Cord Arts presents: the best of 2013

(Graphic by Lena Yang)

Top Ten Films
1. 12 Years a Slave
After winning the People’s Choice Award at TIFF, Steve McQueen’s latest film has garnered nothing but praise for its portrait of savagery in the midst of the American slave trade. Although brutal, the film features a powerhouse performance by Chiwetel Ejiofor in the title role as Solomon Northup, a free man who is captured, taken away from his family, and delivered into a horrific period of slavery.

2. Gravity
Dizzying in its cinematography and stunningly visual in its scope,  Gravity is a cinematic triumph from director Alfonso Cuarón that is not to be missed. The film is a testament to the technological development of 3D film, but also possesses great performances from Sandra Bullock and George Clooney and has a poignant message at its emotional core.

3. Before Midnight
Before Sunrise and Before Sunset depicted the beginning and evolution of a romance that was rekindled every decade. However, the latest installment in the trilogy from Richard Linklater examines the maturation and perpetuation of love that Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Céline (Julie Delpy) began on a train two decades earlier. For those who crave a serious perspective on the trials and tribulations of being in love, this is a must-see.

4. Mud
Some may remember the Matthew McConaughey of old, who starred in a flurry of cheesy romantic comedies, but that man has transformed into an actor capable of tremendous dramatic range, as displayed in Mud. If you enjoyed McConaughey’s darker criminal turn in Killer Joe, then sit back and enjoy the twisting narrative of Mud that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

5. Blue Is the Warmest Colour
Blue Is the Warmest Colour tells the story of two female lovers that are pushed to the brink of both their mental and physical boundaries. Adèle, played by Adèle Exarchopolous, falls in love with a mysterious and seductive blue-haired art student named Emma, played by Léa Seydoux. The film offers a moving look at youthful growth and romance through the pleasure and pain that the two protagonists derive from each other.

6. The World’s End
Edgar Wright delivers audiences the much-anticipated finale to his “Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy” (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, The World’s End) and he picks up right where he left off.  Not only does Wright supply even more laughs and outrageous circumstances, that Simon Pegg and Nick Frost once again have to confront in order to save the world, but the great comedic ensemble of British actors is an even bigger selling point for the film.

7. Blue Jasmine
If you’ve enjoyed countless hours of Cate Blanchett’s Oscar worthy performances in the past, then you’ll enjoy her most recent one in Woody Allen’s return to form, Blue Jasmine. Blanchett plays an alcoholic in denial and her ability to dominate the screen, let alone Woody Allen’s unique sense of comedy and drama, is enough to make this film one of the years best.

8. Fruitvale Station
Based on a tragic true story, Michael B. Jordan plays Oscar Grant, a man looking to seize his shot at redemption in life and make something of himself prior to his unjustified murder by a police officer at Fruitvale Station in Oakland, California. His story is both heartbreaking and inspirational. Jordan delivers the breakout performance of the year and is a definite star to watch in the future.

9. All is Lost
What happens when man is pushed to the edge of survival after a disaster at sea? Robert Redford has the answer in yet another career-defining performance as a sailor who is forced to dig deep within himself to battle the elements. The film is a study of mankind’s perseverance, as well as isolation, and offers a genuine vision of how to keep living when you have nothing left.

10. Prisoners
If you’re searching for the best crime-drama film of the year, then look no further than Canadian Director Denis Villeneuve’s Prisoners. This is a dark thriller that thrives on its ability to make the audience uncomfortable because of the moral boundaries that it pushes following the kidnapping of two children in a quiet neighbourhood.

—Compiled by Andrew Savory

Top Ten Music Singles
1. “Reflektor” – Arcade Fire
Arcade Fire has owned Canadian music charts this past year. Their album was released in October 2013, but “Reflektor” was released as a single in early September. Upbeat sounds, to-die-for harmonization and French verses makes the track a national pride.

2. “Young and Beautiful” – Lana Del Rey
Debuted in The Great Gatsby, listeners couldn’t go anywhere without hearing Lana Del Rey’s soulful voice. It has a timeless sound and Lana’s effortless voice lies unparalleled. It’s poetic, it’s gentle and it’s inspirational. This track is a huge contribution to both the industry and to Lana’s career.

3. “Royals” – Lorde
At 17 years old, 2013 was definitely Lorde’s year. Lorde signed a massive recording contract and made a name for herself internationally. Vocally, lyrically, and musically, “Royals” was destined to be a hit upon its release in late 2012, but dominated the radio and top 100 for weeks in 2013.

4. “Get Lucky” – Daft Punk
“Get Lucky” was the perfect summer song—its infectious beat ensured that everyone was up all night to party and dance. A successful collaboration between Pharrell and Daft Punk, this came off their 2013 release Random Access Memories.

5. “Black Skinhead” – Kanye West

Kanye West has done it again with his latest album Yeezus, specifically his single “Black Skinhead” that debuted at 69 on the Billboard Top 100.   Also stylized as “BLKKK SKKKN HEAD,” this single was recently featured in the trailer for The Wolf Of Wall Street starring Leonardo DiCaprio that will be coming out on Christmas Day.

6. “We Can’t Stop” – Miley Cyrus
Miley Cyrus changed a lot in 2013, to put it lightly. With the focus on Miley as a person, rather than Miley’s talent, it’s easy to overlook Cyrus’ strong vocals in the track. With a controversial music video and catchy lyrics, it certainly is memorable.

7. “Work” – Iggy Izalea
This track was huge in the UK and in the singer’s country of origin, Australia. We all know her story—she moved to Florida at 16 and has been working toward success ever since. The girl is fierce and extremely talented: “Work” describes her struggle and rise to fame with an upbeat tempo you’re likely to hear at most clubs. She’s modest and young, and I’m positive we’ll be hearing more Iggy in 2014.

8. “Wake Me Up” – Avicii
This song makes 2013’s top 10 singles list as it was released mid-summer and continues to make waves in the music industry. It conquered charts around the globe and features vocals from Aloe Blacc. “Wake Me Up” has inspired listeners to delve into and explore electronic dance music.

9. “Hold On, We’re Going Home” – Drake
The second single off of Nothing Was The Same, Drake has had a rather successful year. “Hold On, We’re Going Home” has blown up on the charts and is a soulful departure from Drake’s usual hard-hitting rapping.

10. “Story of My Life” – One Direction
Of course everybody’s favourite boy-band had to make the list. “Story of My Life” shows musical maturity from the band’s hit “What Makes You Beautiful.” One Direction co-wrote the single and fans from around the world have fallen in love with this new, more mature, musical style. These guys were a force to be reckoned with in 2013.

—Compiled by Cristina Almudevar and Cara Peticca

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