Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Flashback

As we inexorably approach 2014 and the infinite promise of the new year, it does us well to look back on 2013 and learn from our triumphs and our mistakes. The same goes for Hollywood, because man did movies suck this year!

Because I'm such a huge fan of lists, I've prepared a massive blowout for y'all. Beginning with my top 10 and bottom 5 movies of the year (now that I've gotten some distance, I can be a little more objective about it - so don't go predicting my ratings based on the scores I gave the films way back when), it's time to discuss the ins and outs: the best and worst entertainment of 2013!

Now I obviously can only pass judgement on stuff I've seen or otherwise personally experienced so my list is going to be a little different than your average blogger's (not that I would have chosen 12 Years a Slave as a personal top pick anyway, but we'll never know, will we?), but I'm very excited to provide a pop culture road map of this past year.

Feel free to print it out and put it in a time capsule for future generations.


The Ten Best Films of 2013

#10 Sharknado

Exactly toeing the line between unintentional awfulness and totally intentional camp, Sharknado is self aware to a fault but manages to feel completely accidental, which is the highest praise I can give to a film of this caliber. Bad movies are always better if they're not bad on purpose and the filmmakers were somehow skilled enough at manipulation to make this SyFy Channel Original Movie feel like some long lost relic of the B-movie glory days.

Read my original review here.

#9 The Conjuring

James Wan's first haunted house picture of the year packs a punch. It's endlessly derivative, but it pulls from such a wide variety of sources (as far apart as The Amityville Horror, The Twilight Zone, and The Exorcist) that it turns into something completely new. By far one of the scariest movies of the year, although if the state of horror in 2013 had been any better, that might not be the case.

Read my original review here.

#8 Much Ado About Nothing

What started as a fun little side project so Joss Whedon could detox from Avengers with his friends turned into one of the best cinematic adaptations of a Shakespearean comedy to date. Updated for the modern age, but still maintaining a timeless sarcastic charm, Much Ado About Nothing sparkles with its crisp black and white cinematography and brilliant comic casting (Nathan Fillion and internet duo BriTaNick especially).

Read my original review here.

#7 Stoker

Stoker is a total mess of a narrative, but this tale of a young girl's coming of age is tinged with some of the best use of sexual violence in a genre full of the stuff. Wildly imaginative visuals, masterful symbolism, and the taut direction of South Korean transplant Park Chan-wook make Stoker stick in the memory like a thorn.

Read my original review here.

#6 Frozen

Although it isn't even Disney's best film in their mostly tepid 3D animation period (that would be Tangled), Frozen is charming and fun with a cool twist on the princess formula and a fabulous performance by Broadway veteran Idina Menzel.

Read my original review here.

#5 The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

This followup to 2012's smash hit The Hunger Games is better in every regard despite some flaky CGI and a couple shallow emotional moments due to vastly improved cinematography, better control over the action sequences, and an earth-shaking performance by Elizabeth Banks.

Read my original review here.

#4 100 Bloody Acres

As my first foray into the world of indie cinema (and my first official review as a new writer for CinemaBeach), I hold a soft spot in my heart for 100 Bloody Acres, a deliciously black comedy that provides a snarky Aussie spin on the "Backwoods Torture" subgenre. 

Read my original review here.

#3 In A World...

Hands down the most delightful comedy of the year. Lake Bell's directorial debut, In A World... provides a satiric look into the unexplored world of movie trailer voiceovers. It's smart, sweet, and steadfastly feminist. Minute by minute, this film contains the most laughs (at least for me) out of any other film this year.

Read my original review here.

#2 Gravity

I think Gravity has been gushed over just about enough, haven't you? Nevertheless, it really is a massively successful film in terms of groundbreaking special effects, its minutely detailed soundscape, adrenaline-pumping action, and a top shelf performance from Sandra Bullock.

Read my original review here.

#1 You're Next

Half brutal home invasion/slasher movie, half wide-eyed farce, this family satire is simultaneously gory and witty. Halfway between Noises Off and The Strangers, You're Next is a rare bird - a horror comedy that is both excellent chilling horror and hilarious comedy. Sharni Vinson turns in an inspiring performance as the coolest Final Girl of them all accompanied by enervating 80's synths like you've never heard them before. I've seen it six times in theaters since it came out in August, but my enjoyment has not diminished one iota.

Read my original review here.

The Five Worst Films of 2013

#5 Movie 43

Obscenity and gross-out humor aren't fundamentally bad things. Sometimes it takes a little bit of edge to shake things up in comedy. But when that comedy is in as worthless and leaden a vein as Movie 43, it makes all those more noble uses of the form seem not quite worth it. Without any discernible punchlines or fun, this movie spews out over the course of an hour and a half with increasingly inane and unnecessarily scatological or violent sketches. One for the markdown bin.

Read my original review here.

#4 Texas Chainsaw 3D

My favorite example of the deep deep narrative flaws of Texas Chainsaw 3D is that according to the flashback in the prologue, the pretty teen protagonist is 39 years old. In a film that can't even keep track of its main character's age, it's no surprise that things such as character motivation, scare sequences, or coherence would go straight out the window. It would be higher up on the list if it weren't so hilarious. It also helps soothe the palette that there's a mountain of pretty people on display.

Read my original review here.

#3 The Hangover Part III

There's nothing more discouraging than a terrible comedy film. Except for perhaps a terrible comedy film that sees itself as a generation-defining closer to a Golden Trilogy. The Hangover Part III reneges on the promise of immature frat humor and without it the film doesn't even have a body to balance on the leg it doesn't have to stand on.

Read my original review here.

#2 The Last Exorcism Part II

Everything about this movie is wrong from the fact that it exists to the fact that it dropped the found footage conceit of the original in the worst way possible. Going directly against the nature of the ending of the first film (and even its own opening scene), The Last Exorcism Part II is unscary, confusing, and doesn't even have a real exorcism. It's hard to believe that anybody could make this film on purpose.

#1 Escape From Tomorrow

Dear God. I gave this film a middling review because I didn't have a bad time watching it, but man is it just a godawful mess. With a plot that starts nowhere, goes nowhere, and ends somewhere a couple gargantuan steps back, Escape From Tomorrow is a hallucinogenic exploration of Disney theme parks without any theme, central ideas, or merit of any kind. It's a waste of celluloid and the space in my memory banks. The fact that it squandered the concept of "first film shot guerrilla style at Disneyland" is an unforgivable travesty.

Read my original review here.

Biggest Surprise: Delivery Man

Unfortunately, the surprise is only that it didn't suck toilet water. It's no Airplane!, but Delivery Man is sweet and heartfelt and not a waste of money. Presuming that you spent five bucks on a matinee or something.

Biggest Disappointment: The Purge

Another waste of a super cool concept, The Purge forgoes the endless possibilities of exploring the world that necessitated the Purge for a substandard home invasion flick. Hopefully the inevitable sequel picks up on this and delivers something more exciting for what should have been a gripping (although rather unbelievable) central premise.

Most Underrated Film: World War Z

Sure, it's no Evil Dead. Hell, it's not even Re-Animator. But World War Z despite being hampered by a sterile PG-13 rating and crippling studio meddling and reshoots, the film overcomes and is absolutely the best version of itself that it can be. It doesn't have much to speak of in terms of gore or terror, but as a high octane worldhopping living dead thriller, it's incredibly watchable.

