Editors' Picks

Best of 2013 (Part Two): Television, Film and Writing

by Julia Tulloh Kate Harper S.A. Jones , December 19, 2013Leave a comment

In the final of our two-part series, some of our favourite Killings contributors highlight their top cultural moments of 2013 – in television, film and writing. Have they missed any?

Best Television — Julia Tulloh 

Arrested Development

What a monumental year for television. Breaking Bad wrapped up after six years of South Western crime; Arrested Development released its long-awaited fourth series; and Doctor Who’s 50th anniversary special screened in cinemas around the world. We found out the third series of Girls would feature Danielle Brooks as its first black female characterOrange is the New Black gave us hope that complex female characters may one day be commonplace. Melbourne’s very own Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, despite its sometimes questionable acting and pacing, launched a ridiculously successful costume exhibition.

Predictably, the television episode that stuck in my guts the most this year was Game of Thrones’ ‘The Rains of Castamere’, a.k.a. the Red Wedding. Since this episode spawned an onslaught of recaps, blog posts and memes after it aired, I needn’t say much – except that it’s the only story I know of where audience engagement actually increased after all the apparent ‘goodies’ (and I mean all) were brutally killed off (and I mean brutally).

My other main moment of 2013 concerns New Tricks, the BBC crime-comedy-drama that your grandparents probably love. For ten years, Detective Superintendent Sandra Pullman (Amanda Redman) has busted serial killers with her team of old codgers: this year, she got promoted and left the team (and hence show). I nearly cried when she announced it. Even though the series’ gender politics were sometimes troubling (see how FUNNY it is? A FEMALE boss?) Pullman still smashed the glass ceiling like it weren’t no thang. I’ll miss her.

Read more from Julia Tulloh here

Best Film — Kate Harper 

Before Midnight Best ofBefore scolding me for not mentioning that film, be aware that these are only the five that have stuck with me the most. Beginning the year, an image that I can’t shake is of a pigeon trapped inside a Parisian flat in Michael Haneke’s Amour. Starring Emmanuelle Riva and Jean-louis Trintignant, Amour’s depiction of long love and impending death as both ordinary and entirely unique was a breathtaking way to kick off. Then in May there was Derek Cianfrance’s The Place Beyond the Pines, which I loved for its chutzpah. A Three Act intergenerational melodrama, it was Greek Tragedy for today: the cursed houses of Glanton (Ryan Gosling) and Cross (Bradley Cooper) blessed with super-sexy genes and a Mike Paton score.

In July, I met up with old friends, Jessie and Celine – a.k.a. Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy – in Before Midnight. A series that began in 1995, the third made for some uncomfortable-looking dates at the screening I went to: showing the mixed results of following romantic love, the film begins where most Hollywood films would end. Talking and tears continued into September in Sarah Polley’s documentary Stories We Tell, where she uncovered her family’s narrative through a uniquely kaleidoscopic style. The last of the best for me was Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity; despite some naff dialogue, few recent films have exhibited the affects of cinema’s magical capabilities quite as spectacularly.

Looking back, it sure has been an emotional year of films, with the spectre of mortality and troubled relationships at every turn. Thank God for Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa!

Read more from Kate Harper here

Best Writing — S.A. Jones

harmless2013 was a year that reminded us how important reading is. When print media bares its ferociously partisan fangs as it did in the national election, there is power in literacy. What we read and how we read matters. We have to bring our full selves to reading, mind and body. My 2013 ‘best of’ are the works that demanded something of me – the reader – but honoured me as a reader too.

My favourite fiction was Julienne Van Loon’s superb novella HarmlessIt is heartbreaking, wise and provacative. In creative non-fiction I enjoyed Karen Hitchcock’s column in The Monthly. Hitchcock writes about the mysteries of the human body and the limits of medical knowledge in solving those mysteries. For online news I’ve subscribed to The King’s Tribunewhere I was moved by Jane Gilmore’s sensitive writing about The Gatehouse in St Kilda and the murder of Tracy Connelley.

In historical non-fiction the standout was Wibke Bruhn’s My Father’s Country, a book I came to a couple of years after its publication. It’s a family history that provides an insight into Nazism and the price paid by those who resisted. Read it. (Then watch Michael Haneke’s The White Ribbon. Whatever was obscure in high school history about the rise of Nazism will become clear). Shout-outs also to The Sydney Review of BooksAnne Summers Reports and The Toast: all welcome additions to the reading landscape in 2013.

