The (Hopefully) Final Word on Cinema 2013 *Updated Top 20 List*

The (Hopefully) Final Word on Cinema 2013 *Updated Top 20 List*

The Oscars waited until March 2014 to crown the best movies and performances of 2013. With “12 Years a Slave” taking home Best Picture, we can all move on to discuss the cinematic landscape of the new year.

Almost.

Sunday’s Academy Awards proved to be a respectful, if predictable, selection of the year’s best films. In my Predictions column for the Coeur d’Alene Press I correctly predicted 22 of the 24 winners, a personal best that matters little when you consider how many categories were perceived “locks” weeks before the actual ceremony. Blast those pesky short film categories for ruining my perfection!

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: “12 Years a Slave” is a worthy Best Picture winner, more so than recent Hollywood heartwarmers like “The King’s Speech,” “Argo” and “The Artist.” It’s an important film that will literally be taught in classrooms, but it’s also an impeccably made piece of filmmaking.

I say this with the caveat that “12 Years a Slave” was only my fourth favorite movie of the nine nominated for Best Picture. For various and most definitely subjective reasons, I was more enthralled by the artistry and execution of “The Wolf of Wall Street,” “Her” and “Gravity.” That doesn’t diminish my admiration for “12 Years,” however. The audience divisiveness over “Wolf of Wall Street” and “Her” make those films less representative of the year’s movie landscape, while “Gravity” did just fine with seven Oscars, including Best Director.

On first look, it’s ridiculous how the Oscar telecast takes place so deep into the new year. The critics’ influence on the year’s best ends promptly on Dec. 31, so much so that us third-string, small newspaper folks (all three of us) feel silly scrambling to catch up on movies in January and February.

Really though, most audiences these days wait for home video to see independent and late-season award contenders, making the Oscars a nice advertising plug for what’s new in the rental queue. Big winners “12 Years” and “Gravity” are newly available for home consumption, with nearly all other nominees already out or coming to home video within the next couple weeks.

“The Lego Movie” aside, there’s little new worth seeing in theaters anyway, making the back half of winter the true end to a movie year. For those who disagree, well, you’ve got that lovely remake of “Robocop” to enjoy.

Back in early January, I wrote about my favorite movies of 2013 before I had a chance to see many great films that should have qualified. These last two months have changed my mind on the overall strength of the year. In January, I thought 2013 was a solid, if unspectacular year for movies. Now, with a few dozen more movies under my belt, I think we’re looking at one of the strongest in many years.

I don’t have the space to rewrite the entire Best of 2013 article, but before moving into 2014 for good, I offer a more complete version of my Top 20. I’ve noted home video availability and marked the new entries with a trusty *.

1.       The Wolf of Wall Street (available on home video March 25)

2.       Her*

3.       Frances Ha (available on Netflix Streaming)

4.       Before Midnight (available now)

5.       Gravity (available now)

6.       12 Years a Slave (available now)

7.       The World’s End (available now)

8.       Captain Phillips (available now)

9.       Mud (available now)

10.   Inside Llewyn Davis* (available March 11)

11.   Short Term 12* (available now)

12.   The Act of Killing* (available on Netflix Streaming)

13.   Nebraska* (available now)

14.   Enough Said (available now)

15.   Philomena* (available April 15)

16.   American Hustle (available March 18)

17.   Prisoners (available now)

18.   Monsters University (available now)

19.   This is the End (available now)

20.   Upstream Color (available on Netflix Streaming)

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