Most Overrated Film: The Place Beyond the Pines

Hoo boy. Ryan Gosling is, in all honestly, one of the best male actors we have at the moment. It's a shame he keeps choosing to appear in inscrutable drama films that hump the legs of Academy members everywhere. The Place Beyond the Pines follows three storylines that span a number of years, the first of which (the only with Gosling) is the only one that is even slightly compelling or coherent at any level.

Best Actor: Stanley Tucci, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

This is perhaps a bit unfair to Mr. Tucci, because he won by default amidst a sea of forgettable performances. He could win this with his hands tied behind his back, but although I'd love to give him more of a challenge, he still deserves it with his electric performance as Caesar Flickerman, the trashy TV host of the Hunger Games.

Worst Actor: Emory Cohen, The Place Beyond the Pines

I wish Emory Cohen the best. I really do. I want him to appear in as many projects as possible so I can keep making all these stellar "he's on tranquilizers" jokes that have borne me through Season One of SMASH (on which he appeared as Debra Messing's probably on tranquilizers son).

Best Actress: Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine

I admit I was not a big fan of Blue Jasmine or the story it tried to tell, but Blanchett depicting the title character's descent into madness and poverty strikes a chord. Flawlessly transitioning from the poised mannerisms of the entitled upper class to a rambling jumpy nervous wreck, Blanchett is a sprakling sapphire, the crown jewel of the film.

Worst Actress: Tara Reid, Sharknado

What truly amazed me was Tara Reid's ability to stand out even among the filmic wreckage that was Sharknado. The best part? She wasn't asked to return to the sequel. If your acting was so bad they kick you off of their intentionally bad franchise, maybe it's time to find yourself a day job. Do you even know what that is?

Best Cameo: Eva Longoria, In A World...

Longoria played a fictional version of herself in my Number Three movie of the year. This woman is fearless, portraying herself as a vapid and inept star who receives vocal coaching (to perform a Cockney accent) from Lake Bell. Utterly hilarious and good spirited, Longoria is memorable in a movie full of sparkling moments.

Worst Cameo: Alan Rickman, Lee Daniels' The Butler

I don't think Rickman has it in himself to ever give a truly bad performance, but his casting as Ronald Reagan (as well as the casting of several other US Presidents) was utterly bizarre and wrong, like a unicycle with three wheels.

Best Title: Blue is the Warmest Colour

I honestly have no idea what this film is about other than the fact that it has a lesbian scene, but the title is mysterious and evocative. And perhaps I dig it so much because it reminds me of the tagline for John Carpenter's The Thing: "Man is the warmest place to hide." My guess is that BitWc isn't about a shape-shifting alien, but oh well. The title is still good anyway.

Worst Title: The Last Exorcism Part II

Do I even need to explain this one?

Best Poster: Gravity

Try as I might, Gravity keeps creeping up on me. This poster gets top spot for being just about as existentially terrifying as the superbly chilling trailer. Between the advertising campaign and the movie, I wouldn't venture into outer space even if the Sun was going to explode. I'd rather take on the Sun.

Worst Poster: Carrie

What even is this? The awkwardly cropped close up and the cheerily fake-looking blood are just the worst among a terrible US promotional campaign. It's a shame because some of the alternative Carrie posters are truly magnificent (including the one that I put at the top of my review - I couldn't bear to see this one sheet at the top of one of my posts). 

Best Poster For a Terrible Movie: Escape From Tomorrow

Who wouldn't want to see this movie? Cheesy Disney graphics coupled with some classic zombie arm and blood drips? Sign me up! Luckily this movie didn't play in enough theaters to gain the viewership it might have if this poster had been shown to a broader audience.

Worst Poster For An Awesome Movie: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

This one takes the cake because it's just so darn anonymous. In today's YA adaptation climate, it's still not wise to take your box office success for granted and this lazy poster (an almost exact retread of the cluttered mess used to advertise The Hunger Games) is too drowned in orange and weird Photoshop to sell any film regardless of its pedigree.

Best Use Of A Song: "Looking For the Magic," You're Next

The only pre-recorded song to be used in the movie, Dwight Twilley Band's "Looking For the Magic" provides a perfect chipper underscore for the violent mayhem with its alternative beats and staccato vocals. Its repeated use throughout the film is nothing short of genius. Each time the song rewinds to play again the audience is driven deeper and deeper into the inevitable bloody conclusion.

Worst Use Of A Song: "Young and Beautiful" The Great Gatsby

The anachronistic music in The Great Gatsby was one of its most memorable elements, but Lana Del Rey's dreary crooner is repeated ad nauseum and it wasn't that great of a fit to begin with. Admittedly this comes from someone who finds nothing to love in Lana Del Rey, but out of the whole soundtrack, it least fit the themes of the film and its source novel.

Top Five Pretty Guys

#5 Alden Ehrenreich (Beautiful Creatures, Blue Jasmine, Stoker)

Boy, he is a beautiful creature, isn't he? I'd say Alden's more of an acquired taste, which is why he landed all the way at Number Five, but his unique facial structure is striking in a way that I haven't seen for quite some time in the movies. And I'll always fall for a dude in a baseball tee.

#4 Ryan Gosling (The Place Beyond the Pines, Gangster Squad, Only God Forgives)

Mr. Gosling is ranked so low on this list because it's such an obvious choice. But alas, there he is with shining golden hair and tattoos and abs and God help me but I can't not include him.

#3 Charlie Hunnam (Pacific Rim)

In his shirtless scene in Pacific Rim, Charlie Hunnam went from Undeclared to "I declare!" It's too bad his hair sucks everywhere else (see: Sons of Anarchy), but we'll always have these moments together in 2013.

#2 Liam Hemsworth/Sam Claflin (The Hunger Games: Catching Fire)

Poor Peeta, trying to compete with these two for Katniss' affections. I'm not gonna spoil things here for those eight people who don't know the end of the Hunger Games trilogy, but the young swain has his work cut out for him.

#1 Shiloh Fernandez (Evil Dead)

A fairly recent newcomer takes top prize this year. Fernandez has only been working since 2005 and made his biggest break in the forgotten 2011 fantasy Red Riding Hood. But here he is taking a leading role in a high profile (and surprisingly not terrible) reboot of one of the most notorious cult horror franchises. Every frame of the film should be like this, with his handsome mug front and center.

Bonus: Thomas Law (The World's End)

Don't say I don't pay attention to the details. In all twelve seconds of Young Gary King's screentime, my eyes are riveted. Who'd have thunk Simon Pegg was such a babe growing up?

Top Five Pretty Girls

#5 Danielle Harris (Hatchet III)

Danielle has made something of a name for herself in the horror community since her roles as a child in Halloween 4 and 5. This feisty chick has fought Michael Myers four times and genre legend Kane Hodder twice in demanding roles that she takes on without a second glance. A true badass and she looks pretty good in that shower to boot.

#4 Cobie Smulders (Delivery Man, Safe Haven)

Maybe it's a gay thing, but I do love a chick in a cop uniform. Kudos to Delivery Man for making the love interest some cool job instead of just "teacher" or whatever the hell everybody else is in these types of movies.

