The Top 5 of Anything for 2013
By Perry Michael Simon on January 5, 2014
Are we done with Top (Insert Number Here) lists for 2013 yet? No, there’s one more. Or, to be exact, a bunch more, in one epic post. This one. Yes, it’s time for the annual Top 5 of Everything, our own little tribute to the year just past, celebrating the random good stuff we experienced throughout the year.
Explanation: As I did last year, I asked our staff here at Nerdist to answer the question: “What were your Top 5 of the year?” That’s not necessarily the Top 5 movies, or books, or comics or TV shows or any one thing in particular. It’s just what ranked for us as the best or most memorable things of 2013, whether they be experiences or events or really good meals or games or personal or otherwise. Might as well make it an annual tradition here, right?
So, here we go. Please add your own in the comments below, and once again, I’ll lead off, because why not:
PERRY MICHAEL SIMON:
In random order:
1. Inside Llewyn Davis: This one resonated with me on a gut level. What if the world just doesn’t want what you have to offer? Forget Llewyn’s tendency to be a nasty piece of work; his talent, undeniable, just leaves the people to whom it needs to matter indifferent. When F. Murray Abraham’s powerful manager responds to Llewyn playing his heart out by telling him matter-of-factly, “I don’t see a lot of money here,” the deflation is devastating. (Also among the memorable: The World’s End,American Hustle, Dallas Buyer’s Club, Mud, The Way, Way Back. Just for the record.)
2. The iPad Mini: No, I didn’t get one, but my wife did. And now, my old iPad 2 seems huge, bulky, slow, grainy. On the other hand, there was….
3. …the new MacBook Pro: The surprise here was that I had to buy a new one in the first place, because the old one died quite suddenly, without warning, while we were on our anniversary weekend in San Diego. I was not planning to spend any time at all at the Mission Valley Apple Store Genius Bar. Not romantic at all. But the old one was beyond reasonable repair, so I really didn’t have much of a choice but to swallow hard, scrape up the cash, and buy a new one. The upside was that This Year’s Model is lighter, sharper, faster, better all around. Considering that I spend something like 14 hours a day on it, it had better be all of that. But since it was one of the primary dramatic twists of 2013 for me, it goes on the list.
4. Television: I can’t winnow it down to one show, because there was practically too much good stuff to watch, all year long. Whether it was Breaking Bad‘s epic final run, the joys of Netflix/Amazon Prime binge-watching Justified or House of Cards (or, for that matter, old MST3Ks and The IT Crowd episodes), old standbys like Parks and Recreation or Doctor Who, finding @midnight waiting to be reviewed every morning at 3 am when my work day started, or sitting transfixed on Red Zone as one insane finish after another unfolded in the NFL, this was a good year for the medium. Honorable mention: the gadgets enabling all of this, including Roku, the iPad, the Slingbox… I am in your debt, guys. Or under your control. One or the other.
5. The Philadelphia Eagles: Despite Saturday night, since I made the public pronouncement at the beginning of the season that, judging by the roster and new coach, I’d be happy with anything over six wins, the 2013 Eagles exceeded my expectations. I did not expect ten wins and a division title, no matter how bad the NFC East would be. I did not expect Nick Foles — the quarterback resembling the spawn of Jon Heder and Pete Holmes — to be the perfect guy to run the new offense. (I DID expect Shady McCoy to be good, but, damn, he’s good.) Look, YOU may not be a sports fan, but I am, and when you expect your team to suck and it doesn’t, that HAS to make the Top 5. Also, the Phillies sucked and the Flyers are mediocre and the Sixers are fitfully trying to tank the season and while Villanova’s gotten off to a great start, it’s too early to tell how that’ll go. So, Eagles, even though Saturday’s playoff game was, to put it mildly, a disappointment. (Offseason goals: a kicker who can kick it out of the end zone, and a defense that tackles instead of playing two-hand touch.) Sing along, everybody:
They’d better win it in 2014.
Perry wrote this thing and edits this site and another site about radio and his recently inexplicably reactivated blog at pmsimon.com and has been with Nerdist since forever. He pontificates on life, media, sports, and other stuff in humorous fashion on Twitter, where you should follow him at @pmsimon.
Ready Player One: Recommended by Chloe Dykstra and Dan Casey, I finally read this instant cyber-punk classic. The on-point futurism, relatable protagonist and an inventive story combined to form one of my favorite books of all time. Go in blind. Read it and love it.
Green Lantern: The End:- This year marked the end of Geoff Johns and Doug Mahnke’s epic run on Green Lantern, but what a finish. The final issue in their long running saga of Hal Jordan’s return to glory and the downfall of the Guardians brought the expansive story to an appropriate close. The book was a celebration of the work Johns had put into the title, but also put a lovely bow on every major Green Lantern storyline.
