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The List Thus Far (Certified Weird Movies)

3 Women (1977)

8 1/2 (1963)

The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T (1953)

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension (1984)

Akira (1988)

Alice [Neco Z Alenky] (1988)

Alice in Wonderland (1966)

Allegro non Troppo (1976)

Altered States (1980)

The American Astronaut (2001)

Antichrist (2009)

Archangel (1990)

Bad Boy Bubby (1993)

Barbarella (1968)

Barton Fink (1991)

The Beast of Yucca Flats (1961)

Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012)

Begotten (1991)

Being John Malkovich (1999)

Belle de Jour (1967)

Black Swan (2010)

Blood Diner (1987)

Blood Tea and Red String (2006)

A Boy and His Dog (1975)

Branded to Kill (1967)

Brazil (1985)

Bronson (2008)

Careful (1992)

Carnival of Souls (1962)

Cemetery Man [Dellamorte Dellamore] (1994)

Un Chien Andalou (1929)

The City of Lost Children [La cité des enfants perdus] (1995)

Clean, Shaven (1993)

A Clockwork Orange (1971)

Cowards Bend the Knee, or, the Blue Hands (2003)

Daisies [Sedmikrásky] (1966)

The Dark Backward (1991)

Dead Man (1995)

Dead Ringers (1988)

Delicatessen (1991)

Dillinger is Dead (1969)

Doggiewogiez! Poochiewoochiez! (2012)

Dogtooth [Kynodontas] (2009)

Dogville (2003)

Donnie Darko (2001)

Don't Look Now (1973)

Elevator Movie (2004)

Enemy (2013)

Enter the Void (2009)

Eraserhead (1977)

Escape from Tomorrow (2013)

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

Even Dwarfs Started Small (1970)

Evil Dead II (1987)

Eyes Without a Face [Les Yeux sans Visage] (1965)

Fantastic Planet [La Planète Sauvage] (1973)

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)

Fellini Satyricon (1969)

Final Flesh (2009)

Forbidden Zone (1982)

Funky Forest: The First Contact (2005)

Glen or Glenda (1953)

Gothic (1986)

Gozu (2003)

La Grande Bouffe (1973)

Greaser's Palace (1972)

Gummo (1997)

Häxan [Witchcraft Through the Ages] (1922)

Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001)

Help! Help! The Globolinks [Hilfe! Hilfe! Die Globolinks] (1969)

Holy Motors (2012)

The Holy Mountain (1973)

The Horrors of Spider Island [Ein Toter hing im Netz] (1960)

House [Hausu] (1977)

Howl's Moving Castle (2004)

I Can See You (2008)

Idiots and Angels (2008)

I'm A Cyborg, But That's OK [Saibogujiman Kwenchana] (2006)

The Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle (2009)

L'Immortelle (1963)

Ink (2009)

INLAND EMPIRE (2006)

Institute Benjamenta, or This Dream People Call Human Life (1995)

Jacob's Ladder (1990)

John Dies at the End (2012)

Johnny Got His Gun (1971)

Keyhole (2011)

Kontroll (2003)

Kung Fu Hustle (2004)

Kwaidan (1964)

The Lair of the White Worm (1988)

The Legend of Suram Fortress [Ambavi Suramis Tsikhitsa] (1984)

Lisztomania (1975)

Little Otik [Otesánek] (2000)

Lost Highway (1997)

Love Exposure (2008)

Lucifer Rising (1981)

Maelstrom (2000)

Malpertuis (1972)

Maniac (1934)

Marquis (1989)

Meshes of the Afternoon (1943)

The Milky Way [La Voie Lactee] (1969)

Mr. Nobody (2009)

Mulholland Drive (2001)

Naked Lunch (1991)

Night of the Hunter (1955)

Night Train to Terror (1985)

Nosferatu (1922)

Nostalghia (1983)

O Lucky Man! (1973)

Pan's Labyrinth (2006)

Paprika (2006)

Performance (1968/1970)

Persona (1966)

Phantasm (1979)

Pi (1998)

The Pillow Book (1996)

Pink Flamingos (1972)

Pink Floyd the Wall (1982)

Prospero's Books (1991)

