Pop Culture Year in Review 2013
Every year at this time I like to take a look back and reflect on my favorite movies, television, music, and books of the year that was as well as look forward to what I can’t wait to see/hear/read in the upcoming New Year. Let me know in the comments what your favorites of the year were as well and what you just can’t wait for in 2014.
A clip from This is the End. Caution-As you might expect from this group there is inappropriate language in this clip
Looking back on last year’s article of the same topic I wrote that I was pretty sure The Dark Knight Rises would have been in my top picks for 2012 if it had not been for the Colorado movie theater tragedy and my delayed viewing of it because of the tragedy. I ended up seeing the film early in 2013 and thanks to repeat showings on HBO I have caught additional bits and pieces of it as the year continued. I loved it, to me it wasn’t as dark as The Dark Knight (pun unintended) which I have trouble re-watching because of that reason. I can’t think of a better ending to the trilogy then seeing Alfred get his wish at that little café. I thought the new additions to the supporting cast, specifically Joseph-Gordon Levitt and Anne Hathaway were great. Although The Bourne Legacy came out in 2012 I saw it early in 2013 and it was honestly my favorite in the series (sorry Matt Damon) quite unexpected for a reboot and further proving the theory that Jeremy Renner can do no wrong. In terms of comedies, This is the End wasn’t perfect but it was pretty close and the premise alone of that group of guys playing caricatures of themselves was brilliant. I also recently took in Catching Fire and I thought it was a great book-to-movie adaptation and I definitely don't throw around that compliment much.
Despite the genre I pledge allegiance to, my music purchases this year might tend to put me in another category. I made more music purchases this year than in previous years, but most didn’t knock my socks off. I picked up the Lumineers self titled CD because they had several enjoyable songs on the radio, I like the album but overall it’s not a wow for me. I was pretty disappointed in Justin Timberlake’s The 20/20 Experience for one I don’t ever want to hear Mirrors again because it is so ridiculously overplayed, there’s also one song where he just goes on and on about ‘strawberry bubble gum.’ One of my music theories is broken hearts write the best stuff. I absolutely love Timberlake’s ‘Cry me a River’ and his FutureSex/LoveSounds album was great- it was fun and flirty. Now that he is happily in love and married his music, for me, is a snooze.
My most anticipated and favorite overall album this year was …Like Clockwork by Queens of the Stone Age. I’ll admit it I am hard to please, I will complain when it seems artists just releases the same album over and over again but I will also complain if a band stretches too far outside of their musical space and seem to be genre-hopping. I think the latest QOTSA album did a good job of straddling that line. I was hoping for more good old fashioned rock and roll from them and I don’t know if I necessarily got that. It’s more of an evolution for the band and I respect that. My absolute favorite song off the album and most likely my favorite song of the year was Kalopsia.
Kalopsia-Queens of the Stone Age (Live)
Pop culture-wise this was a TV year for me. Due to my sudden interest in my husband's stationary bike that has been collecting dust I have recently invested time on catching up on several series. Homeland is just as good as they say it is- the first season was really great and the second season, although not as good as the first, was still great television. Briefly, to list a few of the things I love about Homeland-one the reality of the situation of war- sometimes it isn’t so black and white who is bad and who is good. Another hard-hitting angle I think they do a great job at showcasing is mental illness and how it is stigmatized. Carrie is a person, she is usually amazing at her job, sometimes she makes poor decision but none of that has to do with her illness. She is a complete person regardless. The third thing I love about this show is it doesn’t follow any sort of a plot format- sometimes they go for the slow burn or sometimes they opt to turn everything on its head and throw a game-changer in, making it tough to nail it down where the show is going and that’s a good thing.
Another show I have gotten into that I absolutely love is Scandal. I wasn’t sure if I’d like Scandal based on what I knew about the over-arching plotline. But I took in the first few episodes and was immediately hooked on the episodic stories and also Kerry Washington in general (serious girl crush). Later in the first season when the over-arching storyline is explained in more detail in flashbacks I completely fell for it- the acting and writing are well done and has made me a believer in the love story. One thing I loved about this show is while the main character is a black woman it’s not a show about a black woman. The main character could be any race and either gender really. I think that’s a big step forward seeing as non-white TV characters are often still reduced to being a stereotype. That all being said I can’t imagine the role played by anyone other than Washington (did I mention my girl crush?). A new show this year I am really liking is The Blacklist, as a network show I think it is doing the best it can to compete with cable shows. I enjoy the episode-to-episode stories but am curious about how everything plays out in the major arc. I also did some time on BBC America and caught the first season of Orphan Black and the stand alone season of Broadchurch, and really enjoyed both.
I don’t have too much to say about my three favorites this year- Survivor, Top Chef, and Project Runway. They are all still trudging along and I still enjoy them. Top Chef won me back with last season, although I was less than impressed with the returning players I loved the young women that dominated the season. The current season is looking good too, I like that New Orleans is getting the spotlight. Although I thought Project Runway-Teams was a gimmick at first I actually really liked that they made the contestants team up the entire competition and I was very happy with the winner. I will say the third All Star season aired in the end of 2013 and I’m not really impressed. I think Lifetime needs to cool it with the All Star seasons, otherwise it’s going to become Project Runway: People Who Were Already on the Show.
Usually this is my most enlightened category but books and I had a weird 2013. This year marks the highest number of abandoned books by me ever- I usually finish reading everything I start. I started and failed to finish Deborah Harkness’ A Discovery of Witches (I like the mythology but I couldn’t stand the love story), Jonathan Franzen’s The Twenty-Seventh City (It was good but hard to follow, so many characters intertwined) and Meg Wolitzer’s The Interestings (it was good but I didn’t look forward to picking it up again to see what happened). This year was an off year for me- I didn’t check off any classics off my list and I mostly just stuck with mystery, my go-to genre. Thtat being said, I’d have to say my favorite book was Gone, Girl which surprised me but I couldn’t put it down. I understand the argument about there being no characters in that book that the reader cheers for and for a lot of people that’s plenty good reason to not like it. I agree, there were no good guys in this book, but I still wanted to know what happened. Kate Atkinson’s Life after Life also came out this year and I wrote a hub about it so of course that ranks high on my list as well (and thankfully it is racking up the best of 2013 awards so I feel my reading year wasn't a total lost). Here’s hoping 2014 is better for me book-wise.
Your Pop Culture Resolutions for 2014
What angle of Pop Culture do you hope to invest a bit more time into in 2014?
2014 Pop Culture New Year’s Resolutions
Sadly in checking my book resolutions for last year it seems I didn’t deliver. But I have at least started Crime and Punishment this year so I hope to finish it early in 2014. I also bought Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s 100 Years of Solitude so that is on my early 2014 list as well.
I definitely plan on checking out season three of Homeland when its come out on DVD.Thanks to Amazon I am caught up (for a small fee) on the current season of Scandal and will plan to watch live in 2014 (although I'd find it easier to be on the edge of my seat if they didn't steal Alias plotlines) . The new show starting in January on HBO, True Detective, with Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson looks good. In addition, I look forward to season two of Orphan Black in 2014. Off the top of my head the movies in 2014 I am most looking forward to are the Veronica Mars movie and the latest X-Men movie. For music, I've yet to pick up the Imagine Dragons disc and I will most likely do that early in 2014.
What were your favorites this year? And what is on your Pop Culture New Year’s Resolution List?
Happy New Year!