1. See Her
It’s the best film of 2013, no matter what other highfalutin critics say, and among the deepest romances in modern cinema. Yes, it’s between a man and his operating system—but that’s the point. —David Edelstein
In theaters now.
2. Watch Burt Bacharach & Hal David: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song in Performance at the White House
They should be happy, but all they do is cry.
The duo have been collaborating on some of the catchiest pop songs since the fifties, performed most famously by Dionne Warwick, Barbra Streisand, and the Carpenters. The music is elaborately orchestrated and bouncy, the sneaky lyrics deftly evoking the experience of falling in love, then getting your heart squashed like a bug. (It’s no wonder Elvis Costello was so eager to work with Burt.) Now they finally get their due.
13/WNET, January 1, 10:30 p.m.
3. Hear La Descente d’Orphée aux Enfers
Eurydice with a twist.
With City Opera kaput, the terrific Gotham Chamber Opera steps up its pace, starting the New Year with Charpentier’s gorgeous 1686 take on Orpheus and Eurydice. Is it an omen that his version has a happy ending? —Jesse Green
St. Paul’s Chapel, January 1 through 5.
4. See The Tramp 100
A century of Chaplin.
Take the edge off your hangover with the movies’ most revelatory silent star in a New Year’s Day centennial marathon of Charlie Chaplin masterpieces: The Kid, The Gold Rush, The Circus, City Lights, Modern Times, and The Great Dictator. —D.E.
Film Forum, January 1.
5. Hear Yefim Bronfman
The consummate piano man.
The titanium-fingered, downy-hearted pianist goes on a new-music bender, playing Magnus Lindberg’s Second Piano Concerto with the Philharmonic and then, a few days later, hosting an evening of freshly inked chamber music in an intimate basement venue. —Justin Davidson
New York Philharmonic, January 2 through 7; SubCulture, January 13.
6. Hear Jeff Daniels
Back to Broadway, underground.
The Newsroom star isn’t known for his original music, songs like “If William Shatner Can, I Can Too” and “You Can Drink an Ugly Girl Pretty.” But between his charm and those titles, aren’t you curious to check out his intimate, hilarious cabaret act?
54Below, January 2 through 4.
7. See It Hurts So Good to Be Loved So Bad
Waxing poetic about art.
Curator and poet Geoffrey Young, known for his poetry press the Figures and his eponymous gallery in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, brings his brilliant magpie eye to bear in a grouping of small works. See Yuri Masnyj’s weird wee scenes, Philip Knoll’s depictions of other people’s art in bizarre tableaux, and Zoe Pettijohn-Schade’s gothic renditions of nature clashing with pattern. Throw in this promising teeny Lower East Side gallery, and you’ll be in a groove of good new art. —Jerry Saltz
Brian Morris Gallery, through January 18.
8. Watch Curators’ Choice
Everything you didn’t see in 2013.
Here’s the best way to catch up on 2013 movies that didn’t necessarily break through to wide audiences but are all over critics’ ten-best lists. See the plotless, entrancing doc Leviathan on the big screen! Watch Jem Cohen deconstruct narrative in Museum Hours without any ringing phones! Strongly recommended: Matías Piñeiro’s hourlong Viola—one of those cool art-versus-life pictures, revolving around a production of Twelfth Night. —D.E.
Museum of the Moving Image, January 3 through 5.
9. Read The Time Regulation Institute
Translated into English for the first time.
Ahmet Hamdi Tanpinar’s 1954 The Time Regulation Institute is a modernist novel par excellence: absurdist, obsessive, funny, dark. The goal of the titular institute is to synchronize every clock in Turkey with the West; as in Portnoy’s Complaint, that story is told to us via sessions with a psychoanalyst. In short: an excellent book about the terrible struggle to impose order onto inner and outer states. —Kathryn Schulz
Penguin Classics, January 7
10. Hear Neil Young
See the lonely boy, out on a weekday.
His last appearance here was at Barclays, with Patti Smith, so it’s no surprise that his four-night stand sold out immediately. No word whether this is a solo gig, but either way Young will not disappoint the lucky ticket holders.
Carnegie Hall, January 6, 7, 9, and 10, 8 p.m.
11. See Chang-rae Lee
A reading from his much-awaited new novel.
“Behold a fire from the opposite shore” is a common saying among the people of B-Mor, formerly known as Baltimore but now—in the distant future where Chang-rae Lee’s new novel is set—a labor settlement where Chinese-American workers grow food for wealthier citizens. In On Such a Full Sea, Lee nails that dystopic vision, right down to its idioms. Seize the opportunity to see him read. —K.S.
Brooklyn Public Library, January 7, 7 p.m.
12. See Cry, Trojans! (Troilus & Cressida)
Still avant-garde after all these years.
This four-week developmental production offers a rare chance to see the Wooster Group in the process of digging its peculiar claws into one of Shakespeare’s trickiest plays. Expect reversed perspectives, layered text, and (why not?) Native Americans. —J.G.
The Performing Garage, starting January 8.
