The Everything Else of 2018

JadeBird

I’ve decided to mix things up a little bit with my end of year round ups, for a start I’m moving away from the ‘award’ format itself but also I’ll be splitting things in a more simple way. One round-up for games and another for ‘Everything Else’.

So without further ado, let’s get into The Everything Else of 2018!

Musically it’s been a phenomenal year – full of big beats, guitars and wonderful pop. My Spotify round-up playlist is embedded below but some highlights were: Jade Bird, who continues her rise as one of the UK’s most under-rated female singer/songwriters, Billie Eilish, who delivers material well beyond what you’d expect from a 16-year-old, Sigrid, who is currently one of the best pop stars out there, Greta Van Fleet, who are on a mission to bring fun guitar music back, Robyn, who returns with another stunning single, Bobby Sessions, who brings a sense of levity and some political musings to proceedings and Carly Rae Jepsen, back again with a huge slice of pop goodness in ‘Party For One’.

I managed to do quite a bit of reading last year, a mix of fiction, fact and some great graphic novels. Of course the Overwatch graphic novel series continued with some really fun moments that help to flesh out the back story of the world and characters. The first volume of Lumberjanes was super fun, a nice collection of characters, it’s all about a group of girls at a summer scout camp. Everything is not as it seems though as strange creatures and otherworldly events transpire.

My favourite graphic novel this year though was Reborn from Mark Millar. Telling the story of Bonnie Black, an elderly lady who passes away on a stroke ward and suddenly finds herself in a new, younger body in a weird place called Adystria. Not only is this world some sort of limbo, it looks like she is the chosen one – here to save the world. It’s a standard fantasy set up but the art is lovely and its a clever idea. Word in the Summer was that Netflix have optioned Reborn as a TV series/film, should be an interesting watch!

Reborn

In terms of factual books, I thoroughly enjoyed Blood, Sweat and Pixels by Jason Schreier – a fascinating look behind the scenes on some of the industries biggest and most interesting titles. If you’re into games, this is definitely worth your time. But it’s hard to look past the epic tome that is Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari. It’s a big read but this look at how the world has been shaped by Humans is in equal measure spellbinding and horrifying.

Once I got past the heavy cockney accents in Gaie Sebold’s Shanghai Sparrow I found it be a really great read and look forward to exploring more titles in the series soon. I managed a double-header of Lee Child books in 2018; Night School and The Midnight Line, both of which I thought were good. It’s nice to see Child has diversified slightly from his well-worn (if enjoyable) formula to mix things up a bit. Another double was parts 2 (Authority) and 3 (Acceptance) in Jeff VanderMeer’s fantastically creepy trilogy that had started with Annihilation. I loved these and would recommend to anyone looking for something a little bit different. Probably my favourite books of the year, despite their unsettling nature.

I also stepped up my reading of some classics: Old Man and The Sea – Ernest Hemingway, The Trial – Franz Kafka, Chess – Stefan Zweig, Ethan Frome – Edith Wharton and Chronicle of a Death Foretold – Gabriel García Márquez. These were all great (they are classics for a reason!) but for me Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton was my favourite. I also really liked Chess and The Trial but the ending of Kafka’s story was just too much of a let down for me personally.

Sabrina

On the TV front it was another great year. I enjoyed Erased, a Japanese show about time travel but wasn’t sure about A Discovery of Witches, which I just struggled to get into. There were plenty of shows that continued to be a good watch – Jessica Jones, iZombie, Legends Of Tomorrow and Blindspot all veered between the sublime and the ridiculous but kept me entertained. While I enjoyed Legion it definitely felt like a hard watch at times, the confusion from the first season continued but this season was even darker than the last. I caught up on seasons 3 through 5 of Marvel’s Agents Of Shield which, while still enjoyable, has got weaker as time goes on. The flip to space lost me but (as usual!) it is the time travel stuff that keeps me on board.