The Way Way Back: On paper, Jim Rash and Nat Faxon’s The Way Way Back could have easily been a retread of Adventureland with a dash of Meatballs for flavor. But Sam Rockwell channels an older brother charm and secures his place in my mind as the heir apparent to Bill Murray. The movie is full of heart and warmth, but also reminds you of the sting of judgement those outside the norm felt growing up, before we figured out how to celebrate our weirdness.
Marvel Comics: The Untold Story: This book is a must-read if you have any interest in the comics business. How Marvel survived as a company with all of this happening in the background is a testament to how good the people who were actually good at their jobs were. Villains, heroes and other catastrophes were more than just a part of the comics at Marvel.
Fantastic Fest: This year I finally got to go to Fantastic Fest in Austin and it did not disappoint. Highlights of the trip include the supremely entertaining Fantastic Debates that featured Keanu Reeves going up against Tim League, interviewing one of my favorite actors of all time when I sat down with Keanu Reeves, and discovering two of my favorite games of the year when I played Samuari Gunn and Towerfall in the Fantastic Arcade. Make plans next year to go; it is very much worth the trip.
Brian is the Editorial boss at Nerdist News. He’s on Twitter at @R2B2Walton, so definitely follow him, too.
1. A Game of Thrones: The Board Game: In all honesty, this was probably my favorite thing of 2012, but I just didn’t realize it at the time. I’ve always enjoyed board games – a good portion of my youth was spent ruining friendships and tearing my family apart over bouts of Scrabble, Monopoly, and The Game of Life – but I didn’t realize just how nerdy and delightfully esoteric they could be until I played A Game of Thrones: The Board Game, or as my friends and I call it Game of Game of Thrones. This is like Risk on bath salts with enough Westerosi goodness to keep casual fans and series diehards coming back for more. Once you get over its considerable learning curve, Game of Game of Thrones is a perfect storm of political intrigue, border-baiting brinksmanship, and savage wars that lead to epic power struggles and come-from-behind victories that you and your pals will be rehashing for weeks. Grab six friends, make some brunch and mimosas, and make a day of it — lord knows that’s how I’ll be spending my Sunday.
2. Evernote: I may be a bit late to the party on this one, but if you only download one productivity management app, please, please, please make it Evernote. It is one of the most robust and lightweight apps I’ve ever used, and its ability to sync across platforms means that you can access the same info on your laptop at 30,000 feet, your home office, or your smartphone with little to no hassle. Whether you want to save clips and articles from the Web for later use, syncing notes and scripts across platforms, scribble down dumb ideas for one-off sketches, or create an ad hoc wiki by linking and sharing pages with other Evernote users, this app is here to help. Anyone who has seen my desktop will tell you that I keep more tabs open than hoarders have feral cats, but the only app that I make sure is always running is, you guessed it, Evernote.
3. Uber: Having spent a good chunk of 2013 traveling for work and needing to get back and forth from the airport without alienating all of my friends, it became evident that I was in dire need of a solution. Do I deal with the inordinately rude L.A. cabbies who speed off the moment you produce a credit card rather than cash? Do I take a Super Shuttle and miss my flight because this Australian family of 8 gave the driver the wrong pickup address? To quote infomercials across the land, “There’s got to be a better way!” And there is. Uber. It’s a 24/7 personal car service contained in a lightweight, extremely responsive app. You input your address, select the kind of car you want, then you watch the little car icon speed towards you. The drivers are beyond friendly and exceedingly professional; plus, they don’t have those bullshit Urban Outfitters-looking pink mustaches attached to the front like Lyft, so you can arrive at your destination with dignity. The best part? There’s no cash involved. You connect the account to your credit card or Google Wallet and then go on your merry way when you arrive at your destination, safe and sound. Having used the service in San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, and London, I can confirm that it’s consistently excellent across the board and a great alternative to taxis, unless of course they’re running their once in a blue moon surge pricing. Fuck that shit.
4. Attack on Titan: Having spent a year-and-a-half writing extensively about anime and manga, I found myself sort of soured on the whole genre. Back in high school and college, I would spend hours on end mainlining Neon Genesis Evangelion, Naruto, and whatever else I could acquire from BitTorrent and now-archaic P2P clients. Not only did I no longer relate to the community – reading any of my post’s comments would tell me that – but I felt a sense of creative exhaustion from the anime community at large. Even Studio Ghibli’s recent release, Ponyo and The Secret World of Arrietty, left me disappointed and disaffected. Then the high-flying, preposterously over-the-top, and supremely addictive apocalyptic action of Attack on Titan came into my life, grabbed me by the nape of my neck, and took me on a run for my life as humanity tries to make its last stand against 10 to 14-meter-tall cannibalistic titans with a predilection for people-eating. If you can watch an episode of Attack on Titan and not want with all your heart to ride 3D Maneuver Gear around your hometown, then you should probably consult a medical professional about your endorphin production.