Read more from S.A. Jones here


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At our recent Readings Prize Shortlist Showdown event, six writers gave a speech in defence of the book they believed most deserves to win the Readings Prize for New Australian Fiction. Readings Events Manager Chris Gordon spoke in praise of Annah Faulkner’s novel Last Day in the Dynamite Factory. Read more »


Michaela McGuire

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At our recent Readings Prize Shortlist Showdown event, six writers gave a speech in defense of the book they believed most deserves to win the Readings Prize for New Australian Fiction. Writer and Emerging Writers’ Festival Director Michaela McGuire spoke in praise of Abigail Ulman’s short story collection, Hot Little Hands. Read more »


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Looking for a book recommendation? Staff from Readings bookshop share what they’ve been reading this month. Read more »


Rebecca Shaw

Playing It Straight: On queer actors, queer characters, and ‘bravery’

In the past few weeks, I’ve noticed an unwelcome trend reappearing; one I had hoped was long dead and buried, along with frosted tips. It is the discussion around whether queer actors can play heterosexual characters. Read more »


Rebecca Shaw

Girl Gang: The value of female friendship

For two years I was the only girl in my class, along with four boys. Perhaps this would have been some kind of fantastic Lynx-filled utopia for a boy-crazy pre-teen girl, but for someone who was just beginning to figure out that she didn’t like boys in the same way other girls seemed to, it wasn’t what you could call ideal. Read more »


Rebecca Shaw

Written On the Body: Fat women and public shaming

The policing and subsequent shaming of women’s bodies is not unique to famous women. It happens to all women. Feeling entitled to denigrate fat bodies, and fat women’s bodies in particular, is one of the last bastions of socially acceptable discrimination. Read more »


Anwen Crawford

Throne Of Blood: Justin Kurzel’s Macbeth

For more than four centuries, we have found versions of ourselves in Shakespeare’s plays precisely because his characters are so human in their flaws and follies. At the same time, the arc of these characters’ stories unfolds somewhere above and beyond us, in the realm of grand tragedy or grand comedy, or both. Read more »


Anwen Crawford

Memorable Chills: Edgerton’s Gift

The Gift is Australian actor Joel Edgerton’s directorial debut — he also wrote, produced, and stars in it — and it bodes well for Edgerton’s directing career. A psychological thriller, The Gift is efficiently and quite memorably chilling, at least for the first half. Read more »


Joanna Di Mattia

Escaping The Wolfpack: Inside and outside the screen

The Wolfpack introduces us to the six Angulo brothers, who were kept virtual prisoners for 14 years in their Lower East Side apartment. More than a captivity narrative, this is a film about the influence of cameras and screens, and the transfixing, liberating power of cinema. Read more »


Alexis Drevikovsky

Have You Ever Felt Like This: Going Round the Twist again

Working from home one day, I took my lunchbreak away from my laptop and flicked idly through the TV channels, hoping for a midday movie with Reese Witherspoon or, even better, an old episode of Cheers. What I found was beyond my wildest dreams. I excitedly texted my mate Alison: Round the Twist is on ABC3! Read more »


Jane Hone

How the Golden Age of Television Brought Us Back Together

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glitch abc tv

Stephanie Van Schilt

A Glitch in the System: The ABC’s undead gamble

In one gasping breath, Glitch shows that the ABC is stumbling towards something beloved by TV audiences the world over, but that regularly eludes the Australian and film and TV industry: genre. And not just any genre, but the ‘return-from-the-dead’ zombie-style genre. Read more »


Katie Williams

The More Things Change: Choice and consequence in Life is Strange

You can either be a benevolent hero or a monster, but few games deal with the multitudes contained by actual people. And what does it matter, anyway? There’s no such thing as regret when it comes to in-game decision-making – not when you can so easily restart the game to see what outcome will result from choosing Option B instead. Read more »

svfw crop

Katie Williams

Silicon Valley Fashion Week?: Fashion, technology, and wearability

Last week saw the inaugural Silicon Valley Fashion Week? (yes, with a question mark) unfold in San Francisco. The show promised ‘drones, robots, and mad inventions’, and tickets sold out swiftly; attendees were clearly eager to see more inventive clothing in this heartland of nerds. Read more »

AnimalCrossing copy

Katie Williams

Digging For Meaning in Utopia: Storytelling in Animal Crossing

Animal Crossing is a series of games in which – as my partner once remarked incredulously – ‘nothing ever happens.’ In its latest incarnation, Animal Crossing: New Leaf, you become the unwitting mayor of a town populated by anthropomorphic, bipedal animals. Read more »

Straight White Men - Public Theatre - Photo by Julieta Cervantes

Jane Howard

Unbearable Whiteness: Young Jean Lee’s Straight White Men

Though I am delighted to see Young Jean Lee gain traction in Australia, a work by playwright who is a woman of colour should not be such a rare occurrence; nor should this only come in the form of a play that blends effortlessly into the fabric of the work that is programmed around it. Read more »


Jane Howard

Putting Words In People’s Mouths: Performing the unseen, speaking the unknown

‘Do you ever get the feeling someone is putting words in your mouth?’ A performer asks an audience member in the front row. ‘Say yes.’
‘Yes,’ comes the reply.
This theme ran through multiple shows at Edinburgh Fringe this year, where occasionally audience members, but more often performers, were asked to perform scripts sight unseen. Read more »


Jane Howard

The Impenetrable City: Getting lost at Edinburgh Fringe Festival

I just saw a one-on-one performance piece that ended in my bursting into tears and the artist sitting with me and holding my hands in hers for maybe ten, maybe fifteen, maybe twenty minutes. We had a shared piece of history, and her work was delicate and took me by surprise, and I have a cold, and I am homesick, and I don’t know why I’m in Edinburgh, and I’ve cried a lot, and now I’m in a gallery because I couldn’t face another show. Read more »