Directed by: Stephen Frears
"Philomena is not only my favorite film of 2013, but one of the most eloquent, powerful and perfect movies I have ever seen. A focused and triumphant performance by the miraculous Judi Dench keeps the harrowing aspects of a great story in flawless balance, and every other aspect of this film works like a hypnotic charm."
Directed by: Denis Villeneuve
"With Hugh Jackman as a distraught blue-collar father driven to the brink of madness when his daughter disappears in broad daylight and Jake Gyllenhaal as the seedy detective whose pokey sleuthing leads to unimagined horrors, you will be frozen to your seat with awe."
3. AMERICAN HUSTLE
Directed by: David O. Russell
"I wouldn’t call American Hustle my kind of movie, but perversely, I have to admit I enjoyed it, primarily because of the twisted logic and wicked cleverness. It’s a tangled mass of loosely connected extension cords constantly in need of plugging back in before they blow a fuse."
4. 12 YEARS A SLAVE
Directed by: Steve McQueen
"This gut-churning endurance test about a free man of color who was kidnapped and sold into slavery for 12 unspeakable years is so harrowing that any viewer with a weak stomach is cautioned ahead of time as a public service: Whole sections of 12 Years a Slave may be too unbearably wrenching for even the bravest soul to watch. But the impact is so profound that it would be a crime to miss it."
5. THE WOLF OF WALL STREET
Directed by: Martin Scorsese
"Clocking in just short of three hours’ running time, it needs a pair of scissors, another trip to the editing room and an intermission, but if you don’t have a bladder problem, The Wolf of Wall Street goes by as fast as a nap by the pool in Acapulco."
6. ALL IS LOST
Directed by: J.C. Chandor
"Goodness knows what this movie would be like without the brute force of Robert Redford’s intelligence, focus and self-confidence. Bruised and bleeding, it’s a physically and emotionally grueling role and a downright dangerous assignment, as well as something of an endurance test for Mr. Redford and the audience alike."
7. BLUE JASMINE
Directed by: Woody Allen
"Richly chronicled characters, sharp dialogue and that stupendous centerpiece performance by Cate Blanchett are contributing factors in the best summer movie of 2013 and one of the most memorable Woody Allen movies ever."
Directed by: Alexander Payne
"The movie is wrenchingly slow—you know from the start that nothing is ever going to happen—but Nebraska has a charm that grows on you like a lichen, a wicked sense of humor that makes you laugh in spite of yourself, a concealed heart soft as a Hostess Twinkie, and a generous, welcome respect for the basic decency of the human race."
9. WHAT MAISIE KNEW
Directed by: Scott McGehee and David Siegel
"Hearbreaking and real, What Maisie Knew addresses the question “How do children cope when they’re not a priority?” The answers are brutal but restorative."
10. DALLAS BUYERS CLUB
Directed by: Jean-Marc Vallée
"It’s the story of a lout who finds redemption through unexpected motivation, becoming an accidental activist in the process and learning a valuable lesson in humanity about how to help others after it’s too late to help himself."