The Red Squirrel [La Ardilla Roja] (1993)

The Reflecting Skin (1990)

Repo Man (1984)

A Report on the Party and Guests (1966)

Repulsion (1965)

Robot Monster (1953)

The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)

Rubber (2010)

Run Lola Run (1998)

The Saddest Music in the World (2003)

Sans Soleil (1983)

Santa Sangre (1989)

The Science of Sleep (2006)

A Serious Man (2009)

Shanks (1974)

Shock Corridor (1963)

Silent Hill (2006)

Sin City (2005)

The Singing Ringing Tree (1957)

Skidoo (1968)

Solaris [Solyaris] (1972) -

Songs from the Second Floor (2000)

Stalker (1979)

Steppenwolf (1974)

Strange Frame: Love & Sax (2012)

Suspiria (1977)

Sweet Movie (1974)

Synecdoche, New York (2008)

Tales from the Quadead Zone (1987)

Taxidermia (2006)

Tetsuo: The Iron Man (1989)

Tideland (2005)

Time Bandits (1981)

The Tin Drum (1979)

Tokyo Gore Police (2008)

El Topo (1970)

Toto the Hero [Toto le Heros] (1991)

Trash Humpers (2009)

The Tree of Life (2011)

The Trial (1962)

The Triplets of Belleville (2003)

Tromeo & Juliet (1996)

Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (2010)

Upstream Color (2013)

Valerie and Her Week of Wonders (1970)

Vertigo (1958)

Videodrome (1983)

Visitor Q (2001)

Waking Life (2001)

Weekend (1967)

The Wicker Man (1973)

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)

Yellow Submarine (1968)

You, the Living [Du Levande] (2007)

Zardoz (1974)

TOP 10 MOVIES OF 2013: THE MAINSTREAM EDITION

Yesterday I gave you my expert take on the weirdest movies of 2013; today, I’ll be giving you my opinions of the best movies of the year, without regard to genre. This year, there’s only one title which overlaps both lists, although I imagine the average popcorn-chomper would find the top two entries on this “mainstream” list to be far too weird for their tastes. Without further ado, here’s your countdown of my top movies of 2013:

10. Drug War: The days of John Woo, Jackie Chan and the Hong Kong New Wave of the 80s and 90s already seem like a part of the distant past. Although many of the luminaries of that movement dispersed to Hollywood or Australia after the Chinese took over the town in 1997, one director who chose not to flee for greener pastures was Johnnie To. He has continued to churn out action-oriented gangster films. At bottom his latest epic Drug War is nothing fancy, but it is a superior police procedural with thrilling action scenes that remind us of the salad days of HK past. Plus, it is one of the few movies to explain why deaf-mutes make the best footsoldiers in your drug army.

9. Before Midnight: If you like actors’ showcases and relationship talk sprinkled with references to myth and philosophy, have I got the film for you! returns, along with stars Julie Delphy and Ethan Hawke, for the third peek in 18 years at the relationship between Jesse (now a successful novelist) and headstrong Celine. Urbane and blisteringly painful at times.

Poster for Spring Breakers (2013)8. Spring Breakers: ‘s lightly experimental take on today’s nihilistic youth hearkens back (in spirit) to his 1995 screenplay for Kids. In our rundown of the weirdest movies of , I wrote that “critics who had previously loathed Korine’s grungy, transgressive works tended to view this 2013more satirical fare favorably, while the Trash Humpers set was largely unimpressed.” I confess that I am in the camp that treats this more polished work with a kinder pen. I think that the key to this movie’s success is that Korine has finally accepted that he is at heart an exploitation filmmaker working with an arthouse toolkit, rather than the other way around. James Franco should, but won’t, win Best Supporting Actor at the Oscars.

7. Mud: Part of a big year for Matthew McConaughey (who also impressed as the homophobic AIDS activist in Dallas Buyers Club), this film casts him as Mud, a romantic miscreant hiding out on an uninhabited island. When an adolescent boy finds Mud and decides to help him reconcile with his lost love, will the impractical loser be able to live up to the kid’s idealism? Accomplished storytelling that weaves in multiple subplots and minor characters, blending drama, romance and adventure with a coming-of-age message that’s neither too bitter nor too sweet. Easy to recommend.

