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 director Lynn Shelton, who directed this year’s Touchy Feely (pictured) as well as Humpday, Your Sister’s Sister, and Sundance 2014 selection Laggies.
Ain’t Them Bodies Saints
I went ga-ga for this film at Sundance last year. Writer/director David Lowery, together with his crew (including the crazy talented cinematographer Bradford Young) and actors (especially Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck, who weave an exquisite chemistry together), cast a poetic, honey-light-drenched spell that held me in its grasp for every one of its 96 minutes.
Here is why this movie should be seen: 1) Kathryn Hahn’s breakout performance; 2) two scenes in particular between Hahn and Juno Temple that will make your brain melt and your stomach knot and your ovaries/gonads quiver.
Short Term 12
Lovely performances by Brie Larson, John Gallagher, Jr. and Kaitlyn Dever. Beautiful direction by Destin Cretton and elegant editing by Nat Sanders. A little piece of Must See Cinema pie.
Co-writer/director Megan Griffiths managed to take the hot button topic of human trafficking and create a character-based work of art that is extremely watchable but which somehow, miraculously, lacks even the barest hint of sensationalism or exploitation. Brilliant filmmaking.
Gimme The Loot
This film is a charmer. I loved hanging with these kids as they sallied forth (and sometimes back a few steps) on their passion-driven quest. I felt the pains of their losses and the joys of their triumphs. And I walked out of the theater with a big ole smile on my face.
The End of Love
I was completely compelled by the in-between place that this film occupies—not at all documentary but not quite pure fiction either, as it is built on an actual relationship between a father (sensitive, writer/director Mark Webber) and his son (luminous 2-year-old Isaac Love). The scenes between these two are rendered with a singular kind of intimate beauty that I have never witnessed onscreen before.
The World’s End
It warms my heart to witness a family of collaborators succeed in sustaining a long-term relationship, especially when the family is as talented and kickass funny as Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, and Nick Frost. Long live the Cornetto Trilogy in all of its delightfully novel, sly, genre-bending, awesomeness.
It is so great to see director Joe Swanberg bring his loose, character-based style of filmmaking to a higher budget level. The talented actors (Jake Johnson, Olivia Wilde, Anna Kendrick, and Ron Livingston) were clearly having a ball creating this project and the film benefits enormously from it.
In A World
I admit to being only tepidly charmed by this film at the start of it, but by the end, I was completely in—hook, line and sinker. Lake Bell’s directorial feature debut is chockfull of incredibly funny people who all do solid dramatic turns while still making us continuously laugh throughout.
I haven’t had such a visceral response to a film since Todd Haynes’ Safe. I walked out of the theater thrumming. And the film has stayed with me ever since. I want to eat Spike Jonze’s brain (or at least open his head and stare at it admiringly for a while.)
Lists from other friends of Paste:
Director Megan Griffiths
Producer Natasha Giliberti
Author Kayli Stollak
Actor Josh Radnor
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