… this fine movie year was propelled by many stern and responsible—O.K., important—American films. America is in trouble (no kidding), and many of the best movies this year, intentionally or not, embodied the national unease, the sense that everyone is on his own, that communal bonds have disappeared in a war of all against all, or the indifference of all to all. (A recent study suggests that hard-heartedness as a social sentiment goes up—not down—in periods of greater income inequality; we don’t want anyone else to get something we don’t have.) “Blue Jasmine,” “Gravity,” “All Is Lost,” “12 Years a Slave,” “Dallas Buyers Club,” “Her,” “The Bling Ring,” and “Inside Llewyn Davis” are all powerful movies that touch on the national loneliness and despair. That they are also such strong movies is, at the same time, a defiance of misery.
|Not by Vermeer|
Seriously, there are no doubt things that actually do unite movies released in 2013 that will be obvious a generation from now. But almost by definition we can’t see the forest for the trees at this point. Recall the Dutch con man in the 1930s, Han van Meegeren, who painted many fake Vermeers, trading one to Goering for hundred of real Dutch paintings. Today, they look like badly done publicity posters for Greta Garbo movies, but back in 1937 they were perfectly convincing because they were so 1937ish: of course a missing Vermeer would look like this: Vermeer was a genius, far ahead of his time, our contemporary!