The Best Movies of 2013: The Staff Picks


Nathan Adams

Chicago, Illinois

Frances Ha

So many low budget indie dramas are about confused people in their mid-twenties trying to figure out their lives and romances that it seemed like we didn’t ever need anyone to make an indie drama about confused people in their mid-twenties ever again. But then Noah Baumbach teamed up with Greta Gerwig to make Frances Ha, and now it’s pretty clear that we’ll always need these things. Far from being redundant, Frances Ha is just about the most charming, happy-making bit of cinema comfort food that’s come out in a long time. Gerwig is so magnetic as the lead here. I could watch her run-dance for eternity.

Short Term 12

You’d think that a drama about a shelter for troubled and traumatized youths would be melodramatic, and the various subplots that Short Term 12 explores probably could be described as melodrama when you break down their content, but the script that writer/director Destin Cretton penned for the film is so nimble and assured that it somehow never plays as melodrama regardless. Instead it’s a hard-hitting, effective, and somehow also really entertaining piece of small budget cinema. The performance that Brie Larson gives as the lead here has to be seen to be believed.

Like Someone in Love

As you watch Like Someone in Love, Abbas Kiarostami’s eye for photography dazzles your eyeballs while his insight into human nature and our need for connection stabs at your heart. It’s the perfect slight of hand trick, only Kiarostami isn’t stealing your wallet, he’s going for your soul. Tadashi Okuno and Rin Takanashi are both amazing here as a lonely old man and a rudderless young girl who develop an unlikely connection. Like Someone in Love needs to get some sort of home video release in the States so more people can see it ASAP.

Stories We Tell

Director Sarah Polley’s pseudo-documentary look at life of her late mother and the truths surrounding her parentage, Stories We Tell, doesn’t just build an interesting mystery and contain a cast full of wildly entertaining characters, it also manages to be a powerfully interesting dissection of the nature of storytelling and how history alters as we absorb it, change it to suit our needs, and then alter it even further as we recount it to others. Plus, it has the most entertaining mid-credits stinger of the year. Suck it, superhero movies.

Inside Llewyn Davis

The ear worm-filled folk soundtrack and charming period setting of Inside Llewyn Davis makes it, on the surface, one of the easiest to enjoy Coen brothers movies that the virtuoso filmmakers have made in some time. But, because of the way death hangs over the film, and the fact that it’s permeated with a constant tone of sadness and futility, it’s also a layered enough work that it will probably get lumped in more with their dramas than it does their screwball comedies. I only just saw this one, and seeing as Llewyn Davis is such a complex character and Inside Llewyn Davis is such a complex film, it’s going to take a little more digesting, but I can already tell that the more I think about it the more I’m going to like it.

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