Small Pleasures…

Holidailies 2012And now a fluffy post to balance the downers that have preceded it.

I make it no secret that I am a voracious consumer of television and movies.  And although my movie theater viewing has been curtailed severely over the last year (THIRTEEN DOLLARS IN NYC!), looking at the upside of unemployment, I have a lot more time to feed my movie and TV habit and I’ve taken full advantage of it.

So, tonight, a list of some of my favorite TV and movie viewing of 2012, including (unsurprisingly) some guilty pleasures (but don’t think I actually feel guilty about them).


Best in the Movie Theater

  • Beasts of the Southern Wild – one of the most beautifully rendered and delicately acted movies I’ve seen in a long time.  Part fractured fairy tale, part modern commentary, all heart and soul.  Highly recommended!
  • Lincoln – There’s nothing that I can say about this that hasn’t already been said.  I’ll just marvel again at how Daniel Day Lewis disappears into every role he inhabits and how he most certainly IS Abraham Lincoln.

Best from Netflix/Amazon/Video on Demand – Documentary Edition

  • Marley – It doesn’t hurt that Bob Marley’s music is part of the soundtrack of my youth, but this wonderful documentary delves into the many layers of his life and music and is so rich with never before seen footage and conversations that I will likely watch it again.
  • The Queen of Versailles – Expecting a movie that mostly pokes fun at the wretched excess of wealth (particularly the nouveau riche variety), this documentary about the rise and fall of Jackie and David Siegel as they embark on a quest to build the largest (and tackiest) house in the country, was at turns, funny, sad, pathetic, and always deeply fascinating, especially in light of the way David Siegel chose to interject himself into the Presidential electoral process this year.

Best on TV – Zeitgeist Edition

  • Homeland – I mean seriously, who isn’t watching this?  I don’t even have Showtime and I manage to watch it, every single week.  Replacing the first season of 24 as the crack cocaine equivalent of TV viewing.
  • The Newsroom – Come to think of it, this has a strong standing in the crack cocaine equivalent of TV competition too.  The best that Aaron Sorkin has been since the very early days of The West Wing, maybe even better.  And so timely and so smart and so much more enjoyable than the actual news!
  • Scandal – as far as I’m concerned, Shonda Rhimes can do no wrong.  Grey’s Anatomy may not be what it once was, but it’s still on my regular viewing list. However, for a political junkie, conspiracy theory, thriller loving girl like me, Scandal is the ish!
  • The Walking Dead – Totally in withdrawal and it’s been just over a week since the midseason finale.  Bloodier and better than ever, this show (and its companion commentary show The Talking Dead) make Sunday night the best of TV.  Currently consoling myself by reading the comics from which it was created.
  • Sons of Anarchy – Never fails to be violent and bloody and shocking in the best possible way.  And fearless in its narrative decisions, even when it means killing off beloved characters. (RIP Opie!)
  • Revolution – Give me a smart, engaging, post-apocalyptic series with a fascinating mythology and you’ll have me at hello!

Best of TV – Another Country Edition

  • Twenty Twelve – Mockery of the London Olympics in the style of The Office?  Starring Hugh Bonneville?  Yes, please!  Though the series was limited, it’s brilliance looking at the absurdities of office life, elevated to the world stage is absolutely HILARIOUS!
  • The Hour – Called the British Mad Men, resemblances end at dapper costumes, lots of cigarette smoking, toppled stereotypes, and high quality storytelling, BBC News has never been this interesting, in a 1950s set thriller about TV journalism.  Series two just started on BBC America and I can only hope there are more episodes than series one.  Love it!
  • Downton Abbey – Shall I just say, Duh?  Even the theme music makes me happy.  Some of the best period drama to ever grace the small screen as far as I’m concerned.  Series three starts on PBS in January and I’ve managed to restrain myself from seeking it out on the ITV website and wait for the US premiere (though I do quite enjoy watching “adverts” from the UK.)
  • Copper – Gritty New York City set tale of rough and tumble policemen and Tammany Hall politics. Think Gangs of New York with better accents, a more attractive main character, and a distinct lack of  Leonardo DiCaprio.
  • Being Erica – The final season of my favorite, hip, smart, Toronto singleton figuring it all out (while traveling back in time to revisit her choices).  Sad to see it end.  Erin Karpluk, you need a new job that will treat you as well!

(Note: I may or may not have watched some of the above on their home country broadcast websites via a beautiful technological invention that allows me to be in those countries virtually while never leaving my living room)

Best of TV – Teenybopper Edition

  • Girls – Okay, not quite “teenybopper,” but I’m far enough away from my early twentysomething angst that it almost feels like it.  That said, hilarious, smart, awkward, and not all shined up for glossy TV viewing.  Lena Dunham is the real deal.
  • Dance Academy – Soapy, sweet and a dancer’s smorgasbord, I discovered this Australian show about aspiring professional ballet dancers on Netflix and cannot wait for the next series (and if it doesn’t happen, I may be crushed!)
  • Teen Wolf – Not your mother’s Teen Wolf (nor mine either).  MTV has brilliantly taken a goofy, 80s comedy about a cute dude (aww young Michael J. Fox) with a werewolf curse and turned it into a moody sci-fi tale of teenage angst and ruthless killers, plus it co-stars Michael Hogan (Battlestar Galactica‘s Saul Tigh) as a grizzled loose cannon (shocker!).  What’s not to love?
  • Awkward! – If Square Pegs and My So Called Life had a baby, added edgy humor, serious snark, and lots of bleeped profanity, this would be it.  You’re Welcome!
  • Bunheads – Sutton Foster.  Dancing.  Small Town Hijinks.  Snappy, snarky dialogue.  Yep.  I’m in.

Best in Guilty Pleasures

  • Breaking Amish – Probably not a moment of “reality” in this reality show, but it certainly fed my fascination with religions and subcultures.
  • Man vs. Wild – discovered thanks to my sister and nephew and devoured in multi-episode Netflix marathons filled with mockery from the peanut gallery. Plus Bear Grylls = adorable (though slightly insane).
  • Intervention – What is it about watching alcoholics and drug addicts spiral out of control, have their families rally around them and then turn their lives around (or not)?  I guess I love a good redemption story.
  • Investigation Discovery – Yes, pretty much the entire network.  I’m weirdly obsessed with true crime, and I guess since there’s a whole channel focused on it, I’m not alone.  Mostly, though I love 48 Hours Hard Evidence, Dateline on ID, On the Case with Paula Zahn, and Who the (Bleep) Did I Marry?

Looking forward to in 2013

  • SMASH – The return of my theater fangirl favorite!  The addition of Jennifer Hudson!  And locations shoots at the Westway Diner!  And singing and dancing and Broadway show geekery!
  • The Following – Serial killers, cults, Kevin Bacon, James Purefoy.  I’m in!
  • The Americans – 1980s set tale of KGB spies who are the All-American couple next door.  And it stars Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys.  Again, I’m in!
  • Mad Men – Though it may not be what it once was, I’m still a sucker for Don Draper and company.  Awaiting their return. Oh when, oh when will it be?

Tomorrow we’ll likely return to our regular navel gazing program.  But until then, enjoy…