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World Cinema – 2013 Top Picks

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Welocalize’s content marketer and cinema devotee Louise Law shares this fun end-of-year post about her favorite 2013 films with a “global” appeal.

As we head for the end of another year, I thought I’d share my top five favorite films that I watched in 2013. It’s been a great year for film, not just the Hollywood blockbusters,  also for world cinema. In no order, here’s my top five picks:

Blue Jasmine

Woody Allen is at his best. Jasmine (Cate Blanchett) is a rich Manhattan socialite who spectacularly falls into poverty and homelessness after her rogue husband Hal (Alec Baldwin) loses all their money. Cate Blanchett is remarkable as Jasmine. You don’t know whether to laugh or cry when she repeatedly lurches towards the drink cabinet , dressed in Chanel, to pour yet another vodka. I reckon this film will make the 2014 Oscars list, especially for Blanchett’s performance.  Film fact: Blue Jasmine has been favorably compared to Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire.

Zero Dark Thirty

This film is Kathryn Bigelow’s dramatization of the manhunt for al Qaeda leader, Osama bin Laden. Yes, the film generated some controversy due to some torture scenes and questionable accuracy; however,  for pure cinematic entertainment, WOW! This film had me on the edge of my seat, holding my breath for two and a half hours(and let’s face it, we all know how this story ends. Especially the last 30 minutes were captivating, which shows the military raid that result in Bin Laden’s death.  It was an awesome cinema experience.  Jessica Chastain played the main character, Maya, a female CIA agent, who is coolly focused on tracking down Bin Laden. She received a well-deserved Oscar nomination for best actress, though she lost out to Jennifer Lawrence for Silver Linings Playbook.  I’d also like to tip my cap to Bigelow’s first film, Point Break (1991). Glorious surfing thriller with Patrick Swayze and Keanu Reeves. Genius.

The Hunt

A Danish film directed by Thomas Vinterberg. Mads Mikkelsen, now of Dr Hannibal Lector fame, plays Lucas.  He is a school teacher, who is wrongfully accused of abusing a friend’s child. Uncomfortable subject matter and if you don’t like feeling awkward, this is not for you. The film demonstrates how quickly things can spiral out of control when lie becomes truth, thanks to gossip, doubt and group hysteria.  The film focuses on how Lucas is rapidly shunned by his close-knit Danish community. There is also an interesting plot twist in the last 5 minutes. Apart from the awkwardness, The Hunt is a thought-provoking, well-made film.

Prisoners

An American thriller about the abduction of two young girls and the search for them. Starring Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhal. It’s quite brutal at times but it is a well-crafted drama, with multiple plotlines. A bit like a really thick thriller you might read on holiday. The film touches on a number of subjects like guilt, crime, punishment, revenge and what can happen when a parent turns vigilante. Set in Pennsylvania, USA, it’s either raining or snowing all the time. It’s a dark film and combined with the subject matter, the mood is bleak. Another couple of hours of awkwardness.

Untouchable

This was released in 2011 but I only saw it on DVD a couple of months ago. I did want to go to see it at the cinema, but quite often independent films just don’t make it onto the large multiplex cinemas. Blink and you miss it. So, I had to wait until it came out on DVD.

Untouchable. There aren’t enough words in the English language to describe how good this French film is so I may have to borrow some from my translator colleagues (wunderbar! inspirant! molto bello! marauilloso! 美麗, 鮮やかな). This French film is a comedy-drama based on the unlikely friendship between Philippe, a quadriplegic French Aristocrat and Driss, his French-Algerian ex-con carer. Based on a true story, Untouchable features so many funny and touching scenes, just go and see it. Omar Sy plays Driss and  Francois Cluzet plays aristocrat, Philippe Pozzo di Borgo. Both give exceptional performances.

The film received a lot of hype when it was first released and deserved it. Hollywood has now decided to remake it. With Hugh Jackson and Jennifer Lawrence. Let’s just wait and see.

My worst film from 2013 was Le Weekend. Film critics said this British film was good. It wasn’t. A not-very-nice, middle-aged, married, British couple (Jim Broadbent and Lindsey Duncan) spend a weekend in Paris, France, to rejuvenate their flagging marriage. This being set in Paris didn’t even stop me from continuously checking my watch, yawning and wondering what the point of it all was. Le week-end? Non.

I have to stop at five films but I could include many more – I’d shouldn’t but I am going to mention Identity Thief and The Heat, both films starring the American comedy actress, Melissa McCarthy. Both films made me laugh out loud. And I love that.

So, there you go. From feeling awkward, tense and tearful to smiling and laughing out loud, that’s my year in film.

What were your favorite films this year? Tell me and I’ll watch them too.

Louise

louise.law@welocalize.com

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