You don't arrive at the Grand Budapest Hotel without your share of Wes Anderson baggage. Odds are, if you've booked a visit to this film, you've enjoyed your past trips to the Wes Indies (I promise I'll stop this extended metaphor soon), delighting especially in Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, and his most recent charmer Moonrise Kingdom. On the other hand, you could be the adventurous sort — a curious diplomat who never really got Anderson's uric-toned deadpan drudgings but can't resist browsing through the brochures of his latest European getaway. First off, neither community should worry about a bias in this review — I'm a Life Aquatic devotee, equally alienating to both sides. Second, neither community should be deterred by Andersonian expectations, be they sky high or subterranean, in planned Budapest excursions. No matter who you are, this movie will charm your dandy pants off and then some.
While GBH hangs tight to the filmmaker's recognizable style, the movie is a departure for Anderson in a number of ways. The first being plot: there is one. A doozy, too. We're accustomed to spending our Wes flicks peering into the stagnant souls of pensive man-children — or children-men (Moonrise) or fox-kits (guess) — whose journeys are confined primarily to the internal. But not long into Grand Budapest, we're on a bona fide adventure with one of the director's most attractive heroes to date: the didactic Gustave H. (Ralph Fiennes mastering sympathetic comedy better than anyone could have imagined he might), who invests his heart and soul into the titular hotel, an oasis of nobility in a decaying 1930s Europe. Gustave is plucked from his sadomasochistic nirvana overseeing every cog and sprocket in the mountaintop institution and thrust into a madcap caper — reminiscent of, and not accidentally, the Hollywood comedies of the era — involving murder, framing, art theft, jailbreak, love, sex, envy, secret societies, high speed chases... believe me, I haven't given half of it away. Along the way, we rope in a courageous baker (Saoirse Ronan), a dutiful attorney (Jeff Goldblum), a hotheaded socialite (Adrien Brody) and his psychopathic henchman (Willem Dafoe), and no shortage of Anderson regulars. The director proves just as adept at the large scale as he is at the small, delivering would-be cartoon high jinks with the same tangible life that you'd find in a Billy Wilder romp or one of the better Hope/Crosby Road to movies.
Anchoring the monkey business down to a recognizable planet Earth (without sacrificing an ounce of comedy) is the throughline of Gustave's budding friendship with his lobby boy, Zero (newcomer Tony Revolori, whose performance is an unprecedented and thrilling mixture of Wes Anderson stoicism and tempered humility), the only living being who appreciates the significance of the Grand Budapest as much as Gustave does. In joining these two oddballs on their quest beyond the parameters of FDA-approved doses of zany, we appreciate it, too: the significance of holding fast to something you believe in, understand, trust, and love in a world that makes less and less sense everyday. Anderson's World War II might not be as ostensibly hard-hitting as that to which modern cinema is accustomed, but there's a chilling, somber horror story lurking beneath the surface of Grand Budapest. Behind every side-splitting laugh, cookie cutter backdrop, and otherworldly antic, there is a pulsating dread that makes it all mean something. As vivid as the worlds of Rushmore, Tenenbaums, Fantastic Mr. Fox, and Moonrise might well have been, none have had this much weight and soul.
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So it's astonishing that we're able to zip to and fro' every crevice of this haunting, misty Central Europe at top speeds, grins never waning as our hero Gustave delivers supernaturally articulate diatribes capped with physically startling profanity. So much of it is that delightfully odd, agonizingly devoted character, his unlikely camaraderie with the unflappably earnest young Zero, and his adherence to the magic that inhabits the Grand Budapest Hotel. There are few places like it on Earth, as we learn. There aren't many movies like it here either.
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Drew Barrymore and Reese Witherspoon are perfecting their cooking skills on a culinary retreat in Napa Valley, California. The two pals and mutual stylist friends Leslie Fremar and Gucci Westman have embarked on a top secret all-girl getaway in the heart of California's wine country.
Legally Blonde star Witherspoon couldn't keep the big adventure to herself and posted a photo of the Napa countryside on her Instagram account alongside the caption: "The #girlstrip2014."
Barrymore later posted, "Going to culinary school in napa!"
