The Five Best Films of 2013 (You Haven’t Seen)

For those of you unfamiliar with my work on the Frotcast, I am a list-maker. I make the lists that make the whole world sing. However, I’m usually also seeing many films a week, at far-flung destinations such as Toronto, so I thought it might be nice to combine my powers as a big-time fancy film reviewer and master of lists. To help start this list I should probably note that I have access to many things the general public does not. Indeed, it’s a veritable cornucopia, everything from on demand Honda Civics to various sundries, meant to satiate my ever present hunger, all in an effort to keep me pleased atop my critical mountain. Fellows like Trevor Paramount and Jimmy Universal often humbly doff their cap at my door, peddling their wares, and okay this horrific opening has gone on like 50 words too long, especially because the only point I was trying to get to was to mention I’ve seen some some movies this year that everyone else hasn’t. But I hope people do. So let’s talk about those, the five best films of 2013 that you likely haven’t seen, unless you’ve been following me around like a protective angel.

About Time

Can I interest you in Sideways meets Groundhog Day? No? How about Love Actually mixed with a little Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind? If none of that sells you I’ll just mention that, though this films initially presents itself as a comedy, it’s really an odd little duck of a drama. I’m going to need you to overlook Rachel McAdams taking part, just in case you happen to hate her, because she’s utterly charming here. I also think this is a film that could spark many a “this couldn’t have happened because time travel works like X” websites, which I will greatly enjoy reading, probably in a onesie with a cup of hot cocoa.

All is Lost

Robert Redford, a sailboat on the open sea, and various calamities. So yeah, The Natural meets that part of Wedding Crashers where they sail. No, I kid, I kid, but in all seriousness Bob Redford will be pulling down a Best Actor nomination for this role, and I know how you like to get involved in the Academy Award futures markets. A tense film, open to interpretation, I’d even call it “riveting” if I wasn’t deathly afraid they’d quote me, murdering my street cred. We’ve seen plenty of tense film this year, probably a reflection of directors worried about their 401ks vis a vis the U.S. Congress, but All is Lost is the thrilliest of them all.

Blue is the Warmest Color

If Vince were looking over my shoulder he’d definitely want me to mention the hot lesbian action that comes with this NC-17 French film. The French care not for our puritanical ways, behold the human body, exposed and considered from every angle! And truly, there are fifteen minutes of explicit and graphic coupling on display during the (gulp) three-hour running time, positions and deeds I didn’t even know people could do. Still, that’s not the reason the film is great, and you can catch that sort of action on any porn site in the world.

No, the reason I loved Blue is the Warmest color is because it’s one of the few films I’ve ever seen that accurately portrays the growth and ever-changing element of romantic love. Everyone has seen the romantic comedies where there’s a stupid element of conflict (“You didn’t call me!” “Yes I did!”), and it’s always eye-roll inducing because the problems most films present are not ones anyone has in their real life. No one ever falls in love with Zooey Deschanel, mostly because she can’t even be bothered to leave her house for soup, and she doesn’t seem to know how rain works. Blue is the Warmest Color doesn’t have these ridiculous tonal pivots, because it shows how people naturally come together and potentially grow apart. The fact that it’s a lesbian relationship is really not even germane, and it’s to the film’s credit that you don’t even key in on that after the opening few minutes. So this one is a keeper.

NOTE: There were rumors of directorial malfeasance and abuse during this shoot. I have no idea on that front, I can only judge what was put in front of me. If it turns out the leads fully renounce the work, and it stops feeling like a marketing stunt, then I’ll adjust accordingly.

Dallas Buyers Club

We all know young Matthew McConaughey was robbed for Best Song and Best Supporting Actor in Magic Mike. But no more! Here he’ll be vying for lead Oscar, a nomination is in the bag, he’s a rough and tumble drug addict who gets a little case of the HIV in the mid-80s, before anyone knew what was happening, or how to treat the disease. In the film the medical community is pretty much flopping around like caught halibut, and that’s where McConaughey’s character steps in, to bring hope to himself and his afflicted brethren. McConaughey playing a man against the system, weighing twelve pounds, finally cast in the role he’s always been meant for (saving us all)? Yes, please. Also, in this film, Jared Leto looks like this. So there’s that.

Captain Phillips

This is a cheat, because you can see it today, but no self-respecting list-maker can throw out a list of four things and feel good about himself. My only beef with Captain Phillips is that some of the marketing suggests it is a “moral thriller”. That’s a stretch, it’s more of a “almost but not quite patriotic thriller’, but if I held every film accountable on the marketing I probably wouldn’t like anything except that Seinfeld movie. Captain Phillips does a solid job of maintaining some semblance of balance, though when your subject is Somali pirates this can be a challenge. Still, the last twenty minutes of the movie are great, and so it’s a film you’ll want to catch on the big screen, amidst the masses.

That’s all for now, more posts later, once I think up some more things to write about.