Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
The Dissolve's Keith Phipps Will Be Uproxx's Film/TV Editor The Dissolve's Keith Phipps Will Be Uproxx's Film/TV Editor Criticwire Survey: The Worst Movie and TV Accents Ever Criticwire Survey: The Worst Movie and TV Accents Ever What Quentin Tarantino Gets Wrong About TV Critics What Quentin Tarantino Gets Wrong About TV Critics 'Manic Pixie Dream Girl' Is Officially Part of the English Language Now 'Manic Pixie Dream Girl' Is Officially Part of the English Language Now How 'Mr. Robot' Hacks TV's Empathy Machine How 'Mr. Robot' Hacks TV's Empathy Machine Joe Hill: Review Aggregrators Like Rotten Tomatoes Provide 'Confusion, Not Clarity' Joe Hill: Review Aggregrators Like Rotten Tomatoes Provide 'Confusion, Not Clarity' Noah Baumbach's Characters Are Still Coming of Age 20 Years Later Noah Baumbach's Characters Are Still Coming of Age 20 Years Later The 'Hannibal Finale' and the Dangers of Post-Mortem Interviews The 'Hannibal Finale' and the Dangers of Post-Mortem Interviews British Film Critic Was a Soviet Spy British Film Critic Was a Soviet Spy Real Life Hasn't Punished Jordan Belfort. Why Should 'The Wolf of Wall Street'? Real Life Hasn't Punished Jordan Belfort. Why Should 'The Wolf of Wall Street'? 'Fear the Walking Dead' Starts Slow, and Interest Is Already Waning 'Fear the Walking Dead' Starts Slow, and Interest Is Already Waning Daily Reads: Sexism Isn't Just a 'Straight Outta Compton' Problem, How Samuel L. Jackson Lost 'Reservoir Dogs,' and More Daily Reads: Sexism Isn't Just a 'Straight Outta Compton' Problem, How Samuel L. Jackson Lost 'Reservoir Dogs,' and More Daily Reads: Why Yale's Library Is Preserving VHS, Who Wins When a Brown Actor Plays a White Character, and More Daily Reads: Why Yale's Library Is Preserving VHS, Who Wins When a Brown Actor Plays a White Character, and More Daily Reads: What Colin Trevorrow Got Right About Female Directors, the Art of Cynical Sincerity in 'BoJack Horseman' and 'Rick and Morty,' and More Daily Reads: What Colin Trevorrow Got Right About Female Directors, the Art of Cynical Sincerity in 'BoJack Horseman' and 'Rick and Morty,' and More Daily Reads: 'Mistress America' and the Art of Making a Living as an Artist, How Summer TV Surprised Us, and More Daily Reads: 'Mistress America' and the Art of Making a Living as an Artist, How Summer TV Surprised Us, and More Criticwire Classic of the Week: Nicholas Ray's 'They Live By Night' Criticwire Classic of the Week: Nicholas Ray's 'They Live By Night' 'Scream' and 'Nightmare on Elm Street's' Wes Craven Dead at 76 'Scream' and 'Nightmare on Elm Street's' Wes Craven Dead at 76 Daily Reads: The Evolution of TV Criticism, "Queen of Earth" Is the Scariest Movie of the Summer, and More Daily Reads: The Evolution of TV Criticism, "Queen of Earth" Is the Scariest Movie of the Summer, and More 'The Gift': A Great Thriller (Almost) Ruined By a Terrible Ending 'The Gift': A Great Thriller (Almost) Ruined By a Terrible Ending Daily Reads: How 'Peak TV' Is Undermining Quality Control, Ranking Quentin Tarantino's Movie, and More Daily Reads: How 'Peak TV' Is Undermining Quality Control, Ranking Quentin Tarantino's Movie, and More

Dargis Cites 'The Counselor' and 'Rush' Among 2013's Best, Rails Against Box-Office Champs

Photo of Sam Adams By Sam Adams | Criticwire December 11, 2013 at 2:04PM

Another Top 15 (or 16) from a New York Times critic, including two movies that never played theaters.
3
Cameron Diaz in 'The Counselor'
Cameron Diaz in 'The Counselor'

Where A.O. Scott squeezed 15 films in his Top 10, his co-chief critic Manohla Dargis goes him one better, offering an alphabetical list of the year's 16 best, plus 23 more on her honor roll. But instead of elaborating on her generous list -- or, for that matter, explaining why it includes Steven Soderbergh's HBO biopic Behind the Candelabra and the documentary Manakamana, whose theatrical release isn't scheduled until 2014 -- she spends most of her essay railing against the year's box-office champs, none of which, unsurprisingly, make her list. (Rush and Captain Phillips are as close as she gets to popular successes.)

By the time the Toronto and New York festivals (Captain Phillips) kicked off in September, it seemed as if 2013 were on its way to becoming one of the best years in ages. That’s how it appears in the hothouse of a film festival, which can convince cinephiles that movies over all are better, more ambitious and adventurous than they are. Look closer, though, and you soon discover that this year was more or less like last year, and the top grossers at boxofficemojo.com --  the movies that most Americans see in theaters -- were dominated by sequels, franchises and reboots, from Iron Man 3 (the highest grosser, which vacuumed up more than a billion dollars worldwide) to The Wolverine (domestically No. 20).

I'm not entirely sure how shifting the focus to the year's most-seen films represents "a closer look" -- it seems more like taking a few steps back -- nor that a year should be principally defined by its biggest grossers. (Scroll back a decade or two and see how many of the box-office champs have endured). But at least her list focuses on the films worth remembering.

Manohla Dargis' Best Films of 2013

American Hustle 

Before Midnight

Behind the Candelabra

Captain Phillips

The Counselor

The Grandmaster

The Great Beauty

Her

Inside Llewyn Davis

MANAKAMANA

Redemption

Rush

Spring Breakers

The Square

A Touch of Sin

12 Years a Slave

This article is related to: From the Wire


E-Mail Updates