This list is not my favorite new releases of the year; instead, it is the best of the DVDs I’ve watched from Netflix since this time last year. Although I mostly stream Netflix Instant these days, we’ve kept the 1-DVD-at-a-time plan to supplement films not yet streaming. This list is also in alphabetical order because agonizing over a precise order would take out all the fun.
Based on the best-selling nonfiction book, this political drama follows the historic 2008 presidential race with a focus on the sometimes contentious relationship between Republican nominee John McCain and his running mate, Sarah Palin.
Originally airing on HBO, this live-action fantasy series — based on George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” novels — charts the violent efforts of competing noble families to gain control of the vacant Westeros throne. The action builds to a grand scale in the Seven Kingdoms in this second season of this series inspired by George R.R. Martin’s epic fantasy. As civil war continues to rage, a terrible cataclysm threatens from outside the land of Westeros.
Despite her fragile mental health, disgraced CIA analyst Carrie Mathison continues her crusade to uncover a mole in the U.S. government and the extent of the connection between al-Qaeda terrorists and Nicholas Brody, a former POW held in Afghanistan.
Wes Anderson’s quirky drama follows the frantic search that ensues in a small New England town when two 12-year-olds fall in love and run away together. As the townsfolk hunt for the vanished kids, a storm causes even more profound communal upheaval.
Aaron Sorkin created this HBO drama, which centers on a cable news channel trying to return credibility to journalism despite plenty of resistance. Jeff Daniels stars as the ambitious anchor of a nightly news show, and Sam Waterston plays his boss.
In this engaging coming-of-age tale based on the best-selling novel by Stephen Chbosky, a shy freshman struggling with depression deals with his best friend’s suicide and his first love — and finds help from two seniors who take an interest in him.
After spending years in an iron lung, a man decides he wants to explore his sexuality for the first time, and hires a surrogate to aid the goal. Through their intensifying relationship, this indie drama illustrates the many forms love can take.
Jack, who is mourning the death of his brother, has a complicated relationship with his best friend, Iris, who used to date his brother. Their chaotic situation becomes even more tangled when Jack has a drunken tryst with Iris’s flighty sister.
Using a mix of interviews and sly home movies, Sarah Polley creates an intriguing profile of her family, especially her mother, Diane, who died when Polley was 11 years old. In a family of storytellers, does the truth depend on who does the telling?
Directed by Kathryn Bigelow, this gripping dramatization — seen through the eyes of a tenacious CIA operative — chronicles the decade-long search for Osama bin Laden in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
When high school loner Aimee Finecky finds her classmate Sutter Keely passed-out drunk on a lawn, it marks the start of an unlikely friendship. After deciding to help Aimee raise her social confidence, Sutter finds himself falling for his creation.
Also, if you find yourself regularly searching for quality streaming content, Filmspotting, a weekly film podcast and radio program from Chicago, will keep your queue overflowing.
Other “Best of 2013″ Lists
The Rev. Dr. Carl Gregg is a trained spiritual director, a D.Min. graduate of San Francisco Theological Seminary, and the minister of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Frederick, Maryland. Follow him on Facebook (facebook.com/carlgregg) and Twitter (@carlgregg).
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