The 20 Best Films of 2013

12/18/2013 4:00 AM |

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At Berkeley
Frederick Wiseman

It seems remarkable that Wiseman, rightfully heralded as this country’s preeminent chronicler of social institutions, had not until now tackled the American university. In this, his 40th feature documentary, Wiseman gives us an epic portrait of a beloved public institution at a moment of economic crisis. He offers an expansive meditation on the existential realities of higher learning today, and explores the friction between ideals and authority, as well as the responsibilities accompanying privilege in a country riddled with economic disparity.
Paul Dallas

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Alfonso Cuaron

Cuaron’s nailbiter-in-space succeeds not despite the ostensible simplicity of its screenplay but because of it—the way that simplicity interacts with its effortless-looking technical virtuosity. This is what survival looks like: elemental on the outside, insanely complicated just below the surface.
Jesse Hassenger