Lisa Marie Picks The Best 26 Films of 2013


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2o13 was an unusually good year in film.  While there was never any doubt what my number one film would be, it took me considerably longer to narrow down my other favorites to just 25 movies.

Also complicating matters is that a film that I’m very much looking forward to, Spike Jonze’s Her, is not going to be opening here until next weekend.  Because I haven’t seen it, I could not consider it for this list.  If, after I do see it, I feel that it belongs in the top 26, I will add it.

(Update: I have since seen Her and I have modified my original list. — LMB, 1/1o/14)

You may be asking, “Why 26 films?”  Lisa doesn’t do odd numbers, that’s why.

Without further ado, here’s the list!

  1. Upstream Color
  2. American Hustle
  3. Frances Ha
  4. Her
  5. Before Midnight
  6. Blue Is The Warmest Color
  7. Spring Breakers
  8. 12 Years A Slave
  9. Fruitvale Station
  10. Inside Llewyn Davis
  11. The Wolf of Wall Street
  12. Warm Bodies
  13. The Counselor 
  14. Gravity
  15. Blue Jasmine
  16. The Spectacular Now
  17. Much Ado About Nothing
  18. Dallas Buyers Club
  19. The Conjuring
  20. Drinking Buddies
  21. Iron Man 3
  22. Nebraska
  23. The Place Beyond The Pines
  24. At Any Price
  25. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
  26. All Is Lost
  27. The Iceman
  28. Frozen

Upstream Color

(Now that you’ve seen my favorites of 2013, check out my picks for 2010, 2011, and 2012!)

Other Entries In TSL’s Look Back At 2013:

  1. Lisa Marie’s 12 Favorite Novels of 2013
  2. Lisa Marie’s 12 Favorite Non-Fiction Books of 2013
  3. Semtex Skittle’s 2013: The Year in Video Games
  4. 20 Good Things Lisa Marie Saw On Television in 2013
  5. 10 0f Lisa Marie’s Favorite Songs of 2013
  6. Lisa Marie’s 16 Worst Films of 2013
  7. Necromoonyeti’s Top 10 Metal Albums of 2013
  8. Things That Dork Geekus Dug In 2013
  9. Lisa Marie’s Best of 2o13 SyFy

Lisa Marie’s 12 Favorite Novels of 2013


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Continuing TSL’s look back at the year that was, here’s my 12 favorite novels of 2013!

(And yes, you should read them all.)

  1. Ten Tiny Breaths by K.A. Tucker
  2. Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Theresa Ann Fowler
  3. The Flamethrowers by Racel Kushner
  4. The Fate of Mercy Alban by Wendy Webb
  5. Someday, Someday Maybe by Lauren Graham
  6. Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight
  7. Red Hill by Jamie McGuire
  8. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
  9. Night Film by Marisha Pessl
  10. Just One Day by Gayle Foreman
  11. The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer
  12. NOS4A2 by Joe Hill

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Tomorrow, my look back at 2013 continues with the list that everyone’s been waiting for — my top 26 films of 2013!

Other Entries In TSL’s Look Back At 2013:

  1. Lisa Marie’s 12 Favorite Non-Fiction Books of 2013
  2. Semtex Skittle’s 2013: The Year in Video Games
  3. 20 Good Things Lisa Marie Saw On Television in 2013
  4. 10 0f Lisa Marie’s Favorite Songs of 2013
  5. Lisa Marie’s 16 Worst Films of 2013
  6. Necromoonyeti’s Top 10 Metal Albums of 2013
  7. Things That Dork Geekus Dug In 2013
  8. Lisa Marie’s Best of 2o13 SyFy

Lisa Marie’s 12 Favorite Non-Fiction Books of 2013


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I should admit that the title of this post is misleading.  While it is true that listed below are 12 of my favorite non-fiction books of 2013, I’ve specifically limited my picks to books that dealt with entertainment, pop culture, and the creative process.  With that in mind, here are my 12 favorite non-fiction books of 2013:

(And yes, you should read everyone of them.)

