In the lead-up to the unveiling of our definitive Top 50 Films of 2013 list, we’ve asked some friends of Paste to tell us their favorites of the year. Tune in for a different list each day. Today’s contributor is actor Josh Radnor, who directed Paste favorites happythankyoumoreplease and Liberal Arts (pictured) and whose show How I Met Your Mother wraps up its historic run this Spring.
The Crash Reel
Saw this at Sundance at the beginning of the year and it’s remained my favorite right up to the end. A documentary about an injured snowboarder that’s about so much more than an injured snowboarder. Kevin Pearce was blessed with a great talent but his greatest blessing might just be his extraordinarily functional and loving family. This is a movie with a number of heroes.
I know Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy are actors playing fictional characters but I’m embarrassingly invested in Celine and Jesse. I feel like I’m growing up with them. This movie functions as a kind of rebuke to the romantic obsessions that steered the first two films. It’s sad, funny, and often uncomfortable to watch, but never less than riveting. The three films taken together constitute one of the great (and most honest) love stories in american movies.
Stories We Tell
It’s hard to describe what makes this movie so great but it is legitimately great. A knotty, complicated portrait of a family that unspools like a mystery. It also functions as a master class in the narrative trick of withholding information. The last half hour or so is incredibly moving, especially when you begin to get the full sense of what Sarah Polley was up to.
This Is The End
Sublime ridiculousness. Watched it on a flight and was worried I was disturbing people with my laughter. (Was anything funnier this year than an impaled Michael Cera freaking out about his lost cell phone?) Beneath all the hilarity and crudeness it’s also kind of sort of about something (‘Be a good person’).
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
I really want to put in a word for this movie. It (and Stiller) got knocked around a bit, but it’s a really good piece of work, smoothly told, with a few big laughs and some terrifically sweet and weird moments. I left the theater feeling pleasantly altered, excited about both life and movies.
Five more I loved:
Gravity (I don’t think it’s been overpraised), Tim’s Vermeer (saw it at Telluride, highly recommended), Enough Said (Gandolfini!! among other delights), Her (so nice to see an on-screen future that’s not entirely dystopian), Frances Ha (I really liked this movie, and then the last shot made me love it.)
Lists from other friends of Paste:
Director Lynn Shelton
Director Megan Griffiths
Producer Natasha Giliberti
Author Kayli Stollak
Author Anna Goldfarb
Director Dan Mirvish
Director Paul Rachman
Director Karin Hayes
Producer Anne Hubbell
Director Stacie Passon
Actor Sophia Takal
Actor Beth Grant
Actor Tallie Medel
Director Adam Leon