We end our best of 2013 list with our picks for the best films, television series and music. So much to see and hear, so little time.
Marty is a struggling screenwriter who wants nothing more than to finish his script. Instead, he becomes entangled with the Los Angeles gangster underworld when his odd, but well-meaning friends kidnap a volatile gangster’s shih tzu.
McDonagh delivers an edgy, funny screenplay that deals with serious issues like creativity, fantasy vs. reality, and does so with a terrific cast. – Alan
Malcolm and Sofia are the most determined teenage graffiti writers in the Bronx. But when a rival gang buffs their latest masterpiece, they hatch a plan to get their revenge by planning the ultimate graffiti tag, to bomb the New York Mets’ home run apple.
An endearingly raw debut film depicting the lives of urban youth who happen to be graffiti bombers. – Kate
After Madelyn and Lucy meet by chance, they make a pact to fix their unhappy lives: they will only do what the other one says and ignore their own instincts. But Madelyn has a secret.
Marcia Gay Harden is great in the lead role; it’s a perfectly balanced dramedy of errors. – Kate
Twelve-year-old Cyril is living in a group home but refuses to believe he has been rejected by his single father. He spends his days frantically trying to reach the man, over the phone or on his beloved bicycle. In French with English subtitles.
Full of heartbreaking betrayals and unexpected grace – Kate via ifcfilms.com
A twisted fetishist is targeting young women in London. As Luther is called to another case, will the killer escape his grips? Luther faces an even bigger threat as members of his own team will stop at nothing to bring him down.
The eagerly anticipated third mini-series of the thriller/detective/murder mystery Luther is gruesome at times, but this quality of entertainment television programming is not to be missed. – Kate
In the five-part drama series made and set in Northern Ireland, Gillian Anderson stars as Detective Superintendent Stella Gibson who is brought in from the London Metropolitan Police to help catch the killer when a murder in Belfast remains unsolved.
The stereotypical role of the female detective gets turned on its head while a thriller of a story unfolds. – Kate
An unfiltered look into the remarkable lives of the greatest sister-act professional tennis has ever seen. With unprecedented access, the film tells the inspiring story of how these two women, against all odds, but with the help of visionary parents, made it to the top.
Gives us insight into Venus and Serena’s fascinating relationship as sisters and as competitors, how they became the pro tennis powerhouses they are, and what their lives are like now. – Kate
A stunning documentary about the life of indigenous people living in the heart of the Siberian Taiga. Deep in the wilderness, far away from civilization, 300 people inhabit the small village of Bakhtia at the river Yenisei. There are only two ways to reach this outpost: by helicopter or boat.
A look at a centuries-unchanged culture – an incredibly difficult lifestyle, one that is truly astounding and completely foreign to most of us. – Kate
The Whale tells the remarkable true story of a young, wild killer whale (an Orca) nicknamed Luna, who lost contact with his family on the coast of British Columbia and became famous around the world when he tried to make friends with human beings.
This documentary stands out among the relative many recent releases about killer whales. – Kate
Every year, hundreds of people are attacked with acid in Pakistan. The majority of these are women, who are left physically and emotionally scarred. Saving Face tells the stories of two acid-attack survivors. The film also follows plastic surgeon Dr. Mohammad Jawad, who put his London practice on hold to return to his home country to help acid victims.
A stark reminder of the atrocities committed against women in Pakistan. –Kate
A documentary featuring interviews with all surviving former heads of Shin Bet, the Israeli security agency whose activities and membership are closely held state secrets.
The history of Shin Bet is more fascinating than you might think; it’s a heady film, but worth it. – Kate
Reflektor | Arcade Fire
Arcade Fire follows up their acclaimed and Grammy-winning album, The Suburbs, with one of the most buzzed-about albums of 2013.
It sounds like an ‘another Arcade Fire album’ without feeling cookie-cutter. It doesn’t break new ground for the band, and in this case, that’s a good thing. – Zac
The Very Best of the Pogues | The Pogues
The Pogues had a stellar career, spinning tunes that combined elements of traditional Celtic music with maximum rock and roll.
Their songs have a jaunty piratey air, bringing a soulpatch of happiness to my days. – Ron
Hesitation Marks | Nine Inch Nails
Trent Reznor has always been adept at bringing in new styles and advancements in electronic music production; his hard work pays off in this album.
All the dark, grimy, oddly-dancy cuts you’d expect from a Nine Inch Nails release, made addictive by Trent Reznor’s flawless production. Listen to this loud, preferably with some really good headphones. – Lisa