best film: Ida from Paweł Pawlikowski
- Pawlikowski’s photographical accomplish in Ida ranks among the best of the decade
- Arri Alexa 35mm, 1.37: 1 box aspect ratio- influences Paul Schrader’s First Reformed among others
- another Pawlikowski trademark- his 80-90 minute running time
- Gorgeous rural road with trees overhanging
- Actors framed in the doorway
- The level of detail in the compositions—meticulous- very light, every detail in the car
- The window sequence is haunting
most underrated: The TSPDT should be commended for largely getting it right when it comes to 2013. There are so many deserving films and they do have most of them close to the right slot. Two notable exceptions are Enemy from Denis Villeneuve. The consensus has it as the #44 film from 2013 and that is a mistake. The slightly larger mistake would be Nicolas Winding Refn’s Only God Forgives which did not make the 21st century top 1000 list (so at least outside the top 44 of 2013) at all.
- There is much here to admire formally—the spiders as an ongoing motif and recurring construct
- Fantastic silent opening—bizarre and erotic—reminiscent of Eyes Wide Shut
- Recalls Cronenberg’s work—particularly Crash—eerie slow-burn (also set in Toronto)– and Cronenberg’s aptly named Spider from 2002
- Doppelganger, paranoia—largely silent- moody and atmospheric—strong sense of dread the entire film—no narrative drive like most of Villeneuve’s other work
- The upside down naked woman with spider head is exactly half-way through the film—not a formal coincidence
- Love the windshield broken as a spider web
Only God Forgives
- Like 2009 with Valhalla Rising, the most underrated film of the year belongs to Refn. Again, the film is not mentioned among the many from 2013 on the TSPDT 21st century list. This one was also booed at Cannes and has a 37 on Metacritic. It is closer, from a narrative standpoint, to Valhalla Rising than Drive. Drive is a bit of an irregularity for Refn in many ways- it is the only film he has not written- he is not usually so accessible.
most overrated: With only one viewing of the film under my belt, the door is not closed on Alain Guiraudie’s Stranger by the Lake but for now it does sit as the most overrated film of 2013. The consensus has it as the #4 film of 2013.
trends and notables:
- Both Pawlikowski and the Coen Brothers really deserve to be the story and for different reasons. Pawlikowski is a rising star. The Woman in the Fifth in 2011 hinted at his potential, but it would seem unlikely that anyone saw something the size of Ida coming from him. For Coens it is the opposite. Their staying power since their debut in 1984 is remarkable and Inside Llewyn Davis is one of their best films.
- 2013’s great depth of quality films is almost more the story of the year in cinema than the two films at the top . Thirteen years into the new millennium at this point, coming up on 100 years since DW Griffith and certainly cinema as an artform is in a fantastic place if films like The Immigrant, Nebraska, Snowpiercer, Her, The Wolf of Wall Street, and Only Lovers Left Alive cannot find a spot in the top ten of the year. These are all quality works made by auteurs with a unique voice.
- The Coen Brothers and Linklater are extremely prolific- but 2013 features films from those that rarely make films like Alfonso Cuaron and the ever-increasingly reclusive Jonathan Glazer. Gravity is Cuaron’s last film since 2006. Under the Skin is Glazer’s last film since Birth in 2004 and last film of the 2010s decade. Cuaron would add one more of course- Roma in 2018.
- with all the unofficial and official trilogies out there it is difficult to keep track of and rank the best- but, undoubtedly, Linklater’s “Before” trilogy (Sunrise in 1995, Sunset in 2004 and Midnight in 2013- all nine years apart) ranks needs to rank near the very top.
- Denis Villeneuve is heating up with two archiveable films in 2013: Prisoners and Enemy- but his run is really just getting started.
- As far as first timers in the archives, Ryan Coogler and Michael B. Jordan feel destined for greatness and pair together here in 2013 for the first time in Fruitvale Station. Miles Teller lands in the archives for the first time in The Spectacular Now and LaKeith Stanfield got his start in 2013 as well with Short Term 12, which is his true debut.
- As far as box office in 2013 it is all Iron Man (continuing the Marvel dominance) and Hunger Games (Jennifer Lawrence is getting awards and box office love now in back to back years) but for cinephiles- it is Cuaron’s Gravity that is both an artistic feat and a big-time moneymaker.