My favourites from the year though were The Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina, The Bodyguard, Glow, The Good Place, Howard’s End and Dark. Sabrina had the right amount of camp and scares for me, The Bodyguard was intense and full of twists, Glow was depressing and hilarious in equal measure, The Good Place continued to be a highlight, Howard’s End was a completely unexpected delight and Dark was a German language sci-fi show that crossed genres in different and strange ways.

HowardsEnd

Film-wise I saw lots of interesting things this year. I loved the book so was really excited for the film version of Annihilation. While it was definitely a visual spectacle I really felt that perhaps Netflix might’ve been better to do the whole trilogy as a TV series. The Aftermath was a brilliant film, with great performances from Keira Knightly and Alexander Skarsgard. I thought Lean On Pete, the story of a young kid who gets into horse training but can’t let his horse go, was heartwarming. The London set musical Been So Long was a vivid, vibrant look at life in the capital. Meanwhile, Blue Iguana was a crime thriller with a more grounded trip to London.

I was also fortunate enough to see a couple of films that will be out in 2019 but were screened at festivals in 2018. Driven, the true story of DeLorean creator John DeLorean and Wild Rose, the fictional story of a country singer from Glasgow who dreams of visiting Nashville. I thought both of these were great but I did work on them music-wise so take that as you will 🙂

WreckIt

I loved Bohemian Rhapsody, it was a really uplifting look at one of the world’s biggest bands. Just before Christmas I saw The Grinch, which I thought was a fun festive film and The Christmas Chronicles, in which Kurt Russell delivered the Santa I never knew I needed! I really loved this and suspect it will become an annual viewing experience in my house. My absolute favourites of this year though were The Incredibles 2 and Wreck It Ralph 2, both of which I thought had some great writing, music and (of course) visuals.

So there you have it – 2018 in a (large) nutshell. As always feel free to comment or reach out on socials to let me know what your highlights have been from this year and what I missed but should check out.

 

GregHorrorShow: TV Awards 2013

TVMain

I found myself with not that many new shows to watch this year, my TV calendar taken up by new series of my favourite shows – never a bad thing but it would’ve been nice to catch some newer stuff as well.

I’ve added in a new category this year as well for best episode, which will hopefully highlight some of my favourite TV moments from the year.

There are still a few series I want to watch but just haven’t got around to yet (Justified/Breaking Bad/Arrow etc.) but here are my picks from what I watched in 2013

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BEST NEW SHOW

TVDefiance

Winner: Defiance

Defiance is a sci-fi show set on a future Earth where aliens and humans live together in an uneasy alliance. This is a great show for some complete escapism and the characters are funny and well fleshed out. With an interesting array of alien races and the culture clashes that invariably flare up, Defiance is well written and nicely shot. Very enjoyable and I’m looking forward to season 2 hitting the UK next Summer. Netflix have made a play for the TV market this year, bringing exclusive shows and content to the service, the best of which was political thriller House Of Cards. Kevin Spacey shines as the corrupt Francis Underwood and while the breaking of the fourth wall is a little cheesy at times, it totally fits with the character. Revolution began well but fell away and The Blacklist started with a bang and doesn’t look like letting up.

Runners Up:

  • House Of Cards
  • The Blacklist
  • Revolution

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BEST COMEDY SHOW

TVNewGirl

Winner: New Girl

New Girl takes it again this year, following another great season. This is, for me, a perfect popcorn half hour show that I can enjoy, laugh and relax while watching. There’s a great chemistry between the cast and the show certainly has a natural flow, which is appealing. The Middle continues it’s good run with another strong season and I really enjoyed Cuckoo – more for Greg Davies than anything else but it was good fun. I’m also late to the party with this last one but I finally got around to starting Archer which is fairly juvenile for the most part but a nice take on the Bond superspy mythos.

