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New Orleans Film Society

NOFS Staffers Choose Top Films of 2013

Sunday 1/5/2014

New Orleans Film Society staff members chose their top ten films of 2013, listed below.

Jolene Pinder, Executive Director

Top ten films, in no particular order:

Inside Llewyn Davis
Stories We Tell
Let the Fire Burn
The Retrieval
Dans la maison (In the House)
12 Years a Slave
Cutie and the Boxer
Frances Ha
Mud
Upstream Color

Clint Bowie, Program Director

Laurence Anyways: Like Xavier Dolan’s other films, this one has style to spare. But even without the music, colors, and exquisite costuming (those rayon shirts!), the heartbreaking story of two soul mates splitting up was one of the most powerful stories I experienced all year. I was lucky to see it on the big screen as closing night of this year’s French Film Festival.

Upstream Color: Such an expertly crafted film, original and wholly engulfing from beginning to end. Saw this at a packed screening at Chalmette Movies.

Stories We Tell: The second Canadian director on my list, Sarah Polley is definitely one of the most exciting filmmakers working today. I saw this during the NOFS’s limited run of the film at Chalmette Movies and talked about it with a carload of friends the entire drive home.

Paradise: Love (Paradies: Liebe): Austrian director Ulrich Seidl’s seems to love making his viewer uncomfortable. His film Dog Days was something of a revelation for me, and this one (part of a three-part trilogy) didn’t disappoint: beautiful, impeccably acted, and deeply, deeply disturbing.

In the House (Dans la mason): A favorite at this year’s French film fest, this inventive film from Francois Ozon is like a mash-up of Pasolini’s Salo and Kaufman’s Synecdoche, New York—and it couldn’t be more fun. The teen lead is one of the most compelling-to-watch on-screen presences I’ve seen this year.

12 O’Clock Boys: There were moments during this gritty, Baltimore-based doc that felt like pure operatic bliss. Pug is compelling enough to warrant his own TV show.

Beyond the Hills: This is confident filmmaking. I wish more filmmakers were as assured in their own storytelling style.

Fill the Void (Lemale et ha’halal): An incredibly intimate exploration of family life and tradition in what was, for me, an incredibly foreign setting. The camerawork in the opening grocery store sequence is a strikingly bold beginning for the 46-year-old, first-time director Rama Burshtein.

Frances Ha: Such a delight to watch, I could watch Frances run through New York streets all day.

Spring Breakers: I didn’t expect to like this movie, but it won me over immediately. Loved the dreamy camera, the casting, the Britney covers—and, surprisingly, the story. There was no lack of depth in this film for me. (I’ll confess that I passed on the one in the theaters and instead watched it online recently. That was a mistake.)

John Desplas, Artistic Director

A Dozen Favorites of 2013 (in not-quite-random order):

Inside Llewyn Davis
12 Years a Slave
Amour*
Nebraska
In the Room (Dans la maison)
Stories We Tell
Gravity
Spring Breakers
Blue Jasmine
Wadjda
American Hustle
Prince Avalanche (don’t ask)

  • *Yeah, I know, this was on every critic’s list for 2012, but the film didn’t release wide release outside New York and L.A. till early 2013.
  • * * Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa, but somehow I didn’t see the best reviewed film of 2013, the documentary The Act of Killing which is not-quite-yet available to download or stream at this writing.

Danielle Calle, Communications Manager & Programming Associate

While I missed out on too many of last year’s ‘big’ films (Stories We Tell, Blue is the Warmest Color, Gravity, to name a few) below are a few of the films that stood out for me:

Cutie and the Boxer
Spring Breakers
Crystal Fairy and the Magical Cactus
Frances Ha
I’m So Excited!
American Hustle

Monika Baudoin, Membership Coordinator

Some movies that stood out to me this year:

Fill the Void (Lemale et ha’halal) (Israel)
Jiseul (South Korea)
Searching for Sugarman (Sweden / UK)
Stories We Tell (Canada)
Stoker (UK / USA)

Sergio Lobo-Navia, Technical Associate

Doing a top ten this year is borderline absurd. This has been the best year for movies since 2007. Notable omissions because I just haven’t seen them are Her and The Act of Killing. Exclusive NOFS presentations were Leviathan, To the Wonder, Laurence Anyways, Like Someone in Love, Beyond the Hills, Water like Stone, Computer Chess, Upstream Color, and Northern Light.

1. Leviathan
2. To The Wonder
3. Fruitvale Station
4. Spring Breakers
5. Frances Ha
6. Gravity
7. Before Midnight
8. Laurence Anyways
9. Blue is the Warmest Color
10. The Wolf of Wall Street
11. Drug War
12. The Grandmaster
13. Like Someone in Love
14. Beyond the Hills
15. Side Effects
16. Water Like Stone
17. Stoker
18. Pacific Rim
19. Computer Chess
20. Mud

The Very Honorable Mentions: Upstream Color, Pain and Gain, The Lone Ranger, 12 Years A Slave, Blue Jasmine, The Counselor, Nebraska, Inside Llywen Davis, American Hustle, and Northern Light.

Skye Macdonald, Festival Coordinator

There were many films that I enjoyed this year for their visual appeal or storyline, but these five brought together the technical aspects and creative vision of film in the most complete way for me. Admittedly, I did not see all of this year’s critically acclaimed features.

Stories We Tell
Sombras de Azul (Shades of Blue)
Blue Jasmine
Upstream Color
Dans la Maison (In the House)

Honorable mentions: Finding Neighbors, 12 Years a Slave