1)  The Disaster Artist by Greg Sestero & Tom Bissell

2) Crab Monsters, Teenage Caveman, and Candy Stripe Nurses: Roger Corman: King of the B-Movies by Chris Nashawaty

3) 100 Works of Art That Will Define Our Age by Kelly Grovier

4) The Wes Anderson Collection by Matt Zoller Seitz

5) Odd Type Writers by Celia Blue Johnson

6) Mad Girl’s Love Song: Sylvia Plath and Life Before Ted by Andrew Wilson

7) The Reckoning: Women Artists of the New Millennium by Eleanor Hartney, Helaine Posner, Nancy Princethal, and Sue Scott

8) Difficult Men by Brett Martin

9) A Story Told Lately by Anjelica Huston

10) Slimed: An Oral History of Nickelodeon’s Golden Age by Matthew Klickstein

11) The Secret History of Vladimir Nabakov by Andrea Pitzer

12) Norman Mailer: A Double Life by J. Michael Lennon

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Honorable Mention: Lost Cat by Caroline Paul, my favorite non-entertainment related nonfiction book.

Lost Cat

Tomorrow, my look back at 2013 continue with my 12 favorite novels of 2013.

Other Entries In TSL’s Look Back At 2013:

  1. Semtex Skittle’s 2013: The Year in Video Games
  2. 20 Good Things Lisa Marie Saw On Television in 2013
  3. 10 0f Lisa Marie’s Favorite Songs of 2013
  4. Lisa Marie’s 16 Worst Films of 2013
  5. Necromoonyeti’s Top 10 Metal Albums of 2013
  6. Things That Dork Geekus Dug In 2013
  7. Lisa Marie’s Best of 2o13 SyFy

2013 in Video Games


2013 was a year. And video games were released. And many of them were played by millions. Some of them were enjoyed!

This what I theoretically write about, right?

So let’s talk 2013. In video games. Unfortunately, I didn’t play many terrible games this year. I managed to nail most of my selections, and then I spent some time dealing with serious family problems that repressed my desire to game. Also, I spent a lot of time playing Final Fantasy games. But I do have some thoughts on what happened this year… I’m going to hand out a couple of awards. I’m going to do a couple of lists. Listen, guys, I’m not always great with structure.

Five Games Not Enough People Played*, In No Particular Order
1. Skulls of the Shogun. Critically acclaimed (like, really acclaimed. With good reason) I’m still the only human being I know who has actually played this game. Unless some of you have been holding out on me.
2. Space Hulk. I promise, it’s not bad. Uhh… anymore.
3. Mechwarrior Online. Somehow, the Mechwarrior franchise is not dead… just dying and gasping for air. Still, you can play a real Battletech game for the first time in like 10 years.
4. GTA V! No, but seriously guys, did you play Rogue: Legacy? It’ll make you want to remove your own brain. Or you’ll really have fun. Or, probably both.
5. Saints Row 4. I don’t care how many people played it, there are people who didn’t. And that’s a shame.
*This figure was scientifically determined by a sampling of people I know personally. They represent all of you.

The Five Games I Enjoyed Most in 2013
5. Final Fantasy Mystic Quest Tomb Raider. I understand the criticisms that a) the characterization of Lara Croft is a little uneven. B) It’s uncomfortable to watch Lara become increasingly sneaky and (especially) brutal as the game goes along. No matter how much visceral pleasure one might gain from murdering crazy rapey cultists with a climbing pick. C) The puzzles which were the entire point of the series have been relegated to optional side-missions. I get all of that. I promise. This game was still really, really good, and it gave me hope that the Tomb Raider series is moving in a cool direction.
4. Grand Theft Auto V. The release of a Grand Theft Auto game is, basically, An Event. It’s not just another video game release. It’s Grand Theft Auto. It’s an institution. Everyone takes a couple days off work, buys a case of red bull/”Code Red” Mountain Dew/a couple grams of coke and a hundred hours simply disappear. Right? Well… GTA V definitely did a lot of things right. But as usual, I was left with the feeling that the game was working harder to impress me than to let me have fun. Consider me impressed. But I definitely wasn’t always having fun. And yes, I was deeply disturbed by the torture mission. And no, I’m not ignorant of the fact that it’s supposed to be biting satire.
3. Heart of the Swarm. The long (long, long, LONG) awaited sequel to StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty, finally dropped this year. Only 4? 5? more years to go for the epic conclusion! Heart of the Swarm is basically a vast improvement over the original StarCraft II without really changing that much stuff. A couple new units, a very good new campaign (not that WoL’s was at all unenjoyable), and a consistent multiplayer experience. Just because I suck at the multiplayer does not mean it’s bad.
2. Payday 2. Just in terms of hours wasted, it’s hard not to rank this one #1. Or it would be, if the #1 slot wasn’t so preposterously clear that it doesn’t even merit discussion. Anyway, Payday 2 can be frustrating, still has a number of infuriating bugs, and occasionally feels like it doesn’t have nearly enough content. Plus, I’m tired of getting ‘The Jaw’ masks. Do you guys know how many ‘The Jaw’ masks I have? I don’t want to talk about it. Anyway, one of the great time wasters.
1. Saints Row IV.

