Tag Archives: recommended watching 2013

Year-End Wrap-Up 2013: Watching

Normally I integrate my recommending watching into my recommended reading in my year-end wrap-up posts, but my reading posts tend to get long and I know people’s eyes glaze over, so why should movies and television get short shrift by being tacked on to the end of a post about books and short fiction? I’ve blogged about many of these shows and movies before, here and elsewhere, but I still think they’re worth highlighting among my favorite things of 2013.

Orange is the New Black – I really can’t recommend this show strongly enough. It’s a compelling and well-written, brilliantly acted, and it has a female-centric cast. All of these things are sadly under-represented on TV these days. Shows tend to be primarily male-centric, re-enforce the cultural norms, and too often neglect acting and story in favor of shiny things that are shiny. Orange is the New Black may not be perfect – nothing is – but it never fails for lack of trying. It doesn’t take the expected routes through plots, it allows its characters (and thus actors) to shine, and it offers unflinching and positive portrayals of race and gender issues that are sadly lacking in the majority of other shows currently on TV.

Gravity –  A female lead carries a major motion picture that is visually stunning, action-focused, and set in space. Sure, some character moments are a bit heavy-handed and the science is often inaccurate, but the movie is flat-out gorgeous, the performances are just as stunning, and it’s proof that a female lead can carry a movie and people will pay good money to see it. We need more movies like this. Plus, Gravity offers one of the most effective uses of 3D technology in recent memory. Rather than being gimmicky, it actually puts viewers in the characters’ shoes in a very tense and visceral way in addition to providing truly stunning ‘background scenery shots’ throughout the movie.

Beasts of the Southern Wild

Beasts of the Southern Wild – This wasn’t a new movie this year, and while it was nominated for multiple awards, I still feel it deserves more attention than it got. The visuals are breath-taking and the fact that primarily unknown actors were cast really works to the movie’s advantage. I watched it back-to-back with the remake of Total Recall and holy crap was that to Total Recall’s disadvantage. One movie presented a slick and highly stylized movie version of what poverty will look like in the future, and Beasts of the Southern Wild presented a wholly plausible depiction of poverty based on the way people actually live. The surreal portions where the movie shifted into dream-like fantasy sequences worked for me, and oddly didn’t feel out of place with the realistic segments. The performances were truly incredible as well, especially Quvenzhane Wallis, particularly given her young age and, if you watch the film’s extras, what her acting process seems to be like.

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