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Staff Selections: 2013 The Year in Review


  1. FootnoteActually released in 2012, I finally caught up with this father-son drama and was floored by its intellect, style, and humanity.
  2. Berberian Sound StudioPlugging straight into my repressed fan-boy ID, this was meta-horror heaven, despite the shaggy-dog ending.
  3. Marina Abramovic: The Artist is PresentA doco of astonishing impact, all the more extraordinary for being simply a portrait of an artist.
  4. BarbaraA delicately balanced script and performances took both my head and heart where they wanted to go.
  5. ParaNormanMy favourite animated kids film since the first 'Ice Age', this technical wonder also appealed to my abiding morbid fascination.
  6. NoA Chilean history lesson bravely shot on retro U-matic, this was hard politics made palatable - exactly what the film is about.
  7. Your Sister's SisterThis rom-com just tickled my fancy with three lovable leads and a natural script that doesn't navel gaze.
  8. KlownI've been shamed for liking this taboo-breaking Danish comedy, but I can't apologize for laughing from beginning to end.
  9. Free SamplesA tiny, talky movie that makes 20-something cynicism seem totally fresh.
  10. ComplianceI got more hate mail for recommending this, but I've always enjoyed films that find dignity in that which is bad taste.

Coulda been contenders: This is 40, Tiny Furniture, Life of Pi, God Bless America, West of Memphis, Queen of Versailles, The Arbor, The Sessions, Zero Dark Thirty, John Dies at the End, Lore, The Place Beyond the Pines, Sinister, Best catalogue: Le Bonheur (1964)


The Master
  1. The MasterThere's only one word befitting a film as rich in subtext, performance, image and sound as Paul Thomas Anderson's latest and greatest: masterpiece.
  2. The ArborA sad and ingenious staging of playwright Andrew Dunbar's sobering legacy, in which performance and testimony fuse to confront the ugliest of truths.
  3. Beyond the HillsTakes us beyond the gut wrenching 4 MONTHS, 3 WEEKS AND 2 DAYS and into an impossible (but true) predicament intensified by grim faces, clairvoyant camera work and a stunning final image.
  4. Holy MotorsLeos Carax explores the possibilities and perils of cinema as only he can: through Denis Lavant, talking limousines and accordions in concert.
  5. Las AcaciasI can't put my finger on what makes this quotidian drama of a long haul truckie so indelible, except to say that it has that something special.
  6. I WishAnother effortless blend of heartache and levity from Hirokazu Kore-eda, here paying homage to the magic of trains and childlike wonderment.
  7. Wolf ChildrenAn exquisitely 'human' anime poised between cuteness, Ghibli-esque bucolia, and an emotional maturity that belies its romantic fantasy.
  8. MudJeff Nichols complements TAKE SHELTER with a terrific 'boys will be boys' adventure set on the banks of the Mississippi.
  9. The ConjuringHorror savant James Wan directs the hell out of this haunted house blockbuster, the best genre film of the year.
  10. Hara-Kiri: Death of a SamuraiThis elegant, satisfying bleak revenge jidaigeki is yet further proof that Takashi Miike can make any movie he puts his mind to.

Second helpings: Barbara, Berberian Sound Studio, Children Who Chase Lost Voices, Cosmopolis, Drug War, Hail, The Loneliest Planet, Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present, The Mill and the Cross, ParaNorman, Sightseers, Tabu, Zero Dark Thirty>…


The Arbor
  1. The ArborUnique experimental documentary featuring multi-layered ruminations of the nature of it's own artistry.
  2. DreddImmensely satisfying and amusing adaptation of the classic British comic.
  3. Beyond the HillsUnforgettable long-form story-telling featuring all the big themes.
  4. LawlessAn evocative and thoroughly brutal portrait of a dark era in American culture.
  5. Holy MotorsCrazed carnival of expression reaches perfection with the re-pairing of Denis Lavant and dir. Leos Carax.
  6. Marina Abramovic: The Artist is PresentAn easy indulgence for all "people watchers"!
  7. Berberian Sound StudioDeliciously suspenseful homage to classic horrors that, like BLOW OUT, will appeal hugely to sound recordists.
  8. TabuEnjoyed for it's exquisitely relaxing and dream-like mood - details of the plot are long forgotten.
  9. Love StoryDon't bother with the tedious "How to Meet Girls From a Distance" - this is where it's at!
  10. A Field in EnglandCompletely bonkers...

