11.Inside Llewyn Davis (2013) Directed By: The Coen Brothers
You need to look no further than the clip of Oscar Isaac’s Llewyn performing “The Death of Queen Jane” for F. Murray Abraham’s disinterested and jaded booking agent to understand the depth of greatness and sadness that runs through the course of Inside Llewyn Davis. Anchored by a soulful, star making performance from Isaac, Inside Llewyn Davis is a masterclass in quiet storytelling as we follow the titular Llewyn through his own, personal odyssey. Watching Inside Llewyn Davis is like looking at an old photograph with it’s subdued beauty, worn corners, and forlorn faces looking back at you. Composed of a series of moments, the film’s heart is secured with Llewyn’s own feelings of dejected self-worth and it’s immediate success in the face of a cat’s reflection on a moving train. Watch the clip.
10. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (2010) Directed By: Edgar Wright
Everyone has their own favorite Edgar Wright movie (which is made more apparent by him showing up twice on our list). Most fans would agree that the controlled, visual chaos of his third feature film, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is his most fun. It’s pure, heightened aesthetic and the kind of rebellious filmmaking I always hope to see more of. Every frame is eye candy, lending itself to the cartoonish narrative the story takes while never talking down to it’s viewers. Wright has created great films before (and ones many would argue are better) but this is when his style became not only distinct, but definitive.
9. Short Term 12 (2013) Directed By: Destin Cretton
Poignant, emotionally laid bare, and honest in it’s depiction of young people reclaiming their agency, Short Term 12 was one of the more surprising films on this list. This isn’t because it’s not worthy of love from fans and/or critics alike, but because I thought it would be eaten up by some of the larger titles. It speaks to how hard this film hit and Brie Larsons gut wrenching performance that it ended up being so high.
8. The World’s End (2013) Directed By: Edgar Wright
I will make the bold statement and say that this is Edgar Wright’s best film, as well as the best performances Simon Pegg and Nick Frost have ever given. It’s a confident, genre cocktail of a film, one that uses alien invasion as a trojan horse for a story about depression, getting older and growing apart. The soundtrack is remarkably fitting to the content, the fight scenes riveting and choreographed similarly to an old school martial arts film, and has a stinging third act that never loses the momentum of the wittier and action heavy prior two. There’s always been a meticulous nature to Wright’s filmmaking and it’s demonstrated best here as every frame could be a still, and every scene has a hint as to what’s to come. Despite it’s frantic energy and blue blooded aliens, there’s times where his film is like a book, one where you pick up on something detailed and new with each watch. It’s a culmination of both the style and substance Wright had demonstrated in his previous films, and it should have gotten more love than it did initially.