2013 in review

A strange year, all in. Some disappointments and shocks along the way but we’re finishing with a great deal of optimism. For that I’m thankful. I also grew closer to many friends this year and made some big decisions about the next phase in my life. Plenty of closure, then, and some timely reminders. Here are some of the things that have made me smile across a difficult 2013…

FILM

Much Ado About Nothing

A brilliant modern take on the Shakespeare play, created by my hero, Joss Whedon. I even got to see him in the flesh at the screening.

The Way Way Back I love a coming-of-age story. This one was very well done. Something about a water park at summer seems like the most wonderfully adolescent thing in the world.

Iron Man 3 Arguably better than both of its predecessors, this snarky take on what-Tony-did-next worked for me on every level – especially the use of Blue Da Ba Dee over the opening Marvel logo. Enjoyed Thor too – Marvel know what they’re doing.

The Place Beyond the Pines Films aren’t made this way – structurally, it breaks all the rules I’ve been taught to follow. The end result was breathlessly unpredictable.

About Time What started as another fun Richard Curtis rom-com became an incredibly affecting examination of growing older and cherishing your family. So sad and so uplifting all at the same time.

Captain Phillips First-class thriller featuring the single best performance Tom Hanks has ever given. The final scene is astonishing.

Gravity One of the best cinematic experiences I’ve ever had. CGI that actually looks real. A story that is almost purely tension. 3D that seems essential. If you haven’t seen Gravity, you really should.

Games

Gone Home A lovely 2 hour experience which seems to be one thing but which ultimately becomes something quite different. Tense, nail-biting and hugely moving. More like this, please.

Brothers In the vein of Ico or Shadow of the Colossus, this is storytelling without dialogue, and is all the more effective for it. A beautiful world offers itself up to a pair of brothers seeking a cure for their sick father. Clever use of game mechanics towards the end to really hammer home an emotional point.

The Last of Us The only blockbuster game on my list is probably my game of the year. I tired of its stealth gameplay towards the end but the realisation of Joel and Ellie on-screen as characters with whom I could sympathise was revolutionary. A few years ago I pointed to Mass Effect 2 as a sign of where gaming was headed. The Last of Us takes the medium even further. Excited to see what the new consoles can do with these types of games.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds A late addition, through which I discovered that I really like the 3DS. A Link to the Past is one of my all-time favourite games. This modern re-imagining takes that perfectly-designed overworld (s) and adds some new tricks and flavour. Grinned my way through the entire game.

Thomas Was Alone Not released this year but I played it in 2013. Somehow took a story about blocks and made me cry.

Proteus Not so much a game as a massage for the mind and spirit. I wouldn’t want to spoil it for anybody by saying any more. Play it late at night.

Analogue: A Hate Story Again, a game I played long after release. It’s essentially a visual novel with some important points to make about gender, set in a sci-fi Korean-inspired world. You don’t get that in big releases.

Dust: An Elysian Tale An old-school side-scrolling RPG with satisfying combat ad beautiful graphics. Impressively, mostly made by ONE MAN. Brilliant.

FTL Came to it late, got horribly addicted, just want those damn fires to stop killing my crew. Lovely music, too.

TV

Breaking Bad

I’ve always enjoyed Breaking Bad but never loved it. The final season, though, was utterly sublime. This is how you wrap up a tv show.

Game of Thrones

They made it to the Red Wedding and then put forward a very convincing case for why they should keep going. What was heartbreaking in the book became horrifically brutal on-screen. Essential viewing. And Peter Dinklage still owns every scene in which he appears.

Doctor Who

I’ve been a fan my whole life and 2013 was the year the show proved why it’s like no other. A modern classic Dalek story (Asylum of the Daleks), blanket media coverage leading up to a fantastic 50th anniversary special (which I watched in 3D in a cinema!) and a tearful goodbye to the wonderful Matt Smith. Peter Capaldi is a very safe pair of hands for the show’s next incarnation.

The soundtrack to the year was composed of Bastille, The Twilight Sad, Chvrches and The Boxer Rebellion.

There is a lot in the pipeline for 2014, most of which I can’t talk about yet. Exciting times, though. Here’s where the bounce back begins.

My fave song released in 2013:

And my actual song of the year (which wasn’t actually released this year)…

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