#3 Emma Watson (The Bling Ring, This Is the End)

It's hard to say who has had the best post Potter career looking at Daniel Radcliffe (poor Rupert Grint, where has he been?), but Emma Watson has certainly come out of her adolescent cocoon to become a beautiful butterfly.

#2 Jessica Lucas (Evil Dead)

The love interest in Cloverfield comes full circle in horror and really cements in the idea that remakes are just reusing the same plot with prettier people. Although I can't say I mind.

#1 Mila Kunis (Oz the Great and Powerful)

Forget about everything else in this largely disappointing prequel, Mila Kunis (pre-green) is the only proper takeaway.

Bonus: Kristen Bell (Frozen)

We don't actually get to see her face, which is why I didn't include her, but just look at how stunning she is. A total knockout. And she has a decent singing voice too!


Top Ten Songs

#10 "Cups (When I'm Gone) Anna Kendrick

Who could possibly have predicted that this song from 2012's Pitch Perfect would be such a standalone breakaway hit? One of the few times when studio moneygrubbing and fan demands combine to create something utterly pristine and perfect.

#9 "Un Día de Sol" Los Claxons

I found this song when I was browsing iTunes, it just so happened to be free that day. It turns out I'm a lucky son of a gun because I play this song every day as I'm speeding down the highway. It's a great traveling song with its upbeat tempo and the bilingual chorus is just the icing on the cake. Maybe iTunes actually knows what they're talking about sometimes! I'm just as surprised as you.

#8 "Roller Mobster" Carpenter Brut

An electro artist inspired by 80's horror scores, Carpenter Brut's opening track on his second EP starts off slow and atmospheric but then explodes in a cavalcade of hardcore electronic grooves. Maybe not one for the older listeners, but this is a really cool alternative to the radio friendly electronica that's been hitting the airwaves.

#7 "Closer" Tegan & Sara

This twin Canadian lesbian duo have been indie darlings for years now, but "Closer" smashed them into wide recognition with its more poppy style that never sacrifices their personalities. 

#6 "Somebody Loves You" Betty Who

Straight out of Australia, Betty Who's brand of joyous 80's-style synthpop is very welcome in this age of stale R&B singles and guttural dubstep polyrhythms everywhere you turn. Her entire four song EP The Movement is great, but this song encapsulates the essence of Betty's buoyant personality.

#5 "Happily" One Direction

A shoutalong folk rock song, "Happily" is far from the One Direction of yore. The best song off their decidedly Phillip Phillips-y album Midnight Memories, this track captures the joy of singing at the top of your lungs together with your group of friends, which is something these lads get to do every day.

#4 "Maybe You're Right" Miley Cyrus

The most well-written song on Bangerz, Miley avoids all of her edgy clichés and delivers a powerful ballad to uncertainty. With a chorus that is made for wailing in the car, Miley's heartbreak (and vocal prowess) reaches a stunning peak.

#3 "Pompeii" Bastille

Bastille is one of those bands that make it into the Top 40 to restore your faith in humanity. Absolutely nothing like today's pop music, "Pompeii" is elegant and ethereal with a chanting hook that you'll still be scrubbing out of your skull on your deathbed.

#2 "The Wire" HAIM

This girlband blew up in what felt like about seven seconds, buoyed by the success of this juddering uptempo rocker. The lead Haim's voice twists and bends in marvelous contortions as each new segment of the song makes you think nothing else that comes could ever top it... Until it does. 

#1 "Gypsy" Lady Gaga

In my review of ARTPOP, I compared this song to "running stark naked through a field of daisies, a sparkler in both hands." I stand by this and add that whenever it comes on when I'm in the car my friends grab onto whatever they can to avoid being tumbled around like rocks in a dryer. This paean to the open road is heartfelt and soars with the power of a thousand eagles.

Bottom Five Songs

#5 "Who You Love (feat. Katy Perry)" John Mayer

As limp as a sweatsock after basketball practice, the self-indulgent collaboration between new lovers Perry and Mayer is utterly boring and repetitive. It's not actively bad, but it slides out of your speakers and flops directly onto the floor like a slug. No fun at all.

#4 "Summertime Sadness" Lana Del Rey

I hate to be a buzzkill, but I've just never been a fan of Lana's particular brand of mope rock. I know this song is pretty big, but I just find it whiny, dull, and irritating.

#3 "Work B**ch" Britney Spears

L. A. Z. Y. That faux British accent. The bored-sounding sing talk. The halfhearted expletives. The plodding rhythms. The weak pandering to her gay audience. None of it works.

#2 "Blurred Lines (feat. T.I. & Pharrell)" Robin Thicke

The most universally reviled song of the summer. Robin Thicke & Co. sing about date rape for three minutes and it's not even that great of a song to begin with.

#1 "Bubble Butt (feat. Bruno Mars, Tyga, and Mystic)" Major Lazer

Even if we take the "objectifying women" thing as a necessary evil of the rap game (which I don't agree with, but it makes it easier not to claw your ears out), this song is just... no. No. No. I don't know when repeating the same word over and over became the pinnacle of songwriting but it's just not what I want to hear. Out of anything. Throw in two tossed-off slurring verses and a final verse that is both terribly written and uniquely unsexy ("burpin'"? Talk about sacrificing your dignity for a rhyme) and you've got yourself a cocktail of awful.

Best Featured Rapper: Miley Cyrus in Mike Will Made-It's "23"

OK, maybe she's not the best rapper in the world, but she goes at it with such gusto that it's hard not to enjoy her vibes even if they're buried in a pretty routine Top 40 song.

Worst Featured Rapper: will.i.am in Ke$ha's "Crazy Kids"

Leave it to Ke$ha to be the best rapper in her own song. Thankfully will.i.am isn't featured on the album and only the video because this rap is weak. It's all there - rhyming "doubles" with "doubles", mumbling incoherently (Intentionally! Which is almost worse than merely not being able to understand him.), and being too sedate to even really be considered "rap." And he didn't even have the decency to show up! You know they had to CGI him into that helmet because he was too lazy to fly over and hang with Ke$ha. Big mistake. My long-standing personal feud with will.i.am is at an all time high.

Biggest Surprise: Bangerz, Miley Cyrus

I think everybody was expecting the whole album to be full of edgy party anthems like "We Can't Stop," based on Miley's media coverage right now, but it's all very "Wrecking Ball." Sure there's a lot of "edgy" R&B tinged sounds, but the album is actually a fairly mature and heartfelt exploration of her breakup.

Biggest Disappointment: Prism, Katy Perry

Following up Teenage Dream would be a challenge for any recording artist, but Katy Perry needs to find her sparkle before her next album. The more mature vibe was welcome and in accordance with her growth as an artist but a good half of the tracks were dull filler or pandering missteps. And including the rapper Juicy J on the already subpar trap track "Dark Horse" was hilarious but deeply misguided.

Most Overrated: Macklemore

I know this is an unpopular opinion, but I never ever really liked "Thrift Shop." And I've tried as hard as I could to like "Same Love" because I love the message, but the rap just doesn't cut it for me.

