We’ve played a whole mess of movies at Nitehawk over 2013, some of them pretty good, some of them not too great and some of them really spectacular. We (“We,” in this case, being Hatched editors Caryn Coleman and Kris King) sifted through our entire calendar and picked our favorite films of the year, including new movies and some of the retrospective work we screened over the year.

They’re listed below in no particular order.

onlygodforgives-posterOnly God Forgives (Nicolas Winding Refn, 2013)
Played at Nitehawk: July – August 2013
What I’ve previously said about Refn’s Only God Forgives still rings true: it may not be for everybody but it’s surely for me. The film is all atmosphere. The set design and costume design establish the perfect frame for the camera that slowly, surely does all the seeing for the viewer. It’s totally brutal, full of symbolism, and Ryan Gosling is outshined by the devil himself, Chang (played by Vithaya Pansringarm). Only God Forgives is modern surrealism at its finest, even though it may take a decade for everyone to catch up. — Caryn Coleman

a_560x0Spring Breakers (Harmony Korine, 2013)
Played at Nitehawk: March 2013
Tumblr-cool boiled down to concentrate, Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers became a glam-trash classic the second it opened. After robbing a chicken shack for vacation money, four girls fall deep into the violent townie underworld of a mid-level Spring Break destination. The parties start innocently enough — keg stands and dropped tops — but after meeting up with a grilled-out, syrup-sipping terror in the form of James Franco’s Alien (pronounce A-lean), the girls go from coke-queens to robbing weddings and hog-tying hostages. They get so good at it, in fact, that they draw the attention of the local drug kingpin played by Gucci Mane, who mostly grumbles, looks intimidating and fucks big girls in his penthouse. Ballers all around this thing. — Kris King

berberian-posterBerberian Sound Studio (Peter Strickland, 2012)
Played at Nitehawk: June 21 and June 22, 2013
The best movie that nobody in the United States saw. This 2012 UK feature film that only came to the States in 2013 culls from the giallo tradition (with a little Blow Out) to show a sound engineer at the center of a murder mystery. Art imitates life as Gilderoy (Toby Jones) goes down the rabbit hole, confronting his own past. Like Only God Forgives, Berberian Sound Studio is a bit of a surrealistic dreamscape that unfolds perfectly in the cinema. Trust me, Berberian Sound Studio will definitely be a revisited classic in fifteen years. — Caryn Coleman

stoker-poster-usStoker (Park Chan Wook, 2013)
Played at Nitehawk: March 2013
Though it had a good deal of heat leading up to its release, Park Chan Wook’s first English language film, Stoker, didn’t get too many mentions in this year’s crop of “Best of” lists, which… is kind of a shame, really. Basically a gothic re-hash of Hitchcock’s Shadow of  Doubt, Stoker is a stunning looking film with a cast of ghastly-looking beauties getting uncomfortably sexy with one-another. Not a horror movie, and no-where near the “vampire movie” that some seemed to expect (myself included), Stoker gently prods some sexual taboos and spices it up with some jarring violence. The hyper-sexual piano-duet between uncle and niece might be one of the best scenes of the year. — Kris King

cutieandtheboxer-posterCutie and the Boxer (Zachary Heinzerling, 2013)
Played at Nitehawk: September 19, 2013
What can I possibly say about Zachary Heinzerling’s debut feature documentary except for that you will only know its greatness by seeing it. By chronicling the relationship between couple Ushio and Noriko Shinohara, Cutie and the Boxer far surpasses the typical linear and biographical artist documentary by exposing what’s really involved in an artistic life: sacrifice, conflict, poverty, and complete obsession. Watch out for the Oscar nomination in January.
Watch the director Q&A here! — Caryn Coleman

MV5BMjAxNjcyNDQxM15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNzU2NDA0MDE@._V1_ (1)Inside Llewyn Davis (Joel & Ethan Coen, 2013)
Played at Nitehawk: December 2013
Hands down the best movie I’ve seen play anywhere this year, the Coen Brothers’ newest melancholy masterpiece in meandering, soulful story-telling. Down-and-out folk singer Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac with a career-making performance) is a magnifying character, a well-intentioned misanthrope that the world has started to leave behind. Traumatized by the death of his partner and a bland, artless upbringing, Llewyn jumps from couch to couch chasing a ill-defined show-biz dream without realizing that he’s already succumbed to his fear of going through life merely “existing.” But just by existing, we can affect those around us, which is a small pleasure, but one that’s hard to learn. — Kris King

EverybodyStreet-posterEverybody Street (Cheryl Dunn, 2013)
Played at Nitehawk: November 2013
Cheryl Dunn has compiled a beautiful portrait to New York by highlighting the photographs from a slew of the city’s most important street photographers. From Martha Cooper to Jamal Shabazz, Everybody Street allows audiences to go back in time to a stranger (yet still familiar) New York. Her ethnographic approach to these prolific urban enthnographers is utterly enthralling, charming and, just like Cutie and the Boxer, the film transcends the stereotypical documentary. I certainly hope this is a trend. — Caryn Coleman

sven-libaek-inner-spaceInner Space (1972)
Played at Nitehawk: April 12 & April 13, 2013
Kind of like a real life Life Aquatic produced in 1972, Ron and Val Taylor’s short-lived TV series Inner Space chronicles the married adventurers as they trek the globe doing incredible things like hunt for the ferocious great white shark, tangle with deadly sea snakes and dive headlong into unexplored, pitch-black caverns. Aside from Val Taylor’s line of neon dive suits (the girl stands out underwater, that’s for sure), maybe the best part of the whole series is Sven Libaek’s groovy, bossa-heavy score. Oh, and Jesus, William Shatner narrates it. — Kris King