6. 12 Years a Slave: Adapted from the memoirs of Solomon Northrup, a 19th century African-American who was born a free man in New York but kidnapped and sold into slavery, 12 Years is likely to win Best Picture at the Oscars, and I won’t complain. It features fine acting by Michael Fassbender as a ruthless plantation owner, Kenyan Lupita Nyong’o as a much-abused “favorite” slave, and Chiwetel Ejiofor as the noble Northrop. It’s a very good movie that falls short of being great, but it earns bonus points for being the best theatrical film ever made about American slavery. The lack of other quality movies exploring this inherently dramatic historical outrage is frankly bizarre, and it’s equally strange that it fell to a British director to make the (so far) definitive film about the topic.

5. All Is Lost: Survival movies were a major theme of 2013, and J.C. Chandor’s All Is Lost was the purest of them all. Robert Redford stars as a man sailing around the world by himself, whose luck goes from bad to worse after his yacht’s hull is breached and the electrical system damaged. Memorably, Redford only speaks only one word in the story, but the script still manages to wring maximum tension out of a minimum elements: the sun beating down, saltwater all around, and dark clouds whipping over the horizon.

4. Captain Phillips: Another nautical-themed movie, another survival story, and another acting triumph for Tom Hanks, who keeps up a cool stoic front until the very end.  Somali-American newcomer Barkhad Abdi also does well as the small-time warlord who chooses the wrong vessel to commandeer (Americans don’t negotiate with pirates, or pay ransoms). Tense and dramatic, the movie has a crowd-pleasing historical thriller vibe similar to last year’s hit Argo, but without the comic relief. If you liked Phillips, you might also check out Denmark’s A Hijacking, which describes a similar hostage scenario but emphasizes the tense negotiations between the pirates and the ship owner.

3. Gravity: Three astronauts servicing the Hubble spacecraft are marooned in space when debris shatters their shuttle; how can they make it back to earth? This space thriller with cosmic visuals plays out almost in real time, and is almost unprecedented in its plot; we’ve seen bits and pieces done in 2001, Marooned and Apollo 13, but never taken to this length before. The cosmic visuals and final-frontier setting raise Gravity to the top of 2013′s survival movie pack.

2. Blancanieves: A Spanish silent film that retells the story of Snow White (blanca-nieves) in a 1920s bullfighting milieu. The seven dwarfs are a novelty troupe of miniature matadors, and other unexpected twists on the ancient legend, some quite macabre, continually surprise. The camerawork is superlative, and the montages at times reminiscent of  at his most derangedly lyrical. Blancanieves is so outside of the average moviegoer’s comfort zone that I almost considered it as a “weird” movie, but eventually passed it over as ultimately too conventional. I wonder if I made a mistake?

Still from The Act of Killing (2012)1. The Act of Killing: A Western documentarian gives leaders of Indonesian death squads, now grandfathers and respected elders of paramilitary groups, funds to make a movies proudly re-enacting the massacres they committed as young hooligans. The films they create adapt Hollywood gangster movies, Westerns, and musicals, and frequently involve heavyset retired murderer Herman Koto in drag. The results are ironic and surreal: one concoction involves dancing girls in pink chiffon emerging from a concrete goldfish’s mouth, and another has the spirits of the slaughtered placing medals around their killers’ necks. As the film goes on, it appears that it is starting to dawn on the central figure, Anwar Congo, that his actions as a young man may not have been entirely justified—or has he just intuited what the director wants to see from him? There is a reason both and , who know quality documentaries if anyone does, eagerly signed on as executive producers for this terrifying survey of the consciences of killers in a society that sanctifies their crimes. It would be impossible to dream up a character, or a character arc, like Congo’s; this film’s existence is a miracle.

1 comment to TOP 10 MOVIES OF 2013: THE MAINSTREAM EDITION

  • re: “Blancanieves is so outside of the average moviegoer’s comfort zone that I almost considered it as a “weird” movie, but eventually passed it over as ultimately too conventional. I wonder if I made a mistake?”

    Yes and especially with that ending.

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