Take 5: 2013 in review

Movies
What ruled the box office in 2013? Superheroes and sequels. What else is new? Plenty, actually. Emerging filmmakers challenged conventional representations of race relations in America as seen with Ryan Coogler’s “Fruitvale Station” and Steve McQueen’s “12 Years a Slave.” With the success of movies like “The Heat” and “The Best Man Holiday,” Hollywood continued its inexcusably slow education on the importance of representing diversity on screen. Alfonso Cuaron elevated 3D to the peak of its awe-inspiring potential.

And the movies were really good. Sure, there were plenty of duds (“Man of Steel”), disappointments (“Star Trek Into Darkness”) and dreck (“Identity Thief”). But there was plenty of magic in visually spectacular blockbusters (“The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” “Gravity”), pulse-pounding thrillers (“Captain Phillips”), challenging dramas (“12 Years a Slave”), thoughtful “indies” (“The Spectacular Now,” “Short Term 12”) and raucous comedies (“The Way, Way Back,” “The Heat”). Movies, and moviegoing, are alive and well.

Television
The definition of the word “television” exploded in 2013 with emerging platforms drawing unprecedented eyeballs, media coverage and awards buzz. Netflix asserted itself as a major player in the scripted television world, delivering the long-awaited fourth season of “Arrested Development” and buzzworthy new shows like “House of Cards” and “Orange is the New Black.” Hulu and Amazon have followed suit with strong offerings of their own.

Regardless of where you were watching television this year, you were probably watching something good. “Breaking Bad” ended its five-season run with an unimaginably tense sequence of episodes that captivated audiences and drew unprecedented buzz. HBO’s “Game of Thrones” and “Girls” generated conversations, as did “The Americans” on FX and “Orange is the New Black” on Netflix. Sundance’s “Top of the Lake” and “Rectify” introduced the network as a confident, contemplative alternative to the flashier cable networks. Fox’s “New Girl,” ABC’s “Trophy Wife” and NBC’s “Parks and Recreation” delivered laughs and heart aplenty on the broadcast networks. Too much TV? No such thing.

Music
2013: it was the year of the comeback from Justin Timberlake and David Bowie in January to Fall Out Boy and Panic at the Disco! later in the year. It was the year of the elongated album cuts from Justin Timberlake’s massive “Pusher Love Girl” to Daft Punk’s expansive “Giorgio by Moroder.” It was the year of the boundary-pushing chart toppers, from the questionable gender politics of “Blurred Lines” to the racial minstrelsy in Miley Cyrus’ live performances.

It was the year disco became cool again, with the Songs of the Summer (“Blurred Lines, “Get Lucky,” “Treasure”) throwing it back to the 60s. It was the year of Pharrell who helmed the summer’s biggest hits and contributed to albums from Jay-Z and Miley Cyrus among others. It was the year of Kanye West’s demented brilliance and Jay-Z’s cemented laziness. It was a year to remember.

Performances
• Oscar Isaac, Justin Timberlake and Adam Driver singing “Please Mr. Kennedy” in “Inside Llewyn Davis.”
• Every single cast member in “12 Years a Slave,” with special mention to Chiwetel Ejiofor and Lupita Nyong’o.
• Tom Hanks in the final scene of “Captain Phillips.”
• Bryan Cranston on the phone with Anna Gunn in the “Ozymandias” episode of “Breaking Bad.”
• Sandra Bullock and the abyss of space in “Gravity.”
• Neil Patrick Harris and dozens of Broadway casts earning an elongated standing ovation at the Tonys. (Bonus: NPH and Audra MacDonald rapping it out at the end.)
• Justin Timberlake’s yearlong media takeover.
• Amy Poehler and Tina Fey killing it (again) on the Golden Globes.
• James Badge Dale in every single summer movie (“Iron Man 3,” “World War Z”, “The Lone Ranger”).
• Mads Mikkelsen cooking one delicious meal after another on “Hannibal”
• The glorious kids on “Trophy Wife.”
• Shailene Woodley and Miles Teller taking a walk during a party in “The Spectacular Now.”
• And so many more.

Pop Culture 101: What did we learn?
• We learned that we can’t stop, and we won’t stop, because we run things, things don’t run we.
• We learned that sometimes, the best solution to any problem is to tread. Lightly.
• We learned that the odds are ever in our favor.
• We learned that we’re up all night to get lucky,
• We didn’t learn what rhymes with hug me.
• We learned that we’re all new slaves, but we’ll never be royals, and some people just live for the applause.
• We learned that we started from the bottom, now we’re here. Hold on, we’re going home.

mlieberman@theeagleonline.com

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