- In 2013 it is also worth pausing to appreciate the start to Steve McQueen’s career. From Hunger (2008), to Shame (2011) to 12 Years a Slave (2013) this is a meteoric rise.
gems I want to spotlight: Sticking with a color theme here in the two titles- Blue Ruin from Jeremy Saulnier is one that is not terribly close to the top 10 of the year but I revisit and recommend to people often. Blue is the Warmest Color from Abdellatif Kechiche deserves this slot as well. 2013 is a year of incredible depth in the world of film- there are not many years where Kechiche’s film does not land in the top 10 of the year.
best performance male: In 2010 it was Natalie Portman in Black Swan. In 2011 Michael Fassbender in Shame- and, undoubtedly in 2012 it was Joaquin Phoenix in The Master. Well, in 2013 it is Oscar Isaac in Inside Llewyn Davis ahead of the rest. Isaac is a revelation—a young Pacino in the making. He could go on to be the best actor of a generation and could still never top this. His Davis has heavy eyes—“I’m tired”… “I thought I needed a night’s sleep but it’s more than that”- tragic. He is quick to give up- beaten down by the death of his partner, the cold winter, and…it is the Coen’s world of course… fate (or bad luck). Isaac is one hell of a musical performer as well and the film does not work if he cannot both act and sing. Leonardo DiCaprio deserves mention in 2013 for his work as Jordan Belfort in The Wolf of Wall Street. DiCaprio is a tour-de-force. He makes the character and film so much more complex because of his inarguable charm. It is a prime role, lots of speechmaking, drug use, and DiCaprio shows off his comedic (especially physical) talents as well. I do not like going off the top ten films of the year to grab a worthy performance for this category but DiCaprio sort of had a mention he was due here for being left off in 2012 for Django Unchained. Toni Servillo pairs with Paolo Sorrentino again in 2013’s The Great Beauty. Servillo and Sorrentino burst onto the scene in 2008’s Il divo and The Great Beauty marks their finest work to date as both director and actor. This is their Fellini/Mastroianni La Dolce Vita. Christian Bale is a chameleon- but his work in American Hustle is more than just bad hair and a big gut. Bale is one of the greatest actors of his generation and this is certainly one of his best performances. He apparently gained over forty pounds for the role (going the other way from his previous collaboration with Russell where he lost a bunch for The Fighter in 2010). Chiwetel Ejiofor and Michael Fassbender are both terrific in McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave. Ejiofor is empathetic and intelligent– and Fassbender is horrifically mesmerizing- akin to Ralph Fiennes work in Schindler’s List. It seems that there were doubters of his talent for decades, but Ethan Hawke continues to prove he is one of Generation X’s finest with his work alongside Linklater and Julie Delpy in Before Midnight. The final mention goes to Jake Gyllenhaal for his work in Enemy. Gyllenhaal was omitted here in this category back in 2005 for Brokeback and he is also strong in 2014’s Nightcrawler so this feels like a fitting spot to reward him for three years where he is just on the fringe (and he is excellent in Denis’ other 2013 entry as well Prisoners).
best performance female: This is the best year in this category since 2000 or 2001 and even those years did not have the depth of great acting performances 2013 does. There are years where we are scratching and clawing to get two to three names listed. There are ten very worthy mentions here in 2013. Ida starts off 2013 and showcases phenomenal acting turns from both Agata Kuleza (as Wanda) and Agata Trzebuchowska (as Anna). These are complex characters wearing the baggage of their history. Wanda is a skeptic, an alcoholic, nihilistic. She is angry (and justly so). Wanda (with Trzebuchowska’s soft, black eyes) is naïve and sheltered yet goes through quite a transformation. Every decade or so now (every nine years to be exact) both Hawke and Julie Delpy show up in the “Before” films remind us all that no list of the best actors is complete without them. This is their Scenes from a Marriage film. Sandra Bullock has been a star for nearly two decades by 2013 but turns in easily her finest work in Cuaron’s Gravity. In the film she serves as the driving action in the story- and also have a heartfelt emotional breakdown an hour into the film. Lupita Nyong’o has to be here for her work (her film debut) as Patsey in McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave. Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux unquestionably deserve spots here for their work in Blue is the Warmest Color. Scarlett Johansson quieted what few doubters she left in 2013 (Lost in Translation was a decade in the rearview) when she triumphed again in Under the Skin. Amy Adams is in familiar territory in this category again in 2013 for American Hustle after appearing here in 2012. Adams is on a roll that will continue through 2016. The tenth and final mention is for Marion Cotillard in James Gray’s The Immigrant. Cotillard could get a mention either here or for her work in The Dardenne Brothers’ Two Days, One Night but probably not for both- so this is as good a spot as 2014.