Most Underrated: Ke$ha

Although her album was disqualified from consideration because it was released in December 2012, it was still charting in 2013 and I have to include this pop princess everywhere I can. In a year where the current reigning queens of pop (Lady Gaga and Katy Perry) have released entirely underwhelming albums, Ke$ha quietly had the best album of her career. Warrior is an intimate exploration of what makes dance pop music tick that takes influences from punk, classic rock, and country to bring her music to a whole new level. If anything's "art pop", Ke$ha is. And I don't take that statement lightly. Listen to some deep tracks sometime.

Best Bonus Track: "Hey Anna" on Owl City's The Midsummer Station

Owl City is still a thing! Who knew? This cute song from the Deluxe Edition of his newest album brings back the charming optimism of mid-period Adam Young in the stage between his early work in exuberantly esoteric nonsense and his newer output of prepackaged Radio Disney electronica.

Worst Bonus Track: "Spiritual" on Katy Perry's Prism

It's not the worst song. It's just sinfully boring and not worthy of KP's illustrious standards. 

Best Music Video: Hopeless Wanderer, Mumford & Sons

Mumford & Sons bring Jason Bateman, Ed Helms, Will Forte, and Jason Sudeikis in on the fun in this disarmingly and hilariously self-aware parody video. The song is pretty stellar, too.

Worst Music Video: Gentleman, PSY

I actually dig "Gentleman," but the butt dance is lazy as all get out and a cheap replica of the success of Gangnam Style. Also, why is he being so mean to Korean women? It's not funny, he's just being a dick.

Best Album Cover: Random Access Memories, Daft Punk

The only song off this divisive album that I've actually heard is "Get Lucky" and I apologize for that, but the sleek and simple design stands out in the memory even longer than the earworm lead single.

Worst Album Cover: Bangerz, Miley Cyrus

Good news! Somebody has perfected a time machine, because this album was clearly sent back to the 90's so they could design a rad new cover for it.

Top Five Pretty Guys

#5 Robin Thicke

I hate myself just a little bit for saying this, but isn't Robin Thicke attractive though? Those eyes, man. Yes, he is an enormous douchebag which is why he only gets fifth place (I am so cruel). But the dude has made millions off of objectifying women. Is it really so bad to objectify him right back? 

#4 Zedd

This European house producer was everywhere in 2013 and he looks like an adorable little hobbit man that you could be proud to take home to grandma in The Shire.

#3 One Direction

Louis Tomlinson is gorgeous. And then there's the other four for everybody else. I'm a good sharer.

#2 Scott Hoying

This Pentatonix singer is the clear highlight of every YouTube performance. With his deep voice, strong jaw, and beautiful blonde hair, he has sung his way into the hearts of America.

#1 Basshunter

Although this Swedish Eurodance artist's 2013 album Calling Time wasn't exactly a smash hit, his face, eyes, hair, and chest remain so.

Bonus: Steve Grand

Touted as the first openly gay male country star, Steve Grand hasn't technically released an album or anything of the sort yet, which is why he is relegated to the bonus area. But bonus or not, he's easy on the eyes. His song "All-American Boy" might just convert those people who claim they like "all music except country."

Top Five Pretty Girls

#5 Rihanna

Because Sergio is right more often than I'd like him to be.

#4 Miley Cyrus

Because underneath all the pageantry and controversy, Miley has really grown into a beautiful and captivating young woman.

#3 Demi Lovato

Disney escapees have been ruling the airwaves this year, and Demi Lovato has attracted a huge following with her good looks and surprisingly not terrible pop songs.

#2 Katy Perry

Even though it's all make-up, Katy Perry never stops looking flawless.

#1 Ke$ha

Unfortunately for my "Best Songs" list, Ke$ha's dynamic and sublime sophomore album was released in December 2012 so it's out of the running. Although her only appearance this year was as the best part of Pitbull's new track "Timber," I couldn't just forget about her. Along with her music, her sense of style has developed and grown into an unstoppable and mature (yet still partified) force of pure awesome.

Bonus: Anna Kendrick

Because of Pitch Perfect, we're going to be hearing a lot more of this beauty's singing voice and I thank the Pop Culture Gods for that.


Top Ten Episodes

#10 "Last Lunch" 30 Rock

Although 30 Rock's seventh and final season was a weak period for the show as a whole, fraught with studio tampering and schedule jiggering as final seasons tend to be, "Last Lunch" was a right proper sendoff for the franchise featuring culminations of recurring series highlights like the "Rural Juror" song, Kenneth's immortality, and the final Mickey Rourke joke of the series.

#9 "P. S. I Love You" How I Met Your Mother

While How I Met Your Mother has quickly become one of those shows that just freaking needs to end already, it never stopped being funny. These last couple seasons have seen great ebbs and flows of comedy, but this, the last Robin Sparkles episode to date, is the greatest ebb in Season 8. The episode is framed around a fictional Canadian "Behind the Music" episode and features Aunt Robin's explorations into grunge. The parodies of MTV, grunge icons like Alanis Morisette, and American perceptions of Canadian culture are spot on and effortlessly hilarious.

#8 "Shooting Star" Glee

Probably the most contentious episode on the list, this is the infamous "school shooting" episode of Glee. It came at a bad time where it seemed like it was trying to cash in on the Sandy Hook tragedy and the ending rendered both the emotional through line and narrative continuity nonexistent, but the shooting sequence where the kids are hiding in the choir room is stripped down and raw, by far the most emotionally powerful thing Glee has ever done. Two moments in particular (Brittany trapped in a bathroom stall and Marley's mom watching her phone buzz from across the room, unable to answer and tell her daughter that she's alright) are unforgettable and, in fact, I have tears in my eyes as I'm writing this.

#7 "The Phenomenon" SMASH

This is the episode that cemented in the whole "Jonathan Larson" subplot of Season Two and though the death of Kyle the playwright was narratively dubious and dispiriting (he was by far the least odious character on the show at that point and he finally had just gotten a boyfriend - gay representation in the Broadway scene is underwhelming on TV) and the grieving episode was full of plot holes and too neat parallels, it still rings true as a story of loss and mourning within a tight-knit community.

#6 "The Name Game" American Horror Story: Asylum

This is the episode where Ryan Murphy seems to have been confused as to which of his shows he was working on. Electroshock therapy, crucifixion, sex with the devil, and a full production number with Jessica Lange in a sparkly dress. "The Name Game" was a weird sparkling gem in the drudgery that was the back half of Season Two.

#5 "A New Attitude" Arrested Development

Although the newest season of Arrested Development was a strange Frankensteinian hybrid of traditional sitcom structure and the bizarre new behemoth release structure that Netflix provides, "A New Attitude" displays the most of the original seasons' charm. Beloved recurring character Ann is back in a big way and Will Arnett and Ben Stiller's chemistry is subtle, hilarious, and... intensely homoerotic.

#4 "Feud" Glee

Look at the screenshot. You catch my drift. Not only does Jane Lynch bust out some incredible rapping chops and a surprising belt (both vocally and wardrobe-wise), but we get an intense dance battle to a mashup of "I Want It That Way" and "Bye Bye Bye" and an incredibly choreographed opening sequence in a ritzy New York hotel set to "How To Be A Heartbreaker" that features some of the best cinematography the series has ever seen.

#3 "The Replacements" American Horror Story: Coven

I'm going to keep this brief to avoid spoilers - my dad would kill me - but Jessica Lange and Emma Roberts' chemistry knows no bounds.

