A year in review: 2013

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Since I started my blog in 2011 I’ve done yearly recaps of my favorite things in pop culture.

This year, I’ve decided to add sports, photography and experiences to the list, as well as honorable mentions, since 2013 turned out to be a pretty good one.

Feel free to agree or disagree. I usually have a very indie/hipster taste in things. Also keep in mind I haven’t been able to see most soon-to-be Oscar-nominated films because Miami isn’t “limited release” like LA or NYC.

BEST SONG: Vampire Weekend’s “Unbelievers”

You can’t go wrong with any song on the best album of the year. This one harks back to the band’s upbeat roots and thought-provoking lyrics. Also listen to: “Diane Young,” “Ya Hey” and “Step”

I’m not excited but should I be?/Is this the fate that half of the world has planned for me?

Honorable mentions:

1) HAIM’s “Don’t Save Me” — This was my original pick until I found out the video was released in late 2012. Oops! I kept it on this entry, however, because HAIM’s debut album “Days Are Gone” didn’t come out until this summer. Check them out if you haven’t. They’re three sisters who can rock ‘n’ roll with the best of them. Also listen to: “The Wire”

2) Mø’s “Pilgrim” — Just like HAIM, the Danish singer released this song in mid-2012. She didn’t gain traction until the early part of 2013, putting her as one of the year’s hottest artists. Also listen to: “XXX 88 (featuring Diplo)”

3) Lady Gaga’s “Gypsy” — On a dance-heavy album, Gaga went back to her piano roots at the beginning of this singalong that shows off her pipes. Like something out of Billy Joel’s catalogue, she romanticizes her nomad lifestyle and relationship with actor boyfriend Taylor Kinney. Also listen to: “Do What U Want (featuring R. Kelly)”

4) Lorde’s “Tennis Court” — Everyone knows about “Royals,” but this tune caught my attention earlier this year. Mature musically (and I assume emotionally) beyond her 17 years, Lorde is cooler than I could ever be. Who wouldn’t want to use “let’s go down to the tennis court and talk it up, like yea” as a pick-up line? Also listen to: “Team”

BEST MOVIE: Frances Ha

Never heard of it? That’s because it never got a wide release (that I know of). I had the fortune of seeing this small indie film for $1 at the Bagdad Theatre in Portland — in the heart of Hawthorne (where the hipsters live). I’ve never seen a more honest look at the love and relationship between best friends. Forget the immature and vulgar take Lena Dunham portrays of women in their early-mid 20s. Greta Gerwig, who co-wrote and stars in the film, shows a truly lost character you want to find her way.

Honorable mentions:

1) Gravity — I knew I was going to enjoy the film because Alfonso Cuaron directed it. His imagination led the Harry Potter franchise down the right path. With this film, Sandra Bullock gives a stellar performance. And the visuals! The tension!

2) Spring Breakers — Yes, you’re reading this correctly. Say what you want about James Franco’s performance: Over-the-top? Ridiculous? But boy was it memorable. Same could be said for Harmony Korine’s take on society’s fascination with the holiday. Plus, it had a great soundtrack. Oh, and that memorable usage of Britney Spears’ “Everytime.”

3) This is the End — The premise was great, and so was the delivery. Usually this vulgar of a film turns me off, but there’s something to be said about the actual substance and story Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg came up with. And what’s not to love about celebrities poking fun at their personas? Must see: Emma Watson cameo

BEST BOOK: The Cuckoo’s Calling

I must admit: 2013 wasn’t a very productive year of reading for me. I think I burnt myself out with “Little Women,” “Anna Karenina” and “Les Miserables” back-to-back-to-back. That’s more than 2,000 pages to cap 2012.

But then the most remarkable news came out!

It was revealed that this novel by Robert Galbraith was really written by J.K. Rowling under a pen name. It follows detective Cormoran Strike, who must solve the possible murder (suicide?) of a famous model, with the help of his new secretary. Their characterization is great, much like those found in the Potter books, and the twists of this crime novel are just as exhilarating. Keep reading for the interesting take on society’s obsession with fame and celebrity.

BEST DRAMA: Masters of Sex

It pains me to say that “Homeland,” the two-time reigning champion in this category, stumbled in Season 3. The new show that comes on after it, however, got off to a great start. Michael Sheen (Masters) and Lizzy Caplan (Johnson) are superb as the scientists pioneering the study of sex in the 1960s. From the very beginning, it was clear this was a bold, brave and smart show.

Honorable mentions:

Parts of this season’s “Mad Men” and “Homeland” for reasons already known by everyone who watches them.

BEST COMEDY: The Mindy Project

After struggling to find a groove and identity in its first season, Mindy has been on track since bringing James Franco on as a guest star. Pair that with great cameos by professional athletes (CJ Wilson), actors (basically all of SNL and The Office) and UFC leaders (Dana White) and you have a consistently funny, pop culture-heavy show. Sure, it probably caters more to women, but try not to laugh during a more recent episode when two supporting male characters sext Mindy’s love interest while pretending to be her.

Honorable mentions:

1) Brooklyn Nine-Nine — Thought Adam Samberg would be unbearable but was pleasantly surprised. Great ensemble cast. If you’re a fan of Parks or The Office you should be watching this by now.

2) Parks and Recreation — Like a fine wine, this show continues to get better with time. Ron married? Crazy Craig? Responsible Tom? Exactly.

3) Arrested Development — It took awhile to get used to the new format of the show — its first season with Netflix — but it was worth it to see all the storylines fit nicely together. Still, the show lost some of its charm without a true ensemble this year.

BEST MIAMI SPORTS MOMENT: Miami Heat win second straight NBA title

As if it could be anything else, right? Though I missed it while in Europe, the Heat captured their third championship (second in a row) in dramatic fashion over the San Antonio Spurs. It doesn’t get more entertaining than Game 6.

Honorable mention: Jose Fernandez’s rookie season. NL Rookie of the Year, NL Cy Young finalist. All at the age of 21. Not too shabby, eh?

BEST EXPERIENCE: Sunset cruise on the Seine in Paris

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Honorable mentions:

1) Seeing Lady Gaga on SNL

2) Train from Seattle to Portland (Pacific Northwest’s beauty)

3) Wimbledon

4) Scenic drive through Austrian alps
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