Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Legally Obligatory Post-2014 Best of Everything Run-Down

However else we differ, I'd like to think that we can all agree that 2014 was a year that happened recently. It occurred in a roughly conventional sequence from January through to December and, according to my records, didn't skip a single day in that time. During 2014, various things were noted to take place, and the quality of those things can be quantified in list form. This list belongs to Nic Wilkinson and myself, but I post it here for those who haven't yet been able to come up with lists of their own, or those who perversely find value or interest in the opinions of others. As always, we caution that the items cited below may technically have originated in years other than 2014, but if we first encountered something last year, or if we were already aware of it but it did something especially notable in that period, it still counts. Go and make your own lists if that bothers you so damn much.

Film 
1. The Raid 2: Berandal
2. Guardians of the Galaxy
3. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
4. The Babadook
5. Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier

Honourable Mentions: Maleficent, Edge of Tomorrow, The Lego Movie

Prometheus Award for Worst Thing to Exist Since Prometheus: The Expendables 3

Note: Tough competition for the Prometheus Award in the film category this year, with the double-shot of X-Men: Days of Future Past and Sin City: A Dame to Kill For both showing utter contempt for their respective audiences and taking giant shits on their own established continuities in the process. Professor X is alive again with no attempt at an explanation and Nancy's Last Dance can't take place at any point in the Sin City timeline and still make sense. Still, in a year that saw both I Frankenstein and a hilariously misjudged Robocop remake, we still have to give the crown to Expendables 3 for completing the series' transition from gloriously brutal homage to the 80s action flick to pitiful, family-safe self-parody.

TV
1. Eagleheart
2. Archer
3. Fargo
4. Hannibal
5. True Detective

Honourable Mentions: Marvel's Agents of SHIELD, The Walking Dead

Prometheus Award for Worst Thing to Exist Since Prometheus: Sons of Anarchy

Note: Sons of Anarchy gets the nod here solely for its finale, which set about destroying the entire reputation of the show with such rabid and over-ambitious pomposity that Nic and I were laughing out loud for most of the episode. The sheer, sickly depths of its overwhelmingly clumsy symbolism and cliché-driven storytelling were so at odds with the tone and structure of the show that they turned the whole thing into a sloppy, half-digested mess. Seriously, it was like someone had bolted the last episode of The Prisoner onto the end of Breaking Bad.

Comics
1. Worry Wart
2. Velvet
3. New Lone Wolf and Cub
4. Lazarus
5. Beautiful Darkness

Honourable Mentions: The Kitchen, Outcast, Wild's End, Southern Bastards

Prometheus Award for Worst Thing to Exist Since Prometheus: No serious contenders in this category. I didn't think much of the first Prophet trade, though.

Video Games
1. Alien: Isolation
2. Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor
3. Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel
4. XCOM: Enemy Unknown
5. Rocksmith 2014

Honourable Mentions: Steamworld Dig, InFamous: Second Son

Prometheus Award for Worst Thing to Exist Since Prometheus: The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth

Note: Sorry, sorry. Believe me, I know how many people love The Binding of Isaac - but fucking Hell, what an insulting piece of shit that thing is! Listen - I've been gaming since the fucking 70s and this retro kick the industry seems to be embracing so whole-heartedly does absolutely nothing for me. I lived through the days of piss-poor presentation and perma-death when there was literally no other option. It was one thing playing that crap on a 4-colour, 3-audio-channel microcomputer that didn't know any better, but asking for actual money to play it on a £400 gaming system is... well, it's... I mean... just wow...

Books
1. Possession by AS Byatt
2. The Little Red Wolf by Amélie Fléchais
3. The Stonebook Quartet by Alan Garner
4. The Gospel of Loki by Joanne Harris
5. The Voice That Thunders by Alan Garner

Honourable Mentions: Rune's World by Rune Klan and Joshua Jay, Japan Ingenious by Richard Kaufman and Steve Cohen

Prometheus Award for Worst Thing to Exist Since Prometheus: Dexter's Final Cut by Jeff Lindsay

Other
1. Dave Monteith and Barry Nugent's fantastic My Life in Science Fiction episodes showing up in iPlayer.
2. Every single thing about Thought Bubble 2014
3. The Gizmonics Institute Radio podcast, although it sadly appears to have died
4. Jim Sterling's Jimquisition show on YouTube
5. The amazing Too Many Cooks short from Cartoon Network

Honourable Mentions: Fantasy Flight Games' string of X-Wing Miniatures Game expansion ships and Android: Netrunner datapacks

Prometheus Award for Worst Thing to Exist Since Prometheus:The inevitable, catastrophic decline in Sony's PlayStation+ Instant Games Collection. We all knew it was coming once PS+ became compulsory for PS4 online play. We'd simply had it too good for too long and now the service has degraded out of all recognition. The crazy thing is that we're still clearly getting more than we're paying for. It's just that what we used to get was so much better, and it's hard to let go of that.

So, in summation - go to Hell, 2014. 2015 is newer and therefore scientifically better by every standard we can logically apply!
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