A Game That Somehow Didn’t Make the Above List But I Want To Discuss
To: Magic: The Gathering Duels of the Planeswalkers 2014.
Quite a mouthful. I actually think it may just be ‘Magic 2014’ this time around. I think it’s okay for me to refer to it that way. This franchise has been putting out an excellent game every year for four years. It is not a replacement for MTG: Online if you’re looking for real constructed formats. This game is its own limited format, and if you don’t want that, then don’t buy it, you’ll hate it. 2014 incorporates all of the gripes I can remember people mentioning since the first (MTG:DTP, no year the first time around!) iteration dropped: You have full control over the 80 cards (or whatever it is) that can be unlocked for each deck. You have full control over the land in each deck. You can manually select which lands tap so the AI can’t cause you to “tap out” of a colour you still need. However, 2014 can’t make the top 5 list because it has some real problems with the balance of its constructed format (the top tier decks are too top tier) and the Steam version was totally assassinated by rampant cheating in the Sealed format early on. Rough year. Still, this is a franchise people should know about.

The Bethesda Softworks Award
For: Most inexcusably buggy release that still has serious problems after a couple major patches
To: Battlefield 4
This award was originally going to go to Space Hulk until I recently revisited it. Fortunately for Space Hulk, the major patches fixed all of the problems for me, at least! Fortunately for everyone, Dice’s Battlefield 4, while incredible in its recreation of a battlefield environment that I can drive an attack boat around and kill people in… is almost hilariously bugged out. A couple of major patches have seemed to create just as many problems as they have solved. And that’s on the (relatively) stable XBox 360 release. I am told that the releases for PS4 and XBox One did not go smoothly. I don’t own either of those consoles yet, so I can’t speak personally… but I have no reason to doubt my sources (they include everyone I know who has played BF4 on a new console). This is particularly infuriating for me because I really want to play and enjoy Battlefield 4. But if I’m the only person who can play it without their bullets shooting sideways and their save data being corrupted… uhh… I guess I don’t have much reason to play at all, under those conditions. Thanks for nothing, Dice.

The Blizzard Entertainment Award
For: Wait, HOW long has that been in development again?
To: Defense of the Ancients 2
This isn’t really fair, since Dota 2 has been in beta for much of the long development cycle, and thus people have been able to play it. Still, the game had been in playable beta for over two years before it ‘dropped’. That having been said, it’s free to play on Steam, so what the hell do I care?

Baldur’s Gate Enhanced Award
For: ‘HD’ remake, ‘updated’ version, or whatever, that I randomly enjoyed
To: Age of Empires II: HD Edition
I seriously think I enjoyed it more than I did when the game first dropped. Mercifully, while this HD version is nothing (so far as I could tell) then a new coat of paint slapped on an ancient game… it was a very pretty coat of paint. And the game runs stably on my 64x OS. And it’s fun! What more could I ask for, really?

Game of the Year
For: Game of the Year
To: Saints Row IV.
C’mon. If you’ve never dipped your toes into the franchise… Saint’s Row IV concludes the story of ‘The Boss’, the nameless player-avatar protagonist who rose from being a nothing street punk to the leader of the Third Street Saints, which then became a massive media empire, to becoming elected as the President of the United States. I believe the tagline for the game on Steam is: “Gloriously Stupid” “Stupidly Fun”. That’s about right, except I don’t know how ‘stupid’ it really is. Saints Row IV is deeply referential; it pays flippant homage to essentially the entire history of gaming. Many of the references range from shrewd to brilliant, and many of them are simultaneously hysterical. It doesn’t have the size or scope of Grand Theft Auto V, but it’s every bit as much fun to play (this is a lie: it’s like 90283048x more fun to play). The absurdity of the game may not be to all tastes, I suppose, but all video games are absurd in one way or another. Give it a chance. Let it win you over. Oh, the PC version has some bugs. I didn’t find that they dampened my gameplay experience too much, but they are there, and they do suck when they crop up. Stupid ports.

