I'm a little behind on getting to this, but I didn't want to miss one of my favorite posts of the year, looking back at the best movies I saw for the first time in a given year that were originally released in previous years. Last year I didn't see as many older films as I would have liked, and I was unable to even put together a top 10 list. This year, however, I managed to get my movie-watching rate back up, and I saw quite a few older movies that I really liked. So here's a look at my favorite non-2013 movies of 2013 (some comments reproduced from Letterboxd).
Muriel Awards. I would have put it on my other official year-end ballots as well, since it's an impeccably crafted, slow-building horror movie that's also a fascinating character study of a pair of front-desk workers at a failing (and haunted, of course) New England hotel. Like West's equally excellent The House of the Devil, The Innkeepers builds tension meticulously, bit by bit, but it's also infused with a sly sense of humor and a dizzying visual style.
Las Vegas Jewish Film Festival asked me to moderate a discussion on this movie at the 2013 fest, and I was a little apprehensive that I wouldn't end up liking it, since reviews had been mixed. But it's quite an effective biopic, hitting the highlights of Serge Gainsbourg's life while also maintaining a whimsical magical-realist tone. Sfar uses his background as a comic-book artist to add fantasy elements to Gainsbourg's story, illustrating his inner emotional struggles far better than most soup-to-nuts biopics can ever manage.
wasn't crazy about Lord and Miller's take on 21 Jump Street, but I now find myself improbably looking forward to their toy-based The Lego Movie later this year.
didn't like at all, so this was sort of a revelation after that melodramatic, overwrought mess. It features some great natural chemistry among the main characters, even if
the plot drags a bit and the climax is a little heavy-handed. Nia Long's performance as the main character's smart, assertive ex-fling should have made her a huge star.