#2 "Opening Night" SMASH

For being everything SMASH tried so hard to be - a heartwarming and exhilirating exploration of the process of bringing a show to the stage. Plot is at a minimum and "Opening Night" allows the audience to bask in the triumph of seeing the show we've spent so much time watching be created get its chance to shine on its own. And Megan Hilty is a knockout, performing the hell out of an incredible closing number and making everybody in the world forget that they'd ever heard Katharine McPhee sing it before this episode.

#1 "The Gang Tries Desperately To Win An Award" It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia

A brilliant bit of allegory about how the show never gets any recognition in the entertainment award community. The gang tries to enter a contest for the Best Bar in Philadelphia award but their crass humor and dark sensibilities ruin their chances. A truly hilarious meta episode that hopscotches the line between subtle jabs and downright blunt metaphors.

Bottom Five Episodes

#5 "Borderline Personalities" Arrested Development

It was an incredible gift to see a brand new season of Arrested Development, a hope most of us had long since given up on. But between the scheduling conflicts and the risky formatting approach, sometimes the comedy suffered. This episode, the second in the season's run, takes the brunt of the blow with too much inscrutable plot and heavy focus on one of the least interesting solo characters in the show.

#4 "The Broken Code" How I Met Your Mother

Ted still loves Robin. We get it. It was old the last twenty times it happened. And especially now that we know who the Mother is, they have no right to keep beating this dead storyline into the ground.

#3 "Previously Unaired Christmas" Glee

Even Sexy Santa can't save this episode from the rest of its tremendously poor decisions, especially (but not limited to) the bizarre meta conceit that this episode was planned for December 2012 but was censored by Fox until now. This, in fact, was not the case as evidenced by Cory Monteith's absence and the fact that everybody else looks exactly the same. 

They just couldn't have a legitimate Christmas episode because this season is still technically taking place during the same school year as the previous one. And aside from that bizarre steamshoveling of narrative continuity, the fact that the writers thought it would be a good idea to cover Alvin and the Chipmunks' "Christmas Don't Be Late" on "helium," talk about Jesus more than a Republican governor, point out their own plot holes as if it's a joke instead of terrible writing, and have Unique birth the Baby Jesus onstage makes Glee a compelling watch. Kind of like a car crash.

#2 "Shooting Star" Glee

Even though the school shooting part was one of the most incredible things Glee has ever done, the rest of the episode is crap. Absolute third-degree plenty-of-fiber crap. Brittany thinks a comet is going to come down and destroy everyone so she sings a ballad to her cat. The ending is both offensive to people with mental handicaps and completely negates the emotions and realities of the harrowing drama. It's also too weak a stab at handling a touchy subject that it completely misses the mark and lands on the "cashing in" side of things.

Read my original thoughts on the episode here.

#1 "Pilot" Ground Floor

Where to even begin? The cheap laugh track? The unfunny jokes? The perfectly average lines that are treated like jokes? The weird fascination one character holds for his ugly beard? The bizarre plot contortions to get Skylar Astin to sing? The deplorable supporting characters? The thin metaphor that drives the whole thing? The fact that producer Bill Lawrence has that proved he can do better than this?

Maybe I shouldn't get into it.

Best New Show: Hannibal

TV is entering an exciting an vibrant new age as show runners are given more and more free reign in their creativity so they can try and beat Breaking Bad. Hannibal is one of those shows that could easily have been terrible (A horror prequel? I mean, come on.), but turns out to be a beautiful crime fairy tale of dizzying visual proportions.

Worst New Show: Ground Floor

One look at that tagline and my review of the pilot episode says enough.

Best Returning Show: American Horror Story: Coven

American Horror Story is over the top and silly, but it always pushes the envelope. Although this third season isn't my favorite, it's still wildly stylistic and intriguing and features a fierce cast of nearly all women.

Worst Returning Show: How I Met Your Mother

I do love this show, but it really should have finished telling its story about 3 seasons ago. Now it's just a shambling corpse of what it used to be, falling back onto old sitcom tropes and feeling increasingly stagey. And that episode done entirely in rhyme? What the hell, man?

Best Cancelled Show: Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23

I seriously never expected to be saying this, but Don't Trust the B---- was actually pretty darn good. It's not a game-changing comedy but the ideas, especially the meta gem to have James Van Der Beek play a conceited version of himself, are fresh and exciting. A fun watch. It's too bad nobody actually, you know, watched it.

Worst Cancelled Show: The New Normal

I appreciate Ryan Murphy's heartfelt depiction of the surrogate process for gay dads. I really do. But could it not have been so tedious and irritating? His shows are usually hit or miss, but this one was all miss for me.

Best Actor: Evan Peters (American Horror Story: AsylumAmerican Horror Story: Coven)

Evan Peters, a series regular, shines time and time again in a variety of envelope pushing roles, bringing a disquieting amount of humanity to even the most inherently inhuman characters.

Worst Actor: John C. McGinley (Ground Floor)

Or rather, the cardboard cutout of Dr. Cox that Bill Lawrence has propped up on set.

Best Actress: Jessica Lange (American Horror Story: Asylum, American Horror Story: Coven)

Jessica Lange wins forever and always. Jessica Lange could act her way into a paper bag. That will be all.

Worst Actress: Briga Heelan (Ground Floor)

For being a yappy little chihuahua dressed up in a lady suit. For literally not having a single moment where she resembles a human being saying actual people words.

Biggest Surprise: SMASH Season Two

SMASH lost a lot of viewers after the whole "first season sucking" incident, but those who stayed on (like myself and Shannon and nobody else) were devoted to continue hate watching a piece of campy trash. Instead we got an actually pretty good season featuring plenty of terrific songs by theatre community darling Joe Iconis. It was still hella stupid and Jeremy Jordan quickly wore out his handsome welcome, but it was quite the surprise nonetheless.

Biggest Disappointment: Glee's Bushwick coverage

In that there's not enough of it. I don't know what's worse, the fact that Kurt has been bending over backwards and morphing his usually strong character weekly to fit the plot and theme of the episode or the waste of prime guest stars Adam Lambert and Demi Lovato. Or the fact that Santana is only allowed one line per episode. Or the fact that not a single human being cares about the rebirth of the Marley-Ryder-Jake love triangle.

Most Overrated: The Big Bang Theory

Now that Sheldon has a female counterpart that talks exactly like him, the already grating robotic mannerisms and annoying "nerdspeak" have worn their welcome down to the bone.

Most Underrated: Adventure Time

Although Adventure Time has gained a somewhat massive cult following, that could never be enough for this clever little cartoon. This is a kid's show that doesn't dumb things down. Things are simple and colorful but the humor is intelligent, the storylines frequently explore dark paths (the mystical land of Ooo in which the characters reside is implied to be Earth a couple thousand years after the Nuclear Apocalypse), and it's just the most television fun you can have in ten minutes or less.

Best Theme Song: American Horror Story: Coven

Whoever designed this should be arrested by the FBI for plagiarizing my nightmares.

Worst Theme Song: Happy Endings

This one isn't necessarily "bad" as much as it is "boring." I couldn't even find a decent video of it to post! RIP Happy Endings. You will be missed but your theme song certainly won't.

