This has been an excellent year for movies, in fact I can’t remember a period so good. Here is what I liked, noting that foreign films are classified by “what year did I have a chance to see them?” and not by their initial years of release, which are usually pre-2013. Here goes, more or less in the order I saw them:
Amour, by Michael Haneke.
The Chilean movie NO, which is an account of how, even in the strangest of circumstances, democracies filter policy outcomes, as indeed autocracies do too (in different ways).
The Gatekeepers, I taught that one in Law and Literature class last year.
Room 237, an excellent mock on Straussians, through the medium of the fandom cult for Kubrick’s The Shining.
Before Midnight, completes the trilogy realistically, with charm and bite.
In a World…, “a subtle and entertaining movie with much economics in it, most of all the economics of superstars in the “voiceover” sector.”
The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceacescu, “is mesmerizing, like watching one of the great silent films of the past, and the scenes where the Chinese communists praise the Romanian communists are some of the best ever filmed.”
Pieta, brutal Korean brutal tale involving money lenders and non-price compensation schemes.
In Another Country, Korean and French juxtaposed.
The Attack, possibly my favorite of the year, if I had to pick. Lebanese and Israeli in its sources.
The Act of Killing, mostly set in Sumatra, brutal, has lots of social science.
Happy People: A Year in the Taiga, don’t tell Stevenson and Wolfers. Directed by Werner Herzog.
Captain Phillips — treat the two embedded stories as implicit commentary on each other.
12 Years a Slave
Hollywood redeemed itself with those last three, after what was otherwise a dismal year for mainstream releases.
I loved the documentary In Search of Blind Joe Death: The Saga of John Fahey, although perhaps it is for fans only.
The crop of Christmas movies isn’t even out yet.