- Inside Llewyn Davis
- Before Midnight
- The Great Beauty
- 12 Years a Slave
- Under the Skin
- Only God Forgives
- American Hustle
Archives, Directors, and Grades
|A Touch of Sin- Zhangke Jia||R|
|Ain’t Them Bodies Saints- Lowery||R|
|All is Lost- Chandor||R|
|American Hustle – D. Russell||HR/MS|
|Before Midnight- Linklater||MS/MP|
|Behind the Candelabra– Soderbergh||R|
|Blue Is the Warmest Color – Kechiche||HR/MS|
|Blue Jasmine- Allen||R/HR|
|Blue Ruin – Saulnier||R|
|Captain Phillips- Greengrass||HR|
|Dallas Buyers Club- Vallée||R|
|Enemy – Villeneuve||MS|
|Enough Said- Holofcener||R|
|Exhibition – Hogg||R|
|Fruitvale Station- Coogler||R|
|Gloria – Lelio||R|
|Gravity – Cuaron||MS/MP|
|Hard To Be a God – German||R|
|Ida – Pawlikowski||MP|
|Inside Llewyn Davis – Coen||MP|
|Joe- Gordon Green||R|
|Night Moves- Reichardt||R|
|Nymphomaniac- von Trier||R|
|Only God Forgives- Refn||HR/MS|
|Only Lovers Left Alive – Jarmusch||HR|
|Out of the Furnace- S. Cooper||R|
|Prince Avalanche- Gordon Green||R|
|Prisoners – Villeneuve||R|
|Short Term 12- Cretton||R|
|Side Effects- Soderbergh||R|
|Star Trek into Darkness- Abrams||R|
|Starred Up- Mackenzie||R|
|Stray Dogs – Ming-liang Tsai||R|
|The Bling Ring- S. Coppola||R|
|The Conjuring – Wan||R|
|The Grandmaster- WKW||R|
|The Great Beauty- Sorrentino||MS|
|The Great Gatsby- Luhrmann||R|
|The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – Jackson||R|
|The Immigrant- Gray||HR|
|The Past- Farhadi||R|
|The Spectacular Now- Ponsoldt||R|
|The Tale of Princess Kagulaya – Takahata||R|
|The Wind Rises- Miyazaki||R|
|The Wolf of Wall Street– Scorsese||HR|
|The World’s End- E. Wright||R|
|The Zero Theorem – Gilliam||R|
|Tom At the Farm – Dolan||R|
|12 Years a Slave – McQueen||MS|
|Under the Skin- Glazer||MS|
|Upstream Color – Carruth||R|
|We Are the Best! – Moodysson||R|
*MP is Masterpiece- top 1-3 quality of the year film
MS is Must-See- top 5-6 quality of the year film
HR is Highly Recommend- top 10 quality of the year film
R is Recommend- outside the top 10 of the year quality film but still in the archives
Why can’t Phoenix be here for his combined work in both Her and The Immigrant?
@M*A*S*H- Thank you for the comment. I had Phoenix right on the fringe here but ultimately left him out- still a very strong year from him.
I have to say that I find the Wolf of Wall Street one of the tougher films to grade. I have seen it multiple times, it is a blast to watch, pulsating to the extreme. You have many of the great traits of Goodfellas and Casino from the narration style, high energy, and access to a sort of underworld (while Belfort never kills anyone he and his crew are really just a white collar version of the Mafia). You have a phenomenal performance from DiCaprio and possibly an even better performance from Jonah Hill. The quaalude scene was masterful, this is probably one of Scorsese’s top 3 funniest films.
Scorsese used Rodrigo Prieto as his cinematographer,
They altered the look at different stages of the film to align for Belmont’s state of mind by using different optics, lighting styles and color schemes. Early on when Belfort is still figuring out his place in the industry they enhance the contrast between Belfort’s states of mind by mixing in some diffusion filters, and ambient smoke. The earlier scenes that predate Belfort’s success with his firm use a shallow depth-of-field. The scenes later in the film when Belfort founded the uber successful Stratton Oakmont have a more crisp look with far more white and brighter colors. For the last 45 min or so when Belfort starts to unravel due to being under investigation by the FBI and SEC they use longer focal lengths to create a sense of being spied on, and for some scenes they ambient smoke to make the backgrounds look murky and have a shallow depth-of-field. I posted a link to the article below that elaborates more thoroughly on the technical details for anyone interested.
Despite all of the films strengths there are some issues. I do feel that it becomes repetitive at times, the insane drug and sex parties are of course a significant aspect of the film bringing the viewer into their crazy world but it does feel like overkill at times. And while I think it’s a great performance by DiCaprio I never could be invested in his fate in the same way I was with Henry Hill. I think it’s a film that has a lot of great individual scenes (I love the Bond Villain line) but is less cohesive than Scorsese’s MP’s. I think HR is a fair grade but I might go HR/MS leaning MS.
