Today we're giving you two more Top Lists, this time from esteemed film critics and #1 Hansy Boys Aaron and James. The wolves were going to chime in with their opinions, but they're too pizza eating pie. Or something. We'll start this off with Aaron's favourite movies and then move on to James'. AND GO:
AARON: This is a list of my personal favourite films from 2013, the ones I have enjoyed, been inspired by and are most apt to revisit. Check out the trailers and feel free to argue and enjoy!
1. The Wolf of Wall Street - trailer
Bad people, doing bad things, with somewhat alright consequences? This movie is three hours of pure Scorsese and no one is really going to beat that this year. From the writing, photography and the perfect ensemble cast, this movie hits it out of the park on all levels. But the most amazing thing about Wolf is its well crafted story that portrays it's main character as a hero, glorifies his evil and even lets him get away with it in the end (for the most part). And that has brought its biggest criticism—the fact that the film 'glorifies' Jordan Belfort's actions...which is completely ridiculous. This is an adult movie that actually makes the audience think and near the end you are left with hints that for all his bravado, Belfort is one of our most deeply tragic characters. He is left with almost nothing that he started with, he has lost his family, his security, his friends, his respect and if you can't see the tragedy in all that then the movie is lost on you. My only criticism is that it wasn't long enough!
2. The Great Beauty - trailer
It has been said that The Great Beauty could be the continuation of Fellini's La Dolce Vita. I agree some what but I think The Great Beauty plays like a dream that Marcello from La Dolce Vita would have had about his future. The film is a heightened version of current Rome, with strange socialites, fantastical locations, and lyrical dialogue that carries out through the city like a ghost. The main character is an author who has renounced writing to take up being (a pretty shallow) king of the social scene in Rome. As we move from scene to scene we begin to piece together the authors past, present and future and inevitable finale. But the two scenes that bookend this film are some of it's most important. One takes place on a roof top and the other at the base of a church staircase and with these two scenes we see the transformation and re-birth of a man and author.
3. Reality - trailer
Imagine, if you will, that Fellini set out to make Willy Wonka then half way through decided he was going to make The King of Comedy. That is basically what you have with Reality. An all out visual satire of fame in the modern age and one man's delusional quest to become a contestant on Big Brother.
4. Blue Jasmine - trailer
Blue Jasmine is tragic, funny, with brilliant acting and writing like no other. Cate Blanchett gives the performance of the year and maybe even her career. Let's just leave it at that. Oh, and the Dice Man is charming as hell!
5. Frances Ha - trailer
Ah-Hoy Sexy, starboard anal sex! Un-dateable! When did Puss and Boots start? These are just some of the great moments from the Gerwig-Baumbach collaboration Frances Ha. With it's Manhattan-esque visuals and pitch perfect soundtrack, never has the plight of stagnant youth look so grand. I did find myself relating to the movies themes in a positive way though. As someone who doesn't always take the proper path I should be to push a career forward, Frances Ha gives us hope that you can carve out a place for your passion if you just keep at it in some way...and it's okay if you have a breakdown or two along the way. Also, behind Cate Blanchett, Gerwig's performance is probably my second favorite of the year.
Bad people, doing bad things, with bad consequences. This is probably the best script of 2013, the dialogue (by Cormac McCarthy) is not from this earth; it is poetic and the story and characters are masterfully crafted. The Counselor is a modern western—it is the wild west, there is no law and order at all in it and the only justice is who's left standing in the end. Now how badass is that?
Tagging the New York Mets home run apple is the premise, but what we get is a humanizing adventure of two young kids trying to get through a hot summer day while dealing with drug deals, gangs, profiling, and tough love. This movie is never forced and it never gives the audience what it wants (like in real life); it plays it honest and real. A killer soundtrack and fantastic locations are just the back drop for one of the most endearing buddy movie of the year.
8. Blue is the Warmest Colour - trailer
Blue is the Warmest Colour is an unflinching love story that does not get caught in trying to give you exposition, it is a gut shot straight right to the heart. The film follows the relationship of two women as they lock eyes, come together, fall in love, and inevitability get ripped apart. It is beautifully acted and directed without being led down an exploitative path. But what I found the most interesting about Blue is the fact that the two characters' sexuality quickly becomes irreverent; this is the new normal, this is a relationship that all can relate too no matter what your sexuality. People are people and the fact that it draws you in based on the relationship and the relatablility of the characters alone makes this a very strong and important film.
