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Top 13 Movies from 2013


Editor’s note: This week, Monte Yazzie picks his top 13 favorite movies from 2013, giving readers a to-watch lineup for the new year. See which films catch your interest.
1. 12 Years A Slave (Director: Steve McQueen)
Steve McQueen unflinchingly portrays the atrocities of slavery amidst a narrative where happiness is an artificial emotion.
It’s an affecting film that is thoughtfully photographed with purposeful framing and lingering scenery. The story is engrossing, and the fantastic performances only assist it further.
McQueen has made an important film that depicts slavery in a way other films haven’t—a feat made all the more impressive by the film artistry used in creating this stunning and demanding work.
2. Gravity (Director: Alfonso Cuarón)
Amidst the beautifully composed backgrounds and spectacular sequences, director Alfonso Cuarón constructs a story of survival and redemption.
Cuarón devises to explore space in an artful way, with all its imperfections and impossibilities. There is a visual beauty in nearly every scene, and the simplistic, though multifaceted, undertones of the narrative mark “Gravity” as an achievement in filmmaking.
3. Before Midnight (Director: Richard Linklater)
Director Richard Linklater creates a delicate and somewhat damaged aspect to the relationship of his long journeyed couple.
While watching characters and their motivations unfold, the lack of narrative keeps viewers in a captivating, backseat perspective through the couple’s three film lifespan.
4. Her (Director: Spike Jonze)
An awkward, though touching, story of a man who falls in love with a computer named Samantha. Though the catch in this technology themed film is the representation of love and how it affects the lead character through every facet of his life.
While the film offers commentary on the technologically shaped future and the implications on human behavior, the underlying motivation exists in the complexities of love and life.
5. The Act of Killing (Director: Joshua Oppenheimer)
An oddly compelling documentary about the genocide in South East Asia in the 1960s, “The Act of Killing” allows an unconventional approach to displaying the horrific actions of the past.
By placing a camera in the blood stained hands of the executioners and allowing them to recreate their evils in the vein of a Hollywood production, the insight is both startling and unpredicted.
6. Inside Llewyn Davis (Director: Joel and Ethan Coen)
This was a film about folk music, the need for success and the regret that comes with ambition. The Coen brothers continue to fascinate with this compelling and comedic story that is only accommodated by the amusingly complex character of Llewyn Davis.
7. Upstream Color (Director: Shane Carruth)
Some films need to be watched twice, and “Upstream Color” may be one that requires even more unraveling.
Complex and undefined in its resolution, the mostly wordless film is structured on the idea of suggestion. It’s an engrossing and thought-provoking work of independent film.
8. Frances Ha (Director: Noah Baumbach)
Greta Gerwig gives a charming performance in a film that is candid in its indulgence of twenty-something sensibilities.
The roaming narrative, shot in contrasted black and white, is an ingenious snapshot of Frances’s life, friendships and interaction within a city that feels too small for her personality. 
9. Stories We Tell (Director: Sarah Polley)
Through a combination of old photographs, video inserts and strikingly authentic interviews, Sarah Polley carefully unravels the complex story of her beloved mother.
While the story formulates around her childhood, it has an immediate influence on the current state of her life. The documentary examines how we observe the past and how it affects the personal present.
10. Short Term 12 (Director: Destin Cretton)
Looking into the lives of children harmed by mistreatment with unwavering attention, this film has the unique quality of being uplifting even when it’s upsetting.
“Short Term 12” develops into an emotional film that dodges the over sensationalized aspects of similar dramas for a focused and genuine outlook.
11. Nebraska (Director: Alexander Payne)
A thoroughly pleasing “trip-down-memory-lane” film driven by wonderfully crafted characters. Additionally, the interesting story that Payne paints in the background about a small town similar to those in the Midwest depicts the struggle that still exists there.
12. Blue Jasmine (Director: Woody Allen)
Woody Allen has been making great films longer than most featured on this list.
With “Blue Jasmine,” Allen creates a character that is not only deeply sincere, but also damaged and lost. Jasmine’s demise is darkly comedic with turns that are purely dramatic. The journey may be difficult to watch, but it’s the kind of disaster you can’t help but stare at.
13. The World's End (Director: Edgar Wright)
An entertaining and funny adult comedy with a science fiction twist, director Edgar Wright combines the crudeness of a group of old friends with character defining dramatic content. For a sendoff in a trilogy of films directed by Wright, the end proves best of all.
Honorable Mention
Other films from 2013 that deserve honorable mention include:

  • “American Hustle” 
  • “The Butler”
  • “Computer Chess”
  • “Dallas Buyers Club”
  • “Drug War”
  • “The Great Beauty”
  • “Hunger Games: Catching Fire”
  • “Leviathan”
  • “Museum Hours”
  • “Pieta”
  • “Prisoners”
  • “Room 237”
  • “Stoker”
  • “Wolf of Wall Street”