5. Building my own computer: Back at the very beginning of 2013 when the year was still wild, uncharted territory and we didn’t know anything about what the NSA was doing with our search histories and tweaking had risen to national prominence, I decided to take the plunge and build myself a PC from scratch. My knowledge of how computers work and how they were constructed was functional, but extremely high level. The most intense upgrade I’d ever undertaken was installing a new graphics card back when I wanted Counter-Strike to really scream on my Compaq, so this was a giant leap for me. But, soon I found myself sucked down the rabbit hole of PC Part Picker, scrounging for deals on Newegg and TigerDirect, staying up late into the night fretting over whether my power supply could adequately service the killer gaming rig I was dreaming up, and generally boring my girlfriend to tears. Yet, I persevered, thanks to the wisdom of countless online tutorial videos and posters on Tom’s Hardware, and now I am back in the thick of PC gaming with my settings cranked up to ultra. Now my only excuse for crashing a helicopter full of teammates in Battlefield 4 is my own incompetence instead of lag. I can’t recommend building your own computer enough — you’ll get a more powerful rig than you would at the store and you’ll save money in the long run, which means more scratch for spending on Steam’s dangerous holiday sales.
Dan is Nerdist’s Associate Editor, which does not mean he edits associates. You can see him from time to time on Nerdist News videos, and follow him at @osteoferocious.
Portugal. The Man: I’m pretty sure my boyfriend is going to kill me for how much I listen to Portugal. The Man. I have a lot of trouble describing what kind of music they are, all I know is I love it. I have been listening to them for years and every album they make is awesome and different from the last. From slower songs featuring string instruments to fast paced rock songs with great guitar solos, every album is unique. This year they came out with a killer album, “Evil Friends.” The album is produced by Danger Mouse and is simply great. I highly recommend you purchase “Evil Friends” as well as a couple of their older ones; my favorites are In the Mountain in the Cloud and The Satanic Satanist.
Sherlock: The BBC’s Sherlock is the most addictive show I have seen all year. I caught on late and was able to watch the episodes on Netflix. I watched all 6 of the 90 minute shows in one day. Benedict Cumberbatch blows me away every episode, and I get excited I see him in any other project now. Martin Freeman is also fantastic as John Watson. I know this show didn’t come out in 2013, but I don’t care. It’s on my top list for everything.
The San Francisco 49ers: The pride and joy of SF (I didn’t forget about the Giants, but I like football more). I know they didn’t win the Super Bowl and I don’t want to talk about it. They are still an amazing team in the best division in the NFL. This season has been a bit of an emotional roller coaster, but they did beat those asshole Seahawks. Once Kaepernick gains full confidence in his playing, I believe they will be unstoppable. And who knows, maybe they will make it to the Super Bowl this year. This definitely has been a season of surprises.
Jim Harbaugh: I had to give Jim Harbaugh his own spot on here. His expressions are almost as entertaining as the game. And boy do I love when he yells at the refs. Because fuck the refs and their bullshit calls. Also, I appreciate how he has made the Niners into a legit team again.
Law and Order: SVU: Law and Order did an episode about a podcast producer, which means my career has been legitimized. Thanks, Dick Wolf!
Katie produces the vast array of Nerdist Podcast Network podcasts, on which you can occasionally hear her laugh or chime in on Chris’ intros. Twitter? Oh, yeah, she’s there, all right: @kt_money.
1. Getting to be in London for the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary. It was like being in Brazil for Carnivale or France during underarm appreciation day. T’was a thing of beauty.
2. The World’s End. What a wonderful culmination of the Cornetto Trilogy. It was much more grown up, but also just as silly and joke-filled. Edgar Wright just keeps getting better and better.
3. All the Sci-Fi on TV! Arrow, Orphan Black, Almost Human, all awesome.
4. The soundtrack to Inside Llewyn Davis. The movie’s amazing, too, but the folk music by T Bone Burnett and Marcus Mumford and sung by Oscar Isaac is beautiful and heartbreaking and just a fantastic listen.
