Ben Umstead's 2013 In Cinema: Reflections And Favorites

Ben Umstead, East Coast Editor
2013 was a banner year for cinema. Though really, if one looks hard enough, every year has the sweet, sweet possibility of being a banner year. What I've learned this year is that it is okay to call myself a film critic (though I prefer film journalist). And yet what I do may not always be what we have come to know as criticism. Shall we just say I write about motion pictures then?

The greatest thing I've learned arose from both that metaphysical and philosophical quandary, which is this: the more cinema I take in the less I feel I know about the medium, and yet I become clearer in why I need cinema as a way to filter and reflect the rest of reality around me. Is this a didactic coping mechanism or a continuously miraculous love affair? This also makes me altogether more aware of when I don't need cinema in my life; of when it can become a crux, when I can become obedient and perhaps complacent to its forms, be it mainstream narrative or avant-garde documentary. At the end of the day -- and at the beginning -- I am an infant then; curious and afloat in this sea of sights and sounds. 

So why say all this and then make a top 20 favorite films list in descending order? It seems rather ridiculous, doesn't it? Well, my only hope is that the answers are in the movies themselves. So without further ado... seen at festivals, on VOD, in limited and wide release, my favorite films of 2013.