The venerable film magazine Sight & Sound, published by the British Film Institute, released its best of 2013 top-10 list on Friday, with the documentary The Act of Killing taking the top spot. The Sandra Bullock-George Clooney space adventure Gravity came in at No. 2, compiled from the votes of more than a hundred critics, curators and academics.
Rounding out the list was a mix of international titles with, in order from No. 3 to No. 10, France’s Blue is the Warmest Color, Italy’s The Great Beauty, the United States’ Frances Ha, China’s A Touch of Sin, the United States’ Upstream Color, the UK’s The Selfish Giant, the Philippines’ Norte, The End of History, and France’s Stranger by the Lake.
The Act of Killing has also recently been nominated for best documentary at both the Spirit Awards and Gotham Awards, as well as the top feature film award at the doc-centric Cinema Eye Honors. Directed by Joshua Oppenheimer, the film is an examination of Indonesian death squads and their impact on the country, blending recreation, fantasy and direct recollections to startling effect.
The Sight & Sound list comes just a few days after the French film magazine Cahiers du Cinema also released its top-10 list for 2013, topped by Stranger by the Lake. Also on the list, in order, were Spring Breakers, Blue Is the Warmest Color, Gravity, A Touch of Sin, Lincoln, Jealousy, Nobody’s Daughter Haewon, You and the Night and Age of Panic.
While both the Sight & Sound and Cahiers du Cinema lists reflect the release schedules of their respective nations — explaining the absence, say, of a film such as 12 Years a Slave — they do point out what could prove to be a few favourites among those who wing their way across the annual international festival circuit. The New York Film Critics Circle will announce its winners for the year on Tuesday, with the Los Angeles Film Critics Assn. following on December 8.
The Act of Killing should be considered a major contender for critics’ awards in doc categories, while Blue Is the Warmest Color, The Great Beauty and A Touch of Sin might reasonably be expected to continue to pop up in foreign language categories.