TOP 10 FILMS OF 2013

Ladies and gentlemen, I am pleased as punch to share with you the 10 movies from 2013 that pushed me to the limits of emotional investment while sitting and / or laying in my bed! It’s been a damn great year in film. It was tough to pick just 10, but here we go!

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10. STORIES WE TELL: Sarah Polley’s documentary about her mother and the people who loved her starts off as a personal memoir then slowly becomes an exploration of the subjectivity and bias of memory. Great movie to watch with your family if you’re comfortable with uncomfortable silences with your family.

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9. BEHIND THE CANDELABRA: If this is actually Stephen Soderbergh’s last film then it’s a damn shame. Michael Douglas and Matt Damon are absolutely phenomenal in this love story gone freak-show, and let’s not forget there’s Scott Bakula with a moustache.

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8. Tie: SPRING BREAKERS and THE WOLF OF WALL STREET: Understandably nauseating for some but these two films were a large Tim Horton’s double-double of filth and debauchery for myself. Not something I would want every day, but when the time is right, when I need that extra kick, these two films will get me through to the end of the day with a helping of reckless abandon. Spring breakkkkkkkkkkkkk.
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0077. CAPTAIN PHILLIPS: Tom Hanks went full Hanks on this one.

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6. BEFORE MIDNIGHT: The third film in Richard Linklater’s incredible BEFORE series, BEFORE MIDNIGHT catches up with Jessy and Celine 18 years (EIGHTEEN DAMN YEARS) after the first film and continues to explore themes of life, true love, and the importance of walking.

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5. SHORT TERM 12: This film is such a damn home run on almost every level. It could have so easily slid into unbearable, noisy melodrama, but it always stays connected. Troubled teens? Bummer of a topic, sure, but Brie Larson and company guide it home with a gentle authenticity that invites you in (and then makes you weep).

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4. INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS: The Coen Brothers’ film about a musician who just can’t catch a break and is considering leaving his music behind him felt like an unwritten classic American novel. A perfect depiction of the fog an artist can find themselves in when a crisis of confidence arises. Oscar Isaac, you laid down one of the finest performances of the year, mixing drama, comedy and music, you my boy.

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3. A FIELD IN ENGLAND: I don’t think I’ve ever had a film invite me into it’s madness in such a way as this. Absolutely poetic and insane. I’ll let Martin Scorsese tell you what he thinks of the film “Audacious and wildly brilliant – a stunning cinematic experience.” Marty’s on board, so why aren’t you?! 

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2. HER: If you can agree to meet HER on it’s not-really-that-far-fetched premise, then you’ll be in for one helluva fascinating exploration of modern love. I feel for anyone who decided to laugh this one off, because it has so much heart and soul. Joaquin Phoenix, give me your powers (and your agent and manager’s contact information too, plz).

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1: THE ACT OF KILLING: Between 1965 and 66 in Indonesia, there was a government takeover where death squads brutally murdered between 500,000 and 2 million Chinese and anyone suspected of being Communist. The people who committed these acts are still in power and have never been held accountable for their actions.

THE ACT OF KILLING catches up with a group of these men, in their 50s and 60s, celebrated as war-heroes, and the documentary filmmakers encourage them to re-enact the murders and re-create them on film, and they agree to do so, hoping that the Indonesian public can see how heroic they were.

This film took me everywhere, I was mortified, shedding tears, and literally slapping my knee laughing a minute later. It’s a tough watch, and puts you through the ringer, but it’s finale is perhaps the most compelling thing I’ve ever seen put to film.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS: Enough Said, Sightseers, This Is The End, Frozen, Thor 2, and other stuff.

Movies are fun, right guys?

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TOP 10 FILMS OF 2012

With today’s Oscar nominations, I thought it would be proper for me to ride the coat-tails of the Oscar’s excitement and yell at you about my favourite films from the past twelve months.

NUMBER TEN!
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THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS (Part 1): As many of you now know, I was less than thrilled with Christopher Nolan’s THE DARK KNIGHT RISES, don’t look for it anywhere on this list. His magic-Batman-dust had apparently lost its effect on me.

Cue THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS PART 1, DC Comics’ animated feature of Frank Miller’s incredible graphic novel.

After my disappointment in Nolan’s TDKR, this was the cinematic equivalent to a hail Mary with Batman as the QB (too early for sports analogies in the top 10?). Oh, and Peter Weller, also known as ROBO COP, voices Batman. Yeah. I know.

Part 2 is due out January 29th. Catch up, Batnerds!

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9. 
SLEEPWALK WITH ME: If a ringing endorsement from Joss Whedon himself wasn’t enough to get this film in front of everyone’s eyes, I hope this list can at least get a few of the stragglers.

Best film about or inspired by stand-up comedy I have ever seen.

*Available now on Canadian Netflix.

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Tie – 8.
THE MASTER & THE COMEDY: This year, the number eight slot is reserved for the two films that left me completely disoriented in their wake. I literally had difficulty forming a full sentence after THE MASTER (the sentence I was trying to form was “Hello, could I have a small double-double?”).

