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What films did South Florida critics love most in 2013?

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Two years ago, around this time of the year, I undertook a little project with the following question in mind: What would happen if every film critic and movie writer in South Florida, or at least every writer who I know, came together to vote in a fictional South Florida film critics association? What would this fictional association’s top movies be?

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I decided to answer this question by waiting until each and every one of these film writers put out their top 10s. I chose this method instead of asking each of them for their favorites because I wanted to avoid the politics of film awards voting as much as possible. Yes, voting, even amongst film critics, can get very strange. Just look at the way the New York Film Critics Circle vote.

Another reason why I chose this method was because pulling a master list from a group of top 10s helped shed light on each critic’s personal, sometimes idiosyncratic tastes. Although the result of this mini-study ended up featuring many of the usual end-of-year suspects, it also revealed strong support for films that would never make a big industry award show – which in a way, is the point of this whole exercise.

With that said, I decided to do it again this year using the same weighted methodology I utilized last time around: I first compiled every top 10 list, then assigned points to the films based on their placements on the top 10s, and finally, I awarded an additional five points to each film that topped a list. Why? Because passion counts.

When I tabulated the results, the film that topped the list by a wide margin was, to no one’s surprise, Steve McQueen’s slavery drama 12 Years a Slave. The critical darling and Oscar frontrunner appeared on more lists than any other film (11 in total). It also placed in the top five of all but one of those 11 writers’ lists (I was the outlier on that one).

Spike Jonze’s Her and Richard Linklater’s Before Midnight followed in second and third place respectively. Both films appeared on six lists, with four top 5 placements. They were also the only two films, aside from 12 Years a Slave, to be ranked number one on more than one list. The two romances were followed by a pair of auteur-driven pictures – Martin Scorsese’s wild The Wolf of Wall Street and the Coen brothers’ melancholic Inside Llewyn Davis.

Oscar frontrunners Gravity and American Hustle came in sixth and seventh place respectively among the Miami press core. Interestingly, barring McQueen’s film, they were the two movies that appeared on the most lists: Gravity was on seven writers’ lists while Hustle one upped it by making it unto eight lists! That would probably explain why they’re both giving McQueen’s slavery drama such a tough time this awards season. The reason they don’t rank higher on my list is because no critic named either film their favorite of the year, and both films tended to show up towards the bottom halves of lists. Again, passion goes a long way.

It’s that very passion that helped the last three films on this list make the cut. While films like Rush, Nebraska and Blue is the Warmest Color all appeared on more lists than Noah Baumbach’s Frances Ha, writer-director Olivier Assayas’ Something in the Air and Cristian Mungiu’s atmospheric Beyond the Hills, none of those movies placed as high as these three. The full list, including the list of writers, is listed below.

The following were the writers whose top 10 lists I pulled from. You can read each of their top 10s by clicking on their publications.

Billy Donnelly – This is Infamous
#1 Film: The Wolf of Wall Street

Lauren Cohen – Examiner.com Miami Beach
#1 Film: Before Midnight

Hap Erstein – Palm Beach Arts Paper
#1 Film: Nebraska

Marc Ferman – Keep it Classic
#1 Film: 12 Years a Slave

Dan Hudak – Hudak On Hollywood
#1 Film: 12 Years a Slave

Steven Lebowitz – Examiner.com West Palm Beach
#1 Film: The Book Thief

Al McGhee – Your Entertainment Ticket
#1 Film: 12 Years a Slave

Steve Mesa – Examiner.com Hialeah
#1 Film: Inside Llewyn Davis

Hans Morgenstern – Independent Ethos
#1 Film: Beyond the Hills

Connie Ogle – The Miami Herald
#1 Film: Her

Reuben Pereira – Film Frontier
#1 Film: Before Midnight

Rene Rodriguez – The Miami Herald
#1 Film: Her

Ruben Rosario – Miami Sun Post
#1 Film: The Great Beauty

Kai Sacco – Film with Kai Sacco
#1 Film: Oblivion

Alfred Soto – Humanizing the Vacuum
#1 Film: Something in the Air

Click on the slideshow below to view the entire list of movies.

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