Best Glee Cover: "I Still Believe / Super Bass"

A total explosion of gay. All over everything. It would benefit you to ignore the Mariah Carey part because the real star of the show is Jane Lynch busting out "Super Bass" better than Nicki Minaj and absolutely killing it in a massive pink... whatever that thing is.

Worst Glee Cover: "Wide Awake"

It came at a bad time in an episode that desperately needed an injection of energy. Instead we got this stripped down and boring reworking of a KP divorce ballad with heavy solos for Kitty - who has easily the worst singing voice on the show this season. It's like her nose is trying to perform the song for her.

Best Musical Performance: "I Heard Your Voice In A Dream" SMASH

Joe Iconis writing. Jeremy Jordan in that delicately unbuttoned shirt. Katharine McPhee shunted off to the side where she belongs. "I Heard Your Voice In A Dream" is one of the songs from the new Season 2 musical The Hit List, and it injects a sense of cool the show never had before. And never really would again.

Worst Musical Performance: "Baby, It's Cold Outside" Lady Gaga & The Muppets Holiday Spectacular

It's a cool gender bending duet, but Gaga phones it in, sounding a touch flat throughout and blatantly forgetting the lyrics multiple times. There's clearly no audience. Were they running out of time and unable to rerecord? Or could this possibly have been the best take? Also where the hell are the Muppets?

Best Guest Star: Adam Lambert (Glee)

Because he's pretty and he rocked "Marry the Night" in a sparkly top hat.

Worst Guest Star: John Lithgow (How I Met Your Mother)

I love the guy, but has he ever been an actually good actor? Discuss. He seems especially cartoonish and flat due to the decidedly more sitcommy tone of the final season.

Best Commercial: "Applause"

This was by far the most memorable commercial of the year. One of the only commercials in an increasingly commercial-ignoring society to become anything of a cultural touchstone. It also actually does its job! Whenever I see one of those green KIA's, I shout "It's the hamster car!" It's also the best because it manages to be a better commercial for ARTPOP than the entire 90 minute Lady Gaga Thanksgiving special.

Worst Commercial: "Blue Beats Pill"

It's not the most odious; it's actually more "so bad it's good," but this Best Buy commercial for speakers is a hilariously embarrassing example of a commercial written for my generation by people who are decades away from it. "Will it make my party pop off?" is some of the worst fake slang this side of a Diablo Cody script. Throw in a half-baked unicorn shoutout and some dancing in which the dude's shame is palpable through the screen and you've got yourself a bottom of the barrel commercial. Good work, everybody!

Top Five Pretty Guys

#5 Andy Mientus, SMASH

CUTIE PATOOTIE! Mientus' character Kyle originally had a very minor side role (I couldn't even remember his name for the first couple episodes and took to calling him "Floppy" because of his hair) but he gradually gains prominence to become the lynchpin of the entire season. Good thing, too. Because he's just the cutest thing. I want to snuggle in a sweater with him.

#4 James Van Der Beek, Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23

The masterstroke of this actually pretty good sitcom was to include James Van Der Beek as himself, an aging teen star who's trying to maintain his tenuous grasp on fame. Thank you Apartment 23, for allowing the Beek to shine on network television once more. And how did every single star of the hit teen show get hotter as they aged? It's statistically impossible.

#3 Adam Scott, Parks and Recreation

I haven't really watched the show this season, but he's adorable and I love his hair fluff.

#2 Jeremy Jordan, SMASH

Although he is easily the second most annoying character in a show where there is vicious competition for the top spot, his little grumpy monkey face and leather jacket habit get me good.

#1 Alexander Dreymon, American Horror Story: Coven

No shirt. Farmboy charm. Makes cookies. A+. Also his mom is Patti LuPone.

Bonus: The Hamsters

Henri and I can't be the only ones who are inexplicably attracted to the KIA Hamsters, can we? It's not a gross thing, I promise. But the flippy hair and slim tuxedos reminds me of One Direction and that just gets my engine going, to make an unspeakably terrible car pun.

Top Five Pretty Girls

#5 Megan Hilty (SMASH)

It's a shame we won't get to see her play Ivy Lynn again (this is a character who the writers tried with all their might to make into a villain but turned into a good guy based solely on how butt-kickingly awesome and lovable Megan Hilty is), but I wish the best for this blonde bombshell with killer pipes.

#4 Alyson Hannigan (How I Met Your Mother)

Since Buffy began in 1997, Hannigan has transformed from geeky wimp to horny band geek to lovable schoolteacher and stayed gorgeous the whole way through.

#3 Lily Rabe (American Horror Story: Asylum, American Horror Story: Coven)

Lily Rabe's is an ethereal and unique beauty that is utterly captivating and curious. I just want to know more about her and eat Oreos in her living room.

#2 Naya Rivera (Glee)

Ooh mama. Not only has Santana become one of the most consistently hilarious characters on Glee, but her raw sizzling sex appeal drew in Demi Lovato, another top entry in this 2013 roundup.

#1 Emma Roberts (American Horror Story: Coven)

Far from unfabulous. Emma Roberts is all growed up, and Ryan Murphy knows it. I swear, every single episode has her wearing some slinky slit dress or leopard print bra / panty ensemble. And she rocks it every time. Flawless.

Bonus: Cobie Smulders Again (How I Met Your Mother)

Because just once isn't enough.


Although we should always take the time to reflect on ourselves and our lives and what has been making us happy lately, the New Year affords us a great chance to sit down and look back on our lives in easily manageable increments.

I don't usually post personal stuff on my blog unless it's relevant to whatever movie I'm discussing at the time, so if you're not here for me, you can just stop here. I hope you enjoyed my entertainment lists! If you agree with me heartily or heavily judge every single one of my decisions, please let me know in the comments!

So. Back to me.

I kicked off the year with "Born This Way" at a club in Santa Ana and I end it after a long 365 days of work, school, stress, anxiety, and a lot of great things in there too. Stress and homework are transient. Now's the time for all of us to let that crap go and dig into the parts that we really loved - and what we're going to remember for years to come.

2013 is a year that saw me through two apartments, two jobs, over 250 movies, 135 movie reviews, 7 concerts, David Sedaris, Snap Judgement, my 19th birthday, my grandparents' 50th wedding anniversary, and the Supreme Court overturn of Prop 8. I met my boyfriend Sergio and my good friend Henry. 

I met John Carpenter, Guillermo del Toro, Adam Wingard, Dante Basco, and Werner Herzog. I made it into the film program, got my first official job as a PA, and made it all the way onto IMDb!

I gave my sister standing ovations at Legally Blonde: The Musical and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. I cheered my dad on at his marathon and did my own marathon of Prom Night movies with Cassidy.

I began this blog, started writing for CinemaBeach, volunteered at Long Beach Pride, visited Cassidy in Portland, dragged Sergio to LA approximately 800 times, had long talks with my mom at the kitchen table, and had the best Spring Break ever exploring San Francisco and mooing at horses with Henri and Shannon.

A pretty lucky year, 2013. I'm thankful for all of you, and if you'll allow me to indulge myself, I have a couple of final lists to close out this most recent rotation around the Sun.

Most Brennan-y Moment of 2013: "Gypsy" Lady Gaga & The Muppets Holiday Spectacular

As mercenary as this whole affair was, watching my beloved Kermit singing my song of the year was a rewarding experience. ¡Viva la Gaga!

