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2013 Year End Best Of

Minion Name:
  Inspector Jason  
  1. Free Your Mind by Cut Copy
    Cut Copy’s fourth album does not quite reach the masterpiece level of its predecessor, Zonoscope, but the tracks on Free Your Mind reverberate with youthful vigor reminiscent of the glory days of Manchester and The Hacienda.

  2. Ultramarine by The Ocean Blue
    The Ocean Blue’s reunion album, which was recorded piecemeal over the past decade or so, is a better album than we longtime fans had a right to expect, and it stands proudly alongside their heyday releases.

  3. English Electric by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark
    The reunited OMD really hit their stride with this remarkable listen that conjures memories of Architecture and Morality and Dazzle Ships.

  4. Crystal World by Marnie
    Helen Marnie of Ladytron made the most of her band’s hiatus with this gorgeously atmospheric album of cool synth tracks.

  5. Hearts and Knives by Visage
    File under: Another 1980s synth-pop band makes good with a reunion album that effectively captures the music of their heyday.

  6. m b v by My Bloody Valentine
    Speaking of reunion albums, this long-awaited release by Kevin Shields and company was dropped on us by surprise last winter, and it took some time for me to get over my shock and realize that this is quite a brilliant work that would have been equally brilliant had it been released circa 1994.

  7. Delta Machine by Depeche Mode
    This is Depeche Mode’s best new album in several years, and these tracks carried over quite well to the stage during the band’s summer tour.

  8. Trouble Will Find Me by The National
    The never-cheery band, released their best album this year. This one was difficult for me to listen to, since I went through my own downbeat midlife crisis phase earlier this year, but these songs are golden in their own uncanny way.

  9. The Next Day by David Bowie
    "All of the artists on Inspector Jason’s 2013 list are old people!" Yeah, I know. David Bowie’s first new album in ages was another glorious surprise, though.

  10. The Messenger by Johnny Marr
    This solo Johnny Marr album has a deliberate crowd-pleaser feel to it, as though Marr is simply playing the type of music that we longtime fans want to hear. That’s not a bad thing.
  1. All Is Lost
    Robert Redford’s unnamed character struggles to survive in the Indian Ocean after his sailboat collides with a stray shipping container. This five-star masterpiece has no backstory, flashbacks, or dialogue, and the scaled-down approach makes this one truly harrowing cinema experience.

  2. To the Wonder
    Director Terrence Malick’s stream-of-consciousness meditations are not for everyone, but this film is pure cinematic splendor that does not need explosions or spoon-feeding.

  3. 12 Years a Slave
    This is the most effective film depiction of slavery that I have ever seen. I believe that this subject matter was served well at the hands of a British director, who was able to step back from the melodrama inherent in these stories to give us a haunting juxtaposition of brutality and idyllic antebellum landscapes.

  4. Gravity
    Not since Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey has a film been so adept at depicting outer space as the terrifying setting that it is. The vast majority of our universe is lethally hostile to human existence, so the ability simply to stand up and breathe should not be taken for granted.

  5. The Counselor
    This bleak and fatalist neo-noir from Ridley Scott was penned by author Cormac McCarthy, who views evil as an inherent aspect of nature that carries over from the world’s primordial beginnings. This tale of drug deals gone dreadfully wrong has a grand-scale apocalyptic undercurrent to it that I appreciated, even if most film critics turned away.

  6. Blue is the Warmest Color
    This NC-17 story of a teenage girl falling in love with a female art student received a small measure of media hype for its explicitness, but the real draw is the film’s leisurely-paced interactions reminiscent of filmmakers like Francois Truffaut. One sequence makes superb use of a projection of the silent Louise Brooks film, Pandora’s Box.

  7. Oblivion
    This derivative, but visually spectacular science fiction film made effective use of its Icelandic film location and relied more on practical effects than its contemporaries. This one is great for late-night viewing.

  8. Mud
    I thoroughly enjoyed this gritty backwoods noir that reminded me of 1970s cinema.

  9. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
    Jennifer Lawrence is really something else as Katniss Everdeen, and this middle story in The Hunger Games trilogy improved on its already-impressive predecessor.

  10. Saving Mr. Banks
    Maybe it’s just because I revisited Mary Poppins on Blu-ray mere hours before seeing it, but this latest slice of crowd-pleasing Disney schmaltz worked for me.
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