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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Wed
Hi: 54
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In Holiday Guide Commentary

Marquette's trip through the NCAA tournament was a high point for Matt's year.

In Holiday Guide Commentary

Scottish synth-pop trio CHVRCHES was Matt's favorite album of the year. Sorry "Yeezus."

In Holiday Guide Commentary

"Zero Dark Thirty" was Matt's favorite movie from 2012. Too bad he didn't see it until 2013.

2013 picks: Matt Mueller


2013 began with me in a tiny shanty studio apartment, mildly fretting about my final semester as a college student and significantly fretting about the odds of me being employed (as it turns out, "live-tweeted 'The Oogieloves' movie" doesn't impress on a resume). It ends with me working at my desk at the OnMilwaukee offices, currently being paid to live my dream of being a professional reporter and film critic, sharing my thoughts with (hopefully) interested readers and interviewing fascinating people from all different walks of life.

In between those two polar extremes were a whole lot of movies and memories – both good and bad – that deserve a final shout out. So here is the year according to me.

Best Movie Moment: I'm sure I have said this a lot in the upcoming few weeks – with no sign of stopping – but 2013 was an incredible year for movies. But in a year of incredible moments, the destruction of ISS while Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) clings on for dear life in "Gravity" was an actual jaw-dropper. It's sublimely captured moment of sheer cinematic spectacle, wonder and terrified excitement. Actually going to space might be a tad underwhelming after being privileged to that.

The runner up lands on the complete opposite side of a completely different spectrum: the octopus story from "Short Term 12." Merely playing that quietly devastating moment back in my memory is enough to make me start welling up a bit.

Best Concert: I didn't really go to any great concerts this year. Summerfest delivered a typically good set of performers, but no one really stood out and put on a show to remember. It did, however certainly provide me with a pick for worst concert: MGMT. Woof. I'm sorry you couldn't be there that night, MGMT.

So I guess I'll go with day two of Big Snow Show 8, with Nonono, Foals and the Arctic Monkeys. Foals wasn't great, but Nonono was a pleasant opener, providing me with a very satisfying "OH! IT'S THAT SONG!" moment when they started up "Pumpin Blood."

As the main act, the Arctic Monkeys put on a really solid show, playing a set filled with hooky rock songs that soon after earned a spot on my iTunes. They reminded me of a punkier version of the Black Keys, and being reminded of the Black Keys is never a bad thing. Also, they spent much of the show extremely backlit, making them look like black shadows against sharply colored backdrops. My friends wanted to see lead singer Alex Turner's face, but I thought it was a pretty slick visual.

The show also served as my first trip to The Rave, and it wasn't a dump, as I had been told.

Best Album: See, I don't buy albums; I pick and choose. If I don't want to buy and listen to an album's lesser tracks, why should I have to, especially if I have the ability not to? But on "The Bones of What You Believe," the debut record from Scottish synth-pop trio CHVRCHES, there are no weak songs. Thanks to the tandem of Lauren Mayberry's delicate voice and sharp lyrics, mixed with Iain Cook and Martin Doherty's deliriously catchy synth beats, the whole album is a winner. All 12 songs. The whole thing.

Best Sports Moment: I don't know if I can think of a better parting gift from Marquette University than the experience of watching the basketball team dramatically carve their way to the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament this past March. From Vander Blue's miraculous game-winning layup against Davidson to the team's surprisingly easy manhandling of Miami in the Sweet 16, it was an unexpected rush.

Of course, they were eventually pummeled by Syracuse. But I'll let the ecstatic memory of watching the final tension-dripping seconds of the first round win over Davidson in the JPad in Johnston Hall, surrounded by my equally nerve-wracked classmates, push that fact out of mind.

As a hopelessly devoted fan of the underdog, my runner up has to be Florida Gulf Coast's trip through the tourney. It's exactly why we watch the tournament and sports just in general. Now you may go back to forgetting that there is something called Florida Gulf Coast University.

Worst Sports Moment: Jeez, there's just so many to choose from (takes dart, covers eyes, throws it at wall). It seems we've landed on Green Bay's abominable defensive performance against the San Francisco 49ers in the divisional round of the playoffs back in January. Huh, forgot about that one. That WAS pretty terrible.

Hey, How Are Those New Year's Resolutions Coming Along?: Well, I've tried my best not to completely over-analyze trailers. I certainly saw a good horror movie. In fact, I saw several, namely "The Conjuring," "You're Next" and a Milwaukee Film Festival shout out to the moody gothic chiller "We Are What We Are." I didn't rage all that much at the Oscars this past year (though "Silver Linings Playbook" certainly tested that), and I've been getting better at calling people out on being rude during movies. It hasn't made much of a dent in people's behavior, but at least I have the satisfaction of knowing that I said my peace.

So that just leaves "Patton" … (frantically searches through messy bedroom, tossing dirty clothes and empty Cheez-It bags every which way, until he finds a dust-covered DVD of "Patton" still in its Netflix sleeve). Give me three hours, and I think I'll have done pretty well.

Best Movie From Last Year (That I Didn't See In Time To Put On My Top Ten List): It's a sad fact I have to cope with every year that, despite my efforts, I can't see everything that came out in a given year in time for my top 10 list. I do my best, but some movies never come to Milwaukee, or come to Milwaukee too late, or just simply get lost amongst the barrage of 600-plus films released every year.

"Zero Dark Thirty" belongs in the middle category. Kathryn Bigelow's exhausting, equal parts chilling and thrilling procedural about the hunt for Osama bin Laden didn't arrive in Milwaukee until the middle of January – and therefore, three weeks too late for my top ten list.

However, fueled by Jessica Chastain's powerhouse performance, Bigelow's tense slow-burn command and screenwriter Mark Boal's script filled with complex emotional and moral quagmires, "Zero Dark Thirty" would've been right up near the top of the list with "Five Broken Cameras." It's a little silly and disappointing that the best non-documentary film I ended up seeing from 2012 wasn't on my official list. But better late than never, I suppose.

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