Mr. Reed’s Metaphysical Neighborhood Presents the Best and Worst Films of 2013

Best of 2013 Collage

A brief word of explanation about the title of this post. When I was a Russian and French teacher, and director of the Russian Exchange Program, at Choate Rosemary Hall, from 1993-1996, I started running a weekend film series, to which I playfully gave the name “Mr. Reed’s Metaphysical Neighborhood.” All of the teachers went by Mr., Mrs., Ms., Miss, etc., and I thought it would be cute to reference one of my favorite TV shows growing up, “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.” I also hoped that the films I screened might provoke some kind of significant discussion about art, life, and other weighty topics (hey, I was in my 20s . . .), hence the “metaphysical” part of the title. And, actually, we did have – as I remember them – some pretty decent conversations after the screenings. Looking over my files from the time, I see that the films included, in no particular order: Taxi BluesTime of the GypsiesEuropa, EuropaThe Double Life of VéroniqueToto le hérosWomen on the Verge of a Nervous BreakdownNight on EarthDivaDelicatessenTokyo Story; and even On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (one of my favorite Bonds). It was an interesting variety of movies, as you can see, and I hope that at least some of them helped to create an awareness of film art in my then-young charges (who are all now well into their 30s . . .). So, in honor of my youthful film-programming passion, I have kept the name “Mr. Reed’s Metaphysical Neighborhood” all these years for my (ever-growing) list of favorite films, and I apply it here to my “best of” (and “worst of”) list for 2013. 

If a film that you consider great is not on my list, it may be that I have not seen it yet, although that really only applies to the Academy’s Foreign Film and Documentary categories, as I have seen virtually all of the major contenders in the other categories (which doesn’t mean that I consider them “best of” material). In any case, I have not considered country of origin or genre in choosing my top 10 (and 10 runners-up), but merely the quality of the film (as I see it). Some of the choices will not surprise you, but some might, as will some of my omissions. In my “Pleasant Surprises” section, I have listed films that, while not necessarily “best of” material, were ones that I liked a lot, and which caught me off-guard, since I was expecting very little when I sat down to watch them. In my “Biggest Disappoinment” section, the 5 films listed are ones for which I had high hopes, perhaps because of their trailer, or because of previous work by that director, or perhaps because I was just stupid. I do not list “Best Director” or “Best Screenplay,” because I feel that if I think is a film is well made, then the credit goes to the director and the writer(s). I have never understood how one could separate those categories. One last thing – if I have reviewed the film, then the title’s hyperlink will take you to my review. If I haven’t, then the hyperlink will take you to another critic’s review that I liked. Enjoy my list, and feel free to leave comments after you look it over! Read all the way to the bottom, as I have included my choices for actresses and actors, as well.

For all lists, the order is not random, but the differences between #1 and #10 may not be that significant (to me).

Best Films – Top 10:

  1. Twelve Years a Slave (Steve McQueen)
  2. Before Midnight (Richard Linklater)
  3. Blackfish (Gabriela Cowperthwaite)
  4. Twenty Feet from Stardom (Morgan Neville)
  5. Fruitvale Station (Ryan Coogler)
  6. Her (Spike Jonze) – I’ll post my review on Jan. 10, when it opens in Baltimore
  7. American Hustle (David O. Russell)
  8. Enough Said (Nicole Holofcener)
  9. Stories We Tell (Sarah Polley)
  10. Kill Your Darlings (John Krokidas)

Runners-Up:

  1. Nebraska (Alexander Payne)
  2. Hannah Arendt (Margarethe von Trotta)
  3. All Is Lost (J.C. Chandor)
  4. Philomena (Stephen Frears)
  5. Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom (Justin Chadwick)
  6. Spring Breakers (Harmony Korine)
  7. Dallas Buyers Club (Jean-Marc Vallée)
  8. Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey (Ramona Diaz)
  9. The Armstrong Lie (Alex Gibney)
  10. Fill the Void (Rama Burshtein)

