Here are my eleven favouritest things from this year. They all come with my highest recommendation.
Out of all the comic book movies released this year, this was undoubtedly my favourite and a good film in its own right. It takes two big characters with decades of history and brings them back to their potential. It shows a complicated relationship develop into the closest of friendships – and then shatters it. The supporting cast enliven the film and the action plot ain’t too shabby. Come for the fights, stay for the characters.
After Disney’s recent output, I was nervous about a new film. But the trailer sold me instantly and the feature didn’t disappoint. The first song threw me completely, as I’m now accustomed to Pixar’s style, but the dynamics between Rapunzel and Flynn (who I want to call Gwaine) sold it. Easily Disney’s best film for ten years.
I missed this at the cinema, so rented it on DVD (yes, people still do that). It’s a funny teen comedy! With a real heroine! Emma Stone rocks this movie and the other characters are well-realised and engaging. The plot is simple yet compelling – and did I mention it’s FUNNY?
This film was sprung upon me by my friends who wanted some “Christmas spirit” – and we laughed constantly throughout. This modern Lapland vision was populated with a dysfunctional family and an adorable hero, with a simple “coming of age” story that invokes warm Christmassy feelings.
The fourth season of Merlin has been the best yet. With the cast extended by a whole lot of knights (one of whom looks just like Flynn Rider…), there are a lot of relationship dynamics in play. The mythos is tied up in knots and broken apart but our heroes Merlin and Arthur, emerge stronger and better at the end. Swords and Sorcery Fantasy on the BBC.
Also now in its fourth season, this year saw a jaw-dropping end to Season 3 that left me stunned and yet eager for more. I loved these characters from episode one, but they’re just as fresh four years on. With barely one episode off the pace, this show is consistently great detective fare.
Sci-fi horror on the BBC? Pull the other one. Geeky horror with a teen protagonist I feel for and a best friend who I want to take home for life commentary? With scary freakin ghosts and a fantastic series arc? Realistic teen issues and not taking the easy way out? Fan-bloody-tastic.
I watched this series for the first time this year and I see why everyone’s been raving! The thing that struck me most was the 20+ regular cast members. Developing storylines for so many characters convincingly takes a deft hand, but it was perfectly done. This series proves that good writing trumps set conventions, like “maximum six main cast” rules.
I picked up “A Moment of Silence” in The Works for cheap. The premise caught me instantly: Georgian heroine solves crime. It’s Jane Austen meets Miss Marple! Including Austen-style letters to her sister and a peripheral romantic interest, it’s a country house murder mystery that provides all the ingredients for solution yet kept me guessing completely. The next two books are equally engaging and well worth a read.
A female coroner in Medieval England? Hells yeah! A fiercely-independent medically-trained woman who solves murders. I devoured these books in a couple of weeks and then discovered, sadly, that the author had passed away. However, while that leaves a terrible cliffhanger, it doesn’t diminish the brilliance of the series as it stands.
Another epic reading endeavour this year involved the Sharpe series. My favourite author is Patrick O’Brian (Master and Commander etc.), so I was always going to be inclined towards a military hero. Whilst somewhat formulaic, the Sharpe series is an action-packed, womanising ride, with great friendships. And Sharpe’s Sword, in my opinion, is the pinnacle of the series – where a devastating injury to Sharpe shows the extent of Harper’s devotion.
Some emergent themes are large ensemble casts, crime-solving, and period drama. The unifying feature is compelling characterisation, with an emphasis on Strong Characters, Female.
Things I’m looking forward to in 2012:
– BBC Sherlock (FINALLY!)
– The Muppets (a long overdue return)
– The Hobbit
– The Underwater Realm premiere at Raindance 2012
– My wedding 🙂