Posted on Thursday, December 20, 2012 by shoshanalibrarian
And now, in no particular order, I present to you my favorite books and movies of 2012:
I knew I'd love this show right from the opening credits - not only are they set to a great song by one of my favorite bands (Brian Jonestown Massacre), but they informed me that this show stars some of my favorite actors, like Steve Buscemi, Michael Pitt, and Kelly McDonald. I was not disappointed. Great acting; gorgeous costumes, sets, and cars; and a fantastic story put Boardwalk Empire in my top 5 favorite TV dramas of all time!
I loved this story, told from the point of view of eccentric Bernadette's daughter Bee via annotated emails, official documents, and letters. Bee has asked for a trip to Antarctica as her reward for perfect grades. This is a problem for Bernadette, whose contempt for the world and the people in it has developed into agoraphobia. When Bernadette suddenly goes missing, Bee has to piece together the series of events leading up to her disappearance, as well as the mysterious reasons her parents moved to Seattle from LA before Bee's birth. Well-written and hilarious, this novel was nearly impossible for me to put down.
If you used to read my old Staff Picks page, you are familiar with my obsession with BBC period dramas. Downton Abbey is like a drug for me - as soon as I get it I blow through it as fast as a can, then jones like crazy until a new season comes out. Season 2 continues the upstairs/downstairs story of the aristocratic Crowley family and their servants during and after World War I. Like the first season, it is beautifully written, acted, shot, and costumed. I want this show to go on forever.
Even though I love historical fiction, I didn't read Wolf Hall when it first came out. It was on my list, but after reading a ton of Philippa Gregory and Alison Weir, I was sort of over the Tudors. When Bring Up the Bodies won the Man Booker Prize just as its predecessor had, I figured I had better go ahead and read them. I am so glad I did! Yes, it's the same story I've read before, but told from the perspective of Thomas Cromwell, who is usually presented as a villain. Mantel's Cromwell is charming, crafty, resourceful, and surprisingly tender. Mantel's way of focusing on small moments to tell the larger story makes the familiar narrative feel completely new.
I resisted reading Stieg Larsson's trilogy for a long time - it just didn't appeal to me. But when I took maternity leave, I got desperate for books I could read on my Kindle while nursing. After reading the books, I of course had to watch the Swedish movie trilogy. I liked them okay, nothing really blew me away, so I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked the American version. Rooney Mara is perfect as Lisbeth Salander - she managed the mix of vulnerability and toughness necessary to the character, and makes you care about Lisbeth even though she is so emotionally distant. The direction and cinematography perfectly capture the bleakness of the original story. And who doesn't love Daniel Craig?
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