rewatch the moment it’s over.
can’t recall the last time a film made me this mad in the theater. I
gave out an entire pack of Kleenex at the theater, and that says
something at a Sundance P&I screening.
The We and the I
Gondry is known (somewhat unfairly) for his “bag of tricks”, and what’s
so great about this one is that he literally runs one of them over with
a bus in the opening credits and then proceeds to deliver one of the
most human films of the year. Full of love and fun and tiny heartbreaks
and all the other things you remember about growing up, whether it was
in the South Bronx or suburbia.
Gravity/The World’s End/This is the End
close your eyes and just imagine: what if all big budget studio films
could be like this? I mean, would you even go outside anymore?
loves to make docs about itself, to varying degrees of success, but
with John Milius we finally have a subject worthy of the big screen-
even if I disagree with just about everything he says.
12 Years a Slave
never want to see this film again for the rest of my life, but I feel
like I need to see this film again. McQueen is a master, easily one of
the most interesting working today.
something undeniably thrilling about seeing a filmmaker at the peak
of his/her powers. This is the kind of film that only works when all
cylinders are firing, and Russell pulls it off flawlessly — I can only
imagine how many directors would’ve turned the script into a “look at
that perm and check out that dress and listen to this pop
song” Scorsese-a la-Casino ripoff.
to believe that this country is going to be ok. Films like this make
it very hard for me to believe that’s going to be the case without a
Look, if like 100 of us put
in $25 each, we can rent out one of those giant sixty foot screens in
Times Square with the 16 subwoofers, get a DCP of this loaded up, sit
down in the very front of the theater and hit play, and things will
never be the same for any of us again.
ingredients of this one suggest that it’s basically genetically
engineered for me to love, and most films like that never deliver on the
promise. This one, however, very much does. My heart still kind of
hurts but in the good way.
Honorable Mentions, all worth a watch:
Touch of Sin, Short Term 12, Like Someone in Love, The Spectacular Now,
Post Tenebras Lux, Call Me Kuchu, Spring Breakers, To The Wonder,
Blancanieves, Mother of George, the guy bringing back The Assassination
of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (more of this kind of thing
please), Berberian Sound Studio, Before Midnight.
on someone’s recommendation I ducked into the last ten minutes of Safe
Haven on the way out of another film, and it was the funniest goddamn
thing I’ve seen in years.
I’m going to
make smart people let me buy them coffee. I realized this year that
meetings where smart folks talk, but nobody really wants anything in
particular, are not only my favorite meetings but also my most
productive meetings. So I’m going to unbusy myself from things other
people in the office can do and take more of those.
slightly related, I’m going to drink less coffee but better
coffee. Do you have a Keurig? You have to get rid of it. Put it in
the street. We can do better as a society.
3) Looking forward
Oh man, check back in January. Can’t tell you yet.
keeping an eye on Gamechanger, Tangerine Entertainment, Chicken &
Egg and a lot of kick-ass lady producers out there doing their thing to
see what 2014 may hold. I’m excited about a bunch of things at Sundance
this year (Kumiko the Treasure Hunter, Concerning Violence, Green Prince
and Dino 13, just to name a few). TV-wise I’m really looking forward to
Mr. Romance and the next season of Veep (this show keeps getting better
and better!). And I’m looking forward to anything featuring June
Co-President, Oscilloscope Laboratories
15, plus an additional 10 honorable mentions. I know this may seem
excessive, but I genuinely saw a lot of movies I really liked throughout
the year, and thought they deserved mention.
I am extremely proud of all the work we have done at Oscilloscope in
2013. My only resolution would be to keep it going for 2014–we have a
wonderful company and an amazing staff, and I am excited to see us
continue to grow and flourish in the new year. At a time when there are
again cutbacks and alterations in indie film distributors, it’s truly a
gift to be part of a company unwaveringly dedicated to working on
high-quality, bold, unique independent films. Very excited for 2014 at
Producer, Cold Comes the Night
As I made my list, I was delighted to see that all the films I chose, except for one, is a “true indie.” Granted, I have yet to see many of the bigger budget Oscar-baiting prestige pics (of the ones I have seen, I liked Inside Llewyn Davis best). With that caveat, here are the 2013 films that touched my heart and/or head, in alphabetical order:
1. Blue Ruin – Actor Macon Blair creates a new breed of beta-male vigilante, and director Jeremy Saulnier’s assured direction and evocative cinematography immerses us in world that’s tactile and bleak.
