Welcome to my first Yearly Review/Awards Ceremony! It will definitely not be a waste of time reading this.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2
First place goes to The Amazing Spider-Man 2. I thought this film was great, much better than the first. I went into the film having already listened to the soundtrack a lot (more on that later), so to hear songs I had already fallen in love with alongside stunning visuals created an excellent and what felt like a very ‘complete’ film experience.
Sometimes, in films, there are those ‘wow’ moments, that completely stun me with an overpowering sense of awe and I have only ever experienced them a few times. Once, in Iron Man 2 with ‘Suitcase Suit’, another time with Iron Man again, in the Avengers jumping out of the window, and a third time while watching Ghost Rider 2 where I remembered that I wasn’t under any kind of contract to finish watching the film and could just turn it off. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 had two of those moments. (Two of the ‘cool’ moments not two of the exact moments I just listed. Iron Man isn’t in Spider-Man 2 and I really don’t have the authority to buy a cinema ticket and halfway through demand that the film be stopped. Though in the case of Ghost Rider 2 the rest of the audience might have cheered had I done that). I don’t want to spoil the film so I’ll just say these moments happen when Aunt May dies. That was a joke. They happen long before she dies. I jest more. The first scene was the Times Square scene in slow motion and the other was the very last scene in the film. I won’t reveal anything about the scenes to those who haven’t seen it, but, in a very literal sense, they made my jaw drop.
This film comes a close second. It’s close, because potentially it should be first place. When I’ve only just seen a film I sometimes find it difficult to judge how much I’ve really enjoyed it compared to other films. Am I only thinking this is the best film because it’s the one I’ve seen most recently and remember so vividly, or is it really the best? So I’ll let it settle a bit, knowing that it’s definitely got second place, with the knowledge it may have to be retroactively promoted into first place sometime in the future. But then again, maybe just picking these two films out as the best of the year is good enough and an exact order doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of this blog post, the internet and the world. But who knows, maybe it does matter. Maybe, some potentially Nobel Prize winning scientist is reading this and thinking “Well, I was going to watch Interstellar and probably be so inspired by space and stuff that I’ll start doing research into black holes, make a significant scientific discovery and win a Nobel Prize for my gift to humanity, but really, this film is only second place. Instead, I’ll just watch The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and then go to bed.” So, if you are a scientist who is bordering on watching this but is getting slightly put off by the fact it’s not first and you think there’s a possibility you’re going to be so fascinated by the film you’re going to start doing research, make a discovery, get a Nobel etc. then definitely watch the film. Definitely do that. Don’t let my chaotic film ordering destroy humanity’s chances of using whatever it is you discover.
And that’s why end of year reviews should always be taken seriously.
Or, thinking about it…just watch both. You’ve probably go time to watch both films at some point; you could always watch Spider-Man when you’re having a break from your Nobel Prize winning research.
But to actually talk about the film for a second, or not talk about it seeing as it's a film that’s hard to describe without giving too much away. It’s definitely an intense film to watch, a bit like gravity. There was a point in the story, pre-space, that I was worried that I had once again been misled by a trailer and actually most of the film would be spent on earth, but it quickly picked up the pace and I wasn’t at all disappointed. It was very spacey and very good.
The Take Off and Landing of Everything, Elbow
I don’t buy or listen to a huge amount of music, so when I do buy an album, it means I think it’s pretty good. I could hardly tell you the name of a single track on this album, though. When I listen to it, I end up listening to the whole album nearly every time, starting with one song and before I know it the whole album has passed by. The album feels like autumn to me, whatever that means, it’s a perfect time of year, where it’s generally still sunny (here in the UK) but there’s a crispness to the air and I can start wearing jumpers again. And that’s very me.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 Soundtrack, VA
A soundtrack by Hans Zimmer. Need I say more? (I will say more, but then you already know I will by the fact that you’ve seen the size of this paragraph, but I bet you weren’t expecting so much of it to be dedicated to this self-fulfilling explanation (or were you? That previous section about Nobel prizes was pretty big, so maybe that was a clue that more nonsense might follow (you probably weren’t though, you probably thought: “I mean sure, he’s wasted a whole paragraph not talking about Interstellar, surely he won’t do it again, he will eventually talk about it…” (…I’m not sure I know how to get out of all of these parenthesis now…))) One more I think). I tricked you, I’m really not saying anything more about it.
Ha, I fooled you! There absolutely is more! I had seen a vfx breakdown of a short clip of the film before seeing it in the cinema and thought the theme music sounded great. I’d had previous success in listening to the Man of Steel soundtrack (another Hans Zimmer composition), which was quite a discovery for me, having never really been compelled to listen to film soundtracks before, so I sought out the album via Spotify. It didn’t disappoint and I listened to it repeatedly before seeing the film. I’m not going to describe the music, because no one sounds good describing sounds (remember when I described an album as sounding like autumn?), but if you like Hans, I’d wager that you’ll like this too. And it was strange how much better the film seemed, already knowing the soundtrack. When a favourite track started I knew it was going to be a good scene because the music was emotive enough that when listening to it beforehand I had already imagined what it might accompany.