doriangray1945-posterThe Picture of Dorian Gray (Albert Lewin, 1945)
Played at Nitehawk: October 19 and October 20, 2013
Ever since I first saw Albert Lewin’s The Picture of Dorian Gray at the BFI, I’ve been in love with this brilliant film that seems far ahead of its time. As the perfect representation of how artworks function as the vehicle for fear in cinema, the film was an obvious inclusion for our Art Seen series. That we showed it on 35mm (a slight struggle) and prefaced it with artist films by Marnie Weber (The Night of Forevermore) and Frieze Video: Richard Mosse: the Impossible Image was only icing on the Halloween cake. — Caryn Coleman

In_a_World_posterIn a World (Lake Bell, 2013)
Played at Nitehawk: August, 2013
Lake Bell’s debut as a writer/director came a bit out of left field. The story of a female up-and-comer in the completely male-dominated voice-over world, In A World turned out to be a warm and consistently funny pro-fem rally cry. The film’s cast, stacked with a revolving door of likable faces from the LA comedy scene (Nick Offerman, Tig Notaro, Rob Corddry, Ken Marino, and on and on), speaks to Bell’s comic eye. It’s pure, feel-good charm; the type of film that leaves you tapping your foot to the closing credits. — Kris King

Deathdream_posterDeathdream or Dead of Night (Bob Clark, 1972)
Played at Nitehawk: February 12, 2013
This was the first film I ever in-theater screening I programmed at Nitehawk and it was part of a two-part program with Edgar G. Ulmer’s The Black Cat. Bob Clark’s little known Vietnam horror story is one of my favorite films and it was incredible to share it, on 35mm no less, with a sold out crowd. Adam Lowenstein, author of Shocking Representation: Historical Trauma, National Cinema, and the Modern Horror Film, appropriately gave the introduction highlighting the film’s thematic concerns as well as Clark’s notorious foray in Baby Geniuses. — Caryn Coleman

vlcsnap-2013-12-12-01h18m15s34Times Square of the 1980’s: A Short Documentary (Steve Siegel)
Played at Nitehawk: November 21, 2013 as part of Nitehawk’s Shorts Fest
This short documentary from New York photographer Steve Siegel is a magnificent collection of public images in Times Square sometime in the early 1980’s. The camera wanders through the wet streets, crowded with mustachioed slicksters and flat-out weirdos, moving with a dreamlike pace beneath massive flashing marquees and into a bustling video arcade where boys in tight t-shirts play games I’ve never seen before. After that, we’re led into the subway and watch the tunnel lights drift by in the darkness. It’s on Youtube, just watch it now. — Kris King

jimmydean-posterCome Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean (Robert Altman, 1982)
Played at Nitehawk: May 28, 2013
This notoriously hard to screen film (due to its limited content availability) was doubly special for Nitehawk. First, it was the debut screening for our VICE Presents: The Film Foundation Screening Series and this allowed us to secure the rarely screened restored 35mm print. Second, it rounded out our retrospective Karen Black program, enabling us to show one of the performances she was most proud of. For those who haven’t seen the film, it’s really worth waiting to see it on the big screen no matter how long it takes. Shot more as a play, every single performance and camera angle matters. Thank you Robert Altman. — Caryn Coleman

a-woman-under-the-infulence-movie-reviewA Woman Under the Influence (John Cassavettes, 1974)
Played at Nitehawk: June, 25 2013
I’m not super well versed in John Cassavettes movies. I kind of half-slept through The Killing of a Chinese Bookie once, and I couldn’t tell you much about it. A Chinese bookie probably gets killed, but I’m not even sure of that. So when I finally sat down and watched A Woman Under the Influence without many expectations, I was completely floored. It’s the kind of movie that leaves me not knowing how to feel. About a woman suffering from some sort of nervous condition who struggles to maintain a healthy lifestyle in spite of being kind of a… socially crippled weirdo; and her brutish husband who kind of hates his wife while also loving her with an intensity that you rarely see in life, much less in the movies. It’s kind of like watching your parents having, just, the worst argument; and there you sit, listening on the steps. — Kris King

sidewalkstories-posterSidewalk Stories (Charles Lane, 1989)
Played at Nitehawk: December 4, 2013
Twenty-four years after its release, audiences are being reacquainted with Charles Lane’s silent modern masterpiece and Nitehawk was fortunate to show the restored version by Carlotta Films. As with Everybody Street, Sidewalk Stories is a snapshot in time of New York but the issues it addresses – homelessness, race, cultural divides, love – are as relevant as they ever were. Expressive and sincere in its intentions, Sidewalk Stories deserves not only a viewing but a place in film history. — Caryn Coleman

revenge_of_the_cheerleaders_poster_01Revenge of the Cheerleaders (Richard Lerner, 1976)
Played at Nitehawk: September 27 & September 28, 2013
I didn’t start futzing around with projectors and 35mm prints until this year. After practicing on a (really great looking) print of Cocoon 2: The Return, I stepped up my game to running a film like a grown-up projectionist. I’m really happy that the first movie I ever displayed to an audience was something as dumb and trashy as Revenge of the Cheerleaders. I’m not really sure what it’s about (the sound is on the booth but mostly just to make sure it sounds okay), but I do know that everyone gets naked, and there’s a dinosaur in it. — Kris King