The Austin Chronicle

http://www.austinchronicle.com/screens/2014-01-03/kimberley-jones-top-10-list-kimberley-jones-top-10/

Kimberley Jones' Top 10 List

, January 3, 2014, Screens

1. Her The singularity inspires a singular romance. Whether or not Spike Jonze's sci-fi "what-if?" proves prescient, right here and right now it's an honest-feeling inquiry into the universal desire to be understood perfectly and loved anyway – or because.

2. 12 Years a Slave Yes, it's an "important" movie – an essential one – but it's also a rigorous, rattling work of artistic expression; I was dizzy afterward from holding my breath.

3. Before Midnight Linklater and co. dared to stray from the winning formula – that giddy stomach flip at new (or revived) love – to chew on the gristle of a committed relationship. Devastating, invigorating, and a crucial next step.

4. Inside Llewyn Davis If you find the Coen Brothers' take on melancholy and artistic frustration as weirdly warming as I do, then this winter distemper was like two hours cozied by a fire.

5. Short Term 12 I spontaneously burst into tears at the last shot of Destin Cretton's compact micro-indie about at-risk teens and their barely adult caretakers. So many feelings.

6. American Hustle In his quick-clip second act, David O. Russell might as well be belting "Let Me Entertain You." Sensuous, hilarious, expertly acted.

7. Frances Ha A beautifully composed picture of one woman wildly flailing. Greta Gerwig went splat like a champ, and who knew Noah Baumbach could be so cheering?

8. The Past Asghar Farhadi's fraught family melodrama afforded everyone a chance to give testimony in the cross-examination of past trauma; fix your eye in the right place, and even the coma patient had something to say.

9. Warm Bodies There were two Romeo and Juliet adaptations this year; this sweet, spry romantic comedy about zombies was the only one with a heartbeat.

10. Prince Avalanche Waggish comedy, or baffling/beguiling picture of the afterlife? I couldn't convince anyone of my pet theory that Alvin and Lance were actually dead, but whatever their purgatory – literal or figurative – it got under the skin.

NEAR MISSES

In the House, Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction, All Is Lost, It's a Disaster, Enough Said

MOST OVERRATED

The Wolf of Wall Street, Gravity, Room 237

MOST UNDERRATED

About Time, The Croods, Beautiful Creatures

ACTING KUDOS (MALE)

Joaquin Phoenix (Her), Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave), Christian Bale (American Hustle), Oscar Isaac (Inside Llewyn Davis), Robert Redford (All Is Lost)

ACTING KUDOS (FEMALE)

Amy Adams (American Hustle, Her), Adèle Exarchopoulos (Blue Is the Warmest Color), Brie Larson (Short Term 12), Lupita Nyong'o (12 Years a Slave), Bérénice Bejo (The Past)

BEST DIRECTOR

Spike Jonze (Her), Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave), J.C. Chandor (All Is Lost)

BEST SCREENPLAY (ORIGINAL)

Spike Jonze (Her), Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave), J.C. Chandor (All Is Lost)

BEST SCREENPLAY (ADAPTED)

Before Midnight (Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke, Richard Linklater), Short Term 12 (Destin Cretton), 12 Years a Slave (John Ridley)

WORST FILM

The makers of Movie 43 must have a slam book of Hollywood secrets under lock somewhere: How else did they enlist so many A-listers to this crap?

WILD CARD

Screwball Is the New Black: Her's divine future-forward fashion recalls Thirties' yesteryear, with men's high-waisted pants and white boxers, women's roomy trousers, and the most dashing mustache since Clark Gable's.

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