This week, New York Magazine’s “Year in Culture” hit news stands. As culturally diverse women, Alison and I of Apartment 5A believe it is our duty as NYC bloggers to respond to the article, which broke up culture into (somewhat) distinct categories: Music, Movies, Art, Theatre, and TV.
We know about that shit.
So here’s what we had to say about each category, including a wish list of things we have yet to see and experience. An Agree means we agreed with NYMag’s assessment, and a Disagree means, well, you get it…
Without a Ag/Dis means we’ve just decided to add it, or the category entirely.
It helps to have the magazine article handy, but we’re pretty sure you’re going to enjoy our list no matter what…
BEST OF THE YEAR
Friends with Kids
Written by Jennifer Westfeldt (Jon Hamm’s real life wifey), this movie tells the story of two adult friends who decide to have a child together. The story is laugh out loud and it also breaks your heart, but mostly it’s delightfully real. A good choice for a date movie you’ll both actually enjoy.
Perks of Being a Wallflower
More on this book in a little. Even though the trailer is nauseatingly “You’re so unique! Go for your dreams!” the movie itself is a grand exploration of what it’s like to be young when your life is being impacted by situations out of your control. The story tackles serious issues from domestic abuse to sexual molestation, but it never for a moment feels contrived or preachy. The three leading stars are likely to thank for that, as well as the book’s author writing the screen play.
Most Honorable Failures
Sure, Alison slept through the last 40 minutes (maybe an hour, but who’s counting?) but the movie itself was still good for two reasons. One, it’s shot on a stage, literally. The actors and actresses move from room to room while the sets are being removed behind them, and emotions are conveyed through stage lighting. The concept works, and it looks amazing. (Well, the whole movie looks amazing. The costuming and set design will likely see Oscar nods). And as much as we here in 5A are on the fence about Keira Knightley, we have to give her props for choosing challenging roles and giving them her all. She’s a good choice for Anna, and does the part justice.
This shit was mean spirited and not funny. Devastating considering its potential.
Best Channing Tatum Movie of 2012
"21 Jump Street" It was funny, even NY Mag readers laughed.
Two Movies with Matthew McConaughey That Are Horribly Violent and Horribly Interesting
When Emile Hirsch’s character owes money to a few small town thugs, he devises an ill conceived plan with his stepfather to have a family member murdered by Killer Joe, Matthew M. in a role that is pure brute force. When Hirsch can’t come through with payment, Killer Joe takes possession of his young Lolita-ish sister. The whole movie will make you cringe, but nothing quite like the final scene. The man behind me in the ticket line tried to warn me, and I brushed him off. But trust me, you’ve never seen violence done quite this way.
A role that will finally set Zac Efron apart from his sugary romantic past. Efron is reporter who falls in love with Nicole Kidman’s Southern train wreck of a character, who is helping research her incarcerated fiance’s crime. John Cusack plays the fiance, and he alone is a chilling figure. Add Matthew M. who plays Efron’s sexually closeted brother taking the case by storm and you have a strange story that will stay with you long after the credits roll. Oh and there’s plenty of anal rape and murder to satisfy every freak in the audience.
NY Mag had a whole article dedicated to the “Undulating Curve of Lena Dunham.” It outlines the back lash and back from back lash “Girls” received in its ground breaking first season. Sure, most of the starring cast has famous parents. The characters are “spoon fed brats.”
Here’s five simple reasons why “Girls” is easily a top three show in 5A:
1. It’s real in the ways that matter. The girls are fat. The girls are broke. The girls live in Brooklyn.
2. The girl’s relationships are shit.
4. Pregnancy scares are no joke. When you’re friend calls you and says, “Holy Shit” you drop everything and schedule her abortion. You don’t wax poetic about what it might be like to be a mom with your bestest pals. Looking at you Carrie…
5. Getting a job is hard and your parents just don’t understand.
Best quote to summarize the show’s similarity to real twenty-something’s lives? “Oh you’re embarrassed by this? Well that’s because it’s really embarrassing.”
NY Mag’s Kids 5A’s Girls of the Year
Sure she’s the skinniest bitch on the block. But she’s got the fiercest eyebrows, two of our favorite designer’s campaigns under her belt (ahem Burberry ahem Chanel) and she seems like she wants to laugh. We want to laugh all the time.