Runners Up:

  • The Middle
  • Cuckoo
  • Archer

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BEST SOUNDTRACK

TVNewsroomOST

Winner: The Newsroom

Last year I found the soundtrack to The Newsroom a little too ‘on-the-nose’ lyrically a lot of the time. This season they avoided that for the most part and the use of The Who’s ‘You Better Bet’ had me digging out my greatest hits and playing it over and over again. Haven came strong with it’s score as did Nikita but this year it’s the licensed music that stood out.

Runners Up:

  • Haven
  • Homeland
  • Nikita

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BEST EPISODE

TVCastle

Winner: Castle – ‘The Lives Of Others

What a way to mark 100 episodes! A ‘Rear Window’ special that saw Richard Castle incapacitated just like James Stewart in Hitchcock’s classic 1954 film. Handled in just the right way this was one of my favourite episodes of a TV show period. Keeping that Noir vibe Warehouse 13‘s ‘The Big Snag’ episode was great fun and saw Pete and Myka transported into a 1940’s crime novel 🙂 On a more serious note The Newsroom‘s ‘Unintended Consequences’ episode where Maggie recounts her harrowing Uganda experience was excellent but heavy stuff. Homeland came in hard with ‘I’ll Fly Away’ which saw Brody hit breaking point and recover only to be whisked away mysteriously (and against his will). A thrilling episode.

Runners Up:

  • Warehouse 13 – ‘The Big Snag’
  • Homeland – ‘I’ll Fly Away’
  • Newsroom – ‘Unintended Consequences’

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ACTOR OF THE YEAR (TV)

TVNewsroomJeffDaniels

Winner: Jeff Daniels (The Newsroom)

Sometimes it still surprises me that this is the same Jeff Daniels from Dumb and Dumber, such is the contrast between his role there and here. As Will McAvoy he plays it cool but with a subtle hint of simmering anger just beneath the surface. He had some juicy storylines this season and he is totally believable in the role. Nathan Fillion‘s Richard Castle is a highlight as always and while Damian Lewis shone for some of the 2nd season of Homeland I thought he had less impact this time out. Nod to Eric Balfour as Duke Croker in Haven who I felt really came into his own during the latest season.

Runners Up:

  • Eric Balfour (Haven)
  • Nathan Fillion (Castle)
  • Damian Lewis (Homeland)

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ACTRESS OF THE YEAR (TV)

TVClaireDanes

Winner: Claire Danes (Homeland)

Claire Danes brings such a ferocity to her role as Carrie that it’s hard to look too far past her when picking Actress Of The Year. She continued where she left off last year and took the viewer with her on the emotional rollercoaster of season 2. She has the ability to make you feel for her character, regardless of whether you agree with what she’s doing – which is always a powerful tool for an actor. Alison Pill probably came the closest to Danes, her harrowing storyline was told via her behaviour long before the details emerged – as well as an extreme haircut she was struggling to contain everything emotionally in a fantastic performance. Emily Rose, as usual, delivered in Haven and Joanne Kelly handled a serious plotline in a perfect way for her character in Warehouse 13.

Runners Up:

  • Joanne Kelly (Warehouse 13)
  • Emily Rose (Haven)
  • Alison Pill (The Newsroom)

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TV Show Of The Year

TVNewsroomTVShow

Winner: The Newsroom

It’s always difficult to pick a winner for Show Of The Year when there are so many great shows on TV at the moment. I love a lot of the sci-fi stuff like Haven and Warehouse 13 but also lighter stuff like Castle or Nikita. And that’s not to mention more tense programmes like Homeland or The Blacklist. But the one show that has excelled, again, with it’s writing, directing and acting has been The Newsroom. Aaron Sorkin’s writing is superb and with the season being only 10 episodes long it has left me craving more. I can’t wait to see more of this next year.

Runners Up:

  • Warehouse 13
  • Castle
  • Homeland

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There were other shows I enjoyed this year, such as True Blood and Marvel: Agents Of Shield (which I only saw a few episodes of) but they just didn’t come close to any of the winners above.

What have you guys been watching? Any recommendations?

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