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


Nathan Smith

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Ilona Wallace

Between You & Me: The New Yorker’s Mary Norris on publishing, editing and insecurity

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Chad Parkhill

On judging the Most Underrated Book Award

The chair of the judging panel for the Most Underrated Book Award shares his observations on the award, what it means to be ‘underrated’, and the current landscape of Australian literary prizes. Read more »

ROSEANNE - On set in New York - 10/16/93 
Sara Gilbert (Darlene) on the ABC Television Network comedy "Roseanne". "Roseanne" is the story of a working class family struggling with life's essential problems.

Rebecca Shaw

Out of the Imaginary Closet: Fictional characters who should have been gay

When you are part of a group that isn’t portrayed in the same way (or only negatively, or not at all) you become desperate for that glimmer of recognition. Here are several characters that I loved as a young person, who became stand-ins for the openly lesbian characters I wanted to see so much. Read more »



Isn’t It Obvious: Queer representation in children’s television

For a non-binary gendered person, characters with diverse sexualities and genders are validating and rewarding. As a child, they could have offered integral touchstones for understanding my own gender, and provided context and validation for the ways in which I could exist in the world. Read more »


Rebecca Varcoe

In defence of professional cheerleading

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James Tierney

Bodily Limits: An interview with Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

Dario Argento’s 1977 horror film Suspiria suffered from a critical eclipse and a variety of censored prints, and was largely cherished in its original form by aficionados of the field. A reassessment has been building, something sure to be aided by the forthcoming publication of Alexandra Heller-Nicholas’ perceptive and elegantly written monograph. Read more »

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Eloise Ross

Existence as Minimalism: Remembering Chantal Akerman

Images of a young woman, emptying her small flat of furniture, blocking the window and sitting in the dark, still. Sitting on a mattress in a bare room, furiously writing letters with a pencil and watching the snow through the window. Meeting with a past lover and reuniting on-screen. I think about Chantal Akerman’s films more often than I can say. 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 »


Matilda Dixon-Smith

Family Matters: Please Like Me and the Aussie TV family

In a recent episode of Josh Thomas’s Please Like Me, the bouncy titles run over three little scenarios: Josh cooks dinner for his mate Tom and his boyfriend Arnold; his Mum cooks for her new housemate Hannah; and his Dad cooks for his wife, Mae. The three of them stir, sip wine and dance daggily around their kitchens in a neat metaphor for this season’s fantastic, cohesive new trajectory. Read more »



Isn’t It Obvious: Queer representation in children’s television

For a non-binary gendered person, characters with diverse sexualities and genders are validating and rewarding. As a child, they could have offered integral touchstones for understanding my own gender, and provided context and validation for the ways in which I could exist in the world. 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 »


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 »

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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 »

Tom Conroy and Colin Friels in Mortido. Photo credit: Shane Reid

Jane Howard

A Shining Nightmare: Mortido‘s Sydney

Sydney is a city of shine and reflective surfaces. The glint of the harbour follows through to city high-rises clad in polished glass, bouncing off the wide windows of the mansions hugging the undulating land before it gives way to the impossibly deep and wide water. But this beauty that can betray the darkness of the city and its people. Read more »


Angela Meyer

Outrageous Fortune: Seeing Hamlet as a Cumberbitch

Jazz swells, hushing the audience, and the solid black gate of the theatre curtain opens. It reveals the lounging figure of Hamlet, playing a record, sniffing his father’s old jumper. But what I see first is not Hamlet: it is Benedict Cumberbatch. Read more »

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Jane Howard

Great Aspirations: In the shadow of Patrick White

The text of The Aspirations of Daise Morrow is lifted directly from Patrick White’s short story ‘Down at the Dump’. It’s a wonderful thing to hear White’s judicious use of language; to understand the eyes through which he saw Australia; and to see an entire world of his creation brought to life in the theatre. Read more »