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Whatever happened to last year's breakout stars?
Topics: Our Picks, Our Picks: Books, Our Picks: Movies, What to Read, The Listener, literature, Film, TV, Critics, Criticism, entertainment news, Crime, Serial killers, Murder, Sex Work, Prostitution, The Killing, The Way Way Back, beautifully unique sparkleponies, Chris kluwe, Entertainment News
In “Lost Girls,” an extraordinary true account of the Long Island Serial Killer case, Robert Kolker, a gifted reporter for the New Yorker, focuses on the dynamics and relationships between family members of the murdered sex workers whose bodies were recovered in Suffolk County, N.Y. Laura Miller writes that the book succeeds in its moving and humanistic depiction of the central characters as they move to achieve justice for their loved ones.
Serial killers exert a demonic magnetism in American culture; they suck up our attention with the extremity of their terrible deeds and their unfathomable motives. We find them fascinating, even as we revile them as sick, and the fact that “Lost Girls” concerns one of them will no doubt attract many readers to Kolker’s book. What they will find instead of tabloid shockers and chills is a sweepingly reported portrait of the world in which such monsters operate, how it creates opportunities for them to kill and what happens to those left behind:
From taking apart Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” to penning a quotable letter to Jesus, Chris Kluwe rants, raves and rips apart a mixed bag of topics for his debut book, “Beautifully Unique Sparkleponies.” As unlikely an author as the punter for the NFL’s Oakland Raiders may be, Kluwe does a credible job of putting together this collection of eminently quotable essays, writes Kyle Minor:
This kind of writing lends itself better to the audiobook than it does to the page, and Kluwe makes a good narrator. His delivery is full of the enthusiasms that birthed the essays and the charming weirdness of his own personality. And the brevity of the pieces allows the listener a measure of relief—if one of the pieces isn’t working, it won’t be long until we get to the next.
As far as low-tech indie comedies go, “The Way, Way Back” could be considered classic summer counter-programming. Except with its sharp observations and a strong cast propelling the narrative of this “beautifully executed” teenage coming-of-age story, the film strides a delicate balance between comedy and tragedy, without descending into any of those raunchy teen-movie clichés, writes Andrew O’Hehir:
Almost anyone who has ever been a teenager will identify with Duncan (Liam James), the nominal protagonist of “The Way, Way Back.” He’s 14, and stuck in that period of early adolescence when you’re no longer a child but aren’t quite prepared, by age or temperament or both, to join the ravening, Darwinian packs of hormone-driven teens. There’s a wordless but marvelous scene when Duncan watches, from inside the beach house, while his mom (the great Toni Collette), his would-be stepdad (Steve Carell) and two of their drunken friends stumble through the dunes for a late-night swim. Simply in the framing of the shots, and Duncan’s splendid, miserable isolation, Faxon and Rash capture something essential about the gulf between teenage certainty and murky adult experience, with considerable sympathy for both.
The third season of AMC’s “The Killing” follows two detectives on the hunt for a serial killer preying on Seattle’s teen runaways. It draws high praise from Willa Paskin, owing to its cast of unique and “thoroughly drawn” characters:
One of the kids, Kallie, has been missing since the first episode — in all likelihood, she’s dead. Another is Bullet (Bex Taylor-Klaus) and she’s the reason I’m writing this piece. Bullet is not a character you see on TV very often: She’s a teenage lesbian, very butch, the sides of her head shaved, her dark hair coming down in a hank toward her eyes. (It’s never been discussed why Bullet is living on the streets, but it seems likely her sexuality got her kicked out of whatever house she was living in.) Bullet is smart and competent and generous and tough — or she certainly wants to be seen as tough. Early on, when Bullet encounters Holder (Joel Kinnaman), she talks shit to him, insisting that if he comes back she’ll give him trouble even though he’s a grown man with a gun and about 3 feet on Bullet. He grabs her by the collar and puts her in her place. (Taylor-Klaus does not have quite the same panache with slang as Kinnaman does. Sometimes her dialogue can sound more writerly than realistic). She takes a macho, protective attitude toward the other girls in her life, both Kallie and Lyric, a young woman she has a crush on.
Liz Fields is an Australian freelance journalist based in New York who has previously scribbled for Slate, ABC News, Sydney Morning Herald and more. Follow her on Twitter @lianzifields More Liz Fields.
