Best movies of the year (2013)

It’s never easy to make these “best of” lists, and with this list it’s even harder. Because we live in Norway, some movies don’t come out here until next year, and they will of course not be on our list. So I wanted to make it clear that movies like The Wolf of Wall Street, 12 Years a Slave, American Hustle, Her, Nymphomaniac and many more couldn’t make it for me.

Before I begin with my list, I want to talk quick about a few honorable mentions that didn’t make the list for one reason or another. First, Holy Motors. This is a movie I got to see in 2012, but didn’t put on my list then because it was said to get a Norwegian release this year. It never did, so now I’m not sure whether it qualifies or not, but to be fair to last years list, it doesn’t. But, it is up there, and could easily by at number three or two. I also want to mention Spring Breakers, Mud, Simon Killer, Don Jon, The Bling Ring, Le Passé, In Bloom, Rust and Bone, Django Unchained, Only God Forgives, Pacific Rim, The Conjuring, The Congress, This is the End, Jeg er din, Stoker, and The Wind Rises. I wanted to put all of these, and a few more, on my list, but it just couldn’t fit.

The Counselor

10. The Counselor

Loved by some, hated by more. This is the latest movie from Ridley Scott, and it has gained a lot of attention since it released earlier this year. It got slaughtered, and many people called it Scotts worst movie to date. For me, it’s one of his best. I can understand why people don’t like it, as the direction and Cormac McCarthy’s script really doesn’t do very much in terms of a true narrative.

But the way the actors and actresses gave life to the characters and the extravagant dialogue hit home with me. The way McCarthy writes dialogue, reminds me to some extent of the way Aaron Sorkin does it. They don’t share any striking similarities, but both of them write it in ways no one would talk in real life. It was good to see Scott do something different after last years Prometheus, but it’s McCarthy, Michael Fassbender and Javier Bardem who steal the show here.

Drinking Buddies

09. Drinking Buddies

I went to see Drinking Buddies without knowing too much about it. It never got an official screening in Norway, but I got to see it at a film festival late in October. Coming straight from La Passé to this may have something to do with it, but I really fell for everything with this movie.

It had charm, characters that were relatable and interesting, and best of all it didn’t fall over with clichés that so many movies in this genre does. It felt good to see a movie about love and relationships, where the ending wasn’t ripped from every movie ever.

Gravity

08. Gravity

I saw Gravity twice in the theaters this year, and both times it took the sound and breath from the audience. Never before have I’ve seen or heard such silence and awe from the audience, and it happened both times I saw it. Just because of this Gravity deserves to be on this list, but it also did something new and unseen. It is full of suspense, and the long shots were Sandra Bullock and George Clooney float around in space is jaw dropping to witness.

Alfonso Cuarón was the first to introduce real quality to the Harry Potter universe, with Harry Potter and the Prisoner from Azkaban, and a few years later he did one of the best movies of all time, Children of Men. He is a true auteur, and his long shots and panoramas through glass/windows make for a real treat. In Gravity there are also a few nods to Children of Men, with a lot of iconic images where Sandra Bullock gets in to a fetal position with the light of the sun reflecting like a womb. They hold on to wires like umbilical cords, and towards the end the images are taken straight from the theories of evolution. It’s beautiful.

The Kings of Summer

07. The Kings of Summer

When I sat down to watch this movie on demand, we lost power in our entire city. It was a snowstorm, it was dark and cold outside, and it was my one-day of from work in a long time. So, I hooked it up to my iPhones 3G connection, and watched it. It really took the breath out of me. It’s a simple movie, yes, but as with The Perks of Being a Wallflower last year, it just spoke to me.

I could relate to the young characters, but the thing that spoke to me the most, was the adventures nature of the entire movie. It was fun, and it knew what it was. The one scene, which is also used as a trailer, where the boys find a pipeline in the woods and play music on it, is beautiful and goes to show just how heartwarming some relationships can be, without using any tropes we’ve seen time and time again.

