2013 Top 10- 1. Cloud Atlas (The Wachowskis, Tom Tykwer)

It’s a big ask, but if you successfully manage to get on this movie’s wavelength, it’s nothing short of an epiphany.

2013 Top 10- 2. Frances Ha (Noah Baumbach)

Never this year did I identify so strongly with a character in a movie than I did when Frances took her trip to Paris.  Here was somebody doing what they’re supposed to do in order to “live life fully” or whatever and getting there and doing what she normally does except with more sleep.  I laughed and I cried*, and I suppose you can’t ask any more of a movie.

2010 Top 10- 3. Leviathan (Lucien Castaing-Taylor, Verena Paravel)

Eighty minutes of images I’ve never seen before on a cinema screen.  Complete sensory immersion.  Pure cinema.

2013 Top 10- 4. Vic + Flo Saw A Bear

Denis Côté ingeniously uses classic art house narrative and form to establish the relationship between Vic and Flo, before altering both to violently upend it.  I spent the first half hour of Vic + Flo thinking I was watching the Quebec Wes Anderson, and the rest of it having my foolishly superficial assumptions shoved down my throat.

2013 Top 10- 5. The Counselor (Ridley Scott)

*Spoilers* To watch a Ridley Scott movie is to watch a series of masterfully directed set-pieces, the organisation of which varies wildly in quality and effect.  With The Counselor we get such spectacular set-pieces as Brad Pitt’s slow decapitation on a London street and Cameron Diaz screwing a car, organised within a screenplay that exposes just how dark Cormac McCarthy’s views on humanity run. The end result is absurd, frightening, hilarious- as all the best nihilism is.

2013 Top 10- 6. Stranger By The Lake (Alain Guiraudie)

D.A. Miller once wrote of Alfred Hitchcock’s Rope (and I’m paraphrasing here) that the critical discourse surrounding the film obsessed over its formal qualities (particularly Hitchcock’s one-take conceit) in order to be willfully blind to the homosexuality of its protagonists.  You’d think such a trick would be impossible to pull off now, both because it is 2013 and because Stranger by the Lake features a bunch of naked guys getting it on, very explicitly, in ways Hitchcock could only dream of.  And yet all we seem to be talking about is how interestingly the movie uses space.  Give me a break.

2013 Top 10- 7. The Act of Killing (Joshua Oppenheimer, Anonymous, Christine Cynn)

I’m not going to even begin to attempt discussing this.

2013 Top 10- 8. Blancanieves (Pablo Berger)

How reassuring, in 2013, to be in the presence of filmmakers who know both what they want to achieve  and exactly how to achieve it.  The music is loud, the emotions broad, and it all works perfectly.

2013 Top 10- 9. Spring Breakers (Harmony Korine)

Spring Breakers deserves a spot for the central montage set to Britney Spears’ ‘Everytime’, which is the perfect distillation of contemporary American popular culture.

2013 Top 10- 10. You Aint Seen Nothin’ Yet

It shocked me to discover that a) Alan Resnais is still alive and b) he made a movie that is basically the manifestation of an undergraduate theatre studies exam.