The star of “Beasts of the Southern Wild” charmed practically everyone at the Oscars, where she was the youngest best actress nominee ever; she went on to film a remake of “Annie” opposite Jamie Foxx and Cameron Diaz.
Carly Rae Jepsen
Jepsen, who had 2012’s song of the summer with “Call Me Maybe,” released the fifth and final single from her debut album in January 2013. She toured the U.S. in mid-2013 -- just as Daft Punk and Robin Thicke battled to succeed her as icons of the summer.
Honey Boo Boo
2012’s biggest reality star, the young pageant contestant Alana Thompson, had a quieter time this year, with a second season whose ratings were strong but whose buzz was a bit muted. America was, by now, accustomed to young Thompson, and outraged or scandalized reactions were reserved for other TLC programming, like “The Man With the 132-Pound Scrotum.”
Ocean missed out on the top Grammys for which he was nominated in early 2013; he bounced back quickly with featured appearances on albums by Kanye West, Jay Z and Beyoncé, and is at work on a new album. Things are looking up!
The “21 Jump Street” and “Magic Mike” star had a marginally less charmed 2013, with “White House Down” failing to connect with moviegoers and “Foxcatcher” delayed until next year. It may get worse before it gets better: His big 2014 sci-fi flick, “Jupiter Ascending,” looks … well, a little weird!
With their third album in 21 months hitting No. 1 immediately upon its fall 2013 release, the boy band that broke into America in 2012 would seem to be here to stay for a while. Still, they looked a bit nervous in their reaction shots during the Video Music Awards’ ‘N Sync reunion; maybe not this year, maybe not next, but eventually, the Justin of One Direction is going to break out. For now, though, things look good!
Lana Del Rey
The famously uncomfortable “Saturday Night Live” musical guest overcame endless mockery from 2012 to land her first top-10 hit in the summer of 2013 -- a remix of a year-old song, “Summertime Sadness.” As the co-writer of “Young and Beautiful,” the love theme from “The Great Gatsby,” Del Rey is such a front-runner for the best original song Oscar (last won by Adele) that there has been a direct-mail campaign to academy voters against her. The song was also played at the most romantic event of the year: Kanye West’s stadium marriage proposal to Kim Kardashian.
Wilson, who charmed fans of 2012’s “Pitch Perfect,” had a rockier 2013, with her sitcom “Super Fun Night” struggling creatively and in the ratings. Her next planned movies are both sequels, to “Kung Fu Panda” and -- hoping lightning will strike twice -- to “Pitch Perfect.”
Another 2012 music icon, Gotye won the record of the year trophy at the 2013 Grammys for “Somebody That I Used to Know.” He released no new singles in 2013, and has told the press he has been struggling to complete new material. Good luck, Gotye!
The golden boy of the 2012 Olympics, without feats of aquatic derring-do to distract the public this year, saw his always-tenuous persona completely shift from “amiable jock” into “utter dolt” with his E! reality series. Worst of all, the series was canceled.
In 2012, the young actress -- best known for her role in the indie “Winter’s Bone” and a supporting part in the “X-Men” franchise -- had marquee roles in the first “Hunger Games” film and in David O. Russell’s comedy “Silver Linings Playbook.” In 2013, she played to her strengths: After winning an Oscar, she starred in the second “Hunger Games” movie, on whose publicity tour she managed to charm everyone in America, and had another role in a David O. Russell comedy, “American Hustle,” for which she might just win ANOTHER Oscar. By 2014, she may end up running a major studio, or serving as president.
The breakout bikini model of 2012 made a repeat appearance on the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue -- and got to do high-fashion spreads in Elle, Vogue and Vanity Fair. She was cast in a Cameron Diaz comedy, too. Some types of appeal are eternal!
E. L. James
The “50 Shades” novelist now gets to help share some input into a movie adaptation set for release in 2015. She probably never needs to work again! Isn’t that great? Isn’t that … just … great?
The “Gangnam Style” phenom performed at New Year’s 2013, but will spend New Year’s 2014 flipping channels to find his pistachio ad, his goofy antics having been outdone in the past year by “The Fox” singers Ylvis. Nothing meme can stay.
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