Surprised to see Under the Skin fall so hard (still a must see so I guess thats dramatic to say). Its definitely a masterpiece for me and Scarlett’s best work imo. I think Glazer was able to utilize her subtle presence perfectly.
The Double (2013) is an interesting film based on a Dostoevsky novel. Its a Kafdaesque story with Jesse Eisenberg playing 2 characters, Doppelgängers with opposite personalities; one is meek, shy, and downtrodden and the other highly confident and successful with women.
Funny enough The Double was shown at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival on September 7th or one day before Denis Villeneuve’s Enemy which was shown on September 8th.
Admittingly don’t know much about the director Richard Ayoade although I think it’s fair to say he isn’t in the same league as Villeneuve.
@James Trapp- Very interesting about the TIFF debuts being one day apart. So I was way more pumped for The Double than Enemy back in 2013 (as far as anticipation for the release of the film). You should seek out Ayoade’s “Submarine” if you haven’t seen it- sneaky good 2010 film. The Double was a disappointment coming off that debut.
@Drake – yeah, Enemy is definitely a film that rewards multiple viewings. It’s probably my favorite Villeneuve film and possibly his best (certainly Blade Runner 2049 and Sicario have a case as well)
I think I liked The Double better than you as I think it’s definitely worth a R. Never the less I think it didn’t take full advantage of the intriguing.set up and the dark comedy although I thought Jessie Eisenberg was great (I think I like him far more than most people) The pacing as wellas the repetitive tone and plot are weaknesses.
However, there are some some impressive images with shots that look like a David Fincher film, largely due to the lighting and color palette. There are also some shots resembling German Expressionalism. I’ll probably revisit it some time down the road.
@Drake-How many archiveable films does Lea Seydoux have and how many archiveable films does Adele Exarchopoulos have? I feel like Exarchopoulos have been a bust since Blue is the Warmest Colour.
@Malith- it is 10 to 1 I believe for Seydoux in comparison to Exarchopoulos
@Drake-Damn. What are the films that you have in the archives for Seydoux? Plus is Blue is the Warmest Colour still her best performance? Is there a big drop from this to her 2nd best?
@Malith-some smaller roles here in but quite a resume
2009- Inglourious Basterds
2010- Mysteries of Lisbon
2011- Midnight in Paris
2013- Blue is the Warmest Color
2014- The Grand Budapest Hotel
2015- The Lobster
2021- No Time to Die
2021- The French Dispatch
2022- Crimes of the Future
@Drake-Do you have a page on Crimes of the Future(2022)? I think she is also starring in Dune Part Two with Dennis Villeneuve in 2023.
@Malith- No page for Crimes of the Future- my last review on the site (for now at least) was April 2022 and I caught Crimes of the Future in June.
@Drake-So is there a big drop off from Blue is the Warmest Colour to her 2nd best performance? What would be her 2nd/3rd best performance?
@Malith- a healthy drop off – The French Dispatch would be #2 for her- very good there.
Any idea why Only God Forgives was not critically acclaimed? Just curious as I may watch tonight. I like Gosling a lot and have come to realize his range of characters is more impressive than I once thought though I think Gyllenhaal is superior in talent and definitely range. I am not sure on resumes though I still need to see LaLa Land, that and Mad Max are the only 2 films I haven’t seen that are in this sites top 10 films of 2010s
@James – Refn’s style isn’t for everyone, slow and plotness, long quiet stretches and extreme violence, he really doubled down after the more accesable Drive. It’s the same with Valhalla Rising and The Neon Demon, both too slow for the audiences that might think he is making films for. I think Only God Forgives is a masterpiece and I’m excited to watch his new one, Copenhagen Cowboy which just released on Netflix a few days ago.
Harry – thanks for response.
