Friday, January 4, 2013

Jeff's Favorite Other Stuff of 2012

So I shared my music picks a few weeks ago, but that doesn't mean that my earholes were the only thing consuming this year.

That's a visual I regret.

Anyway, I liked things this year!

Favorite Movie That Didn't Involve Joss Whedon: Since I'd probably put Cabin in the Woods as my favorite flick of the year, and The Avengers somewhere near the top, it means there's a lot of openings for other stuff. I didn't get to see The Master, which makes me a very bad Paul Thomas Anderson fanboy. I thought The Hunger Games were rather overhyped (even if I'm guilty of adding to it). The new Bond was great, I don't care much for the Batman films, and very little of Wes Anderson's stuff excites me, so I'm going to go out on a limb here: ParaNorman was probably my favorite non-Whedon film of the year.

No, really:

It's between that and Django Unchained, quite frankly, and the two films are very similar in that they need to be consumed with the understanding of the source material they're working off of. Django is part spaghetti western, part exploitation film, and it mostly works. ParaNorman is one huge b-movie schlockfest, has a ton of respect for the genre and the history of the Ed Wood-style romps, and doesn't talk down to the kids - a quality that too many kids movies lack this year.

This isn't to take away from also-good kiddie fare like Wreck-It Ralph or from good movies like Looper or Jeff, Who Lives At Home, but in terms of movies that stuck with me for a while and that really seemed to get it? ParaNorman is it.

Favorite Books From 2012 That Took the Taste of The Wheel of Time Out of My Mouth: Yes, believe it or not, the Readthrough of Time didn't kill reading for me this year. I read a ridiculous number of books this year, and it's hard enough to narrow down the awesome from the not so awesome. But still:

For adults, I'd have to go with my early favorite from the start, The Rook, a book I recommended to countless friends and adversaries and have not heard a bad word about overall. A brilliant piece of work, and I'm anxious for the next volume.

For teenagers and the adults that read like them, it would either have to be Grave Mercy, the story of a girl taken in by a religious sect and trained to be an assassin, or the Fringe-esque Unraveling. Genre fiction is really the go-to thing for teens right now, and the quality of the literature is catching.

For those who prefer pictures with their words, I consumed a number of graphic novels in 2012, but none as good as Saga, the new series from Brian K. Vaughan. Not only was it beautifully drawn and written, but the mysteries and the care given both to the plot and the characters are something that simply aren't typical. Vaughan is in a class by himself at this point, and I can't wait for the next volume.

Favorite Television Moments From 2012: I watch a little more TV than I care to admit, but given how poorly the Red Sox did, I needed a worthwhile distraction. If I had to choose three moments on a whole?

1) The Battle of Blackwater, Game of Thromes: Simply the most epic hour of television I've ever seen, and worth every penny HBO spent on it. If you're one of the jerks pirating the show, please stop so the rest of us can keep enjoying it.

2) The Interrogation of Nicholas Brody, Homeland: Homeland is a show I wrote off early for a number of reasons, but my wife spent a week tearing through the first season before the second began, and it's now one of my favorite shows on television. The entire episode, The Interrogation, is a long, slow burn where we get the best of every actor involved while answering about as many questions as it raised. Masterful storytelling:

3) Dan's Funeral, Big Brother: Yes, I'm talking about a reality show. I watch two reality shows - Top Chef and Big Brother. While Big Brother is mostly a guilty pleasure, this incident from the most recent season was one of the most stunning turns I've ever seen. Dan, who was a two-time player and one-time winner, has effectively alienated the entire house at this point, and has just left a 24 hour solitary confinement. So he does what any other sane, logical person does: throws his own funeral:

Dan, at this point, was up to be evicted from the game against Danielle. He was aligned with Danielle from the start, and throws Danielle under the bus in order to advance his own game. He turns against Danielle, turning the entire house against him, and then goes to the "Head of Household," who controls nominations for eviction, and gets himself pulled off the block.

Dan would go on to make the final two in this season of Big Brother.

It was some of the most brilliant, crazy strategization I've ever seen. It was a stunning gamble that paid off significantly, and really cemented Dan's place as one of the greater players of the game.

Best Game I Played: I burned myself out on video games pretty badly after clocking 120+ hours on Skyrim, so I didn't game nearly as much as I typically do. With that said, while I enjoyed Fez and played quite a bit of Diablo III and stupid stupid Candy Crush Saga, the best game I played in 2012 is Torchlight 2. In part because it fixes what was broken about Diablo III, in part because it just plays better on a whole, it's the one game I never feel as if I have enough time for.

Best Things I Didn't See, Play, Watch, or Do In No Particular Order: The Master, X-Com, Map of the Sky by Felix J Palma, FDR: American Badass, The Walking Dead: The Video Game, PAX East, The Hobbit.

Things I'm Looking Forward To in 2013: More Saga, more Arrested Development, more Game of Thrones, a release date for The Winds of Winter, a release date for the third book in Patrick Rothfuss's Kingkiller trilogy, the finale of Jeff Lemire's Sweet Tooth.

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