Friday, January 31, 2014

Mulling Over 2013

My ballot for the Muriel awards is due tomorrow and I have no freaking idea what's going to be on it. 2013 was one of those years that was so saturated with worthy films that regardless of what ends up on any given top whatever list, the omission of some film or other is going to feel like a lack. One film that I would love to put on my Muriels list, possibly even at the very top of it, is Shun Li and the Poet, but because of the way it was released (or, more to the point, not released in New York), it's ineligible. This, of course, is the peril of being a cinephile anywhere but New York or Los Angeles. Some of my favorite films this year are hold-overs from last year that are also ineligible for my list. Not that it matters much. I have a wealth of material to choose from. I made a huge list over at Letterboxd a couple of weeks ago to organize my thoughts, but it grew so fast that I doubt its utility. There are almost fifty films on that list.

For right now, the ballot looks like this:

1. Blancanieves (Pablo Berger)
2. Her (Spike Jonze)
3. No (Pablo Larrain)
4. The Attack (Ziad Doueiri)
5. Drug War (Johnnie To)
6. The Act of Killing (Joshua Oppenheimer)
7. Gravity (Alphonso Cuaron)
8. Berberian Sound Studio (Peter Strickland)
9. Inside Llewyn Davis (Joel and Ethan Coen)
10. The Wolf of Wall Street (Martin Scorsese)

It probably won't stay like this. Have I mentioned how much I hate ranking movies? I have? Good. Because I DO hate it. It's physically painful.

There's also a three-film documentary category, which is really too few slots. I've see more documentaries than the average filmgoer, though. Some of the films I may slot into that category are:

The Act of Killing
Stories We Tell
20 Feet from Stardom
These Birds Walk
Dirty Wars
The Village at the End of the World
Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me
The Square
The Moo Man
Cutie and the Boxer

Which films am I going to list? No idea.

Is it going to stay like this? Dunno. I have a couple of screeners still to watch, but I don't know if I'll get to them or not. Films I haven't seen: The Great Beauty, The Past, The Selfish Giant, A Touch of Sin, The Wind Rises, Fruitvale Station, The Butler, Beyond the Hills, a bunch of others. It was such a ridiculously good year that no two year-end lists are the same, and if I didn't really like films like Frances Ha, American Hustle, or Blue Jasmine--and I didn't--then there are dozens of people waiting to step forward to defend them.

Some careful viewers of my blog may have noticed that I haven't written about some of these films, and that's true. I've been slacking this year, in part because I've found it increasingly difficult to write about movies lately. I've also chosen not to write about some films for other reasons. One film I did write about was 7 Boxes, though how I wrote about it was so intensely personal, I chose to post it on my tumblr rather than here. I also sometimes choose not to write about very small films when I don't like them. I see a handful of these every year and silence for such films is more damning than a bad review, but I also don't feel like piling on to these films. They're not like big studio films, in so far as they're somebody's dream, possibly funded by a second mortgage or credit cards. I don't want to kick at films like that because it's like kicking a puppy, though I'm happy to write about them when I love them. Finally, the number of films out there is sometimes overwhelming and causes me to become backlogged.

In truth, I'm glad that this season is almost over. It takes some of the fun out of movie-watching. Expect me to write about I, Frankenstein or something equally stupid next week as a kind of catharsis.


Anonymous said...

BLANCANIEVES and THE ATTACK are on my Top 10 - thought I was the only one with those two.

Oh, and FRUITVALE STATION, THE PAST, THE WIND RISES & THE GREAT BEAUTY! So,we already agree on two, and you listed FOUR MORE that you hadn't seen that are on mine. So, you better get crackin' since we are on a similar wavelength.

Vulnavia Morbius said...

Theoretically, The Great Beauty opens here next week, so I'll see it soon. The Past? Who knows? I'm probably waiting until it's on video. The Wind Rises will probably play here, but I have no idea of when. I just plain missed Fruitvale Station when it was here. I have no excuse, either, because it played for a while.

anna said...

BERBERIAN SOUND STUDIO was something of a revelation. I'd happily place it alongside - even slightly above - similar throwback-type films as HOUSE OF THE DEVIL and BEYOND THE BLACK RAINBOW (which falls so completely apart at the end it almost ruins the entire damned thing). I think Toby Jones was such a perfectly odd bit of casting for that film, which was like...oh, if we're being base about it, sound pornography. I don't think I've ever heard a film like it.