2. Computer Chess – Many filmmakers claim that their film is “unlike anything you’ve ever seen,” but very few films actually live up to this claim. Computer Chess totally does, and what’s most astonishing is that Andrew Bujalski can make you feel something profoundly emotional through something that’s such a nutty head trip. [Full disclosure: I co-produced Andrew’s second feature, Mutual Appreciation.]
3. The Dirties – An enthralling and tonally unique “school shooting comedy” that grapples with one of the most urgent issues of today in a very unexpected way.
4. In a World – It’s tough to make a “message” film without coming off as didactic. It’s even tougher to make it charming, funny, and entertaining, but Lake Bell does just that.
5. It Felt Like Love – Probably the most assured feature directorial debut I’ve seen this year, Eliza Hittman is someone that everyone should watch (as is the film’s star, Gina Piersanti). The film fully immerses us in an adolescent girl’s POV as her sexuality buds.
6. Like Father, Like Son – I cried throughout most of this film. Not that I would expect anything less from a Kore-eda film.
7. Short-Term 12 – I cried throughout most of this film too. It was pretty pitch-perfect. I also love films that launch careers, and I think Brie Larson and Destin Cretton have long ones ahead of them.
8. A Teacher – Hannah Fidell’s film is an intense jolt of character and emotion. Lindsay Burdge’s star- making performance obviates the need for further backstory and explanation of why her character is on this path to inevitable self-destruction.
9. Towheads – Shannon Plumb brings her Buster Keaton/Charlie Chaplin-inspired performance art into the feature realm, resulting in a disarming screwball character study of a modern wife and mother.
10. You’re Next – A smart, thoroughly entertaining adrenaline rush of a horror film in which the female lead (Sharni Vinson) kicks some serious ass.
Note that I haven’t yet seen these films that I suspect I might like: 12 Years a Slave, All is Lost, Blue is the Warmest Color, Enough Said, Her, Nebraska, The Past, Spring Breakers, Sun Don’t Shine, Upstream Color, The Wolf of Wall Street.
2) I hope to help more stories by filmmakers from underrepresented groups get told. I hope to get the industry and the public to take better notice of women, people of color, and older folks, and to realize that their stories can be as relevant and commercial as mainstream ones if given equal support and attention.
Writer-director, “Dead Man’s Burden”
1) My Top 10
(disclaimer – there are number of contenders I’ve unfortunately not yet had a chance to see. Notably WOLF OF WALL STREET, HER, NEBRASKA and AMERICAN HUSTLE)
In alphabetical order —
12 Years a Slave — A devastating period peace that forces America to face it’s flawed past. How could it not speak to me?
The Act of Killing — Stunningly original. Frightening. Profound.
All is Lost — JC Chandor showed me a side of Robert Redford that I never knew existed. A tour de force.
The Attack — I love films that can explore complex issues in the confines of genre. Here it’s Israeli/Palestinian conflict.
Breaking Bad/”Ozymandias”, “Granite State” & “Felina” — A perfect ending for a perfect show.
Game of Thrones/”Rains of Castamere” — Heartbreaking and terrifying at the same time.
Gravity — Pure cinematic joy to watch.
Inside Llewyn Davis — The Coen Bros at the top of the game.
The Spectacular Now — I was totally caught off guard by this love story that still brings a smile to my face when I think about it.
Upstream Color — See it and you’ll be amazed. That’s all I can say.
My wedding video — the day I married the woman I love captured on HD. Every time I watch it I’m excited and inspired by life.
2) My resolution:
To move to LA. (Yes, for real)
3) Looking Forward:
The final season of MAD MEN. I have no clue where the show is going to go, and I love that!
I’ve picked only documentaries because I’ve missed many of the narrative
films that would likely make the top ten this year. I also focused more
attention on a few films that aren’t getting as much recognition, but
that had the most impact on me this year.
Night Labor – Ashley Sabin and David Redmon made two brilliant films
this year, but Night Labor stands out for turning one man’s night of
work into a lyrical, meditative film.
history of rock and roll photographers, and the Annenberg Foundation
knows how to spread the word about great photography
most impact thanks to CNN Films marketing push. Only doc of the year
that actually became an event.
brand release an incredible environmental film. I can’t say more now,
but it’s going to be something you hear a lot about soon. I’m generally
very excited about brands getting active in the film space, and think
it’s the most exciting area of the film world right now.