Runner Ups: The Loneliest Planet, Fringe - Season 5, Black Mirror, Best catalogue: Off The Charts - The Song Poem Story, Heavy Metal Parking Lot, Green Porno.


Beasts of the Southern Wild
  1. Beasts of the Southern WildA grim fairytale for the recession age it's wildly enjoyable and crackles with a raucous, creative energy. Wholly unlike anything i've seen before.
  2. BarbaraOn every level an exceptionally well crafted film, deeply romantic in the midst of an atmosphere heavy with paranoia and dread. Nina Hoss astounds.
  3. Holy MotorsOne of the strangest and most jaw-droppingly inspired things I've seen. If only dreams were this good...
  4. The MasterNot simply a 'Scientology' story, Anderson has woven a brilliant riddle from disparate strands, it's dream-like visuals, opaque narrative and electric performances cast a wonderfully unsettling spell.
  5. Wuthering HeightsThere is such savage and elemental beauty in this rough adaptation it might have been unearthed from the damp Yorkshire ground.
  6. MudJeff Nichols again proves himself an immensely skilled storyteller with this coming-of-ager where two boys befriend a fugitive raconteur far down a Southern river. Simmers with a sad, humid beauty.
  7. LoreExquisitely impressionstic and deeply disconcerting right to it's bitter conclusion.
  8. West of MemphisDetailed with blood-boiling but admirable clarity the catastrophic miscarriage of justice enacted upon the West Memphis Three.
  9. Gregory Crewdson - Brief EncounterSurprisingly delightful insight into the process of this modest, low-key man who creates stunningly dark images of unease.
  10. Beyond the HillsHypnotic, agonising immersion into a Romanian Orthodox convent. Unfolded with stark naturalism and a non-judgmental distance that makes it troublingly clear how all are in someway culpable.

Bubbling Under: Samsara, The Imposter, Berberian Sound Studio, Lawless, Before Midnight, Sightseers, Ai Wei Wei - Never Sorry, Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present, Electrick Children, Skylab, Bernie, Green Porno, Black Mirror (TV Series).


  1. TabuComic romantic fable with a complex longing for colonial life.
  2. Beaches of AgnesIdiosyncratic summation of a wonderful life in film.
  3. The Turin HorseBela Tarr and Kraznorhorkai reunite for another look into the abyss.
  4. The MasterA mind-boggling portrait of post-war lives in flux.
  5. The ArborBravura document of a gone-too-soon talent.
  6. Berberian Sound StudioFinely rendered exercise in alienation.
  7. Las AcaciasA gentle road movie that slowly works its magic.
  8. NoSharp political drama laced with mordant humour.
  9. Justified Season 3The wittiest dialogue around delivered with excellence.
  10. MudFlavorful southern drama that recalls Huck Finn. Bonus points for using Joe Don Baker.


  1. LooperRestored my faith in time-travel thrillers. Excellent.
  2. Silver Linings PlaybookMoving, emotional performance from Bradley Cooper.
  3. Killing Them SoftlyWell-told tale of small-time thugs and junkies.
  4. Cloud AtlasEpic and unusual, this year's 'John Carter'.
  5. Zero Dark ThirtyAs close to the truth as you'll probably ever get.
  6. John Dies at the End'The Matrix' meets 'Naked Lunch' and has a crazy party.
  7. Get the GringoMel makes action comedy set in a Mexican prison - 80's old school fun.
  8. End of WatchVisceral, documentary-style buddy cop thriller.
  9. Warm BodiesEnjoyable zombie romance mashup.
  10. The Way Way BackHeartfelt coming of age story, thoroughly enjoyable.

Also running: I Give it a Year, The Paperboy, Safety Not Guaranteed, Two Guns, Argo, Mud, Dredd... Best revival: Heavy Metal Parking Lot.