It's that time of year again, and Up to Date's independent, foreign and documentary film critics have picked their favorite films of the year. Drumroll, please, for Cynthia Haines, Steve Walker and Bob Butler's choices.
Here are their favorites (in no particular order) with some descriptions from Steve Walker:
- The Crash Reel (documentary)
- Blue is the Warmest Color (foreign) The French film that won the Palme d'Or at this year's Cannes Film Festival is a masterful portrait of a young woman's sexual awakening, from high school through her mid-twenties. The fact that she's in love with a woman is truly beside the point.
- Stories We Tell (documentary)
- Mud (indie) Matthew McConaughey proves he has formidable acting chops as a loner on the lam in a film noir and character study with a hint of the Southern Gothic.
- Philomena (foreign)
- 12 Years a Slave (indie) Chiwetel Ejiofor is a worthy front-runner for Best Actor in director Steve McQueen's brutal but, at times, beautiful portrait of a black man whose freedom in New York is lost when he gets hijacked in the South. Perhaps the most artistic film of the year.
- Blackfish (documentary) A disturbing, astutely edited documentary about the abuse and neglect - and subsequent violence - of orca whales at Sea World and other water parks. It's as important as it is hard to watch.
- The Hunt (foreign) Danish director Thomas Vinterberg's hard-hitting drama is about an elementary school teacher (Mads Mikkelson) who fights to save his reputation after being rashly accused of sexual misconduct with a child.
- Blue Jasmine (indie) In Woody Allen's best movie in some time, Cate Blanchett gives a flawless, virtuosic performance as a women running from her past who gets caught in tragic lies of her own and her husband's making.
- Twenty Feet From Stardom (documentary)