Saturday, February 08, 2014

Just for the record, this year, i was asked to participate in the annual CriticWire poll on IndieWire, and in the annual Film Comment end-of-the-year poll, but i was not asked to participate in the Village Voice/LA Weekly poll (the first time since the poll started, but then, the entire editorial team at those papers went through such convolutions). And since the Film Comment poll consisted of listing a "top twenty" (ranked), here is my list, which was compiled as of December 11, 2013. There were several films which were in release before the end of 2013 which did not screen in time, but those are the breaks, so here's my list of the Top Twenty of 2013, as usual, my inclination is more on foreign films and independent films than studio releases.

My Top Twenty of 2013: 1) "Caesar Must Die"; 2) "A Touch of Sin"; 3) "The Last Time I Saw Macao"; 4) "Upstream Color"; 5) "Leviathan"; 6) "First Cousin Once Removed"; 7) "The Square"; 8) "Old Dog"; 9) "Something In the Air"; 10) "Hannah Arendt"; 11) "Stories We Tell"; 12) "Night Across the Street"; 13) "You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet"; 14) "I Killed My Mother"; 15) "Gravity"; 16) "Her"; 17) "Much Ado About Nothing"; 18) "Museum Hours"; 19) "Blue Is the Warmest Color"; 20) "After Tiller".

A few notes. Of these films, five were directed (or co-directed) by women ("Leviathan", "The Square", "Hannah Arendt", "Stories We Tell" and "After Tiller"); six were directed by "old masters" (directors whose careers started prior to 1980, i.e., "Caesar Must Die", "First Cousin Once Removed", "Something In the Air", "Hannah Arendt", "Night Across the Street", "You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet"); five were documentaries (though there was also one which started out as a documentary but was edited into a fictional narrative; the documentaries: "Leviathan", "First Cousin Once Removed", "The Square", "Stories We Tell" and "After Tiller"; the one-off: "The Last Time I Saw Macao").

At the end of the year, there were several articles about the film industry which were sobering. The film industry has done a terrible job in terms of diversity. The number of women who were able to direct and produce projects within the industry has actually been on the decline! And the numbers weren't that great to begin with. One reason for this is that, since a woman was acknowledged with an Oscar as Best Director (Kathyrn Bigelow for "The Hurt Locker"), the studio executives started to feel that the job was done, and they went back to their b.s. reasoning about how limited the audience is for "women's films" (which is untrue, since films starring women, such as "The Heat" and "Gravity", did spectacularly at the box office) and so many female-initiated projects stalled. This was also a banner year for black films, with Steve McQueen's "12 Years a Slave" (if Film Comment had asked for Best Director, he would have been my choice), "Lee Daniels' The Butler", Ryan Coogler's "Fruitvale Station" and Alexandre Moors' "Blue Caprice" among the films which not only wound up getting made, but also found some measure of box office success. But none of these films was done at the major studios: the biggest studio release was "Lee Daniels' The Butler" which was a production of The Weinstein Company. But in terms of diversity: the motion picture industry is doing an absolutely horrendous job, they couldn't do worse if they simply signed up for the Ku Klux Klan!


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