Reports suggest the girls are taking classes at the Culinary Institute of America.
Ron P. Jaffe/Fox
In the very final moments of its seventh season finale, How I Met Your Mother revealed that Barney Stinson's bride would turn out to be Robin Scherbatsky. And it was the moments immediately thereafter when a tidal wave of skepticism erupted from inside the souls of the viewing public. Critics, message boarders, and my roommate Matt (a longtime fan) all decried the possibility that Barney and Robin could really end up together. And now, just a merer few hours from their turn at the altar, some of us hold fast to that belief. And I think How I Met Your Mother knows that.
This week's hangover-themed episode "Rally" introduces a handful of scenes from the post-series timeline: we see Marshall get regrettably plastered during the last legs of his judgeship race (circa 2020), Lily get remorsefully hammered moments after dropping a teenaged Marvin off at college (circa 2030), and Robin wake up dead-faced in a Buenos Aires apartment building, beside an equally waffled Barney and what turns out to be someone else's baby (circa 2016). That last one seems to insinuate that the couple is still together two years after the wedding in question, as we're meant to believe that they would be. To the skeptic, the immediate sight of Barney and Robin waking up together seems like a buzzkill — "Well, there goes that theory!" — but as How I Met Your Mother has played the misdirection game so, so, so many times before, we're prompted to look at the clues.
One clue, anyway, and not a particularly subtle one: as she rises from her alcohol-induced mini-coma, Robin turns to Barney and asks, "Did last night really happen?" To which he mutters, "I think so." This is played off as a hat tip to the wild evening of hard partying the Stinson-Scherbatsky duo clearly endured... but if we're holding fast to our theory that Barney and Robin do not, in fact, get married at the end of our current Season 9, then we might be inclined to chalk this up to an un expected, perhaps regretted (and probably not unique) post-breakup drunken tryst. Hell, maybe Robin does love Barney, but she is simply chemically designed to spend her life as a lone wolf, having oddball adventures and focusing on her career as a journalist. And maybe Barney, who loves children, is meant to end up with a woman who wants them too (which he might, down the line... hopefully post-2016, if this is an indicator).
Of course, maybe it's actually not a trick, they do get married, the Buenos Aires trip is just some kind of weekend getaway, and our skepticism is all just nonsense. All possible. We just don't believe we can take anything from How I Met Your Mother at face value.
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Actor Jonah Hill had his plans for a quiet break at California's famous Hearst Castle ruined recently after Lady Gaga took over the estate to film a new music video. The Wolf of Wall Street star wanted to enjoy a low-key getaway before the Academy Awards next month (Mar14) by visiting the former home of media mogul William Randolph Hearst, which is now a state park, last week (ends14Feb14), but he reveals the trip was far from relaxing.
The Oscar nominee tells U.S. talk show host Jimmy Kimmel, "I wanted to take a trip just to clear my head and get away from all this Hollywood stuff and just go somewhere pretty and different and where I wouldn't see anyone from work or anything, so I decided to go up to Hearst Castle, which was beautiful...
"I was meant to have this private tour of the castle and I get there and they're shooting a Lady Gaga music video... There's just trucks and lights (everywhere) and I'm like, 'Oh no, this isn't a vacation at all!' and I knew all the teamster drivers, I'd worked with them on other films and stuff! I won't give away what the video's about because she's worked really hard on it, but I wasn't going to see 500 dancers... you know? But it was great, it was a beautiful castle, it just wasn't the desired escape that (I'd had in mind)."
Gaga agreed to help promote and preserve Hearst Castle by donating $250,000 (£156,250) to the estate's foundation in exchange for special permission to spend three days shooting a video at the architectural landmark.
Kimora Lee Simmons has reported tied the knot with her banker boyfriend Tim Leissner in a secret ceremony. The model-turned-fashion designer has yet to confirm the news that she has wed for a second time, but her ex-husband, rap mogul Russell Simmons, has fuelled the rumours by defending his former wife amid reports she's dating Cash Money Records CEO Bryan 'Birdman' Williams are dating.
In a tweet on Wednesday (19Feb14), Simmons, wrote, "All of us love @OfficialKimora but the fact is she is happily married. Tim has been family for a while now."