Both films put forth a buffet’s worth to chew on, their leading performances to begin with: Jaoquin Phoenix and (surprisingly) Tim Heidecker throw down two of my favourite performances of the year.

Both films also feel, like their main characters, incomplete, leaving you in a weird place once the credits roll. So that said, I obviously recommend THE MASTER and THE COMEDY for any and all first dates.

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7. Beasts of the Southern Wild: I wanted to start this off saying “Remember Quvenzhané Wallis’ name” but since it’s such a hard one to pronounce, I’ll forgive you if you don’t.

I often wince or get uneasy whenever a child performs. Usually because they suck. But once in a while, a child comes along and does what I try to do as a profession with such ease and conviction that it leaves me dumbfounded (that’s after a brief fury spell, of course).

Quvenzhané Wallis, you are officially on notice. I am trying to conjure up some sort of spell to steal your talents before you’re even aware of them. Oh, and congratulations on your film, it’s really magical ‘n’ stuff, I guess…

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6. GOON: Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, my favourite hockey movie of all-time, GOON. Written by Canadian royalty, Jay Baruchel (yes, that actor fella’) and directed by Michael Dowse (FUBAR, IT’S ALL GONE PETE TONG).

I had an active dislike for Seann William Scott‘s body of work going into GOON, and I am happy to say that I was in awe of the balancing act that he managed to pull off in GOON, which really elevated the film to a whole other (ice) level.

…You knew there were going to be puns on this list, right?

If there’s only one Canadian flick that I can guilt you into watching this year, I’d love for it to be this one.

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5. MOONRISE KINGDOM: In 2007, after watching THE DARJEELING LIMITED, I was a little bit worried that the haters may have been right: that Wes Anderson was nothing but weightless, ineffectual quirk.

After 2009’s THE FANTASTIC MR. FOX and this year’s MOONRISE KINGDOM, I am fully prepared to tell the haters to stuff a fluffy, pastel-coloured sock in their traps.

I’m sorry for almost turning my back on you, Wes. Never again.

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4. THE CABIN IN THE WOODS: Regardless of what I thought of a certain lacklustre cameo in this film, I thought the rest of CABIN was a damn near masterpiece combination of laughs and scares, with an insanely clever script that forces you to change the way you watch horror films. They went and hijacked an entire genre. Boom.

*Bonus points for casting Richard Jenkins.

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3. CLOUD ATLAS: That’s right, number 3. Not only did I like the film with the terrible (and possibly racist) race-bending make-up, I loved it.

It takes a certain level of audacity to put Hugh Grant in yellow face, a certain level of audacity that I absolutely admire. Luckily for my movie-viewing-self, I also happen to admire a whole lot more about CLOUD ATLAS, foremost, I admire the fact that I found myself rooting for an emotion, rather than characters.

Does that make sense?

Overall, CLOUD ATLAS felt fresh, sloppy, precise and careless all at the same time. I implore you to put away your cynic-hat and scoff-handbag for three hours and let CLOUD ATLAS work it’s magic on you.

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2. HOLY MOTORS: This here is the cinematic equivalent of being chewed up and spit out. The “Who When Where What Why” questions that are generally asked when watching a film are pointless here and maybe even downright selfish, robbing yourself of one of the wildest rides a film has had to offer in a damn long time.

Months later, I still catch myself coming up with different theories about what exactly was going on with this film, but in the end I don’t care. I just want to bask in it’s absurdity and let what comes come.

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1. THE AVENGERS: No, not really.

Did I getcha’?

Sorry, I had to make a joke before I threw some obscure Belgian film your way as my number one… Do you see how insecure I am in my pomposity?

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1. THE KID WITH A BIKE: It kind of bothers me to put this as my number one because it was technically released in 2011 in it’s native Belgium and France (2012 in North America), but it is absolutely the best film I watched in the past twelve months, head and shoulders above the rest.

I’ve been hearing rumblings about the Dardenne brothers from Belgium for years now, but had never tracked their films down. I have learned my lesson, and am promptly catching up on their films.

THE KID WITH A BIKE features yet another child performance that is deeply, deeply moving, matched by an incredible and deceptively broad story.

Last year, it thrilled me when people told me they caught up with MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE based solely on my recommendation. I hope I can do the same and persuade a few of you into catching up with this wonderful film. Do it.

Thanks, 2012! You were pretty great.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS: THE IMPOSTER, ONCE UPON A TIME IN ANATOLIA, SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK, LOOPER, THE GREY, KLOWN, SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED, SKYFALL, LIFE OF PI (in 3D, specifically) & KILLER JOE.

I DID NOT SEE: LINCOLN, AMOUR, ZERO DARK THIRTY, THE HOBBIT, OSLO AUGUST 31ST, PARANORMAN, SEARCHING FOR SUGARMAN & WAR WITCH.

Had any differing opinions? Yell them at me in the comments section, I dares ya’!