Pleasant Surprises (couldn’t help myself – there are 11 here):

  1. The Broken Circle Breakdown (Felix Van Groeningen)
  2. World War Z (Marc Forster)
  3. Mud (Jeff Nichols)
  4. Rush (Ron Howard)
  5. Stoker (Chan-wook Park)
  6. Frozen (Chris Buck/Jennifer Lee)
  7. Monsters University (Dan Scanlon)
  8. Warm Bodies (Jonathan Levine)
  9. 42 (Brian Helgeland)
  10. Shadow Dancer (James Marsh)
  11. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (Francis Lawrence)

Biggest Disappointments:

  1. Elysium (Neill Blomkamp)
  2. Frances Ha (Noah Baumbach)
  3. The Grandmaster (Wong Kar Wai)
  4. Man of Steel (Zack Snyder)
  5. Prisoners (Denis Villeneuve)

Worst Movies of the Year (again, couldn’t help myself – there are 11 – I just had to show my contempt for Marty’s latest):

  1. Kick-Ass 2 (Jeff Wadlow)
  2. Pacific Rim (Guillermo Del Toro)
  3. After Earth (M. Night Shyamalan)
  4. Carrie (Kimberly Peirce)
  5. The Counselor (Ridley Scott)
  6. A Good Day to Die Hard (John Moore)
  7. Runner, Runner (Brad Furman)
  8. About Time (Richard Curtis)
  9. Broken City (Allen Hughes)
  10. The Lone Ranger (Gore Verbinski)
  11. The Wolf of Wall Street (Martin Scorsese)

Best Actress (again, there are 11):

  1. Julia Roberts (August: Osage County) – She should be in this category – I don’t care what the Weinsteins have decided! And I’ll post my review on Jan. 10, when it opens in Baltimore.
  2. Veerie Baetens (The Broken Circle Breakdown)
  3. Adèle Exarchopoulos (Blue is the Warmest Color)
  4. Amy Adams (American Hustle)
  5. Barbara Sukowa (Hannah Arendt)
  6. Andrea Riseborough (Shadow Dancer)
  7. Julie Delpy (Before Midnight)
  8. Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Enough Said)
  9. Hadas Yaron (Fill the Void)
  10. Mia Wasikowska (Stoker)
  11. Judi Dench (Philomena)

Best Supporting Actress:

  1. Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave)
  2. June Squibb (Nebraska)
  3. Julianne Nicholson (August: Osage County)
  4. Lea Seydoux (Blue is the Warmest Color)
  5. Naomie Harris (Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom)
  6. Octavia Spencer (Fruitvale Station)
  7. Evangeline Lilly (The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug)
  8. Margo Martindale (August: Osage County)
  9. Oprah Winfrey (Lee Daniels’ The Butler)
  10. Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle)

Best Actor:

  1. Chiwetel Ejiofor (Twelve Years a Slave)
  2. Robert Redford (All Is Lost)
  3. Christian Bale (American Hustle)
  4. Idris Elba (Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom)
  5. Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club)
  6. Michael B. Jordan (Fruitvale Station)
  7. Joaquin Phoenix (Her)
  8. Daniel Radcliffe (Kill Your Darlings)
  9. Oscar Isaac (Inside Llewyn Davis)
  10. Chadwick Boseman (42)

Best Supporting Actor:

  1. Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)
  2. Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave)
  3. Matthew McConaughey (Mud)
  4. Sam Rockwell (The Way Way Back)
  5. James Franco (Spring Breakers)
  6. Bobby Canavale (Blue Jasmine)
  7. Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips)
  8. James Gandolfini (Enough Said)
  9. Harrison Ford (42)
  10. Bradley Cooper (American Hustle)

3 thoughts on “Mr. Reed’s Metaphysical Neighborhood Presents the Best and Worst Films of 2013

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