Jan 29, 2014

Best of 2013 Part 2: Films and Events

A solid 3.5 weeks after going through the momentous TV and music events of 2013, it's time now to turn to the movies and general events that defined the year. Again, it's difficult to look at the year as a whole, because it seems like we are constantly teetering between instant forgetfulness AND instant nostalgia. We're like that guy from Memento who wanted that mint to impress that tattoo artist. Or something. It's really hard to remember what that movie was about. And I miss it dearly. 

Anyway... let's look at the film moments and new cultural touchstones that shaped 2013:

Ah, film! Millions of Americans filed into the cinemaplexes this year, with their store-bought candy cleverly hidden in the pockets, purses, and brassieres. Of course, even more people just sat on their couches and watched whatever Netflix, Amazon, and iTunes had to offer, regardless of quality. Because the economy and convenience. 2013's movies offered many wonderful chances for people to escape their terrible lives for around 90 minutes at a time,  It was glorious. While I obviously recount all the great film-related things of the last year, here are the moments that stood out to me:

5. Cant Hardly Wait
Preston? Preston Myers?
On New Year's Eve 2013 (a mere month ago), as people chowed down their strawberry pop tarts and inhaled gently into their chloroform soaked rags, Can't Hardly Wait was being taken off of Netflix's Instant Watch roster. In recognition of that (and the film's 15th Anniversary), the film's star Ethan Embry decided to watch the movie AND host a live tweet event (#barrymanilow). It was awesome to see an event made from this movie, a movie that my sister and I quote every time we're in the same room. It's approximately 45% of what we say to one another. Angel strippers, tons of celebs and pre-celebs, pining love letters, racial stereotypes of the worst kind: this movie has it all, including Jennifer Love Hewitt in possibly her greatest film role of all time. Since Embry was too blitzed during the filming of the movie to remember any of it, it was also cool to see someone discover a movie that he was actually in.

4. The End of The Cornetto Trilogy

Nick Frost, Simon Pegg, and Edgar Wright wrapped up their trilogy of thematically linked films earlier this year with the surprisingly sweet and ludicrously funny The World's End, an alien-invasion film that is less about blue-blooded, robot-Lego people and more about friendship.  I've loved each of the three movies (the other two being Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz), and this film was a welcome capper. Frost, Pegg, and Wright will undoubtedly work together again, but it's nice to have these three films as an unspoiled, brilliant quasi-trilogy that never once jumped the shark (though Pegg did jump his share of fences).

3. Ladies in Black & White
June Squibb has no time for Gerwig's shit
 There has been a resurgence of black and white movies in the last few years, and I have to say that, despite my best efforts, I have been charmed by the results. Sure, not every B&W movie is great, but this year there were two (Frances Ha and Nebraska) that really were. I've already talked a little about my love of Frances Ha, a movie that could easily be called my Favorite Movie Of 2013. Nebraska, which I'll review soon, was similarly wonderful: sparse, quiet, and funny to boot.  Part of my love of these movies are the turns by Greta Gerwig (Ha) and June Squibb, both of whom I'd written off for one reason or another. In these films, they turn in masterful performances, taking moments that could read as cliche on paper and turning them real. 

2. M. Night Shyamalan Writing She’s All That
This year, M. Night Shyamalan coyly admitted to being the secret writer of the 90s teen rom-com She's All That, the film that, among other things, was largely the inspiration for the even better Not Another Teen Movie. Though he really only punched up the script (leave it to Shyamalan to give himself too much credit for a kind of crappy movie), it was great fun to imagine all the fun twists that Shyamalan added into this bonkers movie. It also raised a lot of questions: Was Freddie Prinze, Jr. an alien the whole time? Is everyone in this movie a secret sociopath? Is that Milo Ventimiglia?

This new information really is Shyamalan's greatest twist yet.

Though the film's release date is still over a month away, 2013 saw the rise of the Veronica Mars Kickstarter campaign, one of the most successful examples of crowd-funding in the history of crowd-funding. Marshmallows (fans of the original VM series) everywhere clamored to give some money to a film that we thought may never actually happen, and quickly raised millions and millions of dollar dollar bills, y'all. It also inspired tons of people to turn to sites like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo and GoFundMe to get their shizz funded. Film event of the YEAR!

This is just sort of a grab bag of things that happened this year:

5. Royal Baby Born
George Alexander Louis was born this year! It was a big deal, for some reason. I guess because each new birth is a big deal, and babies are a way for people to attain immortality by creating life, like they're a god or something. Plus, he might one day rule the UK in an almost entirely ritualistic way that doesn't actually mean anything. So, yay?

4. Bea Arthur’s Magnificent Mammaries
John Currin's painting of Bea Arthur, nude, went up for auction this year. It was glorious. NEVER FORGET! (not that the image of Bea Arthur naked could ever be forgotten)



3. Reese Witherspoon’s Arrest
Witherspoon: Putting the
Past Behind her
Do you remember when Reese Witherspoon was arrested for being disorderly after her husband was pulled over on a suspected DUI? Well, if you don't, it's because Witherspoon went on a one-woman Charm Tour for the months following. Not a week went by without her turning up in some blog, looking awesome as she shopped for groceries, took care of her kids, and seemed generally badass. She put the event in her rearview mirror, which I mostly applaud. Except, it's also awesome to see her lose her shit, and it reminded people why we love her in the first place.

2. Roger Ebert Dies
This one hurt. Even up to his death, Roger Ebert remained an important presence in film criticism. I wrote at the time that Ebert had a "crotchety, articulate, anger-inducing, and brilliant spirit." He will be missed. Also, a documentary of his life just killed it at Sundance, so it seems like there will be more opportunities to mourn him in the coming year. 

1. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler Host the Golden Globes
It's hard to remember a time BEFORE Fey and Poehler rocked it out at last year's Golden Globes. They were funny, self-effacing, and miraculously did not overstay their welcome (if that's even possible). They made the Golden Globes the EVENT OF THE YEAR, which I don't think it's ever been. Ever. They returned this year with another strong performance, meaning they might just make it to the top of the 2014 countdown too. 


Jennifer Lawrence

Julia Louis-Dreyfus
Hilarious on Veep, hilarious in life. It still maddens me that, buttloads of Emmys and Golden Globes later, people still can't figure out how to pronounce her name.

Rob Ford
This young comedian turned in the most solid character study on buffoonery since Larry The Cable Guy

Matt Smith
He bowed out of the Doctor Who franchise right after proving his mettle against David Tennant, many people's favorite Doctor, in the 50th Anniversary Special. Also, he was quite delightful at all the press events he attended

For reals, though.
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