Here at OCD, we like to do things slightly differently, like wait until the end of January to publish our ‘Best of 2013’ list.
So here are the top ten films we saw last year, we cannot recommend every single one enough:
1. Blue is the Warmest Colour (La Vie D'Adele)
Winner of the Palme d'Or, Abdellatif Kechiche’s masterpiece, starring Adele Exarchopoulos & Lea Seydoux, is one of the best films I have seen in my entire life, let alone in the last year. Beautifully shot, mind-blowing and heart-wrenching performances. Simply stunning, a cinematic masterpiece. How storytelling should always be done. Watch out particularly for the bar scene at the beginning (above) and the cafe scene at the end, the most moving and truthful character and relationship development you’ll ever see.
2. Short Term 12
Adapted into a feature by Destin Cretton from his own short film of 2008, Short Term 12 is nuanced, delicate storytelling with a powerful message at its heart. Brie Larson shines as Grace, a supervisor at a residential treatment facility taking care of everyone but herself. The young cast provide brilliant support, particularly Keith Stanfield and Kaitlyn Dever as Marcus and Jayden, the rap sequence and shark story will steal your hearts.
3. 12 Years A Slave
Steve McQueen. Chiwetel Ejiofor. Michael Fassbender. Lupita Nyong'o. A true story so important and so moving, it’s difficult to understand why it isn’t widely known.
4. Side Effects
Very rarely am I tricked when watching a film. Soderbergh managed it here, and I loved every second of it. Mara steals the show as the troubled Emily, with great turns from Law & Zeta-Jones as two of the Doctors who treat her. A carefully crafted plot, allowed to play out beautifully by Soderbergh, in what was - at the time - to be his final film.
Watch it. Then make everyone you know watch it. You won’t believe it until you see it, then you’ll start to question a whole lot of things. Heart-breaking, anger-inducing. FUCK SEAWORLD.
7. In A World…
Winner of 'Best Screenplay’ at Sundance 2013, you’ll understand why only a minutes into the film. Bell manages to take a concept that on paper seems pretty dull, and turns it into a hilarious, moving, and brilliantly human film, where not one word is wasted. Not only the writer and director, Bell captains the film as its lead, one that you fall in love with instantly, and root for against all odds. Peppered with bizarre and brilliant cameos, with a great supporting cast, In A World will leave you grinning from ear to ear, and have you speaking in a trailer voice for weeks.
8. The East
Zal Batmanglij and Brit Marling’s second feature-length collaboration might not have the diamond-in-the-rough charm of 'Sound of My Voice’ but its a film that proves they’re more than a match for - and better than - the big players of Hollywood. A bigger (but still modest) budget allows for a more adventurous story, better cinematography and a cast including some of the best actors currently on the scene - particularly Ellen Page and Toby Kebbell. As with everything Marling, Batmaglij (and fellow collaborator Mike Cahill) seem to touch, you are guaranteed quality story telling told in an unconventional and thought-provoking fashion. It’s difficult to remind ourselves that these talented filmmakers haven’t been around for long. We cannot wait to see what’s next.
9. The Bling Ring
Somewhat overlooked by many, Sofia Coppola’s 'The Bling Ring’ is a very well put together piece of cinema. The story lacks depth, but so do those the story centres on, the shallow, celebrity-obsessed, media-fuelled youth - so in that respect it is a perfect representation of everything Coppola is trying to say. The performances from the five leads are pitch perfect, they are easy to hate and yet we can find ourselves very easily sucked into their world, wanting to see just how far they will get. Based on a shocking true story, the film is beautifully shot, and there are certain facts uncovered that suddenly make the story seem inevitable, in fact, why had this not happened before? Coppola lets the story breathe, which works wonders, she doesn’t need to preach anything, she simply holds up a mirror up to Hollywood, and Hollywood does the rest. It’s not a pretty sight.
