As is the annual tradition, my favourite films, TV, music, and games from the past 12 months.
After 2019's year of film I eased the pedal this year. Inevitably a difficult year for film as well, with releases delayed and cinemas closed. I still managed to watch 59 new films, and 82 overall.
At the start of the year cinemas were still open and there were some crackers: Apollo 11 (2019), a really fab documentary. Color Out of Space (2020), an utterly barmy Lovecraft story with the suitably barmy Nicolas Cage. 1917 (2019), a grim but incredibly produced war story. Later on in Spring there was: The Platform (2019), a straight to video horror with a decent story. Vivarium (2019), an unusual philosophical slow burning sci-fi. The Gentleman (2019), a return to form from Guy Ritchie. Possessor (2020), an unusual body horror from David Cronenberg. Swallow (2019), a decent take on a fictional story about mental illness.
And that took me to June, followed by a 6 month dry spell of 30 or so non-stellar films. The dry spell was broken at the end of the year by Soul (2020), with Pixar at the top of their game again, this time looking at little things like... the meaning of life.
Tough to pick a favourite as well, a toss up between the unusual Vivarium (2019), the tough to watch but exquisitely acted Swallow (2019), and the marvellous Soul (2020).
It was a better year for TV, and I was able to catch up with some serieseseses that I missed last year. Watchmen, an amazing take on the famous graphic novel (that I've still not read). James May: Our Man in Japan, I've got mixed feelings about James May and travel documentaries but this was fab, and had me in stitches. Devs, a really unusual series with a great story that stopped short of perfect. Tales From the Loop, a slow burning set of sci-fi short stories. Gravity Falls, which although from Disney and at least partly aimed at kids felt like a lovely throwback to old school TV like Eerie Indiana. They also had the sense to stop at two seasons. Homecoming, a slow burning drama that felt like it had more potential than it ultimately achieved, but was still great (season 2 not so much). Umbrella Academy, which was a delightfully bonkers take on superheroes. The Detectorists, an older series which was a delight to bingewatch. The Boys season 2, not exactly a cerebral watch, but still enjoyable. Raised by Wolves, a really unusual sci-fi story, although it did become more derivative towards the season end. The Mandalorian, which really excelled in season 2, and is possibly the best bit of Star Wars since the first 3 films. Mortimer and Whitehouse: Gone Fishing, a continued delight.
I can't even pick one or three favourites, so much good TV!
Not so great a year for music but much like 2019 and a few years before that (1) I'm getting old and/or music's getting crapper and (2) it takes so much time to plough through music to find the gems.
There was still the odd genuine 2020 album I liked though, such as Jon Gomm's wonderfully experimental Faintest Idea, Future Island's As Long As You Are (although it's all rather samey to their previous album), Bombay Bicycle Club's cheery Everything Else Has Gone, and Baxter Dury's poetically louche The Night Chancers (thanks Peter for the recommendation!).
The Night Chancers definitely the favourite from that lot.
I need to catch up with something like Metacritic's Top 50 album list, and then the equivalent in 2021.
It was definitely a year for games, and for catching up, helped by the excellent Xbox Game Pass.
It started with Void Bastards, which is a wonderful 2000AD-esque take on the FPS. It gets repetitive and tough, but still fun, and I was determined to finish it. State of Decay 2, which was a messy but sort of fun zombie killing strategy. Astroneer, which I played for many hours. I wasn't too interested in the story, just exploring, resource gathering, and researching, and gave it up when the fun ended. Red Dead Redemption 2, a stunning thing, although the gameplay was a bit lost among the spectacle. Mad Max, another in the resource gathering and researching category, but more... well, madder, and so much fun. A second stab at Deep Rock Galactic on the Xbox, after trying it on my not-very-well-performing PC. Got boring relatively quickly, but had a fun few hours.
Again, impossible to choose a favourite. A tie between Void Bastards, Astroneer, and Mad Max.
So that's it, what are your faves?