Kimora and Leissner, an executive at American investment banking firm Goldman Sachs, were spotted sporting rings on their left wedding fingers during a vacation in December (13). During their island getaway to St. Barts, the couple was joined by her ex-husband and their two daughters, and her son, Kenzo, with ex-boyfriend Djimon Hounsou.
Kimora and the music mogul finalised their divorce in 2009, while she and Hounsou split in 2012 after five years of dating.
Throughout his career, Philip Seymour Hoffman has found himself under Hollywood's brightest lights and dimmest corners.
The actor has made a clear effort to diversify his résumé over the years by floating between big blockbusters, microscopic indie-films and everything in-between, but his latest project, A Most Wanted Man, is pretty hard to classify since it's sending signals in both directions. The film is premiering at Sundance which would firmly plant it on the indie side of things (even though it's getting harder and harder to call most Sundance films indie with each passing year), but it also stars Rachel McAdams who has hardly taken a step out of the romcom genre safe zone. On the other hand, the film is based on a 2008 novel by John Le Carré, the prolific spy novelist who penned the inspiration for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy , a movie which wasn't very mainstream at all. So just how mainstream is A Most Wanted Man going to be? We've decided to rank all of Philip Seymour Hoffman's previous film by their level of mainstream appeal, starting with the bright and flashy Hollywood heavyweights, and ending with the movies that slipped out of our collective consciousness the moment they left festival screens.
Mission: Impossible 3The Hunger Games: Catching FireTwisterAlong Came PollyScent of a WomanThe Invention of LyingWhen a Man Loves a WomanThe GetawayPatch AdamsLeap of FaithCharlie Wilson’s WarThe Boat that RockedMoneyballCold MountainAlmost FamousThe Talented Mr. RipleyNobody’s FoolHard EightState and MainThe Ides of March25th HourMy Boyfriend’s BackDoubtMoney for NothingThe Big LebowskiCapoteThe Late QuartetMontanaLove LizaRed DragonNext Stop, WonderlandBoogie NightsThe SavagesThe MasterStrangers with CandyBefore the Devil Knows You’re DeadFlawlessJack Goes BoatingMagnolia Mary and MaxPunch-Drunk LoveJoey BreakerSynecdoche, New YorkHappiness
One Direction star Zayn Malik kicked off his 21st birthday celebrations with a fairytale trip to Disneyland Paris in France this week (ends10Jan14). The Best Song Ever hitmaker, who turns 21 on Sunday (12Jan14), took some time out of his busy schedule to enjoy the fun-filled birthday getaway with his fiancee Perrie Edwards.
The couple, who became engaged last year (13), stayed at the luxury Disneyland Hotel and was even treated to a special visit from the theme park's most famous resident - Mickey Mouse.
Since leaving The Mindy Project over the holidays, this week's episode picked up where it left off with Mindy and Cliff's budding relationship. Facing typical new relationship "firsts," Mindy finds out that slipping off satin sheets is nothing compared to getting in a bikini. But after Cliff suggests a romantic getaway featuring a jacuzzi, Mindy is left to do just that with her winter body ("Over the holiday I had five hams and a goose, like I am a wolf in a children's story!"). Though she and Cliff have reached a "UTI" level of intimacy, Mindy reveals that through a series of illusions she can have sex without being seen naked. ("I pretend that I'm really into blindfolds.") Tasked with getting in shape and prying her hand out of a coffee cake, Mindy briefly employs Morgan before upgrading to Danny as her personal trainer, setting the primary plot line in motion. There were only a few cheesy Tinder jokes along the way. ("I'm on Timber, that's an app for loggers looking for trouble.")
Meanwhile Dr. Reed has fallen ill with, as we find out later, a case of the threesomes. Dr. Party Boy Peter Prentice takes over as managing partner at the practice, raising the classic question, "What could possibly go wrong?" Well, besides everything, Dr. Prentice finds that being in charge comes with challenges that broing out can't solve. Between conflicts with Morgan and Tamara and a cameo from Owlie the owl, his work is more than cut out for him. But while Mindy and Danny are off doing sit ups in Fat Steps, this secondary storyline is setting up Dr. Prentice and Dr. Reed to gain a greater understanding of each other as characters. It only took a million rubber gloves to do it.
