I don’t spend as much time reading lately as I did, say, a couple of years ago. I often as not curl up with a film or a tv show. Last fall, I started listening to a couple of film review podcasts (/Filmcast and Filmspotting) and I started going out to the movies more frequently to check out the films that were discussed. By the time the Oscars rolled around, I had seen six of the nine Best Picture Nominees and four out of the five Best Documentary nominees. But as is often the case, some of the films I enjoyed most from 2012 were not nominated at all.
Looper was probably my favorite film. Great storytelling, great acting – I’m a fan of Joseph Gordon-Levitt (who isn’t?) and Emily Blunt. I saw Looper twice. The first time I accidentally went to a showing that had open captions. I think that is cool that the theater has open captioned shows for the hard of hearing, but the words do intrude on the cinematography and the experience over all. Anyway, I still really liked the film so I decided it was worth seeing in the theaters again, without the captions.
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Steven Soderbergh’s action film, Haywire. I know some people criticized the acting of mixed martial arts fighter Gina Carano. I can’t say that was a problem for me, because I just loved watching her fight. You could see her character thinking about her every next move (especially in my favorite sequence, a chase scene in Dublin). The action scenes were subsequently quite interesting – I can’t tell you how many action scenes in other movies just do nothing for me.
The documentary Queen of Versailles should have been nominated for an Oscar. (The film that won Best Documentary – Searching for Sugarman – was not that good and I suspect had a boost from baby boomer nostalgia.) Queen of Versailles started out as a film that followed the life of Jackie Siegel, former beauty queen and wife of David Siegel, owner of Westgate Resorts, a major time-share company. The Siegels and their many children live in a massive house in Florida, but as the film begins, they are building an even bigger one modeled partially on the Palace of Versailles. But then, as the filmmakers were shooting, the recession hit and the Siegels were in huge financial trouble. They kept filming and what they capture is fascinating, an American story that shows the varied consequences of living beyond your means.
As for television shows, I was not immune to the Downton Abbey mania. Season 3 did not have a promising start but really found its feet in the latter half, I thought. I’m totally Team Edith by the way. (Maybe because I am the middle child of three sisters? Though my sisters and I get along way better than the Crawley sisters ever do.)
Other shows I’ve been keeping up with:
The Americans – I’m a little behind on this show and have only seen the first three episodes, but so far, it’s very compelling television. It’s about two Russian sleeper agents (played by Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys) that have been posing as an American couple in the D.C. area long enough to have a teenage daughter. I’d never seen any of Matthew Rhys’ previous shows, but wow can he act.
Community – I’ve only seen the first two episodes of the new season, and while there is a detectable difference now that its former showrunner is gone, I’m still enjoying the antics of Troy and Abed and the rest of the study group.
Nashville – I started watching because of Connie Britton, but like many viewers, the songs are definitely the strongest draw. Plotlines fizzle at times and Scarlett rarely resembles a real person, but at this point, I’ll stay to the end of the season.
Parks and Recreation – I hated the first season but now it’s the most consistently good show that I watch. The whole ensemble is amazing.
And for the above, I just have to say, thanks Hulu. Also, pbs.org for Downton Abbey. I’ve never had cable and I don’t even have antenna channels anymore, so I’m one of those people completely dependent on the internet to supply me with recent show episodes.
And just to finish off this post, I’ll mention that I did read Bossypants a couple of months ago and it was okay. I mostly know Tina Fey from her Sarah Palin impersonations. I did not watch SNL when she was on it and I didn’t watch 30 Rock either. So this may explain my lack of enthusiasm about the book. That said, I did really enjoy the chapter about her dad for some reason. Also, I totally have hiked that one trail that Tina hiked in the dark with those college boys. It’s a really popular hike for people around here.