Top Ten Selfies

2013 was the year of the selfie. The selfie tag on Instagram practically has its own economy and the word even got added to the dictionary! So in honor of the most important photographic concept of the year, I have compiled my ten favorite pictures of myself because even internet bloggers can be vain too.

#10 Gross Beard and Band Aid Selfie

#9 Long Beach Pride Swag Selfie (feat. Shannon)

#8 Fridge Selfie (feat. Cassidy and a thousand cups of pudding)

#7 FaceTiming With Myself Selfie

#6 It's Morning In Santa Cruz Selfie

#5 Ironic Beanie In Portland Selfie

#4 I'm A Monster Selfie

#3 Drowning In Balloons Selfie

#2 Covered In Blood Selfie

#1 Cat Selfie

Bonus: Henri Took This So It's Technically Not A Selfie But I Like It Anyway Selfie

Top Thirty Pictures (Non-Selfie Category)

#30 May 30th, 2013

The Rite Aid in my hometown has homicidal tendencies, as Henri and I learned upon hanging out there.

#29 May 8th, 2013

Shannon and I had to make a makeshift bed so we could watch The Room. Life Tip: If you're moving into a new apartment, make sure to buy a mattress along with your bed.

#28 May 3rd, 2013

My life goals. Written during Career Week at CSULB.

#27 January 13th, 2013

My finished film application! Weeks of grueling work, two essays, and two letters of recommendation later, I could finally breathe easy. And it all worked out! I got in on the strength of killing all these trees!

#26  April 2nd, 2013

This is a summary of our entire Spring Break in a single photograph.

#25 September 5th, 2013

Sergio and I made phone art in a bakery on 2nd Street.

#24 November 28th, 2013

A Pokémon card my little cousin Kasey made for Henry and I on Thanksgiving. We are the champions of dream!

#23 June 10th, 2013

Sergio and I can hang out on concrete and still be models. It's all in how you approach the world.

#22 February 8th, 2013

On this trip we visited the filming locations of American Horror Story and Halloween as well, but this is my favorite picture, at the Nightmare on Elm Street house.

#21 October 21st, 2013

Sergio made me into a meme! He makes good use of his free time.

#20 October 23rd, 2013

A staggeringly brilliant photo manipulation I made of Henri making out with a cow. I don't remember why, but the sheer artistry is overwhelming.

#19 August 21st, 2013

Sergio and I in the security camera bank at Fry's, my favorite place in the world.

#18 September 13, 2013

Me and my best friend.

#17 August 10th, 2013

Me rocking along to the radio while driving Henri and Shannon to Bookoff. Basically all of my favorite things in the world and also I just really like this picture.

#16 March 30th, 2013

Our first night in Santa Cruz on Spring Break at Chessie's house. I like how Shannon and Henri are being creepy and/or silly meanwhile I'm knocked out.

#15 March 3rd, 2013

Kevin, Shannon, and I convening on Lauren's homework. A meeting of the minds that surely got her an A.

#14 June 16th, 2013

My new superpowers are developing slowly but beautifully. It must be the beard.

#13 December 13th, 2013

Five Guys jalapeño burgers stimulated Henry's pineal gland too much!

#12 November 11th, 2013

The deepest of sleepers. Through magnificent manipulation of technology and items in Shannon's dorm, she, Henry, and I stacked all this crap on Henri, made it her Facebook cover photo, then removed everything, erased the evidence from her phone, and waited for her to notice. It was like a massive game and operation.

#11 July 13th, 2013

Sergio and I went to see Scream at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, but unfortunately I got knifed when his back was turned.

#10 March 31st, 2013

The gas station in Watsonville right next to the scary haunted house. I went over to film it and Henri took this photo, which I think is rather beautifully composed. For reasons other than me being in it, of course.

#9 April 2nd, 2013

Sergio and I at Angel's Knoll where they filmed (500) Days of Summer. The date on the bottom of the photo is a nice old-fashioned indie touch.

#8 July 29th, 2013

A photo my dad took of Lauren rocking out to a mashup I was making. I love it when she's spazzing out over something, as long as she doesn't accidentally hit me with a flying limb.

#7 May 31st, 2013

Family photo! Cassidy and I were so proud of our protégé Justice on the Blues Clues one act he wrote and directed all by himself.

#6 August 10th, 2013

Henri and I went grocery shopping for Shannon and found this cart on the side of the road! Of course we put the stuff in there and carried the cart up two flights of stairs to deliver to her dorm. Wouldn't you?

#5 October 15th, 2013

My new job! Taking care of this little monkey is hard work, but I get some great Instagrams out of it.

#4 May 3rd, 2013

Shannon gets 100% credit for assembling my IKEA furniture. I owe her, considering that it drove her to insanity and bruised her hands for about a week. Also we really didn't do much. Henri read my Ke$ha book and I was DJing.

#3 January 13th, 2013

Our beautiful reunion with the Technicolor Pimp Coat. I don't miss high school, but it's so great to visit old friends and places that were so important to me. And Cheyda looks great in puce.

#2 October 6th, 2013

This is my favorite picture of me and Sergio. Taken when lying on the grass next to Krispy Kreme because it was too hot outside.

#1 April 2nd, 2013


My Top 15 Most Listened To Songs

This is different than my top 10 songs of the year, because this isn't restricted to just music released in 2013. And also these songs aren't necessarily better than any of that list, just what I've been listening to over and over on my iPod. Arranged by the amount of plays they have on my iTunes. Prepare yourself!

#15 "Say You're Just A Friend" Austin Mahone (59 plays)

Way back when over summer, Shannon and I accidentally attended an Austin Mahone concert at the Orange County Fair. When I got home, I bought a couple of his songs, including this one which Henri and I would jam out to in the car all the time. 

Only later did I discover that he was sampling Biz Markie's "Just a Friend," an uproariously terrible hip hop track from 1989. Our immense love for that cheesy video fueled even more Austin Mahone headbanging sessions.

#14 "Stars" Les Misérables Cast (60 plays)

While I'm aware that Russell Crowe's voice on the Les Misérables soundtrack couldn't be called "good" necessarily, his untrained voice does such interesting and strange things that I can't help but be fascinated by it. His performance of Javert's solo (one of my favorite songs from the musical) is captivating for reasons inexplicable to me.

Another classic car belter for me.

#13 "The Blob" The Five Blobs (60 plays)

Henri and I had lots of musical driving sessions, apparently. This cheesy Burt Bacharach theme song to the 1958 cult classic is so unterrifying and ridiculous that we couldn't help but leave it on repeat. We even made up a dance to this one!

#12 "The Hand of the Almighty" John R. Butler (61 plays)

This one I discovered on the soundtrack to the amusingly daft Texas Chainsaw 3D (my number 4 worst movie of the year). One of the most hilarious table-turning tracks I've ever heard, my friends became equally as obsessed as myself.

#11 "Tu No Eres Para Mí" Fanny Lu (64 plays)

I first heard Fanny Lu's Colombian dance pop track in high school in 2010 and it has been on my annual Top 100 Most Played list every year since then. One of my most consistently beloved songs in my admittedly fickle music tastes, "Tu No Eres Para Mí" has only risen in my esteem. It climbed from number 77 in 2010 to 13 in 2011 and 11 in 2012 and again this year. She can't be stopped!

