Saturday, January 4, 2014

2013 Year in Review: Looking Back on 'What I'm Looking Forward to This Year'

To quote Albus Dumbledore, "Another year gone!" With 2013 now behind us, it's time for me to start posting my Year in Review content, starting with my reflections on a entry from the start of last year titled 'What I'm Looking Forward to This Year." I think the headline explains it all, so what I'm going to do is just go through and reflect on each of the items I mentioned then. Some I might not have gotten to, so I'll make note of that as well.


Let's start with movies. These are the films I was looking forward to watching in 2013: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Lincoln, Game Change, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Zero Dark Thirty, The Host and Terry Fator: All Hits, No Lips.

I recently posted my reviews of the latest Hunger Games and Hobbit movies, giving rave reviews to the former and an overall positive review for the latter. Catching Fire was a spectacular movie, extremely intense and with a larger budget that was put to great use. And while fans are still complaining over Peter Jackson splitting The Hobbit into three films and adding in things that aren't in the story, I overall really enjoyed The Desolation of Smaug. I also provided a review for and recommended HBO's Game Change.

Now, while I didn't do any blog posts for Lincoln or Zero Dark Thirty, I do think these were pretty good movies. I'm still amazed at the transformation of Daniel Day Lewis as the 16th President of the United States. And the Osama bin Laden raid was intense and very well made in Zero.

As for the rest, I didn't have a whole lot of positive comments to make about Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, with the book being far superior than its adaptation. In some ways, the same could be said about The Host. I did enjoy it, but with the way the story was written in the book, it would have been hard no matter what to adapt it. The inner Melanie voice talking to Wanderer was highly annoying--something like that could've only worked in book format, not on the big screen. (I have nothing to say about the Terry Fator DVD because it wasn't released as we initially had heard.)

TV Shows:

The TV shows that I was looking forward to in 2013 were Smash season 2, American Idol season 12, American Horror Story season 3, Breaking Bad and The West Wing.

Smash was already on thin legs as its first season came to a close. Then season 2 came along to extremely low ratings, resulting in NBC cancelling it and burning off the remaining episodes on Saturdays. It's a shame because there were some fantastic moments during those episodes. A lot of people wanted this show to be better than it turned out to be. As for me, regardless of any weaknesses, I found myself enjoying this show more than most. The original songs were brilliant, Jennifer Hudson was a great guest star and they ended this two-year series on a very satisfying note (pardon the pun).

American Idol season 12 ended up being a disaster, with all the attention on the drama at the judges' table with Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj. It's unfortunate, too, because Candice Glover is one of the most talented winners this show has ever seen. So I was looking forward to the return of the best singing competition show, but was let down.

After how much I loved season 2 of American Horror Story (subtitled Asylum), I hoped that season 3 could continue the trend. And overall, it has. I still think I prefer that second installment, but Coven is still fantastic, bringing back some of the great cast members from previous seasons and signing on new actresses like Kathy Bates and Gabby Sidibe.

For the final two on the above list, the former ended its run this year and the latter years ago. But I've only just started watching these series for the first time. I absolutely loved season 1 of Breaking Bad, and consider the pilot to be one of the best pilots I've ever seen. Season 2 had some great moments, though I felt the sophomore outing was a tad less than the first. I'm now almost done with season 3, and am continually amazed at what I'm watching. For The West Wing, I've only seen season 1 so far, but I'm glad I've started (better late than never) because this is my type of show.


Here's just some of the books I had planned on reading in 2013: A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin, Waiting to Be Heard by Amanda Knox, Double Down: Game Change 2012 by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, Harken by Kaleb Nation, The Selection by Kiera Cass, Inferno by Dan Brown, Room by Emma Donoghue and The Night Circus and Erin Morgenstern.

I ended up reading all of them except for two. I found myself preferring A Game of Thrones to A Clash of Kings, though still being impressed by Martin's writing abilities. Amanda Knox's book is about her horrendous time in Italy as a suspect in a murder trial. I live in the same state as Knox, so coverage of the trial was on a huge level here. And I was really looking forward to reading her thoughts on everything, and it's despicable what the Italian courts and police did to her. I gave positive reviews to Double Down, Inferno and Room. Harken was good, though I wouldn't say I was blown away by it, giving it 3 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.

I never got around to reading The Selection or The Night Circus. The main reason why I wanted to read The Selection last year was because The CW was planning on adapting the series into a TV show. But when the show wasn't picked up, I didn't have that incentive anymore. I still want to read it, but it just might not be for a while now. And for a second year, I keep putting off The Night Circus. I don't know why.


I only had one music-related item listed (mainly because it's hard to know at the start of any year what albums are going to be released): Bombshell: The New Marilyn Monroe Musical from Smash. As I've said before, I love the original music on the now-cancelled Smash, and so this soundtrack was a must-listen for me, and I wasn't let down, of course.

This has been Part 1 of my 2013 Year in Review. Part 2 will see a compilation of all my 2013 Recommendations and ranking them.

2013 Year in Review: My Recommendations of the Year >>>

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