Mindy sums up her motives for getting fit best, saying "I want to be so hot that Cliff would date me even if I had a bad personality." This inspires Danny more than anything to treat her like the weight loss equivalent of a "Marine movie where a guy kills himself during basic." As these two have danced around each other for nearly two seasons, their relationship makes us question if Danny is a romantic interest or just a facilitator of romantic interests for Mindy. Their platonic dynamic during this episode suggests that Danny is the only one who understands Mindy enough to motivate her ("Michael Fassbender is trapped in a well!"). Their familiar and misguided sexual tension returns with a slightly forced yet enjoyable steam room scene, where Danny not only sees Mindy naked, but gets stuck to her that way.
Mindy endures a leg injury and an offer of constructive criticism from Danny about her body, before they return to a practice full of new Prentice-induced problems. The primary and secondary storylines meet when Mindy strips down in front of the mirror in her office, exposing herself to Owlie as Danny walks in. Misunderstanding his suggestion as criticism about her body, a fully-clothed Mindy unloads her insecurities on Danny ("I know that I have a scar on my back that looks like a swastika!") and fires him as her trainer. Danny clarifies and concludes the episode, only suggesting that she should not suck in her stomach so much. He offers further hope for a slow burn romance with Mindy, telling her she's got a body like a woman and should not change that.
Courteney Cox felt out of place ringing in 2014 in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico with best pal Jennifer Aniston, her fiance Justin Theroux, Howard Stern and comedian Jimmy Kimmel - because she was the only single member of the party. The actress recalled the holiday get together when she became the first guest of the new year on Kimmel's U.S. late night show on Monday (06Jan14).
Cox explained, "We had the greatest time. I loved every minute of it. I really did. It was so much fun. All of you were so fun and funny... It was a memorable trip... It's something I will never forget."
But the Scream star, who recently began dating Snow Patrol rocker Johnny McDaid, admits she felt like the odd one out most of the time, adding, "There were three happy, loving couples, so you guys were all lovey-dovey all the time - and me."
So she spent much of her time texting her daughter Coco, who was celebrating the New Year with her father David Arquette in Aspen, Colorado.
The celebrity group, which also included Kimmel's new bride Molly McNearny and Stern's wife Beth Ostrosky, all stayed at the same private beachfront resort.
Universal via Everett Collection
Every movie I saw in 2013, ranked from worst to best:
112. IDENTITY THIEFThe first comedy movie to not make me laugh once.
111. SAVING MR. BANKSInsulting, manipulative, dishonest, and unkind, with occasional song breaks.
110. SCARY MOVIE 5These movies have gotten much worse since we were 13.
109. GETAWAYINT. RACECAR. NIGHT. Ethan Hawke and Selena Gomez crash into stuff.
108. GROWN UPS 2So much vomiting, so many homophobic jokes, so little plot.
107. I GIVE IT A YEARAn ugly, loveless rom-com that isn't clever enough to be satire.
106. DEAD MAN DOWNAll I remember is a whole lot of dark alleyways.
105. A GLIMPSE INSIDE THE MIND OF CHARLES SWAN IIIThe best part is the closing credits (I'm not being flip, they're actually kind of fun).
