And so we come to the end of the publication year for Spectrum Culture, which meant a huge batch of “best of” evaluations of the pop culture from the preceding twelve months (well, okay, eleven-and-a-half). I had my couple cents in every last one of them, but I also had one more full-length review to put out there.
I was cautiously hopeful about grabbing the new film from Neil LaBute. Though it’s been ages since I’ve liked one of his films, I used to like them, a couple quite a bit. And this new effort seemed like a back-to-basics outing, something LaBute desperately needed after some pure disasters. It has its strengths, but plenty of issues, too. Then it’s quality is demolished by an overly glib twist ending. It may be okay to give up on him completely now.
Onto the year-end lists. For the tally of the best books of the year (sort of), I wrote about Donna Tartt’s exceptional The Goldfinch. A thick brick of a book, I made a point of pushing through the novel in time to write about it (although it was engrossing enough that I may have been compelled to get through it quickly anyway), since I don’t really agree with the “best book I read this year” premise of the feature which basically makes any book ever published fair game for the feature. I needed something with a 2013 copyright date on it to feel good about my contribution, and the other things I read this year that qualified weren’t going to work.
For the film lists, I continued in my evident, somewhat inadvertent quest to write about Noah Baumbach’s Frances Ha as many times as I possibly could. I typed the praises of Greta Gerwig’s lead performance in our consideration of the best acting of the year (I also thought about writing about either Cate Blanchett or Chiwetel Ejiofor, but other writers had claimed them by the time I got around to making my selection). Frances Ha was also one of the two films I wrote about for our survey of the twenty most impressive cinematic offerings of the year, along with Richard Linklater’s Before Midnight.
Then there’s the music, which I’ll expand on more in my now-annual song and album posts in the next week or so. For now, I’ll just note that I wrote on the Chvrches for our Best Songs list and both Washed Out and Vampire Weekend for our Best Albums list.