9. Prince Avalanche - trailer
Prince Avalanche has it all...solitude, mysticisms, and re-birth. Oh, and it's bitingly hilarious. Hirsch and Rudd's evolution and chemistry is simply heart warming and David Gordon Green shows a return to his filmmaking roots. Highly quotable, beautiful and mystifying, this is a great work that will stick with you long after first watch and will definitely entertain multiple views. There are friggin' ghosts in it!
10. An Oversimplification Of Her Beauty - trailer
An Oversimplification Of Her Beauty takes a singular moment in time and turns it into a visual, auditory, and emotional odyssey. Terence Nance uses documentary form, reenactments, mixed animation, and one of the best scores of the year (by Flying Lotus) to try and answer the question 'How would you feel?'. This question actually relates to Nance being stood up on a date many years ago but the further we dive into Nance's world it also seems to relate to other past relationships and the director's emotional state while piecing together the film over many years. The experience while watching this is like no other—all out heart and poetry for the mind, eyes and soul.
The Short List (11-20):
11. Spring Breakers
13. Dallas Buyers Club
14. The Hunt
15. Inside Llewyn Davis
16. Only God Forgives
17. Jodorowsky's Dune
18. Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa
19. The Conjuring
20. A Field in England
And the Lee Daniels Award (given to the real #1 film of the year based solely on the insanity of said film): The Act of Killing - trailer.
JAMES: Demons, war crimes and yuppies, oh my! Allow me to take you on a guided tour of the films that defined 2013 for me.
1. The Act of Killing
A challenging film.
It's a term that we hear often but it's almost become a little meaningless, but my number one film of the year fearlessly reinvents that worn out term. Imagine a war criminal is given enough money to make a movie that shows how glorious his crimes were and you get a chance to follow him in an almost unbiased fashion as he goes about trying to re-enact what he considers his glory. Most documentaries would film this character in a way that just makes you know instantly he's evil and it would do everything in its power to remind you how terrifying this man is. What we are presented with here is something different: we are shown an awful monster who has killed thousands of people presented as if he's your drunken uncle who likes to party a bit too much and tell you stories that you wish you could be unheard. Never have I seen a movie that allows the audience to sit with evil and get personal with it because of this you're often blindsided by the horror of the situation. What we are left with is a surreal meditation on what it is to be evil and what evil truly looks like.
2. The Wolf of Wall Street
In a year were critics are floating the movie American Hustle around as if it's some sort of cinematic masterpiece, Martin Scorsese decides to step up and really give you a film about con men that is vicious, vibrant, and fearless. With style to spare and a story that you could listen to forever, the Wolf of Wall Street stares down American Hustle and in its loveable, vulgar fashion, slaps it across the face with its dick. It is also kind enough not to insult us by trying to make these men into tragic figures—it decides early on that these man are douche bags and they will continue to be douche bags through the whole film. Not unlike the movie The Counselor, a lot of this film's charm comes from just how are deviant the characters can be at times. In fact, one of the funniest scenes in the entire film is an elaborate meeting in the boardroom that details how they can and cannot use dwarfs when tossing them and what behaviour will be acceptable in front of said dwarfs. Now most of this is made possible by the director's amazing skills being used a full force but none of it could actually work if it wasn't for DiCaprio's performance, which is easily the best of the year. Even though he is a loathsome character, on several occasions he delivers rousing speeches which are better than any motivational speech in any sports film I've ever seen. The films greatest achievement is that through out the meanness and filth, as well as a 3 hour run time, this manages to somehow be the funniest movie of the year.
3. The Great Beauty
There is no doubt that life moves by much quicker than we would like it to; now just imagine being thrusted into the spotlight and being swept away by a sea of vanity, only to find yourself at the end of your life wondering what happened to the person that you used to be. It's hard to feel bad for a person who appears to have everything they have ever wanted in life but this film's strong suit is that it doesn't force your sympathy. Instead it displays just how surreal the character's life has become in contrast to the simple dreams he once had. The film's main character is aware of this disconnect, unlike many of the characters in the film who just seem to be swept up in their own bullshit whether it is a selfish life they lead or a selfless one. This film chronicles people who are not actually characters themselves but simply defined by what they do. The main character is known as a writer even though he hasn't written anything in years and as always being asked the annoying question of when he will finish his next book. By employing a hyper-realistic approach to the everyday details of his life, the director makes it very understandable how a person could become distracted and over all those years never end up writing second book. The Great Beauty is full of audacious comedy mixed with stunning visuals and a surprising amount of sorrow that it keeps hidden away until it begins to flood into the last chapters of film.