104. MOVIE 43Bad offensive joke after bad offensive joke after bad offensive joke...
103. WINNIE MANDELADesperately important story turned into a desperately dull movie.
102. TWICE BORNNo summary available due to lack of anything interesting happening in this movie.
101. R.I.P.D.Somebody forgot to give Ryan Reynolds any jokes.
New Line Cinema via Everett Collection
100. THE INCREDIBLE BURT WONDERSTONEThis movie could have been funny if Wonderstone wasn't such a d**k.
99. ONLY GOD FORGIVESInteresting in the moments when it's not shoving its unpleasantness down your throat.
98. MAN OF STEELSetup: cerebral reinvention of Superman. Payoff: mass property damage.
97. CARRIEBeat-by-beat remake without any of the original's spirit.
96. THE TO DO LISTUncomfortably raunchy and mean. Thank God for Bill Hader.
95. KICK-ASS 2More Mean Girls shtick would have benefited this weak sequel.
94. PHANTOMI'm not sure this was actually a finished movie.
93. WRONGObnoxiously nonsensical, but not without its share of laughs.
92. THE SMURFS 2Mostly cloying, but Neil Patrick Harris is incurably watchable.
91. HANSEL & GRETEL: WITCH HUNTERS Dumb.
89. NOW YOU SEE MEPossibly the worst ending in a 2013 movie, but a few bits of fun along the way.
88. WE'RE THE MILLERS[Pop culture reference]
87. RED 2John Malkovich's facial contortions save this from total failure.
86. STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS It hsa a few pros, but is mostly one giant... well, you know.
85. RIDDICKSurprisingly intriguing, when it isn't being deplorably sexist.
84. FREE BIRDSEh, turkeys are kinda funny.
83. PRISONERS Thankfully, scenes of Hugh Jackman yelling are intercut with the far superior scenes of Jake Gyllenhaal yelling.
82. WHITE REINDEER Any minute now, this movie is going to reveal its inner glory! Any minute now!
81. EVIL DEAD A better horror flick than the original! But still mostly forgettable.
80. GBFMostly charming, undone by its "safe" and "classy" ending.
79. THE RELUCTANT FUNDAMENTALISTIt's kind of hard to get past how boring the title is.
78. DESPICABLE ME 2 Lots of minions. People like minions, right?
77. JOHN DIES AT THE END Not nearly as weird as it thinks it is or wants to be.
76. 2 GUNSHey, wait a minute, this movie is kinda funny! ... Not that funny, but kinda.
75. SOMEBODY UP THERE LIKES MEI like to call this movie Click Offerman.
74. WHITE HOUSE DOWNWould be more fun if we were ready to laugh about terrorism.
73. AT ANY PRICEBoooriii— HOLY S**T WHERE THE F**K DID THAT COME FROM?!
72. BAD MILONot quite up to par with your expectations for the "Ken Marino has a demon in his butt" synopsis.
71. MONSTERS UNIVERSITYLackluster prequel, nice to look at, big band music.
70. THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS: CITY OF BONES In its audacity, this silly amalgam of YA tropes can actually be a lot of fun.
69. THE CONJURING Fascinating subplots about the exorcism industry would be better served at the head of the film.
68. PEEPLESThere's a joke about wristwatches that I still think about.
67. SIDE EFFECTSSoderbergh's farewell caper doesn't have as much fun as its loony plot would demand.
66. ELYSIUMBroad and clumsy, but how wrong can you go with Bald Matt Damon?
65. OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFULIt works with Dark Side of the Moon.
64. THE COUNSELORThe book was better. Wait, this wasn't a book? Well it should have been.
63. IN A WORLD...A fun, biting look at an unappreciated industry! ... until it dissolves into mild genericism.
62. THE LONE RANGER Oh come on, you didn't love the William Tell climax?
61. THE WOLVERINENot always engaging, but at least it's about something.
Summit Entertainment via Everett Collection
60. WARM BODIESNot really about anything, but at least it's engaging.
59. THE BROKEN CIRCLE BREAKDOWNUndeniably powerful, but feels like it could use a few more revisions.
58. ENDER'S GAMESpace Camp: The Movie! (Slightly less expensive than actual space camp.)
57. PACIFIC RIMMonsters vs. robots aside, there's a riveting world constructed in the backdrop of this sci-fi epic.
56. ANCHORMAN 2: THE LEGEND CONTINUESThe battle royale does not disappoint.
55. YOU'RE NEXTThe fun, swift hook isn't nearly as interesting as the great character work that it replaces.
54. THE WAY WAY BACKI, too, long to get life advice from a waterpark-dwelling Sam Rockwell.
53. SOME VELVET MORNINGEven if you see the twist coming, the chemistry here is impeccable.
52. THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIREShut up, Peeta, I'm trying to watch all the good parts of this movie.
51. 20 FEET FROM STARDOMA story that deserves a little more spirit and energy than it is given in this documentary.
