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Leora’s 2013 Top 10

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(Click any highlighted film title for the original Black Sheep review.)

Oh 2013, where have you gone? As I grow older, I find it increasingly baffling how quickly time flies and this year was no exception. On this cold December evening, I think back on the year that was, and realize that I attained two monumental accomplishments this past year.

First, after years of coworkers, relatives, and sundry others telling me that I should write about film, I finally took the leap and did just that. Initially it was just for one site whose stature impressed me, and then slowly, but surely, other sites were asking for my contributions as well. As someone who is regularly, (insecurely), silencing herself, writing is an internal struggle, as I am still very much trying to find my voice. While I long to come across as a very likeable critic (much like beloved local film writer, Norm Wilner), I also yearn to be as eloquent and knowledgable as Globe and Mail writer, Adam Nayman (not that Norm isn’t these things, but I digress). My patient and loving boyfriend encourages me daily to just be myself in my writing. I hope 2014 will give me the strength and self-confidence to accomplish that feat.

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This brings me to my second great accomplishment from 2013. It cannot be displayed on any site but this year was one where I finally “let it go”, as the catchy single from FROZEN succinctly and simply says. Let me explain by bringing this year’s notable films into my explanation. The themes these films gravitated (sorry, I had to) towards were either greed and its addictive power, or isolation and the reasons behind one’s leading a life full of it. As someone who worked at a banking institution for over four years (this year I also proudly quit that job), I understand both themes all too well. I suppose that a world of corruption is one of the myriad reasons one may turn to a life of isolation, and oh, what a life of isolation I was living. Among other factors, it took watching HER, GRAVITY, and FROZEN, three films which I connect to on a very intimate level, to open my eyes and heart into accepting and inviting love into my life. It may be eye-rollingly cheesy, but for a cold-hearted nerd like myself, letting myself fully love my kind boyfriend was definitely my second biggest accomplishment this year.

And now, without further ado, are my top ten films of the year in ranked order. I must also give special mention to runners up MUD, ALL IS LOST, AMERICAN HUSTLE, THE WOLF OF WALL STREET, BEFORE MIDNIGHT and THE HUNT, as well as festival favourites SUNSHINE ON LEITH and ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE (neither of which were released theatrically this year and thus, could not be included).


Artist/director Steve McQueen’s follow-up to his brilliant SHAME and HUNGER left me breathless. A visceral masterpiece with star turns by Chiwetel Ejiofor, Lupita Nyng’o (my personal pick for best supporting actress Oscar), and McQueen muse Michael Fassbender, this was intellectual and emotionally raw filmmaking at its finest. 12 YEARS A SLAVE is the only film this year that I’ve instructed everyone to run and see.

2. HER

Spike Jonze’s quiet philosophical essay on relationships (not just our needy, dependent relationship with technology) was the only film this year where its viewers each gathered something very distinctly personal and subjective. The film cut quickly to the core of us all.



I suppose that all of this year’s films of greed and its extravagances (AMERICAN HUSTLE, THE WOLF OF WALL STREET, THE BLING RING) can be placed in this spot as well, but this film stayed in my mind the longest (and in the cultural zeitgeist, to be honest). Harmony Korine’s candy-coloured hazy nightmare brought out the best in pop star Selena Gomez and jack-of-all-trades, James Franco, and the worst in our Gatsby-esque status-obsessed society.


It is no secret that I have a weakness for musicals, both on film and on stage. Therefore, when it was announced that Broadway stars Jonathan Groff, Idina Menzel, and Josh Gad were headlining a new Disney animated musical feature, I was salivating in anticipation. I have since seen the film three times and have a date to see it a fourth. This film melted my icy heart, and was a much needed warm healing hug.


Paul Greengrass’ claustrophobic retelling of Captain Richard Phillips’ 2009 hijacking by Somali pirates elicited more nail-biting, edge of the seat nerve-wracking reaction than all of this year’s horror films combined.


Chan-wook Park’s dark, delicious nod to Hitchcock was adored by Sundance audiences but made barely a stir at the box office when it was released a few months later. Critics largely ignored it for its “style over substance” mise-en-scene but it remains one of my favourites of the year.


Critics hailed Shane Carruth’s latest as a masterpiece, but the average moviegoers scratched their heads in befuddlement over its confusing subject matter. Eliciting much debate, one thing that is sure is that this film holds the viewer captive in its dreamlike state.



Both a critical and commercial success, GRAVITY was a film like no other. Visually astonishing in its grandeur and intimacy, this film is sure to rake in Academy awards come March of next year.


A lyrical, entrancing tale of the folk music scene in New York City in the early 1960’s, and loosely based on the life of musician Dave Van Ronk, this was a haunting song that played in my mind long after its final bittersweet verse. Juilliard-trained Oscar Isaac (reuniting with his DRIVE co-star, the always delightful Carey Mulligan) is a revelation as the quiet, soulful, titular character.


Claire Denis’ latest film, a loose adaptation of Faulkner’s “Sanctuary”, cemented her status as one of the world’s greatest auteurs. The film’s wicked plot, which grew darker and more twisted as it progressed, was one of the year’s most buzzed about, and still haunts me to this day.

The 5 Worst Films I Saw All Year






To read all of Leora’s Black Sheep review, click here.

One Comment

  1. What a great read 🙂

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