How good was 2013 for movies? David Edelstein, the movie critic for New York, called it "miraculous." As our critic Chris Orr pointed out correctly, the best movie of the year doesn’t even have a shot at winning best picture and didn’t even get nominated for best director or lead actor. 2013 was just that good.
Maybe it’s just one year. But Ben Fritz, a reporter for the Wall Street Journal, says something is fundamentally changing in Hollywood that could produce a lot more years like 2013. The economics of great films are getting easier thanks to higher contributions from independent producers and lower upfront wages.
Read more. [Image: Sony Pictures]
The Atlantic's Alan Taylor sifts through thousands of photographs to assemble his breathtaking In Focus galleries, covering everything from the conflict in Syria to volcanic activity around the globe. For the video above, we collected more than 80 photographs from the past year to create a three-minute montage set to a track by Broke for Free. The result is a visceral, graphic look at the tragedies and triumphs of 2013 and a tribute to the photojournalists who documented everything along the way.
Traffic is a strange beast. The stories we do about cyborg telemarketing, legal scholarship, spambots, opera, NSA spying, nuclear weapons, virtual worms, and crying in space all do well, but none of them made our top 10 list for the year.
That’s because the competition is stiff. The numbers are big. All the stories on this list got more than 230 thousand readers. 42 other stories had more than 100,000 readers, but these days, making the top 10 list nearly requires hitting on Facebook or Reddit.
And with no further ado, The 2013 List (here’s 2012).
Nelson Mandela, Lou Reed, and 10 others who changed the world
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The most mouthwatering cookbooks and culinary histories of the year.
2013 was a tremendous year for film—the best, I think, since 2007 (No Country, There Will Be Blood, Juno, Zodiac, Assassination of Jesse James, etc.). The summer may have been a bummer, featuring such disappointments as Elysium and Pacific Rim, but since October it seems that nearly every week has brought a treat. As a result, I’m expanding my usual top ten list to a baker’s dozen, with another 13 honorable mentions trailing behind. A few caveats: The order of the films on the list—and, in particular, that of the top two—changes in my mind on an hourly basis, so don’t take it too much to heart. Also, for all the movies I saw this year, there were plenty more that I did not, including, alas, quite a few foreign films and documentaries. So if you notice omissions from the list, that is quite possibly the reason. And, as is customary, I’ve included a variety of more idiosyncratic awards after the main event. With that, let’s get rolling.
Read more. [Image: Warner Bros; Focus; Animal Kingdom Films; Fox Searchlight]
This year, I talked to nearly 50 different writers for the By Heart series, a weekly column about beloved quotes and cherished lines. Each author shared the life-changing, values-shaping passages that have helped sustain creative practice throughout his or her career. Their contributions were eclectic and intensely personal: Jim Crace, whose novel Harvest was a finalist for the Man Booker prize this year, shared a folk rhyme from his childhood, the investigative New York Times journalist Michael Moss (Salt, Sugar, Fat) close-read the Frito-Lay slogan, and This American Life host Ira Glass eulogized a longtime friend and collaborator. Though I began by asking each writer the same question—what line is most important to you?—their responses contained no formula.
There was also no specific requirement to talk about craft. And yet writers—being writers—offered a generous bounty of practical writing advice. They shared exercises. They discussed principles of revision. Some presented ways to beat procrastination, or fight back against writing-desk ennui. And a great many shared their thoughts on the most crucial craft question of all: Why does some writing feel dead on the page, while other words thrum with life?
Taken together, these conversations were like attending an MFA program—I learned that much. Here are the best short pieces of writing advice I heard from writers in 2013, a whole year’s worth of wisdom.
Some of the biggest stories and debates in the media in 2013 had to do with gender relations—LGBT rights, women in the workplace, parenting styles, and more. Same-sex marriage gained more approval and legitimacy than ever this year, both in public opinion polling and as a matter of federal law. Sheryl Sandberg told women to “lean in” at the office, while the military told women they were now permitted to “lean in” on the battlefield. Bradley Manning became Chelsea Manning. And researchers offered up interesting new studies for individuals seeking a happy home life.
Here are our picks for the most interesting narratives about sex and gender in 2013.
Read more. [Image: ABC]