50. DON JONNo. 50 on "Best Movies" list, No. 1 on "Best Trailers."
49. THE ROCKETA feel-good kids' adventure substantiated by the gravities of war. Wins in both areas.
48. CRYSTAL FAIRY & THE MAGICAL CACTUS AND 2012Beautifully shot, interestingly written, impressively acted.
47. MUD Yes, we all loved The Goonies, and we all loved David Wooderson, so...
46. CUTIE AND THE BOXER A vivid struggle that is equal parts artistically, martially, and internally based. Engrossing all the way.
45. CAPTAIN PHILLIPS Tom Hanks' best performance in ages in a dramatic thriller that feels real (for obvious reasons).
44. THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG As a Legend of Zelda fan, this movie's world awakened something in me.
43. FRUITVALE STATIONThis character story is at odds with its out-universe goal, but Michael B. Jordan is unforgettable.
42. BEFORE MIDNIGHTI'm still not sure how I feel about that ending, but it was good to catch up wit Jesse and Celine.
41. DARK TOUCHEverything that Carrie could have been. A shocking fantasy about human pains.
Walt Disney Co via Everett Collection
40. THOR: THE DARK WORLDMore Chris O'Dowd.
39. BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLORIntellectually stimulating, but doesn't hit all its emotional marks.
38. THE WORLD'S ENDI've been saying "Gooey Wooey Egg Man" for months.
37. THE GREAT GATSBYLights! Music! Pizzazz! Moxy! The bee's knees! The cat's pajamas!
36. ENOUGH SAIDBest TV drama's male lead + best TV comedy's female lead = quite a charming romantic dramedy.
35. SIGHTSEERSWell, this is rather amusi— HOLY S**T WHERE THE F**K DID THAT COME FROM?!
34. THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINESNot sure if the "three stories" approach makes for the most powerful character work, but it's an enchanting ride.
33. THE WE AND THE I A bus full of inner-city high school kids turns into a magical kingdom thanks to Gondry's dreamy edge.
32. NEWLYWEEDSA love triangle with marijuana as the third party. Weighty, but never overly so, and funny throughout.
31. GRAVITY. . .
30. PRINCE AVALANCHE Heh heh, look at Paul Rudd's mustache.
29. THE WOLF OF WALL STREET Yes, we all loved the 'ludes scene. Very, very much.
28. ALL IS LOSTRobert Redford, you still got that same oomph. You too, ocean.
27. SAVING LINCOLN The weirdest, goofiest, funniest biopic about Abraham Lincoln ever.
26. THE KINGS OF SUMMER Kids run away, live in the woods, grow up, make jokes. Always a charming endeavor.
25. AMERICAN HUSTLE Little more than a cartoon, but an emotionally explosive and riotous one at that.
24. THE HEAT Melissa McCarthy insisting on stepping out of a moving car earns a full five minutes of laughter alone.
23. DRINKING BUDDIESNever dips too low on the emotional spectrum, but stays real and fresh in the face of the rom-com genre.
22. UPSTREAM COLORA difficult, confusing, harrowing thinker.
21. STOKER Somehow both effectively haunting and deliciously fun.
Room 237: the movie/Facebook
20. ROOM 237 Less a doting tribute to The Shining or Kubrick than it is to movie-lovers and their bottomless well of theories.
19. BLUE JASMINE Each party fires on all cylinders in Woody Allen's Streetcar gem, Sally Hawkins especially.
18. S#X ACTSThe sadness of this story of our youth's desperate obsession with and reliance on sex is its authenticity.
17. IRON MAN 3 The first true action comedy in Marvel's line of films shows how much fun superhero movies can really be.
16. ESCAPE FROM TOMORROW Take notes, John Dies at the End. THIS is one weird f**king movie.
15. NEBRASKA Father vs. son, past vs. present, dreams vs. reality. Everything here is touching, funny, and inviting.
14. PAIN & GAIN Michael Bay talks a long, hard look in the mirror with this biting send-up of everything his other movies represent.
13. THIS IS THE ENDFar more interesting and insightful than it will get credit for being, This Is the End uses a literal apocalypse and no dearth of d**k jokes to deconstruct tenets of friendship and social politics.