Artistic Director, Hamptons International Film Festival
YEARS A SLAVE and THE MISSING PICTURE (as well as THE ACT OF KILLING
which I discuss below) are two films that took formally bold approaches
to detailing shameful periods in a country’s history. Their
inventiveness and craft meant that the experiences of watching them was
exhilarating and enlightening for me, and not medicinal or didactic.
RUIN: A really good thriller, especially from the indie world, is truly
rare. Jeremy Saunier nailed it with this bloody revenge thriller.
NOW: James Ponsoldt is such a master at capturing the way people act,
talk, look and feel and each of his films is a gift.
TERM 12: This was a project that was in the Hamptons International Film
Festival’s Screenwriters Lab that I run back in 2011, and I was so
excited to see how it turned out. Destin Cretton surpassed my already
lofty expectations, and Brie Larson gave a nuanced performance of real
films that I greatly admired this year. They also happen to be, along
with a film like A CLOCKWORK ORANGE, a film that I don’t think that I
could ever watch again.
Barnard deployed vastly different styles of storytelling to similar
subject matter in both this film, and its predecessor THE ARBOR. She’s
an incredibly talented filmmaker.
WALL ST and GRAVITY: For different reasons, these 2 films probably
represented the most fun experiences that I had in a theater all year.
For GRAVITY, the sheer experience of seeing Cuaron’s vision come to life
in Imax & 3D, and for THE WOLF OF WALL ST, it was just such a
pleasurable experience to see with an audience…especially a New York
PHILOMENA, LABOR DAY, THE PAST, BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR, TIM’S
VERMEER, AIN’T THEM BODIES SAINTS, THE SHORT GAME, HER, and MUD.
don’t get to watch nearly as much of the great television that is on
these days, but I certainly enjoy Mad Men, Portlandia, Louis, Frontline,
and The Walking Dead.
is to give streaming more of a chance, even though I strongly prefer
the theatrical experience, and DVD’s & Blu Rays.
I’m looking forward to Sundance & Cannes because each year they
renew my faith in what great artists can do when working together, often
despite magnificent odds.
Director of Programming, Rooftop Films
12 films, moments from films, or elements of films in 2014, that surprised me tremendously, in no particular order:
1. The Act of Killing. The best film of the year is also the most unique. Watching this film changes your life.
2. The naked honesty of Joana Arnow’s i hate myself :). This is the gutsiest filmmaking feat of 2014, and I can’t believe that even the more daring doc festivals were afraid to program it.
3. Gaby Hoffman and Michael Cera in Sebastian Silva’s Crystal Fairy. This film really snuck up on me, and by the end I was startled by how invested I was in both of their characters. My favorite comedy of the year, and it isn’t even close.
4. The formal adventurousness of An Oversimplification of Her Beauty. Terence Nance does nothing but take chances with this film. Not every choice works, but the risk-taking is its own reward.
5. Ushio and Noriko Shinohara in Cutie and the Boxer. Zach Heinzerling let these two extraordinary subjects be themselves, and the result is one of the most interesting portraits of romantic ambivalence ever captured in fiction or documentary film.
6. It Felt Like Love. Eliza Hittman’s film is not only the best undistributed fiction film of the year, it is one of the best films about the desperate loneliness of teenage life that I have ever seen.
7. The climactic moments of Fruitvale Station. This film is seriously flawed, but at the most important moments it is devastatingly effective. At certain small moments it is maudlin and cliche, but at the most powerful moments it becomes surprisingly nuanced, and that is what makes this film so important. And even in those moments that the film veers off course, Melonie Diaz is always fantastic. She is one of the most underrated actors working in film, but I hope it doesn’t stay that way.
8. Room 237. Who would have imagined that this deeply bizarre film would end up being the most entertaining doc of the year?
9. The sense of gravity in Gravity. My favorite film moment of the year might be Sandra Bullock struggling to push her body up off of the beach. Plenty of things to complain about in this film, but how often does a film change the way you think about a fundamental force of nature? The experience of watching this film was more meaningful than all the other big budget films I have seen this year put together.
10. Let the Fire Burn. I am surprised this film hasn’t gotten more attention. Of all the many documentaries I have seen this year, Let the Fire Burn was the one that transported me most completely into a different time and place. Deceptively simple, built entirely from archival footage, the film feels like a time machine. By the end I felt like I had grown up in Philadelphia having lived through this awful episode.