10. The Call
The film last year that we found ourselves sitting on the edge of our seats throughout. The film we saw last year that had the most active audience participation. People were gripping their seat arms, shouting out 'No!’ on multiple occasions. If you wipe from your memory the last 60-90 seconds of the film, you have yourselves the perfect example of a thriller.
A mournful sigh. Not solitary, but humble - a gathering of only the closest. A time withdrawn from outside cares, from the immediate peril of death and life, even as it draws from these extremes. The tender, stripped privacy explores both, and leaves but awe.
Our first night camping at Lake Chelan had been quite an adventure. What started out as a peaceful evening by the lake, quickly turned to chaos as a violent storm rolled in, tossing our tent (along with us in it) into another site and soaking everything we’d brought - sleeping bags, clothes, etc. We ended up spending a sleepless night in the car and woke up early the next morning to catch a ferry. We debated whether we should even continue the trip or head home in defeat (after all, we had no dry clothes and nowhere to dry our things out). Instead, we rallied and made it to the ferry in time for a long trip up to the head of the lake. There, in the tiny village of Stehekin, we rented bikes and road around, enjoying an impossibly beautiful sunny day that gave no indication there had been such a monstrous storm the previous night.
That’s right. It’s not “Get Lucky”. I can’t deny how damn good that song is or, come to think of it, every song on Random Access Memories is. “Touch”, “Instant Crush” and “Motherboard” have all been big favourites for me this year, and the album has been far-and-away my favourite of the year.
But when it came to picking just one song from that album (a self-imposed rule for these lists), one thing became clear: There’s “Contact”, and then there’s everything else.
I listen to a lot of music, and I’m lucky that I end up quite liking most of the stuff I hear. But this means that the likelihood of finding something that I have a really strong positive reaction to is almost as rare as a unicorn. And “Contact” is a big, big, fucking unicorn of a song.
I mostly listen to music when I’m walking somewhere, at a leisurely pace. Whenever “Contact” comes on my iPod, it doesn’t matter what speed I’m actually walking at; I feel like I’m running. My heartbeat quickens, my breathing becomes deeper, my footsteps get lighter. And all because this song features the greatest build to a crescendo I have ever heard.
It’d be wrong of me to pinpoint the moments that matter. You’ll know ‘em when you hear 'em.
This song is like a trip into space, and it’s little wonder that people on YouTube have been pairing the music with footage of 2001 (but, mystifyingly, not Contact. I mean, clearly that’s the better reference, right? They have the same title and everything! (See that film)).
This is a song that has one simple trick up its sleeve, and its grand enough for that one manoeuvre to give me goosebumps. This is the musical equivalent of a heavenly tunnel bathed in multicoloured light. You can practically hear the synthesizers that made the music having to catch their breath once the song finishes. I hear this, and think I understand the emotions that people went through when Pink Floyd dropped Dark Side of the Moon back in 1973.
This is prog, done in a way that only Daft Punk (assisted by DJ Falcon and Omar Hakim) could provide us. And it’s the best thing I heard all year.
Bleak, unholy, and black. A wild rampage against order, a raucous shake upwards with a fist at the heavens. Screaming through the night, now unleashed. Deafening shrieks call out, unsated and lusting for more.
My coffee hasn’t kicked in today so I figured I’d wake myself up with a little rage by reminding myself (and y'all) of the inexcusable absence of Diane Birch on any of my end-of-year/best of music lists? Oh. My. Gawd. These songs are…why didn’t anyone tell me? The album’s been out since October 2013. How is this possible? People, I could have died in these last 3 months and not heard this! Shame on me. Shame on you for not telling me.
Choo-choo-choosing a track to highlight as part of this post is kinda torturous (you must check out “Lighthouse”, “UNFKD”, Walk the Rainbow to the End" and “Pretty in Pain” which sounds like a Carly Simon opening song to an Ally Sheedy 80s movie) but I’m going with “Staring at You” because here I am, staring at you, angry that I’ve lost out on 3 months of listening to this. Rude.