2013 is almost done, so I thought I’d jot down my favorites things in entertainment this year. Overall, 2013 was a fantastic year in movies and television, maybe one of the best ever. As you read the list, keep in mind that I’m not saying that these are the “best” of 2013, merely my favorites.
10. Iron Man 3 – A perfect Summer action movie.
9. Saving Mr. Banks – What can I say, it made me cry.
8. The World’s End – I love all the Cornetto Trilogy. Not quite as good as Sean of the Dead, but Close.
7. 20 Feet From Stardom – Watching these backup singers just gave me goosebumps.
6. Enough Said – People talk about Gandolfini, but I think that Julie Louis-Dreyfuss gave one of the best performances of the year.
5. The Conjuring – Possibly the best horror movie of the past 5 years. I crawled into my seat.
4. Gravity – An unbelievable achievement in movie making.
3. Wolf of Wall Street – 3 hours of pure Scorsese exhurberance, with a fantastic performance by DiCaprio. The Quaalude scene alone was worth the price of admission.
2. 12 Years a Slave – That it took an English director to make the best film ever about American slavery is pretty amazing. Yes, it’s hard to watch, but it was so powerful. And the entire cast was perfect.
1. Merrily We Roll Along – This is a bit of a cheat, but it’s my list so I can do what I want. Every few months, the National Theater of London broadcasts one of their productions to theaters in the U.S., usually for one-night only. MWRA is one of my favorite Sondheim musicals, but I’ve only seen it on stage once, in a Equity-Waiver production in 1985. This production was fantastic in every way, most notably the actors playing the leads who gave the show so much depth. I had a huge smile on my face for the entire 3 hour running time. If you ever hear of it playing again near you, run to go see it.
Honorable Mentions: Blue Jasmine, This is the End, World War Z, The Way Way Back, In A World, All is Lost, Philomena, American Hustle, 2 Guns.
Biggest Disappointment: Pacific Rim
Not Seen Yet: Her, Inside Llewyn Davis, Nebraska, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
As great a year as it was in Movies, it was probably a better year for television with Netflix adding not one, but two great shows. Here’s my list:
10. American Horror Story – That both Asylum and Coven are so good is a real tribute to Ryan Murphy’s talent. And Jessica Lange singing the “Name Game” may be my favorite TV moment of the year.
9. The Americans – This new show about Russian spies posing as a typical American couple got better and better as the season progressed. You rooted for them while knowing they were the “bad” guys. Really looking forward to Season 2 in February.
8. Sons of Anarchy – I love SOA, but I think it suffers because the episodes run 90 minutes, which leads to a lot of filler. But when it’s good, it’s really good. The fact that writer/creator Kurt Sutter cast himself as the most depraved character on the show is a great inside joke.
7. Mad Men – Great every year.
6. Boardwalk Empire – I think this season of Boardwalk was the best yet. The edition of Geoffrey Wright as heroin dealer Narcisse was a big plus. And Steven Graham as Al Capone gets better every season. They should start calling the show “Second City Empire.”
5. The Returned – This creepy French series about a small town in France where the dead start returning really got under my skin. In the end, I don’t think it paid off the way I wanted it to, but still one of the best of the year.
4. Game of Thrones – THE RED WEDDING!
3. House of Cards – If you are not paying $8.99 for Netflix streaming, you are missing out on one of the best series and best performances of the year in Kevin Spacey’s Francis Underwood. We watched all 13 episodes in 10 days.
2. Orange is the New Black – Much as I loved House of Cards, I thought that OITNB was even better. The way creator Jenji Kohan was able to show the prisoner’s backstory in a way that really deepened the character was amazing. My particular faves are Kate Mulgrew as “Red” Reznikov, the real Iron Chef, and Uzo Aduba as “Crazy Eyes.”
1. Breaking Bad – What can you say about Breaking Bad that hasn’t been said. Up there with the Wire as my favorite show of all time.
Not Seen: The Good Wife, Scandal,
Biggest Disappointment: Dexter – Boy did they go off the rails in the last season. And the finale was just terrible.
I don’t have a top 10 on video games because I don’t have time to play that many but my three favorites of the year are a tie in terms of how much I loved them. They are
Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag
The Last of Us
All three games are just terrific and were so good they interfered with my time doing other things. If you have a console, you should have these games.
Biggest Disappointments: Bioshock Infinite and Grand Theft Auto V – Both of these games are good, but neither won me over the way the others did. There are great things in both games, but in the end, I was happy to be done playing while the ones above I wanted to never end.
I looked through my music purchases in 2013, and just didn’t buy enough to have a decent list. That being said, I really liked the Kings of Leon album, and for songs, these were my 3 favorites of the year.
I’m very excited that January will start with two big events. First, on January 14, Bruce Springsteen will release his new album, High Hopes. And, a week later (on January 21) is the long awaited release of Knights of Badassdom. It’s not the cut that Joe Lynch wanted, and the film has had a lot of problems (which I can discuss with you if you want), but I do have a small part in it, so that’s kind of exciting.
Thanks for reading. And have a great 2014.