#10 "We Can't Stop" Miley Cyrus (65 plays)

You can't avoid either loving or hating this song, and I'm firmly in the first camp. I think Miley is doing some interesting things and although she's trying a little hard to be edgy, it's really not as offensive as everybody seems to imagine it is. One look at this video reveals a girl having fun making music, not the trashy no-talent slut the media paints her to be. You just have to lift the shroud of public opinion and think for yourself.

#9 "C'mon" Ke$ha (65 plays)

Out of the three pop princesses (Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Ke$ha), only Ke$ha has consistently improved herself with every album. While Perry and Gaga were faltering with Prism and ARTPOP respectively, Ke$ha's Warrior revealed a much more nuanced side of America's favorite party girl. Although "C'mon" is a more club-friendly single than the rest of the album, it reveals a much more detailed and creative musical approach to making dance pop. It wasn't my #2 song of 2012 for no reason, guys.

#8 "Feel This Moment (feat. Christina Aguilera)" Pitbull (83 plays)

Although his concert this summer cemented in my hatred for the man, there was once a time when I appreciated Pitbull for his illuminatingly banal rhymes. The terrible rap in "Feel This Moment" compiled with the arbitrary sampling of the classic a-Ha hit "Take On Me," an unintelligible verse by Xtina, and a video in which they were clearly never once in the same room made this track a favorite for mocking.

#7 "Shine Brighter" DJ Earworm (90 plays)

Although I'm not a big fan of his mashup of the Number One songs of 2013, DJ Earworm is still the most consistently wonderful audio/video mashup artist in the world. This song and video capture an era in sound and light and his lyrics smash together to transcend the meaning of every single one of the Top 40 songs he utilizes.

#6 "The Goodbye Song" SMASH Cast (93 plays)

This immensely catchy number is the finale to the show within a show The Hit List, the confusingly plotted but amazingly composed musical put on by Andy Mientus and Jeremy Jordan. Consistently my favorite part of Season Two of SMASH, I'm glad the show could close with a bang.

#5 "Gypsy" Lady Gaga (100 plays)

Do I even need to cover my love of "Gypsy" any more than I already have? It managed to grab the number 5 spot despite only having about a month to do so as compared to all the other older songs who had a longer time to win my esteem.

#4 "Forgot to Laugh" Bridgit Mendler (103 plays)

Bridgit Mendler is an underappreciated savant of pop music. Sure, the Disney princess' songs aren't great art, but they are masterpieces of bubblegum confection. She writes her own lyrics, which is rare for a Disney starlet and earns a huge amount of respect from yours truly.

Her song "Forgot to Laugh" is simultaneously a parody of clingy girlfriends and an excellent stay strong breakup song with a soaring chorus that was made to sing along with your friends.

#3 "Rocks at My Window" Bridgit Mendler (129 plays)

Bridget Mendler again, because I had a lot of love for her this year after hearing her lead single "Ready or Not" at the movie theater I worked at about 200 times a day. Her album turned out to be even better and the best track "Rocks At My Window" is a bouncy and fun ode to spending Friday night alone watching TV.

#2 "Looking For the Magic" Dwight Twilley Band (140 plays)

The lynchpin song of my number one movie You're Next, "Looking For the Magic" is a terrific undiscovered gem.

#1 "I Still Believe / Super Bass" Glee Cast (335 plays)

JANE LYNCH RAPS, OK? I listened to this song nonstop for weeks so I could practice the rap and I finally got it down. Seriously. Ask me to perform it for you. I can bust it out anytime.

The Ten Blog Posts I'm Most Proud Of

#10 "A Nightmare at Hamilton High" (Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II, August 21st)

Best Line: "Although there is no title card to tell us that it's 1987, her hair gets the job done."

#9 "Modern Vampire of the City" (Fright Night, December 15th)

Best Line: "The twist ending being that Anton Yelchin is secretly the hottest member of the cast."

#8 "The Furtherer" (Insidious: Chapter 2, September 21st)

Best Line: "For the first half of the film, what we get is Rose Byrne Is Scared of Things 2."

#7 "CWTA The Terminator?" (The Terminator Is a Slasher Movie, June 23rd)

Best Line: "Jamie Lee Curtis gives Michael Myers everything she's got with a knitting needle, an unbent coat hanger, and Activia yogurt."

Best Line: "more incestuous undertones than your average episode of Arrested Development."

#5 "CWTA Gatsby?" (The Gay Gatsby: Homoerotic Undertones in an American Classic, June 30th)

Best Line: "In the beginning he mostly just takes Nick out to dinner and tries to convince him to go swimming with him."

#4 "The Splat Pack" (Bad Kids Go To Hell, September 23)

Best Line: "He's played by an Italian actor from Canada and that's exactly as un-ethnic as it sounds."

#3 "Musings Part 2: Not So Amusing" (August 14th)

Best Line: "Love each other."

#2 "Soy Un Bombero" ([REC], November 1st)

Best Line: "These are adrenaline fueled, three-minute-mile, Danny Boyle rage virus zombies and they are pissed."

#1 "New Decade. New Rules." (10 Ignored Rules for Surviving a Horror Movie, August 2nd)

Best Line: "Smash the bajeezus out of that glass like you're at a Jewish wedding and scamper away."

Here's Some Stuff That I Did in 2013


"The Power"

A video for my Cinematography class about a girl who discovers telekinetic powers, but they come with a price. It was edited in camera, which means that I couldn't use any software to edit the film, what you see is exactly what I shot in that order. It is not good! Starring Henri Haycraft.

"Gold Mine"

My second film for my Cinematography class. I'm actually pretty proud of this one. Inspired by The Blob and You're Next, it's the story of an unimaginable monstrosity. Starring Shannon Cholakian who graciously let me use her dorm which I immediately attempted to burn down.

"Awesome Asian Bad Guys"

The web series that got me onto the IMDb! I was only a production assistant, but y'all should check it out when it airs online! I'll keep you posted!



Shannon got me Ableton Live, which is a really great mashup software, and I couldn't wait to play with it. I ran down to my dorm and stayed up to make this mashup of "Troublemaker" by Olly Murs and "Crazy" by Britney Spears. It's very crude, but it was my first night of experimenting with the software. It was a lot of fun!

"Bass in My Face"

My second Ableton project, a mashup of "B.E.A.T." by Selena Gomez and "Bass Down Low" by Dev & The Cataracs. When I first got Selena's album, I couldn't help but notice the resemblance between the two songs and couldn't rest until I'd mashed them together. This is the mashup I'm most proud of.

"How I Roll"

A project for my Audio Production class, I made a cover of "How I Roll" by Britney Spears using only household objects. I used hangers, glasses filled with water, bike pumps, spatulas, my own voice, a mustard bottle, and this crazy contraption:

So that's 2013. 

I hope you all had as great a year as I did! (Or at least are only focusing on the great parts, like I am.) If you want to share your own memories, movie/TV/music lists, agreements or disagreements, questions, comments, or concerns, please take a second to comment.

And with that, I send you off into the dazzling promise of 2014! I look forward to sticking to my resolutions until January 7th and I hope you do too. Have a great year, everybody.
Word Count: 11357