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2013: Best of Movies and TV

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As always, best of 2013 means best that I saw this year, no matter when they were released.

 

Best Movie

Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012) - Full review here

Here's the story of one poverty-stricken girl named Hushpuppy and her father, living on the edges of our society, told through the vehicle of magical realism.  The technique is a wonderful fit, capturing the imagination of childhood in a way that instantly pulls the viewer in to a different worldview.  We get the best that a movie can offer, seeing through the child's eyes, yet as viewers, we are able to stand just a bit aloof.

There's symbolism all over this movie as it reflects the girl's past, present, and future right back at her.  The most obvious one is the Beasts of the title, but there's also the island home that is dependent on the ocean and yet doomed to be swallowed by it, the father who is deathly afraid for Hushpuppy but too encumbered by circumstance to provide a future, and the woman who outright prophesies Hushpuppy's future.

The movie is profoundly affecting.  I cried as I haven't for quite a while.

 

Best Television Show

Breaking Bad Seasons 1-4 (2008-2011) - Season reviews 1, 2, 3, and 4

I haven't yet seen the finale, but seasons 1-4 are a doozy.  Season 4 has been my favorite so far, but every one has kept me glued to the set. It's set in Albuquerque, which is what drew us in, but it's definitely great apart from that angle.  The shots are some of the best I've ever seen in television, and it has such a strong sense of place and timing that it shows all the effort that's gone into direction and production.  TV has come a long way beyond being merely a vehicle for three-room apartment sitcoms.

The show is just so... Shakespearean.  You see the flaws in the characters, you know where the story is ultimately leading, and yet you want it to be somehow different.  This show, being about meth, throws a whole different moral perspective into the affair, as you know this is the bad guy, but you still want him to triumph.  It's a novel treatise on ends vs. means.

 

Honorable Mention

12 Years a Slave (2013) - This would be the best movie in a lot of years.  It's technically flawless, and even better, it tells a story that desperately needs to be told, one where the Antebellum South gets shattered for the myth that it is, and we Americans get to look hard in the mirror at what we were.  It's a nice companion piece to last year's Lincoln, which tells the story of the political reality of slavery, while this tells the very real, very brutal human cost of slavery.  (Review)

30 for 30: You Don't Know Bo (2012) - This does a great job of casting the sports star as hero.  This is the real-life version of The Natural.  Bo Jackson is amazingly articulate, and guest appearances by the like of Chuck Klosterman really make this sports documentary exceptional.  (Review)

30 for 30: 9.79* (2012) - Chalk this one up as another story that we needed to hear.  We like to flog our steroid-ridden athletes of the 1990s every time the MLB Hall of Fame vote happens or the pustulence that is Lance Armstrong skeezes his way into the news, but it's worth seeing just what happened to the biggest, earliest bust of the steroid era.  The systemic corruption that this documentary reveals in track and field was prophetic.  How long are we going to try to uphold an unsustainable and unenforceable moral purity standard for our athletes? (Review)

Captain Phillips (2013) - I thought it was part of the studio's contract that every action movie had to be as subtle as a porn mag.  This movie proves it wrong.  I desperately hope that this socially-conscious thriller starts a trend of smart action movies.  (Review)

In a World (2013) - A tightly-written, well-executed indie feminist comedy.  See?  Feminists DO have a sense of humor.  (Review)

 

Worst

Trail of the Pink Panther (1982) - The most transparent money grab by a studio that I've ever seen, and I say that without hyperbole.  There's no reason for this movie to exist, because you can see all the good parts in the movies that were made before Sellers died.  (Review)

Star Trek Into Darkness (2013) - Star Trek at its previous worst was preachy, but it was never this bombastically stupid.  (Review)

The Artist (2011) - Hollywood sure does love to heap adoration on films about films.  There was never a "why" to this movie other than pretension. (Review)

 

Complete list of movies and TV

Silver Linings Playbook
Trail of the Pink Panther
Star Trek: The Next Generation - Season 2
Two Days in April
Les Miserables
Breaking Bad: Season 1
30 for 30: The Marinovich Project
Argo
30 for 30: The Announcement
30 for 30: Unguarded
30 for 30: Roll Tide/War Eagle
30 for 30: The Dotted Line
Breaking Bad: Season 2
30 for 30: Ghosts of Ole Miss
30 for 30: 9.79*
Portlandia: Season 2
30 for 30: There's No Place Like Home
30 for 30: Catching Hell
30 for 30: Broke
Star Trek: The Next Generation - Season 3
30 for 30: You Don't Know Bo
Jurassic Park 3D
Breaking Bad: Season 3
Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby
Star Trek Into Darkness
Game of Thrones: Season 3
The Dust Bowl
Behind the Candelabra
Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work
30 for 30: The Fab Five
Ken Burns Presents: The West
Star Trek: The Next Generation: Season 4
Jiro Dreams of Sushi
In a World
John Adams
Breaking Bad Season 4
Gravity
30 for 30: Book of Manning
Bernie
30 for 30: Hawaiian: The Legend of Eddie Aikau
42
Captain Phillips
The Artist
30 for 30: Free Spirits
30 for 30: No Mas
30 for 30: Big Shot
30 for 30: This is What They Want
Bernie and Ernie
Eastbound and Down
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Crooked Arrows
Life of Pi
Going Big
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Flight of the Conchords: Season 2
12 Years a Slave
Girls: Season 1