Upstream Color

06. Upstream Color

Shane Carruths first movie, Primer, was a shocking debut. It is slow paced, complex and in many ways too smart for it’s own good. With Upstream Color he is back, seven years later, to do it again. The trailers and promotion for Upstream Color didn’t give anything away, but even if it did, this movie would have been exceptional. It tells you a story it’s hard to wrap your head around, even after seeing it twice times in theaters, and many more on Blu-ray. It looks stunning, and the sound design makes for a hypnotic movie. The fact that Shane Carruth himself, or with help of his family did almost everything in this movie, from playing the main character to directing, writing the script, filming and much more is reason enough why it deserves a spot on this list.

Lasting

05. Lasting

It’s not very often we get to see Polish movies in Norway, but when Lasting had it’s screening at a film festival I took it without a second of a doubt. This movie is also about relationships, but in a much darker – and maybe more realistic – way than The Kings of Summer and Drinking Buddies. We meet a couple in Spain. Both with blond hair, and an idealistic attitude toward eachother. But something happens with the young boy, and he has trouble living with this secret.

When they return to Poland, the sunny backdrop disappears and with it, the fun and charming feel of the movie. It’s difficult to watch, and it really is worth a watch just to see how relationships can hang in a thin line. The main actors both do a great job, and I even got to have little chat with Magdalena Berus after the credits, and she had a lot of interesting things to say about it. Trust me, this movie will stay with you long after you leave the theater.

The Master

04. The Master

When Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest movie released around the world in 2012, I hated the fact that I would have to wait about six months to see it at the cinema. But it was without a doubt worth the wait.

The story goes in so many directions, and you can read it however you want. My view count is double digits (we don’t have to say more than that), and every time I’ve found something new to like about it. Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix play their characters like no other could manage, and I really buy into them. No matter how caricature they really are. The Scientology discussion around this movie makes for an interesting way to watch it, but you can enjoy it just the same without ever thinking about that. Paul Thomas Anderson has outdone himself (to some extent) and this might be my favorite from this genius director.

Prisoners

03. Prisoners

As I think has come across earlier in this post, I re-watch a lot of movies. With Prisoners I’ve only seen it twice, and the reason I went back before I made this list was to see where it would land on my list. It was battling to get a second place, and even tough it didn’t win that battle, I still love this movie.

It’s difficult to really love a movie like this, as it’s heavy and dark beyond any other on this list, both thematically and visually. Roger Deakins photographer work takes it down into the morbid pit with the characters, and the plot in and off it self his hard to swallow. I saw the first half of the trailer when it first released, and am glad I did. Not knowing too much about the story made the experience much more rewarding, and the second time I took a group of friends who hadn’t heard much about it, and I told them to not watch or read anything about it. I hope it worked as well for them as for me.

The Place Beyond the Pines

02. The Place Beyond the Pines

This is the movie Prisoners couldn’t match, however close it was. It just took everything to the next level, and made it clear that Blue Valentine director, Derek Cianfrance, is back better than ever. The structure of this movie, and how it slides effortlessly from act to act, goes to show us one of the best directors living today. The way it shocked during some of these transitions also made for some of the most memorable scenes I’ve seen in a long time. This is a movie you don’t want to know anything about before going to see it, and just be prepared for anything.

Blue is the Warmest Color

01. Blue is the warmest color

There really wasn’t any question which movie would get my number one spot. When I first got out of the theater after seeing this movie I was in awe. I didn’t really know what to make of it, and I definitely didn’t know what to say about it. It invites you to follow the life of Adèle, and we get to see her learning about who she is, what she wants in life and as said so many times, her sexuality. It has to be said though. There is no other movie out there that deals with sex in this way. Sure, it’s explicit and in some ways erotic, but it’s also a close and hard look at sex in relationships. Who these girls are, and how they act.

I hope as many people as possible get to see this, and don’t judge it just because the actresses had a fallout with the director. Adèle Exarchopoulos took the breath right out of me, and I can without lying say that this is the best work I’ve ever seen from a female actor. Léa Saydoux also deserves a mention, but it is Adèle who steals the show. I have no idea where she takes here emotions from, but she brings them to life in a way I’ve never seen before and just thinking about some of the scenes is hard. Some movies stay with you for a long time, and some disappear before you’ve left the room. But Blue is the warmest color is one of those few movies that actually changed my life in one way or another, and made me reflect on where I am as a person. It really is a piece of art, and I really don’t like to say this (and almost never do), but here it simply just fits.

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Per Morten Mjolkeraaen

Uses words from time to time. Equally inspired and confused by metamodernism.

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