11. Short Term 12. Destin Daniel Cretton has a unique ability to take his audience to the border between reality and melodrama, but at those moments when you think he is about to go too far, instead he manages to twist the path and take you to an emotional place you didn’t think you would end up. This film jerks the tears, but it pulls them from of a very real place inside us.
12. Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck in Ain’t Them Bodies Saints. These two… I just loved watching them together. Such graceful performers. I fell in love with both of them.
Honorable mentions: The irreverence of Our Nixon, Oscar Isaac in Inside Llewyn Davis, Shannon Plumb’s Towheads, Sarah Polley capturing her family as they lay their emotions bare in Stories We Tell, Amy Seimetz making the surreal seem real in Upstream Color, the sensitive patience on display on both sides of the camera in After Tiller, the terrifying revelations in The Kill Team, and the glorious climactic Coney Island sequence at the end of Bending Steel. And Lake Bell is a comic powerhouse, but I think that in this era she will end up being the type of talent that ends up on television, for better or worse.
Every year I just hope that I can keep myself open enough to experience new surprises.
Looking Forward to:
Expectations are boring. The most meaningful movie-going experiences are those that you were least prepared for going in. That being said, I am very excited for the newest films from Mike Tully, Joe Swanberg, Kat Candler, Carter Smith, the Zellner Bros., Gillian Robespierre, Robert Greene, Jeremiah Zagar, Jesse Moss, Tony Gerber and Maxim Pozdorovkin, Martha Stephens and Aaron Katz, Alex Ross Perry, and the list goes on and on.
Managing Director, ARTE France
1 – L’Inconnu du lac by Alain Guiraudie
2 – A Touch of Sin by Jia Zhangke
3 – Cloud Atlas by Lana Wachowski, Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski
4 – Spring Breakers by Harmony Korine
5 – Snowpiercer by Bong Joon-ho
6 – La Vie d’Adèle, chapitres 1 & 2 d’Abdellatif Kechiche
7 – Shokuzai by Kiyoshi Kurosawa
8 – La Jalousie by Philippe Garrel
9 – La Fille de nulle part by Jean-Claude Brisseau
10 – Historia de la meva mort by Albert Serra
Programmer, Slamdance Film Festival
Spike Jonze lead the path for Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johanssen (in
post) through his first writer – director sortie. The film had both an
old Hollywood romance air to it while also forging thoughts about the
very near future. Only Spike can do that.
NOCHE – First I’ll admit I was a mentor of sort for this film for
several years but despite that I still think that Lucy Mulloy’s debut
was one of the most exciting and accomplished indies of the year. The
critics at large gave it high marks to boot. Lucy is a skilled director
who will take on complex stories and deliver them with excitement, wait
during this era. I remember people like this. David O’Russell nails
it. Jealous it’s so good.
ALIVE – Comforting to see Jim Jarmusch come back to hang out with the
exiles, losers and outcasts he knows so well. I feel comfortable with
his characters In this film. I can hang there.
HA – I never loved much of Noah Baumbach’s earlier work – eh…maybe
Squid and the Whale a bit. But I loved this film – he and Greta Gerwig
captured NYC and Brooklyn a la French New Wave and it worked for me,
special penchant for French Cinema. I was French educated until 10th
grade. Even without the over hyped sex scenes this is a great film,
gritty, personal, in your face and emotional. This is what indie film
should be. Unfortunately the last American director to come close to so
anything like this was John Cassavetes.
BUYERS CLUB – A pissed-off, shit-kicking, rodeo riding, promiscuous,
drug addict takes on a rebellious quest for a cure and the fight for
aids in Texas! WTF how could you not get into that for 90 mins. Kudos to
McCaughney and Jared Leto.
DAVIS – Another film that I can identify with. Loser musician in the
village. They’re still around and I still hang out with some. Could
feel, smell and touch it.
simple modern romantic story. Perfectly executed by it’s filmmakers
and performed by it’s actors. This is the perfect example of what you
can do with no money. This is the most underrated film of the year by
Meryl Streep blew me away she is so completely committed to her really
fucked-up matriarchal character in this movie. Almost every scene. It
doesn’t matter how good the actors around her are – she crushes them all
with the tiniest of actions. It’s so fun to watch. I’ll watch it
again and she should easily beat Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine) for best
actress oscar, again. Really.
for 2014 – Be more productive and focused, finish Lost Rockers, shoot a
few more Zoe Lund project shorts and start a new film in some way
before the end of the year. That’s a lot…fuck it I’m going there.