12. THE ACT OF KILLING While this documentary would benefit from restructuring, the power of its message (especially its final few monents, not to mention the "anonymous"-heavy credits) is painfully resonant.
11. FROZENOffering the magic and whimsy you'll remember from time-honored Disney classics, but so much more in the way of its message, Frozen might very well be the most magnificent and meaningful animated feature yet to spring from Walt's legacy.
10. COMPUTER CHESSIt doesn't have much to say about the human condition (beyond maybe highlighting our propensity for arrogance and self-directed delusion). It doesn't tell a story that'll stick with you for very long. But Computer Chess reigns supreme as, far and away, the funniest movie of 2013.
9. SPRING BREAKERS A dark, wicked, wholly upsetting reflection of the toxic direction in which we might be headed. And James Franco gives a tour-de-force of a performance with his demonic scoutmaster Alien.
8. IT'S A DISASTER An intelligent, meticulously directed farce about group politics and conflicting personal philosophies, executed to near perfection thanks to the rhythmic participation of a more than capable cast.
7. 12 YEARS A SLAVEAn unprecedented masterpiece that sings the traumas not only of Solomon Northrup, a free man captured and sold into slavery, but in his fellow sufferers as well. For my money, the true anchor of the story is in Lupita Nyong'o's Patsey, whose suffering is unlike anything we've seen managed on the big screen in years.
6. HER With so much to say about such tremendous topics, Her manages to still dive so deep into the heart of its story: the pangs of love in the wake of the inevitable fallibilities of romantic relationships. Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson alike give dynamic performances, and Spike Jonze mystifies us with his strange, cold, all-too-familiar world.
A24 via Everett Collection
5. THE SPECTACULAR NOWThis is one of those movies you try to convince yourself to inch out of your top 10, or five, for fear of being seen as juvenile. ButThe Spectacular Now hits such genuine notes with Miles Teller's Sutter, climaxing at a moment where you'll recognize an angst so true to life and so criminally absent from most movies about the journey toward self-love.
4. FRANCES HA Months and months after my first encounter with it, this deceptively simple film sticks in my head, reminding me that its every artful beat is riddled with emotional weight and ironic humor alike. Greta Gerwig and director Noah Baumbach give us the a New York movie to rival Annie Hall, zooming in and out of the perspective of the young women and men who occupy, and drown within, today's version of the biggest, most stupefying city in the world.
3. INSIDE LLEWYN DAVISSadness, coldness, loneliness, failure... such wonderful things when handled by filmmakers like the Coen Brothers. Padding this antithesis of triumph with some of the most beautiful, somber music you'll hear all year, Inside Llewyn Davis makes us fall in love all over again with the very idea of the artistic struggle.
Touchstone Pictures via Everett Collection
2. THE WIND RISESHayao Miyazaki's final movie doesn't pass judgment on its hero, a man so devoted to his work (building weapons) that he neglects his wife, sister, and friends. It doesn't endorse these choices either. Instead, it hones in on the passions of its hero/antihero, challenging us to sympathize with a fellow whose only desire is to do his job while we lament his sacrifices. More even than Gravity does the frequently airborne animated picture induce dizzy spells as we connect with the conglomerate of colorful, intriguing characters in this grim but dainty biography.
Cinedigm via Everett Collection
1. SHORT TERM 12 There are so few flaws to highlight in The Wind Rises, Inside Llewyn Davis, Frances Ha, and the other entries on this top 10 list. What separates Short Term 12 is not a complete lack of error, but in an umatched spirit for the telling of its story. The movie wants us to feel the pains of counselor Grace (Brie Larson) and the disavantaged children for whom she cares, highlighting abused Jayden (Kaitlyn Dever) and orphan Marcus (Keith Stanfield). It also wants us to feel the hope that it brings to these characters in their plight to overcome the hands they have been dealt. Every emotion in this movie carries through with such force. For those of us who know any of these trials personally, they ring tremendously true. For others, they work to invite you into this sad but hopeful world. We've been gifted with a ton of exemplary cinematic works this year, but nothing sticks with me more than this tearful, heartrending masterpiece.
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