4. Pain and Gain
This is a movie where if you were able to convince someone that it was directed by some hip music video director from Sweden they hadn't heard of, that person would feel like they just watch the debut of a bold new voice in cinema, when the fact of the matter is it's directed by Michael Bay and it's funny to make jokes about Michael Bay. EXPLOSION. Now if a person is willing to watch this movie as just a movie and not the "new Michael Bay film", I think they will be surprised to find that it is the movie Fargo completely pumped up on steroids. Simply put, Pain and Gain is one of the darkest comedies this year and possibly one of the darkest mainstream films that I have seen in some time. The movie has style to burn and its narrative just keeps pushing ahead nonstop through it's 2 1/2 hour run time leaving you spun around and winded with your jaw dropped, it's just how ridiculous this true story gets.
5. Frances Ha
This movie was kind of special to me because I know what it's like to have been lost in the wind like Frances. When you become unanchored from everything and you find yourself drifting from one place to another to another, there is a certain amount of pride that a person gets to feel when they get to call the mailbox their own and this movie understands that. Usually in movies, drifters are made to look like seedy people that you wouldn't want to cross paths with but in this movie you hardly notice that's what Frances really is because she is simply just that charming. This movie has that quality about it where you find yourself turning to the person next to you frequently and saying, "Hey I've done that before." Although this main character sounds like a person who doesn't deserve your sympathy because she is the person who creates her own problem, the film never makes you feel like you have to pity this person or that she's a tragic figure. Rather, it allows you to simply sit back and watch her try to do her best to make her dreams come true.
6. Upstream Color
Worm... pig... orchard. What can you say about a movie which those three words can manage to explain its entire premise and nothing at all? This film finds a very abstract way to make the audience question what affects your daily moods, behaviours and whatnot. It's a film that really wonders about those days where you just don't feel like yourself, and it tries to give you a reason. Now I highly doubt the filmmaker thinks that this is what's responsible for your mood swings; I believe it is his intention to try and make the audience question what generally governs our sense of us? Could it be tampered with, and if so would we ever notice? Story and musings aside, it's often overlooked that this film is a stunning achievement in not only cinematography but editing and sound design. It comes off as a Terrence Malick sci-fi film, which I happen to think is probably one of the highest compliments a film can be paid.
7. The Counselor
I don't think there was ever way I could not like this film—it's based on a script written by one of my all-time favourite authors and directed by one of my favourite directors, regardless of what other people say about him. And if that wasn't enough, it rounds up some of my favorite actors and lets the audience have the pleasure of listening to them exchange some of the most beautifully written dialogue I've ever heard. Although some people claim that the movie feels like it's all for nothing, I can't help but be enthralled by it's simple message that no one can just play with evil, evil leaves a mark on you and you will either be crushed by evil or you will become evil in the process. Is my own personal opinion, watching Cameron Diaz fucking the windshield of the car is oddly one of the least interesting scenes in the movie, so I'm frequently amazed that is what people want to talk about but they seem to neglect all the amazing moments that it has to offer. I feel that years from now this movie will be held in a higher regard than most the films nominated for best picture this year; it's just a matter of time.
8. The Paradise Trilogy
The stories presented here show the lives of three different females in the same family. All of these tales are incredibly stark and brutally realistic portrayals of people trying to get what they want in life and failing miserably. The three topics are simply love, faith, and hope but the director manages to bring his own unique viewpoint into these situations and lets his camera stand back and watch the ladies lives spin out of control. Of the films, I would have to say that Love was my favourite. It's an unflinching look at a desperate middle-aged woman as she travels to a foreign country in hopes of exploiting the poor young men who live there for her own sexual pleasure. Slowly but surely she realizes that they have been the ones taking advantage of her arrogance and her loneliness all along.
9. The Conjuring
Here's another film in a genre that has been played out over and over again but the difference here is a genuine honesty. While I know this is just for entertainment, I have read about the lengths they went to try and actually stay true to incident that is portrayed in the film by having the real people present to make sure it is accurately portrayed. As a result, the scares aren't forced and the horror is more organic, growing out of the actual situations. It's this restraint that helps you believe these things actually happened, which truly enriches the story and makes the movie all the more disturbing.
10. Blue is the Warmest Colour
This is a movie that truly understands what it's like to love and to lose love. It's also painfully aware of the fact that sometimes it's not just that black-and-white, there is a grey area where the two parties will always want each other but never be able to reconcile the differences. While this seems like very familiar territory, the film is so visceral that you are fully invested in the struggles this young girl as she tries to understand how the only person she has ever loved just can live without her. The film is heart-wrenching and incredibly believable.
A Field in England
An Oversimplification of Her Beauty
Only God Forgives
And the Lee Daniels Award (given to the real #1 film of the year based solely on the insanity of said film): Lesson of the Evil, for its ability to turn high school shootings into high comedy.