While it wasn’t my intention to bring it up in post above it got me thinking about Gosling vs Gyllenhaal and who has better resume
2000 Remember the Titans
2001 The Believer
2002 Murder by Numbers
2007 Lars and the Real Girl
2010 Blue Valentine
2010 All Good Things
2011 Crazy, Stupid, Love
2011 The Ides of March
2012 The Place Beyond the Pines
2013 Only God Forgives
2015 The Big Short
2016 La La Land
2017 Song to Song
2017 Blade Runner 2049
1999 October Sky
2001 Donnie Darko
2005 Brokeback Mountain
2010 Love & Other Drugs
2011 Source Code
2012 End of Watch
2016 Nocturnal Animals
Both have great resumes and many solid films but the key ones:
2010 Blue Valentine
2012 The Place Beyond the Pines
2013 Only God Forgives (according to this site as I still need to see it)
2016 La La Land
2017 Blade Runner 2049
2001 Donnie Darko
2005 Brokeback Mountain
I would favor Gyllenhaal though both are great, Zodiac is the best film of either in my opinion and he’s essential in it. Lou Bloom from Nightcrawler is the best performance in my opinion, Gyllenhaal’s 2013 in particular was amazing, Enemy especially when he played 2 characters with near opposite personalities, I think Gyllenhaal has more emotional ranges with his characters.
@James – going with Gyllenhaal though I think BR2049 beats out Zodiac slightly. You should definitely try and see Jarhead since I don’t see it listed here.
@Harry – yeah I saw it once but so long ago that it’s basically like haven’t seen it. Blade Runner 2017 was impressive. I watched Murder by Numbers (2002) again recently, it has a very strong cast and intriguing set up that is sadly wasted on cliches and excessive melodrama. Gosling and Michael Pitt were both very impressive though.
Gyllenhaal performances always have a level of intrigue while Gosling does have some roles such as Fracture (2007) and The Ides of March (2011) where it seems like he’ s going through the motions with flat performances.
Very, very atmospheric. A combination of being slow, having hardly any plot, and just being extremely weird and ambiguous (emphasis on ambiguous) in general. And also being extremely violent and having disturbingly dark themes/undertones
This was meant to be in response to @James Trapp asking any OGF was not well received
I also favor Gosling to Jake by a clear margin, and think Gosling’s range is undersold. La La Land is probably most important to his range, actually
I just watched Only God Forgives, very stylized film, great use of neon color and lighting. I don’t know entirely what to make of it, but it was quite fascinating. I am actually not all that surprised by the lack of mainstream acclaim although I was impressed.
Regarding Gyllenhaal and Gosling. I think you can argue Gosling has superior resume (although I would pick Gyllenhaal by a narrow margin). However, I think Gyllenhaal clearly has more range.
Gosling plays similar roles in the following; Only God Forgives, Place Beyond the Pines, and Drive. He can play the quiet and sort of mysterious role in these films. He will go long stretches without saying much and showing little to no emotion until lashing out with violence. You could probably extend this to Blade Runner 2049 as well although that is definitely a superior film. Gosling definitely plays this sort of role so well, cool detached and somewhat mysterious; he has a sort of Alain Delon in him
However, he is fairly bland in Fracture (2007) especially compared to Anthony Hopkins who gives one of his more underrated performances. Same with The Ides of March (2011)
Gyllenhaal plays a closeted gay man in Brokeback Mountain, a role that earned him a best actor nomination through he did not win. I don’t think Gosling has ever play a role like this
Obviously, they both have much appeal to the opposite sex, Gosling plays a great ladies man in Crazy, Stupid Love, which is actually a quite funny and enjoyable film even if there is not much going on cinematically as it’s a mainstream romantic comedy. Gyllenhaal plays a somewhat similar character in Love & Other Drugs (2010) which is also a mainstream romantic comedy
Gyllenhaal is effective as a nerdy teen in October Sky (1999) but far more impressive in Donnie Darko (2001) in which he plays an intelligent (but not nerdy) teenager. He’s not a teenager in Zodiac but his character has an innocent
Gyllenhaal as Lou Bloom is not only a tremendous performance but a completely unique one with his bizarre way of speaking like a professional help guru to his menace toward his partner near the end of the film. He is a creep and comes across as an oddball, but he can still be intimidating.
Love & Other Drugs is not one of his stronger films but he plays a convincing lothario
Southpaw (2015) is a fairly straightforward boxing film and to be honest I did not think much of it, but it showed Gyllenhaal could play a convincing boxer as he got into incredible shape, I don’t think Gosling has a comparable role to this
His detective character in Prisoners (2013) is quite different for Gyllenhaal as he actually plays the kind of role Gosling excels in, a sort of mysterious cool detachment with brief moments of anger/violence.
You make some compelling points, however who I think is better is more complicated than who simply has more range, if we were to go by simply that then Jake is probably superior. Maybe La La Land will push the needle back into Gosling’s favor? He has his trademark moments of masterful stoicism (particularly in the finale) but he’s also singing, dancing, playing piano, and doing a bunch of things you would never expect the guy from Only God Forgives and 2049 to do… in what I think is a top 10 film of an entire decade. It’s a huge resume booster