With the end of the year comes the best thing about the end of the year: critics’ lists. Without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, The Badger Herald’s choices for the best films of 2013.
ArtsEtc. Editor Erik Sateren picks:
If Terrence Malick were told to direct a MTV spring break special, “Spring Breakers” is what he would create. What on the surface appears to be a sleazy, teen exploitation fare turned out to be a searing meditation on identity, gender and race— and how these things influence the behavior of emotionally unstable young adults.
Directed by the polarizing Harmony Korine, “Spring Breakers” is one of the finest films of the decade, and it’s also one of the most beautiful. Each frame is painted in a fluorescent, multi-colored glow. These shots meld together into, essentially, a 93-minute montage — one part rap music video, one part Stan Brakhage film. This is experimental filmmaking in the most mainstream of environments.
“Spring Breakers” is a much more mature and philosophical film than the general public gives it credit for. Like the Skrillex jams and gunshots that make up the backbone of its soundtrack, the film is nothing short of exhilarating. SPRANG BREAAAAK, FOREVER.
2.) “The Place Beyond the Pines”
3.) “Frances Ha”
Editor-in-Chief Katherine Krueger picks:
“Blue is the Warmest Color”
It’s rare to find a film that deals with sexuality in such a deft and nuanced way as the surprising and bittersweet “Blue is the Warmest Color,” which captivated audiences and won the coveted Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival.
As much a coming of age tale as a social commentary, the film captures the vulnerability of losing yourself to that first, all-encompassing love — and the way you are transformed as that love blossoms.
Beautifully constructed, the film ebbs and flows as naïve Adele is transformed from a young girl consuming everything ravenously, as much as she can get at a time, to a woman consumed by her desires and wavering commitments.
And yes, the film is sexually charged. Slapped with an NC-17 rating for a seven-minute-long sex scene between the two young lesbian lovers, the film has been surrounded by controversy, particularly stateside. But electrifying performances from the two female leads, coupled with the raw emotional appeal of the story, lays even the most hardened viewer bare by its close.
2.) “Frances Ha”
3.) “Spring Breakers”
Managing Editor Katie Caron picks:
In “Frances Ha,” we watch star Greta Gerwig’s oddball Frances struggling to make it in New York as an aspiring dancer five years removed from college. She’s painfully awkward, earnest and free-spirited, bumbling through life as a purpose-seeking 27-year-old with no real job, no apartment and only one best friend.
It’s the movie’s focus on Frances’ quirky bond with BFF Sophie that drives the plot along as Frances stagnates while Sophie finds success in her career and with love. Shot in black and white, the film feels and looks a whole lot like Woody Allen’s “Manhattan,” and is a clear nod to Godard with a sizeable dash of mumblecore tossed in.
“Frances Ha” finds a charming realism in its smaller moments. It’s refreshing to see a young woman’s journey that isn’t focused on romance or any “quest for love.” The only love story is that of Frances and Sophie, and it’s one that feels real in all of its angsty ups and downs.
2.) “Spring Breakers”
3.) “The Bling Ring”
News Editor Tara Golshan picks:
“In the House”
A young, talented high school boy coming of age meets a woefully self-absorbed literature professor living through the creativity of his pupil. A middle-class family, with a son struggling in school, a father in a job he hates and a mother who wishes to be anything but the housewife she is. These things make up “In the House.”
“In the House” is a story of regret, of desire and of imagination. It dances the line between ambition and obsession, maturity in the young and immaturity in the old, the eerie intrigue of voyeurism and the consequences of naïve actions.
This French film from director François Ozon — featuring English-French actress Kristin Scott Thomas and French actors Ernst Umhauer and Fabrice Luchini — is the perfect marriage of dark humor, introspection, retrospection and the Peeping Tom.
It’s the happy-sad ending that leaves you both satisfied and wanting to know what happens. It’s French, but in the perfect way.
2.) “Frances Ha”
3.) “What Maisie Knew”