Sheezus, Lily Allen
I think Sheezus by Lily Allen deserves an honourable mention. It’s not what people who know me would consider my ‘normal’ type of music, but it is. Actually, I think people probably have a pretty skewed view of what I listen to, thinking it’s all AC/DC and Iron Maiden, when in fact these 3 favourite albums of the year are a far better insight to my listening.
Fargo with Martin Freeman was pretty great. I can’t really remember a show I’ve watched that’s at all like this show. Billy Bob Thornton was a bit of a surprise too. I hadn’t expected to like him, but his cold Assassin-who-likes-to-mess-with-people character was really excellent. The only thing I can’t work out is, does Martin Freeman’s character move out to Minnesota after leaving Slough (and if so where the ruddy hell is Dawn??) before retiring to The Shire for a hopefully quiet retirement, or, is he deep undercover in a case that Sherlock is going to eventually solve?
Agents of Shield
I think it might have become clear that I’m a fan of Marvel so it’s not much of surprise I like this too. The second series is a lot better than the first. They were in danger of resorting to what a lot of series about the ‘paranormal’ or ‘heroes’ do, which is just have a different character pop up each week for the team to deal with, before resetting everything ready for the next week’s episode. Series 2 has a much better arching story line which avoids doing this. It’s also interesting when they tie their stories in with the films.
Peaky Blinders, a British show about post World War 1 gangsters, only gets an honourable mention as I haven’t finished the series yet, but it’s probably the best British show on TV at the minute.
I waited until after the holiday to write this, just in case it wasn’t the best purchase of the year, but it definitely was. I haven’t been on holiday (or abroad) in more years than I care to admit and maybe didn’t realise how much I needed one. A group of us went to Tenerife for a week in the beginning of December and it was a completely unreal experience to be sitting in a hot tub in the sun thinking “Why isn’t it cold, dark and gloomy?” Of course, we didn’t want to waste the opportunity to make friends back in England feel jealous so we were sure to regularly post sunny pictures of ourselves either in the sea, quadbiking, sipping cocktails or drinking €1 beers while everyone else was at work. 1. Euro. Beers. Sometimes €1.50, but that was pushing it a bit.
Can’t go wrong with Pizza. Nearly always a good purchase and I will no doubt nominate it for a Lifetime Achievement award at some point.
Not technically a 2014 release, but I did only play it this year. Like with all GTA’s I’ve played this for so many hours. Aside from the amount of content, to deliver that level of graphics on a PS3 is amazing and probably represents the pinnacle of what the PS3 can achieve.
I was unsure about mentioning GTA in the awards, what with it often being brought up in the news as being controversial and morally questionable. Of course, there’s all the stealing and the violent rampages that you can take part in, I’m not really bothered by that. It’s the fact in this modern age where we’ve abolished corruption, famine and war from our society we still allow a game to use Roman Numerals in the title. Using I’s, V’s and even X’s?! How we allow this to go on I don’t really know.
Don’t even get me started on Final Fantasy XIIVMMMIC&$£ Part MMIVV~# or whatever number they're on now (maybe I’d be able to tell if they used REAL numbers). I think the media needs to get a grip and start focusing on this issue, something which actually matters in society…
Again, not a 2014 release but I’ve got a bit of a backlog of games to get through, hence not transitioning to the PS4 yet. I’ve always loved Sonic games but I was unsure Sega would be able to deliver proper platforming again or whether they would be focusing on a far younger market than those who had originally grown up with Sonic. I wasn’t disappointed at all. It’s a bit like an HD Remaster/Greatest Hits, encompassing levels from all of the major games. Saying it’s an HD remaster does it a bit of a discredit, because they’ve been completely reworked and remade and really it’s only the style of the level which remains. You can play the levels either as ‘classic’ Sonic 2D style or ‘new’ Sonic in 3D with minor 2D segments. It really is great for anyone that enjoyed the originals and particularly Sonic Adventure 1 and 2.
Weird, that was almost like a proper review or something.
It’s a toss up between the award I gave for Best Film and the award for Best Album. I liked the stuff about the Nobel Prize for the film award but then I also liked writing a whole paragraph about The Spider-Man soundtrack, without actually talking about the album. On the whole, I’m going to say the best award was Best Film, because the website editor I use to write blog posts in didn’t save the draft and I had to re-write the best Album section 3 weeks later from memory, which kind of took the shine off it. (Although, I have now gone back and added some more since writing this section, so it’s a bit better than the original draft…no I’ll leave it, I’ll stick to my original choice).
Happy New Year.