She grew up in Kentucky. We’re from Indiana. Through six degrees of (actually pretty legit) separation we basically already know her. Sometimes she’s a little bit too tomboy for our taste, but if you ask Alison sometimes I’m that way too. Oh yea, she chooses good roles.
Sure her Instagram is a train wreck. But we LOVE to hate this girl, and we (not so secretly) love her fearlessness. There has to be respect for a woman who has no qualms about baring her breasts, her formerly abusive boyfriend and her tattoos in memory of her grandmother (wait, ironic?) for the whole world to see. You Go RiRi.
Her style and her short hair make us wish we were her. Her English accent makes us wish we were her. Her performance in “Perks” made us wish we were her. Sometimes we imagine we are her.
Someone give this woman an award for bouncing back from her lowest point to have a legit career spurred on by her legit talent. When Lindsay Lohan goes crazy everyone just rolls their eyes and wishes she’d go to jail. When Demi announced she was back, everyone heard her fierce new singles and saw her rocking pink blonde hair and thought, wait she was even gone?
We each chose 5 songs together that we’ve been loving in 2012.
"Big Blue Wave" by Hey Ocean!
Best Line: No I don’t want to fuss or fight, and I’m not one to give advice…sing until you float away, our love is like a big blue wave
"The Zone" by the Weeknd
Best Line: (even though it’s in Drake’s solo) Sit your sexy ass on that couch, wipe that lip stick off your mouth, let’s take it slow
"Break the Day Open" by Benjamin Francis Leftwich
This Brit is about the get the recognition he deserves after getting a shout out from Ed Sheeran the other day. His EP boasts soft melodies and subtly smart lyrics.
"Take Care" cover by Conor Maynard
His debut album “Contrast” came out this year (and I met him in September), but this newly 20 year old star has a brilliant voice that shines best on his cover of Drake and RiRi’s “Take Care.”
"Radioactive" by Imagine Dragons
Best Line: I’m waking up to action dust, I wipe my brow and I sweat my rust, I’m breathing in the chemicals.
"Don’t Let it Break Your Heart" by Coldplay
Best line: When you’re tired of aiming your arrows, still you never hit the mark, even in your rain and shadows, still we’re never going to part
"Home" by Phillip Phillips
Finally, an American Idol winner whose music you can download without the attached guilt. Not to mention a double name..?
"As Long As You Love Me" by Justin Bieber
Sure, laugh. But this song marks Justin’s official transition from boyhood to enduring pop phenomenon, much the way Britney did (more on that later). The bomb ass video is just an added bonus.
"Warzone" by the Wanted
Definitely a guilty pleasure in 5A this summer. But lets call a spade a spade (as Alison likes to say) and admit this is the only boy band on the market right now singing about ADULT topics and blasting at the club.
Song of the Year
"Everything is Embarrassing" by Sky Ferreira
Any song that makes you want to dance like Carlton has our vote. Not to mention, NY Mag takes a paragraph to artfully explain the following: it has just enough pop to be catchy, and just enough emo to make you still feel cool listening to it.
Pop Music’s Good and Bad
TOTALLY Disagree (NY Mag had these listed under the opposite categories).
Most Enduring Pop Phenomenon: Lana Del Rey
Lana’s voice isn’t supposed to bring down the opera house. I’m pretty sure after all this time we can conclude that her raspy monotone is MEANT to sound that way. Sure she sounded like shit on SNL, but her music is still interesting, her look is still fresh and let’s not point the finger about sounding poor live (look below).
Most Deserving Pop Blockbuster: Mumford and Sons
When bands that play musical instruments, write their own material and have lead singers with strong vocals emerge, everyone runs around stating the obvious—how good they are. But that’s the point. We should be celebrating groups with that level of talent, and Mumford has it. (Plus he’s married to Carey Mulligan and we love her.)
Least Enduring Pop Phenomenon: Taylor Swift
Here in Apt 5A we are pro-woman, which is why we hate TSwift. When you have a series of failed relationships, you look inward at the only consistency: YOURSELF. Taylor has yet to realize this, and doesn’t help generations of young women idolizing her to do that either. Besides, no female is that nice. Besides she is dating Harry Styles. Besides she doesn’t sound that great live either.
