Wednesday, January 02, 2013

2012 Year in Review (Films, TV, and Music)

It seems to me like I consumed less popular culture in 2012 than I had in previous years.  Without further ado, here is a quick recap of the entertainments I enjoyed most and least in the previous year.


In 2012 I averaged going to the movies only about once per month.  Here’s the best of what I saw:

#1. Moonrise Kingdom
I’m pretty sure this is Wes Anderson’s best movie to date, an impressive feat because they are all extremely good.  Anderson imagines the island of New Penzance, somewhere off the coast of New England in the mid-1960s, populating it eccentric locals and a Khaki Scout camp.  There we find two pre-teens, Sam and Suzy, who run away together in this amazing, heartwarming tale.

#2. Django Unchained
Quentin Tarantino’s controversial revenge-fantasy film, a western set in the antebellum south, tells the story of a former slave attempting to free his wife from slavery.  Tarantino’s last revenge fantasy film dealing with a small group of Jewish-American army rangers sent to terrorize Nazi soldiers and break the morale of Hitler’s military, wound up inspiring a sermon about Inglourious Unitarians.  Django Unchained provokes similar questions about whether violence is ever redemptive.

#3. The Cabin in the Woods
In this wild roller-coaster of a film, Joss Whedon deconstructs the archetypal American horror movie, recombines the parts into a far less stable compound, and then sits back and watches the whole thing blow up.

The Rest:
Life of Pi was extremely good and faithful to the book although the 3D treatment was unnecessary.  Joss Whedon’s The Avengers was the perfect summer superhero blockbuster.  It was fun and enjoyable and the very opposite of Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises which was just a pretentious mess.  Seeking a Friend for the End of the World was sweet and charming despite its sadness.  The same thing can be said, just in a different way, for Mike Birbiglia’s outstanding Sleepwalk With MeThe Hunger Games didn’t disappoint.  Sacha Baron Cohen’s The Dictator was his worst film so far and would have wrestled Batman for the worst film I saw this year had it not been for Liam Neeson’s complete misfire of an action film, The Grey, a stupid, boring, and pointless film.

You can find more suggestions of films from 2012 worth seeing here.


Besides sports, I don’t really watch any television, but last year I did fall in love with Breaking Bad.  I watched the first four seasons in time to catch the first half of the fifth and final season which aired last summer.  Those seven episodes were some of the best television I’ve ever seen and I’m looking forward to seeing how the cliffhanger and the series resolves this coming summer.

And that’s all the television I watched, well that and a couple dozen episodes of Law & Order.  Here you can find out about all the supposedly good television I didn’t watch in the past year.


Here are the best albums I bought in 2012:

#5. Fun – Some Nights (Pop)
#4. Minus the Bear – Infinity Overhead  (Alternative pop rock)
#3. Jay Farrar, Will Johnson, Anders Parker, and Yim Yames – New Mulitudes (Folk)
#2. Titus Andronicus – Local Business (Punk rock)
#1. Dirty Projectors – Swing Lo Magellan  (Indie rock)

2012 was a disappointing year for music.  None of the music I explored stood out as stunningly good.  I even failed to get into the Frank Ocean album that every critic thinks is the best thing that happened to music this year.  (Please do yourself a favor and listen to him sing on the Jimmy Fallon show.)  But 2013 is looking up.  A new Joy Formidable album comes out this month and a new Frightened Rabbit release drops in February.  I’m enjoying those bands as much as anything else I’m listening to nowadays.  

Click here for the best music of 2012 according to The AV Club.