Saturday, December 28, 2013


Top Ten Films in 2013

It's the time of the year again. I see a trend that instead of top ten, people start to compose top 10, 15, 20, 25, or whatever number films of 2013. However, I am going to stick with ten for another year, for no reason.

During the entire calendar year of 2013, I watched 338 feature films. Again, my top ten films are selected from the films I saw during the calendar year of 2013, not based on when they are released in the theaters. That is how I define "a film in 2013" for me. Allow me to explain the reason behind this: we are living in a small and more complicated world now. If I fly to Beijing or Europe and see a film that has not opened in San Francisco or New York City, does this film belong to 2012, or 2013, or 2013? Why should a film's year be based on a US release date?

Here are the top ten best feature films I saw in 2013.

  1. Before Midnight (USA 2012 | 108 min. | My review)

    Eighteen years later since we first met the two protagonists, these two arresting characters become more mature physically, but they are also more charming, charismatic, intellectual, cultured, and illuminating.

    Before Midnight official site

  2. Like Father, Like Son (そして父になる | Japan 2013 | in Japanese | 120 min. | My Review)

    In his latest film, renowned Japanese writer/director Hirokazu Koreeda (是枝 裕和) once again works his magic and tells a deeply touching story that explores the true meaning of a family bond.

    Like Father, Like Son Official Site

  3. All Is Lost (USA 2013 | 107 min. | My capsule))

    Writer/director J. C. Chandor brilliantly creates a thriller with lyrical visual, few words (if any at all), and a tour-de-force performance by Robert Redford.

    All Is Lost Official Site

  4. Gravity (USA 2013 | 90 min.)

    A singular 3D movie going experience with breathtaking visual.

    Gravity Official Site

  5. 12 Years a Slave (USA 2013 | 134 min. | My review)

    The film makes you feel the excruciating pain as if those lashes are landing on your back; it evokes profound rage toward slavery; it captures slaves' humanity and spirit, as well as their horrific suffering. Director Steve McQueen's "12 Years a Slave" remarkably puts American's racial tension into a historical perspective and it should be included in every American school's curriculum.

    12 Years a Slave Official Site

  6. Stories We Tell (Canada 2012 | 108 min. | Documentary | My capsule)

    What a touching, engrossing, fascinating, intriguing, and amusing family story they tell in this film!

    Stories We Tell official site

  7. Frances Ha (USA 2012 | 86 min. | My capsule)

    It's impossible not to be enchanted by the film's colorful characters, witty one-liners, and the fantastic Greta Gerwig.

    Frances Ha official site

  8. Amour (Austria/France/Germany 2012 | in French | 127 min. | My review)

    This slow paced, impeccably precise, beautifully tender, and fascinatingly arresting Oscar-winning film tells a poignant story.

    Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva in AMOUR

  9. When the Bough Breaks (危巢 | China 2011 | in Chinese | 147 min. | Documentary | My review)

    Despite the glamorous outlook of the booming economy in China, millions migrant workers struggle to survive, while clinging on their hope for a better future. In a fly-on-the-wall style, Chinese director Ji Dan's (季丹) extraordinary documentary "When the Bough Breaks" tells a poignant story of such a family living in a slum in the outskirts of Beijing.

    When The Bough Breaks

  10. August: Osage County (USA 2013 | 121 min. | My review)

    Based on writer Tracy Letts's award-winning play, fantastically played by an ensemble cast including Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, and Margo Martindale, August: Osage County dramatically and hilariously unfolds a carnage during a dysfunctional family's gathering in the deep South.

    August Osage County Official Site

Until next year...

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