Favorites of the Year

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By Ben Eisen, Editorial Staff Head


Favorite Female-Directed Show: Olive Kitteridge


“It baffles me, this world. I don’t want to leave it yet.” So closes HBO’s incredible four-hour miniseries that proved more vital, moving, and human than anything else I saw this year. The cast is pitch perfect, the direction empathic in its pacing, and the writing reminiscent of such greats as Mrs. Dalloway and John Williams’ Stoner. Hats off to Frances McDormand and Lisa Chodolenko for powering something so special.

Honorable Mentions: Jenji Kohan’s immensely entertaining and humanistic second season of Orange is the New Black; the gleefully absurd Broad City; Jill Soloway’s brutally honest family portrait in Transparent.


Favorite Female Performance: Elisabeth Moss, Listen Up Philip


By turns heartbreaking and strong-willed as the titular narcissist’s ex, Ashley Kane, Moss leaves no doubt she’ll keep rocking it post-Mad Men. Although Jason Schartzman kills it in the role he was born to play, Moss commands the screen with an even more memorable and dynamic turn, charting the emotionally taxing aftermath of a breakup. Watching her struggle to smile through tears after Philip comes and goes at will is a master class in acting.

Honorable Mentions: Frances McDormand’s bracingly funny and real Olive Kitteridge; Amy Landecker’s stressed out parent in Louie’s achingly melancholy “In The Woods”; Gaby Hoffmann’s rootless Pfefferman daughter in Transparent (think a more endearing and empathic Hannah Horvath).


Favorite Female-Directed Movie: The Babadook


Horror and emotional honesty don’t usually go hand in hand, but director Jennifer Kent subverts convention in her deeply felt debut film. From Essie’s Davis potent performance as a conflicted mother to the consummate and tense cinematography, everything about the movie feels assured and controlled at a level most filmmakers never reach. Here’s to a long career for Kent.

Honorable Mentions: I haven’t been to the theater enough this year, so still need to see my sister’s favorite, Obvious Child, the promising and unfortunately topical Selma, and the Jarmuschian A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night.