As 2013 draws to a close, it’s time to reel off One Room With A View’s Top Ten Films of 2013. Each writer will list their top ten and we’ll reach an ultimate list at the end. To achieve this, we’ll be using a simple points system so that a film placing 10th = 1 point, 9th = 2 points, and so on until whichever film finishes top gets a perfect 10. The film with the most points at the end of our lists is our film of 2013.
With all that sorted, it’s time for Cameron to give us his top ten of 2013:
A FIELD IN ENGLAND: A Field in England sees a return to Amy Jump’s pointedly meticulous brand of writing. The film screams for specificity, yet cruelly leaves any tangible meaning just out of reach. In many ways it feels like the schizophrenic child of Kill List – and that’s no bad thing. The only relief to be had from the incessant cerebral stuttering is in Laurie Rose’s visually mesmerising monochromatic etherea. Overall, it’s a cacophony of the cinematic that should be commended for its unwavering impudence and style.
BLACKFISH: Blackfish delivers a marked look at the mass abduction of baby orcas, and the emotional consequences of their life in captivity. Drawing on the testimonies of former SeaWorld employees, a morally bankrupt portrait is slowly brought to the precipice. What’s perhaps most affecting about this documentary is the depiction of graphic physical and emotional torment that was endured on a daily basis – mostly done in ignorance. Despite itself, one statement by a former employee stuck: “I’m ashamed.”
BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOUR: At three hours in length, Blue is the Warmest Colour is the longest film on this list, and indeed one of the longest of this year. However, it somehow keeps hold of its surprising intensity and real honesty, even at the edges of its more than generous runtime. It is perhaps this length that allows for such empathy and pain to permeate the screen so consistently and potently. The legitimacy of anything felt is never questioned. A love story for the realist – sincere and outspoken.
THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES: The Place Beyond the Pines wrestles with repetition and mirroring in a way that refuses to leave reality to deliver its episodic poignancy. Very much a Blue Valentine – Circle of Life Edition, Cianfrance’s ambition creates a believable, deterministic world in which all actions require reactions – positive or not. With impressively nuanced performances throughout, Pines‘ intricacy and ambition in the guise of melodrama deserves its recognition as one of 2013’s most captivating films.
ONLY GOD FORGIVES: Neon-Freud. At just 87 minutes, Only God Forgives is perhaps the most time-efficient film this year. It is also, without doubt, the most stylish – due in no small part to Nicolas Winding Refn’s increasingly renowned eye for neo-’80s cool. However, the film is at least equal parts substance, positioning metaphor and symbolism above all else. Very much the antithesis of A Field in England, this is a puzzle that was made to be solved.
FRANCES HA: “Get your shit together.” This undeniably retro styling of New York brings back all the majesty of Woody Allen, and updates it in a way that gives the cityscape newfound relevance. Baumbach’s alluringly intimate serio-comedy shows us twentysomething social realism with such ease that it’s hard to fathom there’s a script at all. However, all would not be made possible without mumblecore poster-girl Greta Gerwig, and her effortless portrayal of the “less than savoir-faire” Frances Ha-. All in all, this is the most pleasant film of 2013.
DJANGO UNCHAINED: “I like the way you die, boy.” Django Unchained really needs no written reason to be on this list – if you’ve seen it, you know why it’s here. Every inch of Tarantino’s exploitation-western is filled with awe-inspiring decadence. Despite Tarantino’s hilarious try at an Australian accent, cast performances are some of the most charismatic of this year. With an incredibly satisfying soundtrack, and no-less-than-beautiful cinematography from Robert Richardson, Django remains true to Tarantino’s unique heraldry of excellence.
GRAVITY: Gravity‘s arduously orchestrated visual schema is worthy of this number 3 slot alone, but isn’t all that this tremendously well-crafted film has to offer. Not since 2001: A Space Odyssey has an astro-fetus been so eloquently symbolic. Cuarón’s meaning-of-life parable is as powerful as it is subtle and, most importantly, is in no way preaching. Clooney is charming, and Bullock is relatable – adding great performances to an already masterful piece of cinema. Truly a work of brilliance; this is a call to great sci-fi.
BLUE JASMINE: Woody Allen compares San Francisco and New York in his most sophisticated and harrowing work yet. What’s so odd about Blue Jasmine is that it just doesn’t feel like a Woody Allen film at all. Instead of revelling in the city’s grandeur, Allen entraps us in isolating interiors – instead of being blown back by the insipid babbling of minor cast members, we’re treated to stagnating silence. It’s in this that Allen’s shown real maturation as a filmmaker – never has a character’s mental state been more deftly handled by style than in Allen and Blanchett’s portrayal of a woman absent.
UPSTREAM COLOR: Break the cycle. Upstream Color is the next instalment of hyper-literate cinema from Carruth, and hopefully not his last. This is the most interesting film this year, as Primer was 10 years earlier. What’s so special about this film is that it freely seems to wash over you – transcending the screen as it does so. It achieves this, and yet remains perfectly lucid, without an inch feeling derivative or clichéd. This is the most impressive piece of filmmaking I have ever seen.
SCORES (after Round 3)
Django Unchained – 23 points
Gravity – 20 points
Zero Dark Thirty – 10 points
Upstream Colour – 10 points
Rush – 9 points
To The Wonder – 9 points
Blue Jasmine – 9 points
Blue Is The Warmest Colour – 8 points
Captain Phillips – 7 points
Blackfish – 7 points
Cloud Atlas – 7 points
Lincoln – 7 points
The Hobbit – The Desolation of Smaug – 6 points
Iron Man 3 – 6 points
Frances Ha – 6 points
Only God Forgives – 5 points
Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God – 4 points
Place Beyond the Pines – 4 points
Pacific Rim – 3 points
The Spectacular Now – 2 points
Frozen – 1 point
Mud – 1 point
A Field in England – 1 point