20 Good Things That I Saw On Television in 2013


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Someday, I want to have my own tv network.  I’ll call it Lisa Marie Television (or LMTV for short) and it’ll be like Lifetime but with the Lisa Marie difference.  What’s the Lisa Marie difference?  Sweetheart, if you have to ask, you’ll never know.

Anyway, as I wait for that day to come, I’m going to continue my series of posts on my favorites of 2013 by telling you about some of the best things that I saw on television over the course of the previous year.  Here they are, in random order:

1) The series finale of Breaking Bad

Perfection.

2) The series finale of The Office

After a rough couple of seasons, The Office redeemed itself with a perfect conclusion.  How can you do any better than Jim and Pam moving to Texas?

3) Children’s Hospital on Adult Swim

Without a doubt, the funniest 15 minutes on television.

4) Burning Love on E!

E! broadcast episodes of the hilarious, Bachelor-parodying web series in 2013 and gave everyone a chance to follow Julie as she pined for Blaze and asked lucky bachelors, “Will you hold my box?”

5) SyFy Saturdays

This year, my Saturday night ritual was to gather online with the Snarkalecs and watch an original movie on SyFy.  And while all of the Normals (as we refer to the rest of the world) were going crazy over Sharknado, the Snarkalecs knew that End of the World was a hundred times better.

6) The only likable team won The Amazing Race 23

I can’t remember their names but I can remember that I liked them more than Tim & Marie, Nicole & Travis, and Leo & Jamal.

7) Bonnie and Clyde

Broadcast on three different networks and over two separate nights, Bonnie and Clyde was big, silly, over-the-top, glamorous, and full of style.  It made me want to go out and rob a bank while looking good doing it.

8) Orange is the New Black

We lost a lot of good shows in 2013 but, fortunately, we also gained a few new ones.

9) South Park satirizes Obama and Game of Thrones

I like one of those targets and dislike the other (guess which is which) but the important thing is that both of them have reached a point where they deserve to be satirized.  Not surprisingly, South Park continues to be one of the few show to have the guts to ridicule the topics that other shows are too cowardly to touch.

10) Bates Motel

Bates Motel was frequently uneven but it was always worth watching for Vera Farmiga and Max Thieriot.

11) The Space Kitten

That little space kitten that was singing Wrecking Ball at the American Music Awards?  Adorable!

12) Jimmy Kimmel

Whether he was causing Kanye West to have a meltdown or posting fake videos on YouTube, 2013 was the year of Kimmel.

13) The Talking Dead

Look, we all know that The Walking Dead is great but, for me, The Talking Dead is usually the highlight of AMC on Sunday night.  Chris Hardwick is adorable to begin with but the moment he choked up while discussing the death of Herschel confirmed that he’s not just a host.  He’s a true fan as well.

14) Miley Cyrus at the VMAs

It was tacky, it was shocking, it was disturbing, it got people talking and overreacting, and it was everything that television should be.  (That said, I would like to point out that — despite what some members of the media seem to believe — twerking existed long before Miley Cyrus decided to make it a part of her act.  I was twerking back when Miley was still Hannah Montana.)

15) That episode of Girls with Patrick Wilson

One of the best 25 minutes of television ever, and not just because Patrick Wilson is super hot.

16) The Herstory of Dance and Intro to Felt Surrogacy episodes of Community

Without the guiding vision of Dan Harmon, Community‘s fourth season was undeniably rough.  However, these two episodes reminded us that Community still had something to offer.  (That said, I’m glad Dan Harmon’s back for season 5…)

17) Colton walks off Survivor …. again

Colton Cumbie is one of the most loathsome people to ever show up on a reality TV show so it was satisfying to see him utterly fail to win Survivor not once but twice.

18) The Big Brother Blog got a new writer named Lisa Marie

This year, Bill Lage asked me to write episode recaps for the Big Brother Blog.  Of course, I said yes and, for three months, I had a lot of fun keeping people updated with what all of the loathsome people in the Big Brother house were up to.  I made a lot of new friends and I even made a persistent enemy named Maggie Long, a poor little internet troll who just couldn’t handle the fact that I encouraged my readers to “Stay supple!”  It was a lot of fun and I look forward to doing it all over again in 2014.

19) Winter Storm Cleon caused the local news people to freak out!

Yes, we did get some snow and ice down here in December.  Unlike you folks up North, those of us in Texas only see snow and ice every other year so, whenever it does show up, you can be sure that all of the local newspeople are going to panic.  That’s exactly what happened this year and it was fun to watch.

20) Degrassi!

My favorite Canadian show came back!

