MIKE SILVERA: WRITER
If you had to pitch it: Before Sunrise meets Siri. That is the high concept of Her, but the film defies the blandness of most high concept films by being intimate and unabashedly human in its depiction of loneliness and companionship. Also one of the best sci-fi films to be released in years.
2. Spring Breakers
I think to be truly transgressive you have to embrace your subject matter, live inside its nastier corners, no matter how incendiary or repugnant. Spring Breakers embraces its day-glo teen fever dream with a delirium that erases whatever objectivity a viewer might have. In this way it is like a shadow twin to Wolf of Wall Street where we are all along for the ride, and only after we can decide whether we are a good or bad person having loved it.
3. Short Term 12
This film is just a small, perfect thing. I kind of want to hug it.
4. Before Midnight
I've felt invested in Jessie and Celine since Sunrise (well, more accurately, since Before Sunset when I realized Sunrise wasn't just a one-off and that we were actually tracking their relationship in real time). I ended up rooting for these two to make it in the way all great love stories could/should. So the last 30 minute Whose Afraid of Virginia Wolf set piece was as devastating as anything I've seen last year.
5. The Act of Killing
6. Upstream Color
7. Blue is the Warmest Colour
Blue does not feel just like a teen coming of age story but like the definitive, epic version of the genre.
8. Frances Ha
9. Safe Haven (Gareth Evans segment of V/H/S 2)
The scariest, most bat-shit crazy thing I saw last year. I would have included James Wan's The Conjuring in this list, which I really enjoyed for its retro scares and methodical camera work, but this... this is in an entirely different league. This is pure nightmare-fuel.
10. Wolf of Wall Street
Over-long. Repetitive. Psychologically shallow, and potentially Triumph of the Will for future Wall Street traders. That said, yeah, I kinda loved it for much the same reasons I loved Spring Breakers. The movie is "pumped" on its own adrenaline and I wanted to re-watch it almost immediately after it ended.
Also: Ain't Them Bodies Saints, The Spectacular Now, Gravity, The Conjuring
Still Haven't Seen: 12 Years a Slave (Sorry, blame White Guilt).
ERWIN VAN COTTHEM: ACTOR, DIRECTOR, PRODUCER
1. World War Z
Great zombie movie... no cure has been found yet... leaves an open end to a World War Z II.
2. Fast & Furious 6
Love Vin Diesel and Paul Walker, may he rest in peace... Action from start till end. Jumping of driving cars... Amazing movie... look forward to number 7.
3. RED 2
Morgan Freeman, Bruce Willis... a deadly combination. 4 retirees against the world... Guns everywhere.
4. Iron Man 3
Robert Downy Jr. Even this is the 3d Iron Man the concept keeps on capturing the audience. Won't make a 4th one though...
5. Hansel & Gretel
With the beautiful Famke Janssen as the ugly and dangerous witch. Love the witches' make-up and the special effects.
6. Olympus Has Fallen
Morgan Freeman again... The White House destroyed... one against many... lots of guns... great movie.
7. Gangster Squad
The "real" cop fighting against corruption and bribery... good movie with of course the beautiful Emma Stone.
Tom Cruise in what he is doing best... carry the movie himself.
9. Thor: The Dark World
Good movie in the same line as the first one. Gods and humans fighting again evil.
10. Captain Philips
Love Tom Hanks in this role.. True story filmed as real as possible...
DARRYL STAWYCNHY: VISUAL EFFECTS
Top 10 Films of 2013
Gravity (a visual and emotional roller coaster)
Wolf of Wall Street (so much fun)
Pacific Rim (I think I have seen this film 6 times so far and it's still fun!)
Her (maybe the best script I saw this year; I felt the emotions of every character)
American Hustle (David O'Russell is killing it lately)
Prisoners (Great acting, script, and directing and I have no idea why it got zero Oscar nods)
Captain Philips (Tom Hanks is always amazing, and the last 15 minutes of this film is unreal)
This is the End (Best comedy of the year!)