This thing we do gets harder and harder but it’s what we do
Chief Curator of Film, Museum of Modern Art
Top Ten (in no order)
12 Years a Slave – Because it helped me understand what really terrifies those who cling to race-based exceptionalism – an educated “other”.
The Wolf of Wall St – Because it made me laugh (really fucking hard).
Her – Because I’m the guy who always wanted to get published…
Stories We Tell – Because normalcy is always a front.
Enough Said – Because I’ll be 50 one day (soon).
Tom a la ferme – Because I’ve never been so set on edge by a bad dye-job (that Xavier can do no wrong).
Sorcerer (Restoration) – Because Billy, Roy and those guys actually went THERE, and did THAT! (No CGI).
Gravity – Because Alfonso and Jonas created a beautiful, exhilarating space road-trip with the best CGI ever.
A Touch of Sin – Because we’re all Chinese.
All is Lost – Because Greatness is Greatness.
My Resolution is to watch more movies with people I love (like my husband), and less with people I don’t (you know who you are).
And I am very much looking forward to discovering the thing I least expect to discover. (I’ll be sure to scream very loudly when I find it – I always do!)
CEO and Founder of BOND Strategy and Influence
Both a live concert and a multi-screen film, I found myself – along with
hundreds of others in the massive Park Avenue Armory – totally in awe
of the immersive experience that the collaboration
had generated. It was one of those nights that made me remember why I
decided to move to New York.
There were lots of great documentaries released in 2013. But, for me,
nothing came close to matching the emotional intensity and intimacy that
captured while behind the camera living with artists Ushio and Noriko
a sobering critique and a galvanizing call-to-arms, Soderbergh captured
perfectly the sentiment that many in the industry, including
myself, have been feeling in 2013.
expansion of their GOOD PITCH events and the theatrical release of Dirty
Wars in the UK, Jess Search and her team at Britdoc’s not only expanded
in 2013 the vital resources they provide
filmmakers of social justice documentaries, they established an
all-important sense of community that keeps the industry motivated
jumped into the “direct digital download” space in 2013, but none of
them were able to match the real-time analytics and customization that
VHX provides filmmakers to sell their movies directly
from their website.
was it one of the best music concerts I’ve ever seen, seeing Prince
perform in front of 400 people was one of the best nights I’ve ever
spent in New York City. Walking home as the sun
rose over Manhattan, I was reminded just how powerful live music can
filmmaker take the risks that Laura Poitras did in 2013 to get a story
out into the public, and for this we should ALL be grateful.
resolution for 2014 is to continue to focus on people and projects that
push me out of my “comfort zone,” force me to learn new things, and test
the limits of my capabilities.
shooting interviews for DEEP WEB: The Untold Story of Bitcoin and Silk
Road, a documentary I’m producing with Alex Winter and Glen Zipper. If
the interviews shot in December are any
indication of what’s to come, we’re going to have an incredible and
important film on our hands.
and ABRAMORAMA will release Particle Fever, an incredibly inspiring and
entertaining film about a group of amazing physicists who dedicated
and careers to find the Higg boson. I’ve been working on the project
since last Summer and can’t wait for audiences to experience the film in
theaters across the country.
Artistic Director, Seattle International Film Festival and Lead Programmer for the Palm Springs International Film Festival
CARL SPENCE – ARTISTIC AND CO-DIRECTOR, Seattle
International Film Festival and Lead Programmer for the Palm Springs
International Film Festival
In terms of 10 best lists. There is the somewhat obvious
(and deserving) films that are contending for this years awards that most have
seen or can seen over the next two weeks. There is no question that these are
the top films being released in 2013 including The Great Beauty, Fruitvale Station, The Spectacular Now,
Spring Breakers, American Hustle, Inside Llewyn Davis, Her, Nebraska, Gravity,
The Past and last but not least 12
Years a Slave.
What intrigued me most, in terms of looking back over 2013
is the films I saw on the festival circuit that haven’t been released yet. I
must admit, I didn’t see much on tv this year just due to timing and
circumstance (although I know there is great tv I am missing). In anycase, I am
impressed with what was generated for tv by bigscreen filmmakers. Two of my
favorite films were made originally for foreign tv and the filmmakers clearly
imagined these as big screen epics.
