By: Eric Cecchett
With the 86th Academy Awards fast approaching, now seems to be as good a time as ever to look back on the best of what Hollywood brought us in 2013. All Oscar speculation aside, here is a short list of what I thought to be the best films of this past year.
Inside Llewyn Davis– The Coen brothers’ latest film takes place in Greenwich Village as it patiently chronicles a few days in the life of an aspiring 1960s folk singer. Focusing on live musical performances from the wonderfully talented cast, this unique story manages to fascinate while largely avoiding a traditional plot structure. For the audience that doesn’t mind a little aimless tragedy, Inside Llewyn Davis provides an emotionally charged and aesthetically brilliant experience.
Upstream Color– Although you won’t find this movie on any Oscar list, this Sundance-released film was hailed by many critics as the quiet masterpiece of the year. Rookie filmmaker Shane Carruth directs and stars in this deeply complex and experimental piece of cinema about a woman attempting to rebuild her life after an intensely traumatic and damaging life experience.Upstream Color is certainly not for most audiences, as it will often pose more questions than provide answers. However, those interested in a serious, challenging film will not be disappointed.
Her– Is it creepy to find a serious relationship between a grown man and his computer endearing? This is a question that many will find themselves asking when watching Spike Jonze’s beautifully strange new film. Her raises frighteningly relevant questions regarding both ourselves and our ever-increasing obsession with technology. Driven by a heartbreaking performance from Joaquin Phoenix, this film excels on nearly every level. Boasting dazzling visuals, captivating music, and one of the most original screenplays of the year, this film deserves a spot on everyone’s ‘must see’ list.
Wolf of Wall Street– With a run time of three hours and detailed depictions of just about every act of depravity imaginable, this is not a film for the easily offended. Leonardo DiCaprio plays the lead character, Jordan Belmont, with an unbelievable intensity that could very well earn him his first ever Academy Award. Wolf of Wall Street acts as a smart, and often exaggerated, satire on the indulgent nature and questionable morals of America’s one percent. A lewd and wildly entertaining epic of greed and corruption, this film practically demands a viewing from anyone who is brave enough.
Gravity– Before this film, I never imagined I would enjoy watching Sandra Bullock flail around in space for an hour and a half. Much to my surprise, I was proved wrong. Gravity provides one of the most immersive and suspenseful film experiences of the year behind the masterful direction of Alfonso Cuaron (Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban, Children of Men). Using state-of-the-art special effects, this movie is able to faithfully recreate the look and feel of outer space to an incredible degree. The perfect use of these effects creates an intense atmosphere that keeps the audience in a constant state of terror. In very few cases have I ever seen a film with such a simple plot manage to be so compelling. Short, sweet, and an absolute joy to look at, Gravity is a fantastic watch for anyone who wants to be entertained.