Best 'Best Of 2013' Lists: The Year-End List To End All Year-End Lists

  @EllenKilloran on January 02 2014 10:58 AM

You probably thought you'd hate-read your last Best Movies/Breakups/Traffic Jams of 2013. But you thought wrong. To help ring in the New Year, International Business Times has compiled our favorite end-of-year lists into one handy meta-list. Because “I don't do end-of-year lists” is so 2013.

1. We'll start with the second most meta end of year list: The New Yorker's “Eight Reasons Why We Love End-of-the-Year Lists" is a highly clinical and permissive study of our universal embrace of lists. “It stands to reason that we associate 'making a list and checking it twice' with Christmas,” Elif Batuman writes, “and also with gifts, adding the element of what behaviorists call 'positive reinforcement.'" You can't argue with science.

2. Bloomberg Businessweek served itself a slice of humble pie this holiday season, with a roundup of the articles it wished it had published. (And I wish I had thought of that!) The selections in Businessweek's “2013 Jealousy List” offers a healthy balance of longform usual suspects -- like Stephen Rodrick's mesmerizing New York Times' profile of Lindsay Lohan (which made it on to several other best of lists this year) and William Finnegan's New Yorker story “The Miner's Daughter,” along with relatively unsung multimedia stories like “Planet Money Makes a T-Shirt.” Bonus: If you haven't made a New Year's resolution yet, make it a goal to read all 41 of these stories. I know I am, though it will probably take me until 2015 to get through it.

3. We might have been a little preoccupied with film-related best of lists, but in our defense 2013 was a spectacular year for movies -- and not just those that are getting all the Oscar buzz. We've always thought The L Magazine has been an underrated source for sharp and concise film criticism. And though they have a relatively small editorial staff, their film writers seem to see and have insightful opinions about everything. This year's "20 Best Films" roundup may have been trying a little too hard to be obscure -- one-quarter of the list is made up of Chinese and Japanese films that a lot of us have never heard of, but the arguments for all are convincing. Completely absent from the list are “12 Years a Slave” and “American Hustle,” and the top pick is a commercial fishing documentary called “Leviathan” (incidentally, also an excellent Paul Auster novel not at all about commercial fishing). I'll take the bait.

4. Yes, Christmas is over, but it will be back again before we know it. Total Film's “50 Best Christmas Movies” made our list even though the rankings are totally weird: “Love, Actually” barely made the cut at No. 50(!), “How The Grinch Stole Christmas” didn’t do much better at 47, and “Home Alone” beat out “A Christmas Story.” Blasphemy! But if you put that aside, it was nice to see a bunch of movies that you don’t necessarily think of as “Christmas movies” on the list -- like “Brazil,” “In Bruges,” and “Eyes Wide Shut.” According to the roundup, there's a Christmas tree in “every scene” of “Eyes Wide Shut.” After further investigation, it looks like that might be a slight overstatement, but there's no denying the dominance of the Christmas tree motif in Stanley Kubrick’s final film. Critic Lee Siegel, in his heated defense of “Eyes Wide Shut” for Harper's, argued that the festive trees were stand-ins for sexual desire. “For desire is like Christmas: it always promises more than it delivers,” Siegel writes. Amen.

5. NPR's “50 Favorite Albums of 2013” deserves recognition for its user-friendliness alone: Each of the 50 selections is accompanied by a full MP3 track of a single from the album for immediate consumption and easy sampling. The list is also wildly eclectic -- along with solid jazz, pop and R&B representation, there's an album of violin concertos and a death metal selection (Deafheaven's “Sunbather"). Like all things NPR, this list might not be embraced by youth culture, but if you're over drinking age, there's something for everyone.

6. The always reliable Indiewire’s critic list is a standout for shaking up the typical film ranking categories (there's a “Best Undistributed Film” roundup) and for refusing to make the acting honors gender-specific: Chiwetel Ejiofor is the top pick for Best Lead Performance, and his “12 Years a Slave” co-star Lupita Nyong’o leads the Best Supporting Performance list. Much of the sections are chock-full of the usual suspects -- as indicated above, “12 Years a Slave” is everywhere (and deservedly so) -- but it was nice to see Shane Carruth (“Upstream Color”) crack the Best Director Top 5 and Brie Larson (“Short Term 12”) in the Best Lead Performance Top 10.

7. The New York Times' restaurant critic Pete Wells cares deeply about his beat -- though his passion for New York City dining is tempered by a disarming recognition that the sun doesn't in fact rise and set for the latest Manhattan restaurant opening. Wells’ list of best new restaurants is a real treat, and is as flavorful as his favorite, vaguely off-the-beaten path dishes. Eschewing legacy chefs in favor of true newcomers (with some exceptions), Wells granted the top honor to Sushi Nakazawa, led by a supporting character in the documentary “Jiro Dreams of Sushi.” Wells’ reviews always have a warm, narrative feel to them, making his Best New Restaurant list one worth reading even if you won’t have a chance to sample all the menus. Next year, we hope Wells travels a bit further outside of Manhattan than Williamsburg -- home to the only outer-borough restaurant in his roundup.

8. Time magazine's "Top 10 Everything of 2013" is no joke. Noteworthy for its sheer volume alone, this mega-list is broken down into six major categories (including Arts & Entertainment and Science & Space), with fun subcategories like “Top 10 Worst Movies” and “Top 10 Babies,” because you're never too young for an insecurity complex. But at least North West didn't win: The Kanye-Kardashian spawn was edged out by the perfect and splendid Prince George. The “Top 10 'Breaking Bad' Moments” is an agreeable trip down recent memory lane, but we wish we didn't live in a world where “Top 10 Miley Moments” was a thing.

9. The always excellent Grantland offered up a Best of TV list with nary a mention of “Mad Men” or “House of Cards”: Instead, “The Overlooked and Underappreciated TV of 2013” goes off the beaten remote control path -- sometimes way off. Smart, lengthy takes on easily dismissed shows like “Million Dollar Listing” and “Ru Paul's Drag Race” will convince you to look at your basic cable menu a little differently, and you'll be led to hidden gems like “Nathan for You” and “What?!: I Think I'm an Animal.” But the Grantland staff keeps the hyperbole to a refreshing minimum: In his defense of “The Goldbergs,” Steven Hyden calls the ABC sitcom “a thoroughly mediocre TV show that I inexcusably watch every week.” That's my kind of pitch.

10. Our very own Christopher Zara rounded up “The Worst Media Fails of 2013,” and the pickings were anything but slim. From the Atlantic's native advertising fiasco to the New York Post's unforgiveable false Boston Bomber ID, “2013 was definitely a year that tested the parameters of journalistic ethics,” Zara writes. While it's hard to resist being amused by many of 2013's screwups, we're hoping to see a little less plagiarism and racism in 2014.

Honorable mention:

The Atlantic's "Best Movies of 2013" doesn’t offer much you haven’t seen before, with the exception of giving “Short Term 12” a much-deserved third place. And you have to love it for allowing the maddening mess of a film “The Way, Way Back” to scratch into the final slot. But the real fun begins in the list’s tacked-on coda, which includes hilarious, hyper-specific "categories" like “The Ray Liotta Award for Best Portrayal of a Creepy, Corrupt Cop” (guess who won?) and “Best Movie About Typing.”

 

Join the Discussion