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2012: An artsy retrospective

Daily Arts gives you a whirlwind tour of this year’s best.

Published: Thursday, December 6, 2012

Updated: Thursday, December 6, 2012 08:12


The season of finals, snow, seasonal decorations and visiting relatives is upon us once again, which means it’s time to reflect on the cultural contributions of 2012. Folks, it has been a good year. From testosterone-ridden blockbusters like “The Avengers” to the heartfelt whimsy of “Moonrise Kingdom,” the film industry has outdone itself in all genres. Television’s mini golden age continued this past year, with shows like “Girls” and “Louie” breaking new ground and sparking plenty of controversy along the way. Musical debuts from Frank Ocean and Alt-J were particularly strong standouts, while follow-up albums from The xx, Mumford & Sons and Tame Impala proved once and for all that strong beginnings don’t necessitate a sophomore slump. Below, find the movies, TV shows and albums that the Daily deems the year’s best.



2012 will likely go down as the year of the cable drama. HBO, Showtime and AMC have all stepped up their game and created engrossing shows that keep viewers on the edge of their seats. These cable shows have found new ways to push the narrative boundary, altering how stories can be told and where they can go. They have created programs that are darker and more intense than shows used to be, much to the delight of discerning viewers. Hopefully they can find a way to one-up themselves next year, or at the very least maintain the high level of creative and dramatic tension they so effectively cultivated throughout 2012.

“Mad Men”

With one of the deepest and most brilliant ensembles on television, it’s a no brainer that “Mad Men” made the list. With its perfect period design, riveting stories and powerful emotions, “Mad Men” will likely go down as not only one of the best shows of the year, but also one of the best shows of all time.

“Doctor Who”

Continuing the tradition of melding fanciful and quirky childish humor with surprisingly dark plot lines, Doctor Who is still one of the best sci-fi shows. Ever.


Homeland’s second season struck a balance between answering the audience’s burning questions and maintaining a looming apprehension about what will happen next. As the audience continues to unlock the psychology of Nicholas Brody, the former marine-turned sleeper cell terrorist, “Homeland” never fails to mix political commentary with fascinating characterizations.

“Breaking Bad”

Hailed by many to be the best show on television, “Breaking Bad” entered its final season this year, and once again Bryan Cranston awed audiences. The story of Walter White may be drawing to a close, but it has never been more thrilling.


Louis CK is one of the most gifted comedians working today. His show, “Louie,” is an extension of his standup persona and worldview. It perfectly demonstrates just what a hilarious and insightful performer he is.


Every episode of HBO’s “Girls” is like a finely crafted short story. Each is filled with true-to-life characters, hilarious moments and small instances of growth. It’s a show that’s both immensely enjoyable and touchingly honest.

“Downton Abbey”

What started out as just another period drama quickly gripped the hearts and minds of Americans and Brits alike. “Downton Abbey” is outrageously successful and its extravagant, decadent look at life in the early 19th century continues to entertain.

“Parks and Recreation”

Consistency is key, and while “Parks and Rec” may not be the funniest show on television these days, it provides a half hour of well-written comedy once a week and its cast is almost impossible not to fall in love with. Nick Offerman’s Ron Swanson alone makes it worth watching.

“The Walking Dead”

Expectations were high for AMC’s apocalyptic zombie series after a slow second season, but the cast and crew certainly delivered, carrying the premiere’s momentum through the finale. Violent, action-packed, well written — what more could one ask for from a TV show?

“The Voice”

In a sea of post-”American Idol” singing show spinoffs, “The Voice” stands out above the rest. By pioneering the concept of “blind” auditions where the celebrity panel listens to contestants without looking at them, “The Voice” brings this reality TV genre back to its musical roots, and creates higher stakes and suspense. The all-star group of judges, including Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine, also increases the show’s credibility and relevance.




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