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Nick’s 2013 Top 10

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

It’s ridiculous to think that 2013 is coming to an end. Everyone is asking themselves, “where did the time go?” as we reflect back on the events of the past year. My personal life has been full of excitement (like that time I backpacked through Cambodia on my own) and my film review life has been equally fun. The website that got me sucked into this world of online film reviewing eventually shut down earlier this year, and it was a bittersweet moment for all of us involved. I covered loads of festivals and events and worked with a really great editor, but I knew we were all moving on to other projects that were going to be equally exciting. I leant my writing to a few other sites, and another I regularly wrote for changed its formatting to cover only Canadian content, which was a big move for them, but also meant I needed to find a place for my work that would be a little more consistent for me.


Then I started writing here, at Black Sheep Reviews, which has given me opportunities to meet David Cronenberg and photograph my first red carpet event. I didn’t see as many movies as I was hoping to this year, as my travel plans cut right into movie viewing plans, which included me missing out on volunteering at and attending TIFF. I can’t really complain though because I got to play Tomb Raider in real life, exploring temples of Ta Prohm and Beng Mealea. So don’t think I didn’t bring my love of movies overseas with me.

I saw quite a few movies this year that I absolutely hated, ones that I hope to never see again in my life, but then I also saw a great amount of truly amazing films. Last year my number 1 movie was Wes Anderson’s MOONRISE KINGDOM, but this year I couldn’t possibly narrow down my favourite, or make a list in any ranking order. So here are my top 10 films of 2013, in chronological order of when they were released. Some of them have surprised me by making it onto this list, but it’s always those films that you least expect that you end up liking the most anyways.


I first saw this one on the last day of TIFF 2012, which also happened to fall on my birthday, and being a huge Terrence Malick fan, I couldn’t have been happier. When it got its theatrical release earlier this year I couldn’t wait to see it again, and each time I view it I appreciate it more and more. Sure, it might not be the easiest of his films to appreciate, but it is dripping in gorgeous images of nature and fantastic camera work. Malick works on a deeper level than any other filmmaker, his movie always ask us to look at who we are and our places in the world, and to reflect on relationships with those around us and the earth.


I’m generally not a fan of Nicole Kidman, so I mostly just tried to ignore her presence in this one, but what is most intriguing about this beautiful horror movie is its writer, Wentworth Miller. Chan-wook Park (the original, OLDBOY) did a brilliant job directing this quiet and beautiful thriller, but the story written by the former “Prison Break” star really stands out, especially for the first time writing a feature length film. It’s dark, tense and insanely beautiful.


I’ve been a fan of Harmony Korine since I was a teenager (A CRACK UP AT THE RACE RIOTS, anyone?) so this was kind of a no brainer. James Franco as a megalomaniacal Floridian rapper with corn rows and a white piano at his pool side and a sly social commentary on spring break culture that effectively slaps the youth of America in the face? I’m in.



Shane Carruth (PRIMER) returns with yet another metaphysical mystery in the form of a bizarre tale of two people who become home to an even more bizarre organism than neither of them can explain, but it begins to blur their realities. This one required some amount of patience and attention, which I love in a film, especially one as beautiful as this one. Similar to PRIMER in that it isn’t going to easily give up all of its secrets, but the payoff is well worth it.


This is the one I was surprised to make it on this list, considering I hated it when I saw it at TIFF last year. When it eventually got it’s home release, I decided I needed to give it a second chance, and couldn’t quite figure out why. There were images from Rob Zombie’s slow-burn horror film that I just couldn’t get out of my head, and during the second viewing it all fell into place. I had such high and unrealistic expectations for this film originally because I was expecting something like THE DEVIL’S REJECTS, and I disappointed myself. It isn’t like any of his other works, except maybe old White Zombie music videos. It borrows images and themes from such great horror films of the 70’s and 80’s and has an amazing soundtrack to boot. It’s slow and not much happens but it’s perfectly terrifying, especially Meg Foster as a revenge sick coven leader.


This is how you make a vampire movie correctly. There are no love-lorn moping vampires who befriend humans and werewolves and create drama for the sake of creating drama. These are vampires the way they were supposed to be, dark, violent and sexy. It’s a throwback to art-house vampire films of the 60’s and 70’s, which is interesting because the world also lost director, Jesus Franco, this year as well. Don’t be misled by a similar vampire movie that also came out this year that wishes it did what KISS OF THE DAMNED did, because you will be setting yourself up for disappointment. This is probably one of the best vampire movies to come along in the last few years.



I was a bit late on seeing this one, but boy I sure was glad when I finally did. This black and white coming of age story is sometimes difficult to watch because sometimes it just hits it right on the head. And by “it” I mean “life”. It’s sad in the way that HBO’s “Girls” is sad, because it’s honest, and sometimes we don’t like to watch things that hit too close to home, but FRANCES HA does it, and does it well. It isn’t all sadness and awkward moments; there are loads of laughter and joy, especially from its lead, Greta Gerwig who gives an amazing performance that everyone deserves to see.


Yet another film full of awkward moments but also loads of humour. Joe Swanberg’s improvised indie romance is as much about friendship as it is about the love of beer. You’d swear that the cast members were best friends in real life, the way they play off one another works so incredibly well and is one of the better examples of improv I’ve seen. Seeing a bunch of good friends get drunk and have good times, honest good times too, is only the tip of the friendship iceberg here. They have awkward interactions and heartbreak, but then they talk it out like adults, something you don’t see too often in movies about drinking. It isn’t your typical drinking movies, but it exemplifies late 20’s-early 30’s life when you are just trying to figure everything out and enjoy a few beers along the way.


Do I really need to explain this one? If you haven’t yet seen it then you haven’t seen one of the most amazing and jaw-droppingly beautiful movies ever made. It is a technical achievement married with a tight narrative, stellar acting (especially by Bullock) and fantastic 3D special effects. There were moments I had to literally hold on to my seat, it’s just simply that exiting to watch.


The last film I saw in the theatre this year was also one of the biggest surprises because I’ve never liked a Spike Jonze movie. And I know what you’re going to say “not even BEING JOHN MALKOVICH?” No, especially not that one. I don’t even believe people actually like that movie. But this one is on here for the same reason that many are on here, something that, with the exception of maybe 1 or 2, they all have in common. It is a slow movie. It’s also a beautiful movie, which is something I find is the reason I like most of the movies I do. If it has minimal music and introspective characters among beautiful sets and scenery, then chances are I will appreciate it. HER is a design buff’s wet dream and an adult tale told through the beautiful and confounding lens of the grown-up search for happiness and meaning.


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To read all of Nick’s Black Sheep reviews, click here.

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