As I reflect on the movies released this past year, I can certainly think of a few gems that particularly stood out to me. In the spirit of sharing some noteworthy movies that you may have missed out on this past year, here is a list of my five favourite films of 2013 (in no particular order) that I could only really find in smaller indie theaters. Alas, we have…
1. Before Midnight
This is a pretty amazing movie. Please do not let the genre of “romantic drama” dissuade you from checking out this film. While it is undeniably a romantic drama movie I assure you it is also so much more than that. It’s engaging and philosophical in the most subtle ways, bringing in fresh perspectives on the expansive topics of love and life. I’ve a review on this already written up so I’ll refrain from saying too much, but I would say this film is worth a view simply because it’s so different from most other films in the way it’s filmed. It’s literally a camera following two people involved in a conversation. If you’ve seen the first two predecessors to this movie, Before Sunrise and Before Sunset, and if you’ve liked those, you’re almost guaranteed to like this too. Go watch it!
Now, this film might sit on the border of being mainstream, but I’m going to include this anyway simply because I couldn’t find this film in any of the big theaters playing in my city. It originally was shown at the Sundance Film Festival and started off with a limited release but eventually gained enough popularity to obtain a wider release later in the year. Alright, so this is a coming-of-age drama film centered around two teenage boys exploring the life of a strange man named Mud (Matthew McConaghey) who they find on an island. The story-telling in this film is great and while it might be a bit slow-moving at times, this film is certainly worth a watch. The unravelling of the plot combined with rewarding insights into characters’ relationships makes this film very enjoyable to watch, and stirs a sufficient amount of feels to warrant its place on this list.
3. We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks
Of course I have to include a documentary on this list, so here we go, a documentary on the infamous Julian Assange and events following the rise and fall of WikiLeaks. This is a pretty detailed exploration of the Wikileaks story which I enjoyed since I only knew superficial information about the Wikileaks coming into this film. Despite the seemingly long running time, I would say that the film does a great job of keeping you engaged and bringing forth insightful interviews with a wide variety of sources that made the film quite compelling. I think that this documentary is worth watching simply because of the important moral issues it raises, namely the battle between transparency and government secrecy. Exploring Assange’s philosophies and his seeming descent into paranoia in an ironic twist of fate, provides the film with a strong narrative feel, and lands this film a spot on the list.
4. Blue Jasmine
This comedy-drama film (though I’m hesitant to label it as a “comedy”) by Woody Allen has valuable emotional merit and presents an engaging tale of, riches-to-rags socialite Jasmine who must reconstruct her life after her millionaire husband is sent to jail following a involvement in some corrupt business deals. I’ve written a review on this so check that out in your own leisure. This movie instantly landed a spot on this list because of the strong performances of each character in this film, that make this one of the most “human” movies I’ve seen all year. Cate Blanchett’s captivating performance of a vulnerable and absolutely broken woman are depressing to say the least, and for some reason, utterly engaging. I applaud this film for getting you to root for an unlikely, but surprisingly relatable protagonist if you give it the chance.
5. Blue is the Warmest Color
This is a French romantic, coming-of-age film about a girl, Adele, confronting her sexuality as she falls in love with another girl, Emma, and pursues a relationship with her. It takes on a fresh perspective, putting an emphasis on exploration of self-identity and understanding one’s own desires and life plans that go beyond the scope of homosexuality. This is a film with so much depth that features the pressures and expectations placed on youth, and how our decisions and relationships with others shape who the person we become. This film has a long running time, but for its seemingly more earnest approach to homosexuality, I would recommend this a watch.
Here are a few more movies that just barely missed the cut for the top five list. They’re all quite unique in their own way and warrant a viewing. Enjoy!