13. Hear Blue Note’s 75th Anniversary Concert, Featuring Robert Glasper and Jason Moran
The first recorded Blue Note was boogie-woogie.
Blue Note Records celebrates its 75th anniversary all year long, kicking things off with a winter jam between two jazz pianists, Glasper and Moran, to commemorate the label’s first recording session, in 1939, which featured pianists Albert Ammons and Meade Lux Lewis. Joining them will be saxophonist Ravi Coltrane, vocalist Bilal, bassist Alan Hampton, and drummer Eric Harland.
Town Hall, January 8, 8 p.m.
14. Hear Gary Shteyngart
If you thought his fiction was funny, read Shteyngart’s memoir, Little Failure. As you might expect, he’s no less neurotic than his characters. Here, we’re treated to a deeply moving, honest evocation of growing up in Leningrad and Queens and later experiencing psychoanalysis and a drinking problem. The reading and book signing are sponsored by Brooklyn’s Greenlight Bookstore.
St. Joseph’s College, January 8, 7:30 p.m.
15. Hear New Mini-Operas at the Prototype Festival
Sad topics, cheerful developments.
The festival includes Paul’s Case, a chamber opera by Gregory Spears about a high-school loner’s tribulations, and Thumbprint, about a woman in Pakistan seeking justice after being gang-raped. If the subject matter is grim, the surge of small-scale, multimedia “indie” opera is full of hope.—J.D.
Various venues, opens January 8.
16. See Andrew Moore’s Dirt Meridian
Close to the Earth.
Moore has, in this series, turned his camera on the Nebraska landscape. It’s a lingering look at the beautiful twilight of the family-farm era: windswept houses and barns and, especially, the weathered remnants of a fading way of life.
Yancey Richardson Gallery, opens January 9.
17. Hear Jake Bugg
Wise beyond his nineteen years.
The 19-year-old classic rocker’s tight, tuneful songs hold echoes of groups his dad and granddad might have enjoyed: the Beatles, the Jam, Oasis, with some Johnny Cash and Everly Brothers tossed in for good measure. His latest album, Shangri La, was produced by Rick Rubin and is a smash in the U.K. His fans here are fewer in number but no less devoted. —Jody Rosen
Terminal 5, January 10.
18. Play Indie Essentials: 25 Must-Play Video Games
A Wii we go!
In anticipation of February’s IndieCade 2014, which the museum’s hosting this year, head to Astoria to immerse yourself in the alternative worlds of cutting-edge video in a “hands-on” exhibition of “games that have had great impact on game design and culture in the last decade.” And, yes, Minecraft is in the house.
Museum of the Moving Image.
19. Hear Action Bronson
He looks like an even fatter Mario Batali, which makes sense since he’s a chef. But Action Bronson is also one of hip-hop’s best and brightest: a witty, profane New York Internet rap hero, with songs as stuffed with punch lines as his boudin blanc is with pork liver. The crowd will rap along with every rhyme—mostly, they’re about sex and food. —J.R.
Irving Plaza, January 10 and 11.
20. Watch Girls
The season-three premiere, with two episodes!
After a particularly dark turn for Hannah, the season-two finale rewarded the amusingly irritating girl with romantic redemption as Adam heroically rushed to save her from … herself.
HBO, January 12, 10 and 10:30 p.m.
21. Do This No Pants Subway Ride
Or wait to see it on Instagram.
In January 2002, seven pantsless guys from Improv Everywhere rode a subway for eight consecutive stops as a prank. More than a decade later, the number has swelled to 4,000 co-ed participants in this city, and tens of thousands in more than 60 cities around the world. Why? Why not?
22. See True Detective
The McConaugh-ssance continues.
Matthew McConaughey’s hot streak extends to HBO with the new series True Detective, co-starring Woody Harrelson. They play Louisiana detectives pursuing a mysterious killer over the course of seventeen years. Bits of it capture some of the real-world despair that made the Paradise Lost documentaries so mournful. —Matt Zoller Seitz
HBO, January 12, 9 p.m.
23. Send Off Julie Taymor
Last chance for serpents, spiders, asses.
Though the director was fired from Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, it remains in many ways hers, at least through January 4, when it closes at the Foxwoods Theatre and heads to Vegas. On the same day, her Magic Flute says good-bye at the Metropolitan Opera. And her visually thrilling take on A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which opened the wonderful new Polonsky Shakespeare Center in Brooklyn, closes on January 12. —J.G.
Through January 4 and 12. Broadway, Brooklyn, the Met.
24. Watch The 2014 Golden Globe Awards
And please drink responsibly.
Awards shows guarantee one thing: We’re gonna kvetch about snubs. But aren’t most of us tuning in for the Amy-and-Tina show?
NBC, January 12.
25. Hear Parquet Courts
Peeled off the Pavement.
Skinny white guys playing droll guitar rock have seen their stock deflate steadily over the past decade, perhaps deservedly so. But Parquet Courts breathe new life into the genre with songs like “You’ve Got Me Wonderin’ Now,” dispensing just the right ratio of sloppy riffs to clever wordplay.
The Acheron, January 14.