MY TOP TEN OF FILMS NOT YET IN RELEASE IN THE US that I saw
War by PHILIPP KADELBACH
originally made for German television and being released by Music Box. Shown in
two parts and almost 5 hours – this film kept me like a great book. I could
have stayed up all night to finish it.
Bush by Agniezksa Holland. Made for HBO Czech Television. This gripping
thriller set against the true story backdrop of living under the iron curtain
in Czechoslovaki in 1969. Another long but worth its running time film.
Up by David Mackenzie. Despite the fact that the film lacked necessary
subtitles to understand the thick accents, this film transcends the prison
genre for a gripping portrait of a 19-year old who desperately wants to stay
behind bars in order to get closer to his father. Mackenzie is an underrated
director that has made some of the best and more original films to come out of
of Eleanor Rigby – a daring act by first time feature director to make two
films as one that actually works and is carried by its two leads Jessica
Chastain and James McAvoy.
– This film deserved a chance at the Oscars for Best Foreign Language Film and
it just doesn’t make sense that it was overlooked by the committee. Paulina
García is marvelous as the older divorcee that breathes new possibilities into
her life with infectious vigor. Sebastain Lelio is someone to watch.
The combination of Nicolas Cage and director David Gordon Green equal success.
This is a career changer and credibility boost for Nicolas Cage who shows that
while we might not have seen it much in the last decade or so, he never lost
his ability for magnetic, restrained and perfect pitch performances.
Song Save Your Life – This film put a smile on my face. What can I say.
Boys – Robin Campillo’s film goes into completely unexpected territory.
What could have been your basic and conventional film about an well-to-do older
man taking advantage of a younger street hustler goes much deeper beneath the surface to create
a taut thriller.
Double – this updating of the famous Dostoevsky novella by Richard
Ayoade is a great ride. His 2010 film Submarine was another standout that was
overlooked by US audiences.
10. The Missing Picture – an important and
original work surrounding the devastating brutality of the Khmer Rouge regime
in Cambodia that deservedly made the Oscar short list for best foreign language
RESOLUTIONS IN 2014
For SIFF we look forward to re-opening the Egyptian Theatre
in Seattle and operating it year-round. It closed for business just after the
Seattle International Film Festival this past June. The Egyptian was actually
created and built by the founders of SIFF back in 1980. The lease was sold
around 1990 in order to fund SIFF’s incorporation as a non-profit and move to
focus solely on the annual festival. Coming full circle we’ve secured it for
the Seattle International Film Festival in May with a target of re-opening
after renovations later in 2014. We’ve been operating 4 screens since 2011 with
the historic SIFF Cinema Uptown and SIFF Film Center with success in growing
our audience each year for year-round theatrical exhibition.
Looking forward to a triptych of festivals at the beginning
of 2014 with the first festival of the year in Palm Springs, followed by
Sundance and then one of my all-time favorites where I saw some of the best
films of the past year at the Berlinale in February.
Programmer, Sundance Film Festival/Nantucket Film Festival/DOC NYC
Top Ten (documentaries, alphabetical order):
“The Act of Killing”
“Cutie and the Boxer”
“Let the Fire Burn”
“Stories We Tell”
“The Trials of Muhammad Ali”
“Vivan las Antipodas!”
+ Five More:
“20 Feet From Stardom”
See more fiction features…
President, mTuckman Media
I decided to do a twist on traditional top 10’s and rank the Top 10 films handled by former colleagues of mine at THINKFilm, whether via their own distribution companies, publicity agencies or other film entities. So here goes:
10. Go For Sisters – Dylan Marchetti, Variance
This was Variance’s 2nd dalliance with John Sayles, and hopefully the 2nd of many, as they do great work together. May have been Sayles’ best work since “Lone Star”, and Dylan and his team did a great job bringing it to audiences.
9. Spring Breakers – David Fenkel and Daniel Katz, A24
Two of the original amigos at THINK made their new company known in a big way with their bold and aggressive release of Korine’s klassic. As a middle aged man said to me after the press screening at TIFF, “ah, if life could only be the first 10 minutes of that film forever…” Live the dream, ol’ man, live the dream.
8. After Tiller – Dan Berger and David Laub, OScope
When Adam Yauch handed over the keys to D&D, he said he was “looking forward to seeing Dan and Laub kick some ass, nice-young-jewish-boy style.” The lads responded by taking on a film that showed the model of courage on one’s field of work in following the four doctors in “After Tiller.”
