10. Her (Spike Jonze)
I had to admit that I had serious reservations about this film when I first saw it. But after a few weeks of thinking about it, I must say that it has grown on me a lot. Spike Jonze's highly imaginative and also highly personal Oscar-winning script is brought to life beautifully by both Joaquin Phoenix and the voice-over performance of Scarlett Johansson.
09. Before Midnight (Richard Linklater)
08. Frances Ha (Noah Baumbach)
This is a little miracle of a film. It could have easily, I mean EASILY have been an irritating, twee indie with an irritating protagonist with pretensions of saying something profound. But it's not. Co-writer and star Greta Gerwig and co-writer/director Noah Baumbach crafts a humorous character study of a woman who's not quite ready to grow up. Frances could have easily been a infuriating character but Gerwig's performance keeps you interested in her all throughout. An excellent film.
07. Transit (Hannah Espia)
As I mentioned in a past blog post months ago, 2013 has also been a very strong year for Filipino films. This is one of two in this list. This heartbreaking, beautiful story of a family of Filipinos living in Israel is a compelling drama from an exciting voice in Philippine independent cinema.
06. The Wolf of Wall Street (Martin Scorsese)
05. Gravity (Alfonso Cuaron)
04. 12 Years a Slave (Steve McQueen)
It is kind of a minor miracle this managed to win Best Picture. Like with Hunger and Shame, it's still a Steve McQueen film through and through. It is unflinching and unrelenting in its horrific depiction of the horrors of slavery. It features a quartet of amazing performances especially Chiwetel Ejiofor and Lupita Nyong'o, who deserved won Best Supporting Actress.
03. The Great Beauty (Paolo Sorrentino)
The Oscar-winner for Best Foreign Language Film was described by my friend, who wasn't a fan of this film, as "counterfeit Fellini". And I say, what's wrong with that? This film is basically 8 1/2 and La Dolce Vita for the 21st Century. It doesn't follow a conventional plot but just moves through little vignettes. It's a high wire act since it can easily fall apart but the result is simply spectacular.
02. The Act of Killing (Joshua Oppenheimer)
If you see as many film as I do, it's very easy to become jaded and perhaps bored by things. This documentary about Indonesian death squads is something that will definitely wake you up. My jaw dropped as I was seeing this disturbing, bizarre, occasionally darkly funny film about mass murderers turned folk heroes re-enacting their crimes. It must be seen.
01. Norte, The End of History (Lav Diaz)
Runners-Up: Inside Llewyn Davis (Joel Coen/Ethan Coen); Short Term 12 (Destin Cretton); The World's End (Edgar Wright); To the Wonder (Terrence Malick); Mud (Jeff Nichols); American Hustle (David O. Russell); The Grandmaster (Wong Kar-Wai); Blue Is The Warmest Color (Abdellatif Kechiche); Neighboring Sounds (Kleber Mendoca Filho); Frozen (Chris Buck/Jennifer Lee).