Daily | Artforum’s Best of 2013 (and More)

Spring Breakers

‘Spring Breakers’

In keeping with tradition, John Waters officially launches the best-of-the-year list-making season in Artforum. His #1: Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers. He’s also got two films by Bruno Dumont (Camille Claudel 1915 and Hors Satan) and Catherine Breillat’s Abuse of Weakness in his top five.

Elsewhere in this “Best of 2013” issue, Artforum contributing editor Bruce Hainley places Spring Breakers at #2 on his list. #1 on Okwui Enwezor‘s list is Schaulager‘s exhibition of work by Steve McQueen: “The most rewarding exhibition I have seen in a long time, it confirmed that, at the age of 44, Steve McQueen is already one of the greats. Coinciding with the release of his latest feature film, 12 Years a Slave, this extensive retrospective brought McQueen’s impressive two decades of quiet radicality full circle, showing that to comprehend his powerful and unsparing vision as a filmmaker one must begin with the roots of his practice as an artist.” The show comes in at #6 on Julia Peyton-Jones‘s list. Enwezor is the director of the Haus der Kunst, Jones of the Serpentine Galleries.

To revisit the Sight & Sound top ten for a moment, the magazine’s posted Carrie McAlinden‘s essay on the film voted #1, Joshua Oppenheimer‘s The Act of Killing. The “dialectical tensions between competing versions of history”—the death squad’s and Oppenheimer’s—”call to mind Walter Benjamin’s Theses on the Philosophy of History. For Benjamin, the past of the ‘oppressed’ must be wrenched from the historicist concept of history as a ‘continuum’ of ‘homogeneous, empty time’ that is defined by ‘the victors.’ The past must be recognised instead as a ‘dialectical image’ wherein the past is called forth into the present. Both approaches to history can be found in The Act of Killing.”


David Kalat offers a Claude Chabrol primer at Movie Morlocks. At Nihon Cine Art, you’ll find a booklet with articles on Mikio Naruse by Audie Bock, Hideko Takamine, and Kihachi Okamoto. Scott Feinberg interviews Bernardo Bertolucci for the Hollywood Reporter. And, beginning with the November edition, is the new host of Glenn Kenny‘s “Blu-ray Consumer Guide.”


“The International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, usually simply referred to by its acronym ‘IDFA‘ is typically a launching pad for some of the biggest international documentaries of the upcoming year,” writes Brian Brooks for the Film Society of Lincoln Center. “This year, the 26th IDFA gave its top prize, the VPRO IDFA Award for Best Feature-Length Documentary to Michael Obert’s Song From the Forest.” And he’s got the full list of award-winners.


The Washington Post has selected its top ten books of 2013, the Independent‘s rolled out its special section, and contributors to the Financial Times have a few words of praise for each of the books they’ve chosen. Peter Aspden’s overseen the film section, and he’s going for The Best Film You’ve Never Seen: 35 Directors Champion the Forgotten or Critically Savaged Movies They Love, by Robert Elder; My Lunches with Orson: Conversations Between Henry Jaglom and Orson Welles, by Henry Jaglom, edited by Peter Biskind; The World is Ever Changing, by Nicolas Roeg; and Taschen’s “weighty and mean-looking coffee table must,” The Godfather Family Album, by Steve Schapiro and Paul Duncan. Let’s also note that, in the architecture section, Edwin Heathcote recommends The View from the Train: Cities and Other Landscapes, by Patrick Keiller.


Jean Kent sings “Cora!” from The Haunted Strangler (1958)

“Film and television actress Jean Kent, one of Britain’s biggest stars in the 1940s and 1950s, has died,” reports the BBC. “Kent’s career included regular appearances in Gainsborough melodramas, which were popular with large numbers of newly-independent women following the outbreak of World War II. She made 45 films and during her career starred alongside Marilyn Monroe, Michael Redgrave and Laurence Olivier.”


John Wyver opens a fresh roundup with notes on the BBC’s archives and “the sustainability (or not) of making innovative digital (and other) cultural work.”

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