5. Having the distinct pleasure to get to talk to one of my comedy idols, Joel Hodgson, about 25 years of Mystery Science Theater 3000. MST3K and Monty Python are two of my biggest influences, and I spoke to Eric Idle in 2012. Hero worship as a part of work is pretty neat.
Kyle writes for Nerdist about Doctor Who and cheesy old movies and all sorts of stuff. Pretty much, he’ll write really well about anything we throw at him. Follow him on Twitter: @functionalnerd.
1. Space Jam – My number one thing of the year since 1996, and forever.
2. Her – I laughed, I cried, I cried, and I cried. There’s nothing like the world Spike Jonze created here, there’s nothing like the tone he established, and there’s nobody else this year that found so many new things to say about love and relationships. I’m still in awe of this one. It’s magical.
3. This Picture of My Dog:
4. Pokemon – The release of Pokemon X has literally reversed every ounce of the maturation I’ve experienced as a human being since the late 90s and I feel absolutely no shame.
5. Riddick – I haven’t seen Riddick, but I can’t begin to tell you how happy I am that Vin Diesel successfully snatched another 30+ million dollars to make more of his personal fan fiction. Vin Diesel is a beautiful angel.
Ben Mekler is a staff writer who writes for the site and for the Nerdist Channel, too. Twitter? @benmekler.
The entirety of Key and Peele Season 3. I haven’t found myself quoting a TV show so much since the original Arrested Development.
“S” turning out to be a book by Doug Dorst and JJ Abrams. I just finished it and it was such a ride.
All of the cat videos. All of them.
Kale being overshadowed by the Cronut. Carbs FTW!
When everyone thought Daft Punk was going to play Coachella and R. Kelly trolled everyone with a surprise appearance.
Becca is one of our Music Geeks. She’s also a writer and producer and Twitterer at @bccbecca.
Myq Kaplan’s theory on going back in time and killing Hitler joke at the end of this Conan set.
Uncle Mom’s poker night that goes a little awry when hypothesizing about going about back in time and killing Hitler.
Davey Johnson interrupting Katie Crown to show time travel is possible by going back and actually killing Hitler, then having some unforeseen consequences.
Drunk History on Comedy Central having people, in a way, time traveling under the influence by recounting history with a slur that actors have to recreate whether they actually happened that way or not.
Maron In Space placing podcast trailblazer Marc Maron (as played by James Adomian) in the future where mic shaped space ships are feasible and you can be a neurotic space captain.
1. Mandy Patinkin’s Beard had an outstanding year, what with Saul playing geopolitical puppet master on Homeland, Mandy’s October 4 appearance on the Colbert Report to bless an on-air wedding, and an unforgettable one-man rendition of “Bohemian Rhapsody” backed by a 50-piece orchestra at the Ford Theater in June.
2. “Little Julian’s Secret” on KCRW’s Unfictional: The pie chart of my time spent this year features a giant slice marked “car,” and the only reason I didn’t drive that slice of pie straight off a cliff is because of that old thang, the radio. I can wax poetic about basically every half hour block on KCRW, but Unfictional is hands down the best. I caught one of the best stories of the year in traffic about East LA’s Chicano heartthrob Little Julian Herrera, a rock star who pulled off the original “Don Draper” identity swap.
3. “Necessary Errors” by Caleb Crain: The debut novel about a bunch of ex-pats doing basically nothing in Prague, 1990 was just this devastatingly perfect meditation on what it’s like to be young and drunk and without a plan while the rest of your life impatiently taps its foot in the next room. For anyone who’s been abroad or had a bunch of friends or thought that their every night out was the definition of high drama, Crain will take your thoughts straight out of your head and rearrange them on the page, only better.
4. Sutton Foster on Bunheads: I still sort of can’t talk about this show’s cancellation after a gorgeous and perfect February season finale because it hurts too much. And that Sutton Foster, National Treasure won’t be sassing us between dance numbers and repartee with Emily Gilmore is even more heartbreaking than her stripped-down rendition of Maybe This Time.
5. Les Revenants (The Returned): I slipped this French TV show (which aired on Sundance in October) in right at the buzzer when a friend who seriously knows what she’s talking about told me this was for sure the best show of the year. I see you all elbowing each other out of the way to call me on Breaking Bad blasphemy, but shut up for one second and watch the 8 episodes of this hauntingly breathtaking drama about dead people who mysteriously return home one day to a small French mountain town. It’s got a little bit of a Twin Peaks thing going on, an atmospheric soundtrack by Mogwai, and even with the language barrier, some of the best TV writing you’re going to find.
Lauren joined Nerdist to write for us this year. She’s at @lorivoj.
And that’s what made 2013 for us. How about you? Your top 5s in the comments, please….