Still from Her (Spike Jonze, Warner Bros. 2013) Image Source
1. Frances Ha: This movie is just so easy to relate to (at least for the 20-something crowd, or really anyone who has been a 20-something). The plot is fairly simple- a young woman living in NYC and having trouble with her job, her friends, and finding a place to live, but it's hilarious because it's so true to life for a lot of people. Pretty much all of the things that happen to Frances have either happened to me or someone I know. One of my favorite lines from the movie was when her credit card gets rejected at a restaurant and she says to the person she's dining with, "I'm so embarrassed. I'm not a real person yet." Exactly how I feel sometimes.
2. Before Midnight: If you liked the other movies in the Before Sunrise series, you'll probably love this one. You have to be interested in the kind of movie where the plot completely revolves around conversations between two people. I think that's what makes it seem so real- it's not about big things happening all the time, it's just about people talking about life and figuring things out. This movie is a bit less lighthearted than the previous movies in the series, which only makes it better. Ethan Hawke and Julie Delphy are brilliant, I love both of them.
3. Her: I think many people were deterred by the previews for this movie because it seemed like a strange concept- a man falling in love with an operating system. I don't think the concept is really that strange at all though- everyone is just looking for a connection with someone. Theodore's operating system, Samantha, provides that for him at a moment when he really needs it. Joaquin Phoenix is always amazing but I especially loved him in this. It's such a unique movie in the romantic comedy/drama genre. It's not strictly about love, but about all of the emotions that come along with it.
4. 12 Years a Slave: This movie achieved exactly what it intended to. It was intense and sad and sometimes very hard to watch. The fact that it's based on a true story makes it all the more disturbing and upsetting. The acting was phenomenal, especially Chiwetel Ejiofor who plays Solomon Northup, the free black man who is sold into slavery. It's one of the most historically accurate movies about slavery in America and it's something that everyone needs to see.
5. Stories We Tell: I'm always interested in seeing new documentaries, and this one didn't disappoint. Sarah Polley interviews family and friends about the life of her deceased mother in an effort to uncover the truth about family secrets. Although at first glance it seems like just a family's story complete with personal photos and home videos, it's actually a compelling look at the way different people view the same person. The interviews are sweet, sad, funny, and fascinating all at once.
Inside Llewyn Davis and Blue Jasmine almost made the list. It's so hard to choose! Did you see any of these movies? What were your favorite movies this year?