The 20 Best Films of 2013

12/18/2013 4:00 AM |

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Alexander Payne

The easy premise occasions hilarious-devastating highs, rich with resignedly illogical filial duties; time- and booze-befogged loves and lashes; petty unpaid debts; and a wife’s affection disguised as constant abuse. Nebraskan Payne’s nastiness is just one of the black-and-white film’s many emotional pigments. He can retire from road movies, as this would be hard to top.
Justin Stewart

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The Square
Jehane Noujaim

Noujaim’s essential documentary profiles the Egyptian Revolution as a constant forge, less the result of nationalist people-power than a Gordian knot tied by military, secularist and Muslim Brotherhood blocs in the last two years. Noujaim and her crew obviously took nothing at face value, and their struggle as filmmakers makes for riveting viewing: across three wildly different men, the country is seen shapeshifting day-in-day-out from dictatorship to Islamist democracy and back again. With the ascension of Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s US-backed military regime, the air is thick with recrimination, a paranoid atmosphere where friends can become enemies practically overnight; Noujaim’s camera captures it all. 
Steve Macfarlane