7. If You Build it – Erin Owens, Longshot
Erin Owens’ shingle is handling one of the most inspiring and heartfelt docs I saw on the festival circuit this year. Catch it in theaters in January.
6. Gravity – Wendy Smith, NBR
No, the National Board of Review did not release this film. But as Creative Director at the NBR, my former colleague Wendy Smith was kind enough to allow me in to a screening of this in the Dolby ATMOS screening room. I’m still a sucker for being blown away by audio and visual effects, and the film had it all in a quick 90 minutes.
5. My Brother the Devil – Mark Urman and Amanda Sherwin, Paladin
The good folks at Paladin put out one of the year’s most under the radar films, a gripping and tense family drama set in the UK. Keep your eye on director Sally El Hosaini, and ladies, I challenge you to try to take your eyes OFF of James Floyd.
4. Before Midnight – Steve Farneth, Cinetic
ThinkFilm’s all-star intern, Cinetic deal-maker Steve Farneth has been involved in some amazing titles. But Linklater’s latest in the trilogy takes the cake. May have been the best of the three, characters I hope I’ll get to visit again and again.
3. At Berkeley – Sara Kiener, Film Presence
Another stellar former intern, Sara Kiener’s Film Presence handled the social media campaign for the Zipporah Films’ release of Fred Wiseman’s latest film. Brilliant in its scope, covering larger issues of public education today, along with smaller moments of pure documentary magic, like capturing the one man responsible for tending to all of the campus’s grounds. Getting no shortage of love from scores of other top 10 lists, but sadly and unjustifiably ignored once again by Mr. Oscar.
2. The Broken Circle Breakdown – Randy Manis, Tribeca Film
Former ThinkFilm acquisitions exec Randy Manis hasn’t lost a step, being part of the acquisitions team at Tribeca that brought in this much referenced frontrunner to be one of the five Academy Award nominated titles for Best Foreign Language film. The film is the very definition of an emotional roller coaster, topped off by perhaps the most moving and memorable final scenes I’ve witnessed in years. I often found myself getting choked up just reading reviews that mentioned it. And that soundtrack. OH MAN… that soundtrack. Phenomenal and sublime.
1. Upstream Color – Alex Klenert, Prodigy PR and Shane Carruth (Primer, ThinkFilm 2004 release)
Prodigy PR, working in conjunction with Susan Norget, hit it out of the park on this one. Carruth was also part of the ThinkFilm clan with his 2004 Primer (on which Klenert worked as an agency publicist prior to joining ThinkFilm). A million things can and have been said about “Upstream Color”, but to me, at its core, it was one of the most touching, human and original love stories I’ve ever seen.
I resolve to see even more films next year.
And the entertainment event I can’t wait for? The remake of ROBOCOP. The director of BUS 174 re-imagining Verhoeven? Can. Not. Wait!
Peter Van Steenberg
VP of Acquisitions, Magnolia Pictures
2013 was one of my personal favorites at
Magnolia/Magnet and, even more generally, working in this industry. It
was competitive, inspiring, and in my mind a benchmark year. THE HUNT,
DRINKING BUDDIES, BLACKFISH, A HIJACKING, PRINCE AVALANCH, VHS2, JOHN
DIES AT THE END and others, are not only some of my favorite films of
the year, but some my favorite films Magnolia/Magnet has acquired since
joining the company. I’d hate to grade my in-house favorites though, so
this list won’t include any Mag titles. These are the films I’ve enjoyed
the most as a pure viewer in 2013, outside of the films we’ve acquired:
1. UPSTREAM COLOR
3. SHORT TERM 12
5. ROOM 237
6. 20 FEET FROM STARDOM
7. PLACE BEYOND THE PINES
8. FRANCES HA
9. BLUE JASMINE
10. YOU’RE NEXT
a special mention to the Fantastic Fest 2013 screening of Ken Russell’s
THE DEVILS. That was one of the top 10 film-going experiences of my life.
I missed a fair amount of the foreign language releases this year,
which was disappointing considering the acknowledged critical level of
quality. At the international markets, I’m going to cram in those extra
few films near the end when the stress and lack of sleep usually kills
Forward: to the energy of Sundance kicking off 2014 (the year looks
insanely good), the discovery films of Berlin, and a hopeful, viable
market in spring season. As always, hoping for that one film which sets
off fireworks in my brain.