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Tomorrow, we take a look at ten of my favorite books of 2013.

Other Entries In TSL’s Look Back At 2013:

  1. 10 0f Lisa Marie’s Favorite Songs of 2013
  2. Lisa Marie’s 16 Worst Films of 2013
  3. Necromoonyeti’s Top 10 Metal Albums of 2013
  4. Things That Dork Geekus Dug In 2013
  5. Lisa Marie’s Best of 2o13 SyFy

 

Here Are The Writer’s Guild Nominations!


Earlier today, The Writer’s Guild of America announced their nominations for the best screenplays of 2013.  While it’s only natural to look at these nominations and try to use them as an Oscar oracle, it should be remembered that only 95 of the 289 Oscar-eligible films were also eligible for a WGA nomination.*  Among those films not eligible to be nominated: 12 Years A Slave, Philomena, Fruitvale Station, and Rush.

Here are the nominees:

Original Screenplay:

American Hustle,

Blue Jasmine,

Dallas Buyers Club,

Her,

Nebraska

Adapted Screenplay:

August: Osage County,

Before Midnight,

Captain Phillips,

Lone Survivor,

The Wolf of Wall Street

—–

* As much as I wish I could say that I was responsible for coming up with that statistic, all credit should actually go toGoldderby.

10 Of Lisa Marie’s Favorite Songs of 2013


Continuing my series on the best of 2013, here are ten of my favorite songs from 2013. Now, I’m not necessarily saying that these were the best songs of 2013. Some of them aren’t. But these are ten songs that, in the future, will define 2013 for me personally. Again, these are my picks and my picks only. So, if you think my taste in music sucks (and, admittedly, quite a few people do), direct your scorn at me and not at anyone else who writes for the Shattered Lens.

I’ve occasionally been asked what my criteria for a good song us. Honestly, the main things I look for in a song is 1) can I dance to it, 2) can I write to it, and 3) can I get all into singing it while I’m stuck in traffic or in the shower?

Anyway, at the risk of revealing just how much of a dork I truly am, here are ten of my favorite songs of 2013.

10) A Low and Swelling Sound Gradually Swelling (composed by Shane Carruth)

This atmospheric instrumental piece comes from the soundtrack of the best film of 2013, Upstream Color.  This is great writing music.

9) Giorgio By Moroder (performed by Daft Punk and Giorgio Moroder)

From Random Access Memories.

8) Saturday (performed by Rebecca Black and Dave Days)

I make no apologies.  Much like Friday, this is a fun song to sing when you’re driving to and from work.  Plus, I think the video’s clever.

7) Brave (performed by Sara Bareilles)

I have to admit that I loved this song more before it started showing up in Nokia Lumia commercials.

6) Feel This Moment (performed by Pitbull, feat. Christina Aguilera)

5) Haunted (performed by ROB)

This is from the Maniac soundtrack.  Much like the Carruth song, this is great writing music.

4) Work Bitch (performed by Britney Spears)

Not a day goes by that I don’t find an excuse to say, “You gotta work, bitch.”

3) A Little Party Never Killed Nobody (All We Got) (performed by Fergie, feat. Q-Tip and Goon Rock)

From The Great Gatsby soundtrack.

2) Just Give Me A Reason (performed by Pink and Nate Ruess)

1) Lose Yourself to Dance (performed by Daft Punk and Pharrell Williams)

What else needs to be said?

Finally, here are two honorable mentions.  These are two songs that helped define 2013 for me but, for various reasons, could not be included in my top ten.

First off, Alison Gold’s Chinese Food is technically a terrible song but it’s so terrible that it becomes oddly fascinating.  Thanks to the presence of Patrice Wilson, the video is probably one of the most unintentionally creepy music videos ever made.

(I should admit that I happen to love Chinese food myself and therefore, this song is one that I’ve sung a lot over the past few years.)

The second honorable mention is a far better song than Chinese Food: Icona Pop’s I Love It.  I Love It was released in 2012 but it’s the song that I listened to nonstop last year..  So, even if it was released a year earlier, I Love It is still my favorite song of 2013.

Tomorrow, I will continue my look back at 2013 with 10 good things that I saw on television last year.

Other Entries In TSL’s Look Back At 2013:

  1. Lisa Marie’s 16 Worst Films of 2013
  2. Necromoonyeti’s Top 10 Metal Albums of 2013
  3. Things That Dork Geekus Dug In 2013
  4. Lisa Marie’s Best of 2o13 SyFy