I'm going to post these periodically, starting with the medium I have the least authority to judge and going from there. Remember, these are alphabetical order, except for the last item on the list, which is my favorite for the year.
TelevisionAttack on Titan
You can also watch it now for free, so that's cool too.
Orange is the New Black
Favorite of 2013: Arrow
|Knowing your audience?|
I have to say, I was a little disappointed with this year's music. Sure, plenty of it was okay, but very little of it stood out to me as truly profound stuff. Way too much of it relished in the trends of 2013, like songs that gave artist credit to arrangers rather than performers; and let's not forget all the songs that begin quietly but then ramp up with the help of a bass drum.
Again, I wasn't able to listen to every single album from 2013, but apps like Spotify do much of the heavy lifting.
Lorde, Pure Heroine
Standout song: "Team"
Favorite of 2013: Vampire Weekend, Modern Vampires of the City
Standout song: "Hannah Hunt"
Anti Album of the Year: Kanye West, Yeezus
album of the year attention - I look up from my indie record that's much cooler than yours. This year, that album was Yeezus. And boy did it suck. Yes, I know Kanye is a blithering idiot whose rapping skills are debatable, but I was willing to give this one a listen. It's a mind-numbing slog that all starts to blend together after a while. Everything is distorted to oblivion, and the lyricism all revolves around the tired notion of, "Man, I sure feel sorry for Kanye West - he has it rough." If you have an hour of your life you'd like to waste, Yeezus should do the trick.
Standout song: This uncomfortable joke
East of West
at $10, you'd be stupid not to pick it up.
Favorite of 2013: The Wake
only 10 bucks. I promise, it's really friggin' cool.
Consistently Great Series I Hope You Haven't Forgotten About Yet:
Written by Jeff Lemire
Art by Andrea Sorrentino
Written by Brian K. Vaughan
Art by Fiona Staples
Written by Matt Fraction
Art by David Aja, Francesco Francavilla
and Matt Hollingsworth
Written by Rick Remender
Art by John Cassaday, Daniel Acuna
and Steve McNiven
Grand Theft Auto V
I hope my previous post about this game didn't sound too negative. Yeah, GTAV has a lot of issues with storytelling: unlikeable characters, odd shifts in tone, misplaced cynicism, lack of respect of women, etc. But, if you're willing to look past these missteps, GTAV is one amazing game. The story itself is a great crime epic. The missions are almost always consistently great and are a perfect level of insane. Oh yeah, and the world is damn impressive. It's massive, sprawling, varied, engaging and a bunch of other cool adjectives. Am I rambling? Probably, but you should definitely give this one a few dozen hours of your time.
Favorite of 2013: Bioshock Infinite
Ken Levine, you magnificent beast. I couldn't even begin to suggest how this game came together, with it being one of the most creative and revolutionary outings in modern gaming (yeah, give me at least one groan-worthy statement). The narrative is fascinating, original, detailed, fleshed out to an insane degree, and it all comes to life through superb voice acting from Troy Baker and Courtnee Draper. It's beautiful: graphics are crisp and the art direction stands alone. It's use of music is fantastic, and at times it creatively catches you off guard. And it's fun. I love the swashbuckle-y action, the inclusion of the skyhooks and the unique vigor powers. But Infinite's take on the adventure epic and, eventually, games in general is my favorite game story of the past year. I don't really want to talk more about it other than to say that if you have yet to play Bioshock Infinite, you should go change that. I'll leave you with one of Infinite's great songs and my personal favorite use of a song in a video game:
With all the time I wasted putting off the last part of this list, I actually had time to come up with some sort of structure for it. So here are my five favorite movies of the year, in order.
Frozen's ad campaign could've done better. Before the movie's release, very little of the advertising helped convey what made Frozen unique, and it appeared to be just another cookie cutter product off the family animation assembly line. But, if you haven't heard by now, Frozen is pretty great. The animation is solid (if not just a little uncreative), the voice cast performs well, and the soundtrack - it's a good soundtrack. Songs have a nice Broadway feel to complement the singers (Idina Menzel is a standout, with solid props going to Josh Gad as well). Yet, even with how good the soundtrack is, one of my favorite aspects of Frozen is what it does with its story. What begins as a woman's quest to get her sister back evolves into something of an examination and update of Disney's princess formula. It's a good step forward for the genre as well as one of the most enjoyable movies from the past holiday season.
The World's End
Edgar Wright is quickly becoming one of my favorite directors. I love the emphasis he puts on editing and effects (both practical and animated), and his direction of action sequences in Scott Pilgrim and now The World's End has to be seen to be believed. It's this along with the expert acting and solid script that make the movie great. The Simon Pegg-Nick Frost duo has never been better. Frost gives everyone a nice change of pace from his usual slacker role by trading places with Pegg's straight man. And this is easily some of Pegg's best work. His role is a very grounded and raw one, and he gives the emotional depth that many other comedies are sorely lacking. And The World's End is really funny. It's a comedy, so I guess I should say that too.
American Hustle does right what many other movies fail to do: tell an extensive story that never loses steam or the interest of the audience. As long as you have a decently resilient bladder, the blink-and-you-might-miss-it type of storytelling is really rewarding, even on Hustle's generous runtime. David O. Russell's previous two films showed that he's an excellent director of actors, and that skill shows its face here. Each character is distinct and memorable, and they're all met with strong offerings by Hustle's small but talented cast. It's a shame not many people saw this when it debuted, because this is easily one of the best movies of the year. And it won Best Comedy at the Golden Globes, so good job or whatever.
The Wolf of Wall Street
If you've ever wondered what makes a great director, watch The Wolf of Wall Street. This movie has a very strong style and vision, all carried out by Martin Scorsese, the guy with the eyebrows. Only he could make a three-hour movie that leaves you wanting more (It's like the anti-Her). That all comes from Wolf's theme of excess - too many drugs, too many hookers, too many no-no words. Everything about the movie burns an image in your mind as well. This is one of those I saw a couple weeks ago that I'm still thinking about. But that might be from the...interesting imagery and colorful language Wolf relishes in. But hey, morals aren't everything.
Favorite of 2013: Pacific Rim
Only release of the year that made me clap and cheer during the movie. 10/10. Would recommend.