Nebraska (I'm a sucker for father/son stories)
Blue Jasmine (Cate Blanchett... wow)
Inside Llewyn Davis (Not the best Coen Bros movie, but still joy to sit through)
Short Term 12 (Feel good movie that gave me a feeling that I wanted from The Way Way Back and The Specular Now)
Lone Survivor (I love movies that make you feel good about humanity)
12 Years of a Slave (Great flick, will never watch it again)
Dallas Buyers Club (Great acting, but just not good enough for my top ten
KAREN SHUTE: EDITOR
Top 10 List (in no particular order)
This is a movie about a brother and sister confronting a haunted mirror that, on paper, sounds like the worst kind of PG-13 “horror” dreck that seems to pop up in mainstream theaters on a regular basis. I chose to ignore that fact because it was directed by Mike Flanagan (who brought us the excellent Absentia a few years back), and was rewarded with a delightfully creepy mind-bender of a film that really burrows its way under your skin.
This dark comedy about two financially strapped friends who must compete against each other in a series of challenges for cash, was one of this years biggest surprises. It’s endlessly engaging, partly because of how quickly you will find yourself debating how far you would go when presented with the opportunity for a quick buck.
Yes, the dialogue is terrible, the script makes no sense and the acting is atrocious, but GIANT ROBOTS punching GIANT MONSTERS!!! I saw this in the theater three times, and I can’t remember another film in the last decade that has had me plunking down my hard earned money just to see it again in all of its IMAXY glory.
Why Don’t You Play In Hell?
An aspiring film crew called “The Fuck Bombers" finally get a shot at making the big budget feature of their dreams when a Yakusa leader decides to fund a movie as a vehicle for his daughter, a former child actress gone bad. This movie is a love letter to Yakusa films and filmmaking in general, and has an infections kind of enthusiasm that leaves you grinning, even as the violence gets well underway.
I think this is the one of the first films on the subject of school shootings that successfully captures what drives a bullied teen to want to commit their terrible crime. It’s a delicate balance to make a film like this that doesn’t come off as exploitative, or worse, glorifying the actions of the main characters, and the film makers do a good job of that by making the characters likeable enough that you empathize with their plight, while never allowing you to forget the horrors that would occur if they chose to make their fantasies of revenge a reality.
This is low budget sci-fi filmmaking at its finest. A loving homage to everything from Blade Runner to The Terminator, this story of a scientist trying to create a self-aware AI manages to tread familiar ground without feeling like a ripoff, largely due to some fine central performances that keep you emotionally invested in the story.
If you’re looking for the type of zombie movie that is non-stop action, then this is NOT the movie for you. Following two “friends” as they make their way though a zombie infested landscape, this film focuses on the psychological aspect of survival rather than the physical one.
We Are What We Are
I will usually condemn an American remake of a well done foreign film on principal, but despite my misgivings I really enjoyed it. They made enough changes to the original story to keep it feeling just different enough to satisfy fans of the original.
This is a good old fashioned gross out film in the vein of Street Trash and The Toxic Avenger, but with a much more polished look. Great cinematography, gloriously icky practical makeup effects, and its set in Collingwood Ontario! What’s not to love?
Found footage horror is a guilty pleasure of mine and even though I know this genre is a hard sell for others, I would argue that even those who hate the style should give this creepy little slow burn thriller a chance. Ti West (House Of The Devil) cleverly framed this story of a brother documenting the cult that his sister has joined in the form of a VICE Guide To Travel documentary, giving it’s central found footage conceit enough justification to surpass the “why would they keep filming this?” reflex that is often provoked by these films.
Honourable mention because it was released in 2012, but I only saw it 2013:
Eega (Makkhi on Netflix)
This film is about a man who is killed by a gangster hell bent on stealing his girlfriend and is reincarnated as a fly. Yup, a fly. It’s cheesy, there are musical numbers and it’s kind of a romantic comedy at heart but lord help me I LOVED this movie. I laughed so hard my face hurt, and there were tears in my eyes by the end.