So I hope you all had a lovely Christmas! And, even more importantly (!), I hope you all enjoyed the Doctor Who Christmas Special. I certainly did, though I spent most of it admiring Dervla Kerwan’s pretty red dress (yeah, so I’m a big girl, so sue me). And was I alone in thinking that the big clanking Cyber King at the end was a little like something you’d see in a Hayao Miyazaki movie? Perhaps it was the steampunky way it was contrasted with a hot air balloon that did it…
You might have spotted this on the SFX website: my picks of 2008 (within the remit of sci-fi and fantasy, of course – oh, and that picture of me with a wonky fringe is bleedin’ ancient now). Because I’m feeling chatty, and have nothing else to do for once, I thought I’d expand on the list in case anybody’s bored interested enough to read it. And so, without further preamble, here are my picks of 2008!
If it’s sci-fi and fantasy, the only possible winner is The Dark Knight – mainly for having the faith and conviction to depict a world in which a nutjob like the Joker (and perhaps less successfully, Two-Face) could conceivably exist. I loved how dark it was, how unrelenting, and I fell in love with Harvey Dent because he was everything he was supposed to be. I wouldn’t say it’s a film I’ll be watching over and over again, but it was amazing. Oh, and Heath? We miss you.
Personally, however, I think the title of Best Film of 2008 goes to In Bruges. As happens sometimes with excellent but small movies, it slipped under the radar upon its release, but the word seems to spreading now.
The story of two hitmen (Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell) hiding out in the Belgian town while they wait for instructions for their boss, it’s bloody hilarious but has a way of suddenly pulling the rug from under your feet and all but reducing you to tears. Gleeson gets more and more likeable as the film goes on but it’s Farrell who proves he’s fabulous with the right material – making you choke with laughter one minute and recoil in disgust the next. When you’re not wanting to give his character a big hug, that is. Absolutely wonderful: if you haven’t seen it, please do.
2008 has also been notable because I’ve been catching up on multitudes of movies I’ve missed over the years; films I’ve always wanted to see and haven’t. According to my Lovefilm account I’ve rented 90 films this year, and that’s without all the screenings I go to and the buckets of DVDs I’ve picked up at work and taken home to watch. I had no idea there’d been so many…
Highlights have included The Devil’s Backbone (along with Hellboy II – which I only watched this morning! – this has proved to me that Guillermo del Toro is a force to be reckoned with), The Lives Of Others (breathtaking) and Riding Giants (the best documentary I’ve ever seen). I also discovered Greta Garbo and Buster Keaton (for the love of Elvis, what took me so long?).
And, just last week, I took the advice of somebody who left a comment on this very blog (on the post about actor Callum Keith Rennie) and watched the best mock documentary I’ve ever seen, Hard Core Logo.
I had to import it from the US because it’s only out on Region 1, but I adored it beyond belief, so it was worth the trouble. Which neatly brings me to…
…Callum Keith Rennie in Californication. One of my favourite performances EVER, and David Duchovny’s not far behind. Californication amazes me, if only because every week I learn a new word for sex, and that’s rather impressive when you’ve reached your thirties!
Other shows that have rocked my socks this year have been The Wire, which I’ve blathered on about elsewhere on this blog, but I’d like to add that it amuses me how the cast are popping up all over the place now, from Heroes to Lost. Although Seth Gilliam – who played Carver – doesn’t seem to be doing much, and that saddens me.
House has stolen my heart too, simply by being one of the most unusual shows on primetime despite its otherwise ordinary medical drama trappings. CSI continues to be great fun, if weekly gore, murder and death can be classed as ‘fun’, of course, and when it comes to British TV Top Gear and the latest series of The IT Crowd have been utterly brilliant.
As for sci-fi, it’s Supernatural, Battlestar Galactica, Medium and Doctor Who all the way, with a nod towards the probably already-cancelled by now The Middleman thrown in. I’m currently sulking over Heroes, however, because I wrote an SFX column a few months ago defending it and then, a week later, the show’s producers were sacked and the programme hasn’t really recovered. Darn it.
Perdido Street Station by China Mieville. Yeah, so it was published in 2000, but I’m slow to catch on, okay? And it was fantastic. Additionally, Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book was pretty much the only other book I’ve read this year that’s gripped me enough to make me nearly miss my stop on the train – the yardstick by which every book should be judged, if you ask me.
BEST MOMENTS OF 2008
Without a doubt, the day I took a seaplane from Vancouver harbour to Vancouver Island to visit Professor X’s house from the X-Men movies (aka Hatley Castle, Victoria), and was shown around the estate by a wonderful guide who bent over backwards to ensure that I had everything I needed to write a small piece about the place for SFX. It was such an interesting day, and the seaplane ride was so amazing that afterwards I wanted to take flying lessons so I could fly one for myself.
And now I can never watch Smallville without giggling every time they show Lex Luthor’s mansion and thinking of the bunny I saw outside the entrance…
And, for anybody who would prefer a ‘Best Moment’ with more of a TV edge, there’s this clip from the Supernatural episode ‘No Rest For The Wicked’, in which Dean is driving towards certain death and decides some Bon Jovi is called for…
PREDICTIONS: BEST OF 2009?
TV-wise, I’ll hedge my bets and nominate Dollhouse. Who knows?
Movie-wise, you’ll no doubt be shocked to hear that Watchmen and Star Trek are going to live up to the hype (because they HAVE to, dammit!). But I’d also recommend the beautifully sweet indie film Nick And Norah’s Infinite Playlist and the just as beautiful, but in a totally different way, Darren Aronofsky movie The Wrestler. I’ve seen them both and love them both and, yes, I’m foreseeing a Best Actor statue for Mickey Rourke…
PURELY GRATUITOUS AND RANDOM FAVOURITE PHOTOS OF 2008
Here’s a picture I took of the main exhibit in Paul Fryer’s exhibition “Let There Be More Light”, which was held in a church on Marylebone Road back in October. This is the installation “Morning Star” – an angel caught in telegraph wires. BEAUTIFUL. And bloody creepy, too…
The view from my gondola on the Grand Canal, Venice, 2 October.
My friends Pet Shop Anny and Matt in the gardens of Hampton Court, June. I love this pic! (And sorry for embarrassing you, guys…)
My bessie mates Biddy and Paul up to no good on the interweb. Don’t ask.
This is me, back in March, standing on the steps leading down to Wreck Beach behind the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver. This is possibly my favourite picture of myself ever, mainly because I was really, really happy that day. And I also took it myself, which amazes me…
Because it’s the season of goodwill, I want to shout out to Paul, Biddy, Vanessa and Gillen for being the best pals a girl could ever hope for this year. You all rock. </mushiness>
And finally, I’d like to thank you for reading this blog and leaving so many interesting comments (I don’t always reply, but I read every one). I’ve had lots of new readers this year and it warms my heart to think that my ramblings on this little cranny of the interweb are actually being looked at. Thank you – and have a Happy New Year!
Now go and rent In Bruges. Okay?