By my count, I saw 38 films in 2013, plus over a hundred DVDs and several dozen TV shows. Of course, not all of them are created equal, and here’s my wrap up of what was actually worth catching!
Best in Film:
Frozen: This is my favorite movie of the year, and my favorite Disney film in a decade. Sure, Brave had amazing animation and Wreck-It Ralph was clever, but taking Hans Christian Anderson’s fairytale and spinning it out with Olaf the talking snowman, and a pair of dueling sisters, was in fact epic. With several twists, it turns the expectations of story on its head, with music and dazzling animation, even while retelling an old, old story. I can’t wait to see it again.
12 Years A Slave: Vying with Prisoners for “Toughest Film I Watched This Year,” Chiwetel Ejiofor dominates this flick with his tough, yet tender, presentation of a freed black man who finds himself kidnapped and sold into slavery in the 1800s. Brutally graphic, we see the dynamics of slavery, and it sickens us, even while we recognize that women and children around the world are trafficked today. It’s a warning about how we justify our actions, and what we should be doing to end what’s going on today. (Other Oscar potentials I’ve seen: American Hustle, Rush, Captain Phillips.)
The Lone Ranger (now on Blu-ray/DVD): Panned by critics, this one tells an old story in a 21st century way. He’s no Clayton Moore, but Artie Hammer is the perfect foil for Johnny Depp’s Tonto. William Fichtner plays evil to the core, while Tom Wilkinson fills in admirably to provide gravitas. The bond between the two justice-filled fighters was just what this summer needed. Hopefully, Depp & Gore Verbinski get another shot together.
Elysium (now Blu-ray/DVD): Neil Blomkamp plus Matt Damon seemed like a no-brainer. District 9 is still one of the best science fiction films I’ve ever seen. Elysium might not have been that good, but it shone a light on privilege, healthcare, wealth, and personal redemption. In the process, it found a Christ figure in the midst of the CGI and sci-fi, allowing us to be entertained while seeing a way that maybe, just maybe, the filmmaker was talking about our lives.
Man Of Steel (now on Blu-ray/DVD): While I genuinely enjoyed Iron Man 3 and it led my early rankings of superhero flicks, rewatching the Henry Cavill version of Superman in high definition allowed me to see its more redeemable qualities. While IM3 takes Tony Stark out of the suit, MoS allows us to see more Clark Kent and less of the alien crime fighter. We get to see the people who have destiny and responsibility forced on them, and it allows it to be humanized in a way that sometimes, previous movies failed. And then there’s Supes’ epic, “is that the only choice?” decision that will launch a serious conversation about situational ethics if you’re willing.
Best in Shows:
Chicago Fire: We binge watched the first season and then dove into it. It hasn’t disappointed in terms of relational issues, on-the-job educations, and a front seat to situations that first responders encounter everyday. Cheesy? Yes, at times, but it’s must-watch television.
Scandal: While I came late to this one, I’m now “live,” having watched the first two seasons and the 2013-14 shows-to-date since October 1. While the first season (a mere 12 episodes) was the mightiest, this show still continues to make me want to see what happens. No one is black as night or white as day, but everyone has a real-wrold shade of gray.
The Bible: Somehow, lightning in a bottle happened, and we found ourselves tweeting, huddling up at work, and answering questions from non-religious corners of our world, where people wanted to know, “did that really happen that way?”
Best in Sports: Yes, I’m biased but the Red Sox run from worst-to-first was pretty epic, especially given the impact of Sandyhook and the Boston Marathon bombings on the New England community. You can relive the magic (I know I will) on Blu-ray, but watching the games, and hearing sports figures actually talk about their feelings (David Ortiz, come on down!) made for an experience of sports that was more than just an “event.”
What’s the best of what you saw this year? What would you go back and rewatch? What made you stop and think?