Least Deserving Pop Blockbuster: Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe”
Find one person who says they legit like this song and I’ll show you a liar. Do you want to be 28 years old making music like this? Scratch that, do you want to be making music like this? (Your answer better be no).
NY Mags Best Music Combacks Best Move with the Music Times
Britney knows that she is not a great singer. So she does the smart thing and makes music that fits into the moment’s popular mold. (Right now that’s pop-y dubstep, hence “Scream and Shout.”) When you make music that’s going to get played, you’re going to be a successful artist. (Notice I didn’t say musician, but that’s not the point). Britney knows what she has to work with, and she’s a great performer. She reads the trends and interprets them in a way that makes me dance at the club. What else can we ask for?
It pains us here in 5A to say this, but the truth must be spoken aloud. Christina knows that she’s a great singer, so she makes absolutely no effort to mold her voice to the popular trends because they don’t do her voice any justice. The problem with that is there’s no longer any niche for her sound. Which is a shame, because XTina paved the way for RiRi/Lana D. and (dare I say it) Gaga. Christina was the first to wear assless chaps and shock the world with her brazen attitude and song lyrics. But now she refuses to adapt and we know what happens to the animals that don’t adapt. They go extinct.
Apt 5A’s favorite exhibits on display in NYC in 2012, neither of which were featured in NY Mag.
Prada and Schiaparelli: Impossible Conversations at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Simply beautiful designs made easily digestible in an elegantly designed space.
Yayoi Kusama at the Whitney
Kusama’s return to the artworld was marked by this striking and nearly fifty year spanning exhibit at the Whitney, as well as her designs for Louis Vuitton.
Books (None of which are featured in NY Mag)
Best of the Year (Even if they aren’t 2012 titles)
Bright Lights Big City by Jay McInerney
A young male professional in NYC is disillusioned with his life, and just before the story seems like you’ve been there, read that, it reminds you what we’re all really looking for when our lives seem meaningless.
Wettest County in the World (now published as Lawless) by Matthew Bondurant
A true story of three bootlegging brothers that is so painstakingly researched to ensure its real-ness it practically gets up and walks around the room. One of the most gruesome scenes I’ve ever read in a book, and it has nothing to do with humans, but rather the birth of a deformed cow.
Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins
Brought back to light in 2012 with the release of the movies, you can’t help but deny that this shit is good.
Most Overrated of 2012 (and Brought Back in ‘12)
Turn of the Mind by Alice LaPlante
Don’t you hate when the culprit in a murder mystery turns out to be the red herring? Don’t worry, I didn’t ruin it, I just saved you time and money
Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chobsky
It’s rare that a movie is better than the book that created it. But here’s an instance where the translation to screen eliminated what didn’t work in print.
Most Underrated Book of 2012
Nowhere But Up by Patti Mallette
I didn’t throw up AND I’d recommend it to a client. Seems like it wasn’t all bad…
Best Magazines of 2012 (How did NY Mag forget mags?!)
People SAY they read Vogue, but they don’t. That’s because you haven’t reached a point where you care about fashion and journalism as equal art forms. When you do, how delicious Vogue truly is…
It’s easy to love a magazine that has equal parts fashion, unique-ness and graphic design well covered (and none of them makes you gag).
WISH LIST (Things NY Mag listed that we just haven’t got our paws on yet!)
Zero Dark Thirty
Listed as best movie of the year. Def has the potential, since director of the Hurt Locker, Jessica Chastain and an intriguiging plot are all playing for the same team.
The indie musical that NY Mag calls “twee and pulls it off” is on Alison’s Must-See list.
Death of a Salesman
Philip Seymour Hoffman plays the lead in this classic tale of human desire/worth/whatever other adjectives make you feel like we respect the material. On Wynne’s Must-See list.
Kendrick Lamar’s, Good Kid, m.A.A.d City
If a rap album is revered by NY Mag it MUST be good.
So there you have it, culture as interpreted by 5A and inspired by NY Mag!
What moments of 2012 culture do you think we forgot? Which were your favorites? Let us know at NewYorkInstant@gmail.com