John Von Thaden
Director of Acquisitions, Magnolia Pictures
Below is just 10 favorite films released in 2013, in alphabetical order. There are many more films I’d like to mention (and see) for this list, and all Magnolia/Magnet releases are also left off.
BEYOND THE HILLS
POST TENEBRAS LUX
SOMEBODY UP THERE LIKES ME
THIS IS MARTIN BONNER
Independent marketing and publicity consultant
Inside Llewyn Davis, Upstream Color, 12 Years a Slave, Frances Ha, The
Great Beauty, Blue is The Warmest Color, A Touch of Sin, Enough Said,
Something in the Air, Beyond The Hills, Gimme The Loot, Post Tenebras
Lux, Bastards, Short Term 12, Museum Hours, Computer Chess, Drinking
Buddies, This is the End, In The House
In Order): Twenty Feet From Stardom, At Berkeley, Cutie & The
Boxer, The Square, The Crash Reel, Dirty Wars, The Last of the Unjust,
Film Society of Lincoln Center
I’m going to keep this as a basic
Favorite Films of 2013 list. Collectively, these films thrilled me,
encouraged me that filmmakers were trying for a little something extra
or different, fascinated me with either real stories of humanity and
human spirit at its best or with brilliantly heartbreaking depictions of
the same, inspired me with the filmmakers’ artistic invention and
innovation or just managed to capture some giddy joy – both behind and
in front of the camera.
2 BLUE IS THE
3 12 YEARS A
4 SHORT TERM
5 STORIES WE
6 AFTER TILLER
8 ONLY GOD
9 TWENTY FEET
10 THE WOLF OF
To more effectively balance my job as a publicist for the Film Society
of Lincoln Center, with writing for Film Comment.com and Film
Threat.com, to trying to get that first film out there in the world. And
maybe not get involved in so many political debates on facebook. That
might free up some time for those other three things.
FORWARD: I’m looking forward to hopefully visiting and experiencing
some film festivals in 2014 that I have never been to previously, like
Oxford, Sarasota, Fantasia, etc. – fests that I have heard great things
about but haven’t been to as yet. I also want to return to the amazing
Big D fests that I love: Dallas and Denver. That would automatically
make for an awesome year of movies.
Programmer, Sundance Film Festival and AFI Fest
1) TOP TEN
I initially came up with far too many
worthy films than there is room to include. I saw a lot of impressive
work in 2013, and though some really great films have been left off of
this list, the ones that remain are here because all surprised me in
some very positive way, and hit me with an emotional response that has
lingered long after their initial viewing. Some are certainly imperfect,
but all are ones I have seen more than once, and I continue to feel
enriched by their storytelling and filmmaking prowess. Four films have
yet to be released theatrically, but they are just too impressive to
forget about. I should add that I have yet to see GLORIA, STORIES WE
TELL, THE HUNT, THE ACT OF KILLING, HANNAH ARENDT or THE WOLF OF WALL
STREET among others. I’ve also seen precious little TV this year (no Mad
Men, Game of Thrones or Breaking Bad – sorry). These are in
alphabetical order, though let’s be honest, INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS would be
The Great Beauty
Inside Llewyn Davis
Short Term 12
This Is Martin Bonner
We Are The Best!
Mention goes to the 4th season of ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT. If Netflix is
the platform that represents the future of television, this is the first
original series that feels like it takes advantage of the unique tools
available on this model – the irregular episode runtimes, the structure
that rewards binge-watching, the deeply embedded references, the way it
was used to resurrect the show at all, and the (later abandoned) concept
that all episodes could be watched in any order.
to be able to spend more time helping filmmakers, especially short
filmmakers, to connect with opportunities outside of the major festival
circuit. Of course I mean this for our festival alumni, but more
importantly for the films we love that we don’t end up find spaces for
in our program lineups. Some of these films are quite good, and all
could always use the help of passionate champions. I would also like to
indulge more in my love of site-specific film exhibition, answer emails
faster, and stop obsessively sassing and embarrassing AFI FEST Assoc.
Director of Programming Lane Kneedler by showing videos like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k_4XQVw3w7I
3) LOOKING FORWARD
Over the last couple
of years, I have managed to view 21 of the 24 hours that make up
Christian Marclay’s film and television installation THE CLOCK. In 2014,
I am confident that I will be able to complete the final three hours
when it is next shown in Los Angeles, and I am unbelievably excited